Wake up and smell the dogshit!
October 24, 2006 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Every morning, there is a puddle of pee and one or more piles of poop on my kitchen floor. I think it's the dog. Please help me.

Yes, every single morning. For the past month or so.

The dog is a golden retriever, and we live in a tiny apartment. She spent the first two years of her life in a house with a yard, but she did not poop or pee in the apartment the first eight months we were there (except very occaisionally, when she didn't get taken out). I think my daughter (whose dog this is) had not been taking her out consistently over a period of a few weeks, and so the poor dog had no other option, and got into the habit.

Now I am taking the dog out twice a day, fifteen minutes or so in the morning, and a 30 minute walk in the evening, and she has not stopped doing it. I figured she'd need some time to get back in the habit of refraining in the house, but Jesus Mary and Joseph -- how long?

She does it in the middle of the night -- somewhere between 2-5 am. We never catch her at it.

What can I do?
posted by Methylviolet to Pets & Animals (22 answers total)
She may have a physical problem causing her to be unable to "hold it". Take her to the vet.
posted by miss tea at 10:52 AM on October 24, 2006

Does she have a spot inside where she can do her business on papers or something? My dog is housetrained, but likes to sneak into the living and go on the front doormat. If she can't access the doormat, she'll go in her bathroom area.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:56 AM on October 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

After ruling out medical problems, you might consider trying crate training. I've found it to be very effective with puppies, since they are reluctant to go where they sleep. I don't know how your older dog will take to a crate, however. Also, when do you feed the dog? You might try switching from a.m. to p.m., or vice versa.
posted by found missing at 11:00 AM on October 24, 2006

What time in the evening are you taking her for a walk? Right before bedtime? She might need an extra opportunity to do her business right before you go to bed.

You might also want to look into crating her at night. Get her used to it first, let her know its not punishment, make it comfy with a nice crate pad and familiar blanket. Put her in there for short periods of time when you are home, give her a treat/toy to enjoy in the crate and praise her. Work your way to crating her at night.

I'd start with the extra opportunity to go out before bed, if applicable, then the vet. You can ask the vet about the situation, if a crate could help or if it's anxieties.
posted by jerseygirl at 11:01 AM on October 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

I think it's the dog.

Uh, I hope so.

I would first confirm that this is not a medical problem. Then, try taking her out as late as possible in the evening, and as early as possible in the morning, so she doesn't feel she has to "hold it" interminably. Finally, you might want to consider getting a crate for the dog to sleep in at night (they will not soil their own "den" unless something is seriously amiss).
posted by Urban Hermit at 11:02 AM on October 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Are you really only taking her out twice a day? That can't be often enough - when was the last time you went all day with only two pee breaks?

If she is getting out more than that, then make sure she has no medical problems. If she doesn't, consider crate training.

What time do you feed her? That could also be a factor.
posted by dilettante at 11:08 AM on October 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Twice a day? What times? That doesn't sound like enough opportunity for bathroom times if it's what I'm envisioning - a trip out before work and a long walk when you get home - what about before bed? She should have an opportunity to go before you go to sleep.
posted by agregoli at 11:14 AM on October 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

I let my dog out into the backyard whenever he needs to go to the bathroom. Judging by the number of times he wants to go out on a given day, I don't think twice a day is going to be enough for a dog that size (I have a lab, so similar size to yours). At a minimum, the dog needs to go out right when you get up, before you leave for the day, right when you get home, and at least once before you go to bed. I applaud your efforts to pick up your daughter's slack, but having a dog--especially a big dog, especially without a backyard--is a lot of work. It doesn't have to be a long walk every time you go out, but please give the dog more chances to go to the bathroom. (In addition to this, I also highly recommend crate training.)
posted by gokart4xmas at 11:15 AM on October 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

From the OP, it sounds like the dog is only going out twice a day. Is that right? I don't currently have a dog, but when I did (even in a one-bedroom apartment) I know I had the dog out at least 3-4 times throughout the day. We also left his food out constantly - if you're only feeding the dog an alotted amount of food at a specific time, maybe he doesn't need to go out as often as mine did.

Crate the dog at night. As other posters have said, they are hesitant to go in their crates unless they have to (usually for a medical reason). Could the dog be nervous or lonely at night? Crating could also help with this, as it gives them a space in which to feel safe and secure. Just make sure you take the dog out as soon as you get up in the morning!
posted by youngergirl44 at 11:21 AM on October 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It had not occurred to me that twice a day might not be enough. I can certainly try to take her out more. Maybe once in the morning, then when my daughter gets home at about 4, then when I get home about 7. Our neighborhood is Night of the Living Dead -- we live across the street from a homeless shelter -- so I don't like to walk around after dark, but maybe that is just what I have to do.

She might take to crate training -- she spends most of her time, when we are not home, between the clawfoot bathtub and the wall.
posted by Methylviolet at 11:44 AM on October 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Definitely consult with a vet to make sure this isn't a medical problem.

I am not currently a dog owner, but I will side with those who say that she probably needs more trips outside.

I would also suggest that you get some kind of special cleaner to use in the area where the dog is doing her doggy business, as she may be returning to the same spot because she's marked it. My vet recommended Anti-Icky Poo for one of our cats who can be super finicky about his litterbox. The stuff works on all types of flooring for all types of pet odor.

Finally, if this is a behavioral problem that extra walkies can't cure, nor a medical illness, you could try contacting an animal behaviorist at a local animal shelter for advice. The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago has two such people available to consult with pet owners for free, and I've found them very helpful.
posted by Sully6 at 11:46 AM on October 24, 2006

Response by poster: And we feed her at night, so I can try changing that.

As far as a medical problem, she seems good; I think this wants a behavioral solution. But if none of this works, I will see what the vet has to say.

