Stop pooping the second I'm not watching you!
November 28, 2007 12:46 PM   Subscribe

Last week I rescued a 7week old lab (mix) puppy from the pound before she was put down. She's a sweet girl, but I can't seem to get her house trained. We've got a soft crate, we feed her on a regular schedule, I take her out every two hours. ...more if she looks like she's sniffing around. Just a few minutes ago, I took her out, she tinkled, we came back in. I took my eyes off her long enough to get something out of the freezer, and she peed and pooped on my Xmas tree rug.

The training book I have says that you should never "bad dog" puppies when they do should look disappointed and make them watch you clean it up.

Right at this moment, I'm a little frustrated with this approach. I don't want to have to crate her all the time that she's not eating or on a leash, but I can't dedicate my entire life to following her around either. (She has been seen by my vet, who said she's a perfectly normal puppy with no physical or obvious behavioral issues.)

Hope me HiveMind, you're my only help!

(P.S., I'm sure a lot of my current "OMFG!" frustration is because my parents are descending on me in a few hours, and my Mother, bless her heart, is a white glove inspector.)
posted by dejah420 to Pets & Animals (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
She's awfully young to expect her to houstrain in a week. She likely doesn't even know yet how to control her bladder and bowels.
posted by girlbowler at 12:47 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm not sure about that, she knows that when we go to a certain spot, and she hears "potty time", she'll take care of business in that spot. In fact, if she has to go when we go outside, she'll run to that spot before she goes.

Also, she's never wet or pooped in her crate. So, I think she physically has the capacity to control it.

I'm not saying that she's deliberately *trying* to make me crazy...just that she *is* making me crazy. And I'm just wondering what I'm doing wrong.
posted by dejah420 at 12:51 PM on November 28, 2007

you've only had her a week! you need to be patient. not only that, she's only 7 weeks old! i don't know anyone who's been able to house train a 7 week old puppy in one week. my dog trained relatively quickly when he was a puppy but he would still have accidents here and there after several months.

just keep at it. reward her when she does her business.

posted by violetk at 12:54 PM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]

also, if she is making you crazy after only one week, maybe you need to reassess whether you are ready to handle the responsibilities of having a dog? dogs will DEFINITELY try your patience over and over, especially when they are growing and learning.
posted by violetk at 12:55 PM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]

Best answer: girlbowler is right. Eight weeks is very young to expect perfect potty habits. Also, one week of training isn't enough time. You'll have a few weeks of intensive training, and the occasional "Ooops!" every once in a while after that, getting better with age.

Life with a dog will never, ever let you pass a white glove inspection.

At this age, crating any time you cannot devote 100% attention is appropriate, and not only will it make you feel better, it will also give the puppy a sense of security from having a safe place where the boundaries are well known so she doesn't have to worry about displeasing you when, in all probability, she doesn't really understand what she's doing wrong.
posted by grumpy at 1:00 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you must feel you're doing something wrong: you took your eyes off a baby. Seven weeks is really, really young. Speaking for myself only, I tend to view 'house trained' as a *habit* more than an article of knowledge or physical ability. Your job is to set her up such that she can only experience success until it's happened so many times that, out of habit, she can't really imagine it any other way. In practice, with such a young dog, that means constant - literally not figuratively - supervision, with lots of trips outside to either deliberately or accidentally catch her ready to go. Much praise for success, etc. Out after play sessions, after eating, after big drinks, after waking from naps. It also means outlasting her when you know she has to go but is dawdling around.
posted by cairnish at 1:01 PM on November 28, 2007

Best answer: I'm not saying that she's deliberately *trying* to make me crazy...just that she *is* making me crazy. And I'm just wondering what I'm doing wrong.

You're letting it get to you. You must be patient--especially with a lab mix. I have two lab mixes, a girly and a boy. The girl came to us trained (she was 16 wks). The boy we got a 6 weeks, and he took a long to time to train. And their both still crazy.

