Potty Training: Part 2
June 20, 2012 7:31 AM   Subscribe

I've posted previously about potty training my dogs. I picked up a book, "How to Housebreak Your Dog In 7 Days," which was quite helpful except one thing: our work schedules aren't compatible with a regular schedule.

The book recommends sticking to a schedule no matter what, and has evening/morning schedules for people who work all day. The problem is my partner and I might work mornings one day, nights the next, we might both work in the morning one day, etc. The book recommends not deviating from the schedule such as taking them out in the morning when you're working and then taking them out all throughout the day when you're home.

But our schedules vary so much that it's impossible to do that. Are there any other books, etc that will help with housebreaking a different way? I really want the dogs to have the run of the house, it breaks my heart taking them out on a schedule for 15 minute intervals because they might soil the house. I've tried diapers and wraps and they tear them off. I put no chew on the diapers, but my dogs are so small (Mini Dachshund, runt Papillion and Chihuahua) that the diapers just slide right off.

I don't like having to put them back in the cage until they use the bathroom outside. I feel that I'm not spending enough time with them outside of taking them outside, but if I leave them out in the hosue for too long they almost always have accidents.

Please help!
posted by Autumn to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If they're that small, can you keep them contained to a small area of the house and housetrain them to use a wee-wee pad?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:32 AM on June 20, 2012

our work schedules aren't compatible with a regular schedule

Then you need a dog walker. Attempting to house train dogs with bladders and brains the size of yours, without a rigorous schedule and with your aversion to crating them, is simply not going to work.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:34 AM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

I use pee-pads with my small dog, and it works great. He's free-range all day, and can use the bathroom whenever he needs. I would go in that direction, much nicer for them than diapers or being crated all day.
posted by Fig at 7:48 AM on June 20, 2012

Seconding (or thirding) the pee pad thing. When I'm going to leave the house, I put a pee pad down in front of the door my dog would normally be let out to potty. If she needs to go while I'm gone, she will use the pad. If I'm home and have eyes on her, she will go to the door and wait to be let out. However, if she gives me the "out" signal and I miss it, she will go anyway, cause SHE IS NOT GOING TO HOLD IT, NO SIR (which is why we started with the pads in the first place). My dog is a bichon and bichons are all supposedly hard to train, so Your Dog's Mileage May Vary.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 8:22 AM on June 20, 2012

I think confining the dogs to one area of the house like the kitchen with a pee pad and getting a dog walker or neighbor or dog-loving pal to let them out while you're not home may be worth a try.
posted by peripathetic at 10:55 AM on June 20, 2012

My only problem with the pee pad thing is that you are only really teaching them to go on the pad rather then training them not to go in the house (and only in emergencies on the pad). I had some family members that did that with their Pomeranian and the dog is now 12 years old still going on the pee pad.

From what you are saying it sounds like you and your SO have schedules that vary, but that may or may not always line up. So I would assume that it is not more than a couple days a week when you are both working mornings or both working nights. Those days you should be able to keep with the schedule by switching out. The other days maybe you can get someone (a neighbor or friend or dog walker) to let them out a few times, until they can hold it longer.

Other tips:
- Try tethering them to yourself while you are in the house, so that you can always keep an eye on them and they don't have to be in the crate.
- Immediately take out after all of the following: waking up, eating, drinking water, getting up from rest, playing, training, and actively sniffing
- Once they have been accident free for 14 days you can start trying to teach them to hold it for longer periods in the house. During a time when they would usually be scheduled to go out tether them to a table or chair, and keep a close eye on them. If you see them starting to sniff distract them with a toy or some play for a few moments before taking them outside. Any accidents increase the waiting time another 3 days before moving forward with getting them to hold it longer.
-Clean up after accidents immediately to get rid of the smell so they won't be likely to eliminate on that spot again.
- ALWAYS feed at the same time (pick a time you can manage no matter what your schedule), take them out the same door, and take them to the same spot in the yard to eliminate
- Calmly praises them after they eliminate, not during.
- If you catch them eliminating in the house, do not punish them, but use a verbal interrupter to startle (not frighten) them, and take them outside to their assigned spot. Praise them if they continue to eliminate.
- To help them hold it over night longer, no food or drinks 2-3 hours before bed.
posted by Quincy at 11:09 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't like pee pads, honestly, for reasons stated above. Crate training is the way to quickly housebreak a puppy because dogs don't like to eliminate where they sleep. So long as the crate is never used as a punishment and is reinforced as a positive place to be, the dog will be perfectly content in a crate. They are den animals, after all. Limit crating to less than three hours at a time when they're young, and you can drop the crate entirely once the housebreaking and house destroying has ended. We never scheduled our dogs--our only tool was the crate and the sort of close observation that Quincy correctly advocates. After they reached adulthood, they all scheduled themselves, and if I am watching the dog for my parents while they're out of town, he adjusts to my insane night owl schedule with no problems at all.

Dogs are happier when they're not getting into trouble. Crates are an excellent way make them happy. Your heart should not be breaking, seriously. Dogs pick up on your emotions and will associate this anxiety with crating.

True story. My cousin crates her dog while she's at work and I take him for a walk on days he doesn't go to doggie daycare. She's calm about the crate, I'm calm about it. He will go into his crate on his own when she's home and he never whines or barks when we put him in it. He only fusses about the crate when my aunt, who thinks crates are the devil, puts him there.
posted by xyzzy at 3:04 AM on June 21, 2012

We learned how to house-train our 17-pound terrier mix (who we adopted from a shelter when he was about a year old) by reading the 22-page book, "Way to Go! How to Housetrain a Dog of Any Age" by Karen London & Patricia McConnell. In Bandit's case, we used regular feeding times, tethering & crating in the house to make help him avoid making mistakes. Then the next part was also important: teaching Bandit (a pic) the important message that we need him to use the outdoors as his bathroom. For that, we first taught him clicker training (which really works like a translator between humans & dogs: a click from us tell him that his actions at that moment are correct), and using gourmet, tasty treats (not plain ol' milk bones). Each time he was successful outside, we used a clicker to mark the moment and then gave him the best treats ever ... pieces of hot dog, chicken or cheese, etc. After a few days, we could almost see his brain registering "oh, I see - you're telling me this is where the bathroom is!"

Once your dogs know that you want them to use the outdoors, they will try very, very hard to go outside rather than soil their home. At that point, the tight schedule can relax a bit; they learn to hold it an extra hour or two if they trust they can get outside in time (particularly for grown dogs). So is it possible for you to temporarily provide a rigid schedule for them -- for perhaps 30-60 days? (Sorry - I don't believe 7 days is realistic to ensure the house-training is habituated for a lifetime). As DarlingBri said - perhaps hire a dog walker during this time period? It's only a couple of months that they would have their movement so restricted, but the training should be permanent.

An alternative that other friends have used is to install dog doors. Our house doesn't allow for a dog door, or I'd have one installed right away.
posted by apennington at 4:23 PM on June 21, 2012

Update: As of December, my puppies still weren't properly housebroken and I decided to give them to families better equipped to train them than I was. They seem to be doing well and probably leading happier lives.
posted by Autumn at 1:43 PM on January 2, 2013

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