Good suggestions, thanks all!
posted by Methylviolet at 11:48 AM on October 24, 2006

Oh, man, I didn't realize that she was getting out only twice a day. I have no doubt that she needs a pre-bed opportunity to go.

And, Sully6 has a great point. You want to ensure that the inside smells are not exacerbating this problem.
posted by found missing at 11:51 AM on October 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Nthing that she needs more outside time (and she very likely isn't getting enough exercise either, one half hour walk a day is not enough for a dog like a Golden). Also, I suggest you break her daily ration of food into two meals, dogs do better when they don't have to take in a whole day's calories in one meal, this will also mean that she will have to poop twice a day as a general rule, once in the morning, and once before bed.

You are correct that you have created a behaviour problem (although a vet check wouldn't be a bad idea), crating can help you solve it, but the biggest part of the problem here is just that the dog's not being given adequate opportunity to relieve herself and has now, out of necessity, got into the habit of relieving herself indoors (do not start using puppy pee pads or anything like that - the goal is to retrain the dog that the bathroom is OUTSIDE). If increasing her exercise, dividing her food into two meals, and increasing the number of trips outside she gets doesn't help, then I would start crate training (but please do some research into how to properly crate train, you can't just stuff her in the crate right off the bat, Ian Dunbar's book "Before & After You Get Your Puppy" has a good crate training section, applicable to all dogs, not just puppies).
posted by biscotti at 12:10 PM on October 24, 2006

Dogs should not be expected to go 8-9 hours between bathroom breaks. Many can, but many can't. So if you're taking the dog out at 6 or 7am before work/school and the last time is at 7pm... well, that probably won't cut it either.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:37 PM on October 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

We would walk our dog at least three or four times a day. Once around 7am or 8am, once when we got home from school (around 3pm), once around dinner (6pm-8pm), and a quick walk before bed (9pm-10pm). Three times per day is a minimum, and you definitely have to do the late-night walk, especially if the dog is eating after you take him on the last walk.

My dog would pee every time we walked her, and pooped about twice a day, once in the morning/late afternoon, once at night.
posted by schroedinger at 1:13 PM on October 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

The dog I live with goes out at least once first thing, twice during the day [after meals if nothing else] and once right before bed. He was an occasional pee-er in the house and two things that helped were literally a quickie walk last thing, the last thing I'd do before getting into PJs, even if I had to wake him up, and taking up his water after his meal which was about 6 pm. So the routine with the dog was: wake-up, feed, walk, daytime stuff, walk/pee, afternoon stuff, early dinner, pee, take up water, pee, bedtime. If you and your daughter are both out all day, you might want to have a kid or someone take the dog out just for a quickie pee during the day. This will mean you or your daughter don't have to drop everythign when you get home to take the dog out, and the dog gets more regular pee breaks and you don' t have to worry if your daughter does something else after school that the dog wil be miserable.

If your daughter isn't tending to the dog properly, you may want to have a talk and a re-assignment of chores where you take the dog out and she does something else around the house. I don't know how old she is or what her schedule is, but if she's been slacking on taking good care of the dog, that should probably be (gently but firmly) brought to her attention.
posted by jessamyn at 2:08 PM on October 24, 2006

Best answer: Also, and forgive me if you already know this, but on at least one of the daily walks the dog should have enough timeto walk around so that she poops someplace. Often it's too easy to take the dog out, the dog pees and then you take the dog back in. Sometimes dogs need to walk around a bit before they're poop-ready, esp if they're not getting a lot of exercise. Dogs usually, in my experience, are pretty regular poopers if put on a regular schedule. The dog in my house generally goes after he eats and so the after-dinner walk is the longer, pooping one.
posted by jessamyn at 2:11 PM on October 24, 2006

Our neighborhood is Night of the Living Dead -- we live across the street from a homeless shelter -- so I don't like to walk around after dark, but maybe that is just what I have to do.

She does need exercise, but not every trip outside has to be a real walk. Our dog gets four or five trips outside a day (because there's someone home during the day), but not every one of those is a real walk. Two or three are just potty breaks ("business walks" to my dog) - five or ten minutes and no further than two houses away, for instance. That would be 6 a.m. and 10:30 p.m., and his long walks are 30 mimutes to over an hour, and are done during daylight.
posted by dilettante at 2:15 PM on October 24, 2006

Our neighborhood is Night of the Living Dead -- we live across the street from a homeless shelter -- so I don't like to walk around after dark, but maybe that is just what I have to do.

But you'll have a 60-70 pound dog with you! Better than a gun!

Really, I'd consider three real walks—not just potty breaks—to be the minimum for a dog like that. Four's better. And two of them should last thing at night and first thing in the morning.

You also need to completely deodorize the place where she's been peeing to break the association; get an enzyme cleaner from the pet store. In fact, if you can somehow block her from going to the kitchen when you aren't there to watch, even better.
posted by timeistight at 4:04 PM on October 24, 2006

I think it's the dog.

Just to be safe we should hire someone to watch the rest of your household.
posted by oxford blue at 4:21 PM on October 24, 2006

I think it's possible this may be as much a product of being an unhappy dog as it is a dog that isn't walked enough (obviously, the two are intertwined). But based on your post, it sounds like this is a large dog who spent two years of her life in a house with a yard, then got uprooted to a tiny apartment, and on top of it, was in the care of someone who wasn't necessarily paying much attention to her.

It's not a stretch to imagine your dog doing things she's not supposed to do, for no other reason than a need for attention, even if negative attention.
I've had dogs that did the same thing (i.e., housetrained dogs suddenly going indoors all the time) when their comfortable living situation changed "for the worse" (i.e., a new puppy was introduced to the family).

Dogs aren't people, but sometimes they sure act like them.
posted by Harvey Birdman at 4:59 PM on October 24, 2006

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