And yes, a pup will crate train quickly. This doesn't mean she's ready to house train, though. It means she doesn't want to soil her "den." Your house, on the other hand, is fair game.
posted by girlbowler at 1:03 PM on November 28, 2007

Apologies for the typos above.
posted by girlbowler at 1:04 PM on November 28, 2007

Best answer: Years ago I had a Rottweiler/Australian shepherd mix pup who was very very slow to housetrain completely--she was fine in her crate, of course, but if she moved too far away from me in the house, she'd mess the floor rather than let me know she needed to go out. What worked for us during that transition was to keep her on a short lead snapped to my belt in the house; she was close enough to me that she seemed to get the "don't pee or poop here" signal that dogs get from their beds or enclosed spaces, and I was close enough to her that I could catch early signals and get her outside as needed.
posted by not that girl at 1:04 PM on November 28, 2007

Response by poster: That's a little accusatory, doncha think? Just because I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong with training this one doesn't mean I'm not a compassionate and capable pet owner.

I have dogs currently. I've had dogs all my life. I've just never had one that came in from a walk and *then* pooped in the house.

My big lab I got when she was about the same age, and she was house trained in about a week, but we also lived in a different house that had a pet door, which may have contributed to our quick success.

So, is the trick then to keep them in the crate all the time? I've never crated a dog before, so I'm not really sure how I'm supposed to use it.
posted by dejah420 at 1:05 PM on November 28, 2007

Response by poster: Er, sorry...first paragraph was a response to Violet suggesting that perhaps I shouldn't have a dog.
posted by dejah420 at 1:05 PM on November 28, 2007

I actually read (can't remember where, I was just reading a bunch of books when I got my dog a month ago) that you should NOT let them see you clean up when they potty in the wrong place; it has something to do with it being a nurturing, approving thing to do. Instead you're supposed to wait until they're out of they way, then clean it up.
posted by katemonster at 1:06 PM on November 28, 2007

Response by poster: Ooooh, putting her on a lead attached to me is a great idea!

And GirlBowling, that's good info. Do you have any resources for crate training that you found particularly helpful?
posted by dejah420 at 1:07 PM on November 28, 2007

Best answer: Hang in there. It's gonna be hard for the next four or five weeks but you'll build up days with no accidents and the dog will catch on. My dog (at 8 or 9 weeks old) used to walk around outside for ten or fifteen minutes and then come inside and pee right on the damn carpet. I'd take her back outside immediately and try to get her to pee a little outside too and the positively reinforce that with loud Good Dog!s and give her little training treats every time she went in the grass.
posted by mattbucher at 1:09 PM on November 28, 2007

Best answer: She sounds like she's making great progress. But she's just a baby, and living in a new place, and it will take a while longer. You might want to put down newspaper to protect 1 room where you can let her run and play. She sounds smart enough to have done this well, so she'll likely continue to make steady progress.

Dogs makes your house messy. They shed, create dust, and throw up, and that's just for starters. Think of her as your excuse for any flaws in the housekeeping.
posted by theora55 at 1:09 PM on November 28, 2007

Get a new book. Seriously, it said make the dog watch you clean it? ROTFLMAO
posted by Gungho at 1:12 PM on November 28, 2007

The lead thing is a good idea, that's true.

You said the dog did it by the Christmas Tree. Is it a real tree? If so, puppy dog probably thought *that* was outside.

My uncle's big ol' hound dog did that one year. My cousin who was two at the time came into the kitchen and said, "Dad! Ralphie's peeing on the Christmas Tree!" My uncle freaked out but the rest of us found it hilarious.
posted by Doohickie at 1:12 PM on November 28, 2007

i wasn't trying to be accusatory but given the information that you had given to that point, i don't find it an unfair comment. we all know of ppl who go into getting a dog and been overwhelmed because they had no idea what they are getting into.
posted by violetk at 1:14 PM on November 28, 2007

Response by poster: Nope, fake tree. Handmade, ancient tree rug though. Probably why I got a little cranky. (That, and I quit smoking.) Have had a cup of tea. Calmer now. Stupid of me to put an treasured antique on the floor with a puppy. Totally my bad there.

She really is adorable. (Pound picture that made me go get her. Look at those could you say no to that face?)

Thanks for all the reassurances that this is just normal puppy behavior. I guess since my dog is so old, I had sort of forgotten the house training stage.

Like I said, I've never crated a dog, and I've apparently forgotten a great deal of how to train one; I welcome any resources, books, websites, etc., that y'all have found helpful.
posted by dejah420 at 1:20 PM on November 28, 2007

I'm not sure but I *think* it's against the rules to post about 7 week old little rescue puppies without links to pictures. I'm flagging this question!

I keed, of course.
cairnish has absolutely *excellent* advice. There's a lot of good advice in this thread.
Congratulations on the puppy and good luck!
posted by hecho de la basura at 1:26 PM on November 28, 2007

When my beagle boy was a pup he had a number of issues with the potty training. Like your girl he'd go outside and potty on command, but then a few minutes later inside he'd go again. Of course, he was about 12 weeks old at the time and I was starting to lose my mind and envisioning a house that constantly smelled of dog poop and pee.

So we went camping. One weekend in the woods, off leash, running around like a crazy beagle, peeing and pooping whereever he saw fit. Never once did he potty in the tent.

We get home and he's a changed dog. He whines to go out. He does his business and wants to stay outside. He *likes* going outside. He really likes to go outside and potty. It was wacky. He never had another accident after that moment except for the time he ate a snickers bar and had the emergency poop.

I know it's probably the wrong time of year for you to take your darling camping, but sometimes dogs need contact with nature to understand this indoor/outdoor thing.

And good luck, she's a cutie.
posted by teleri025 at 1:30 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also, she's never wet or pooped in her crate. So, I think she physically has the capacity to control it.

No way. Dogs nearly /can't/ poop without walking around. The confinement makes it really difficult. It's not that she's 1) smart, and 2) in control, and 3) valuing the crate space too much to poop there.

Suck it up. You have about another 1.5 months before you have zero problems. You're perfectly on schedule, it sounds.
posted by cmiller at 1:43 PM on November 28, 2007

Best answer: Crate train her. When she's not in her crate, do not leave her alone. She needs to be on as tight a schedule as you can possibly provide, eating and going outside at regular times and intervals. As she gets older she'll get better at knowing what's allowed and what's not, and you'll get better at knowing what she can and cannot be trusted with. I can leave my dog out for short absences, but if I leave him alone and with free run of the house for more than 4 or 5 hours he has a tendency to chew on things he knows he shouldn't... so if I'm going to be gone for a while (class,work, etc), I crate him.

I picked up Scout at 8 weeks. He was crate trained and house broken by the end of week 9.

The occasional mistakes that happened from that point forward were typically a result of either a) my failure to maintain the schedule at a young age, b) leaving the pup unattended while he was still learning, c) illness, or d) some combination of the above.

Growing up, my family never crated or crate-trained dogs... I gave it a shot with Scout and I swear by it. He was far easier to train and manage than any of my parents' dogs ever were.
posted by toomuchpete at 2:09 PM on November 28, 2007

Best answer: In the example you gave, it sounds like you might not have stayed out long enough. Not that you would have known that - she peed, it's rational to think she's done, but you may want to stay out after the first pee a little while to see if she's got more, or if moving around and peeing works up some poop. One of my girls is a leisurely piddler, it took us a long time to figure out that she's got to stop 4-5 times before she's near empty.

She is little, though, and you don't know her short history, and that's your answer for your mom if she gives you any grief. Give treats (or click and treat if you're thinking about clicker training, it's good stuff) and do the "yay potty!" dance whenever good things happen, have all your supplies on hand so you look really prepared and efficient if she has an accident inside in front of your mom. She'll grow and get better soon.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:11 PM on November 28, 2007

Best answer: I have two dogs. The older dog was housetrained at 4 months and it was almost within days of getting a crate for him. The other dog is not quite 6 months and has been crate trained from day one. She is still not 100% housebroken and we're not at the point that I can take my eyes off of her in the house. What's working for her is that in the morning, usually around 6 when the older one wakes me to go out, they both go. He does his thing and I wait for her to do hers. When she does, I give her a 'go pee!' or a 'go poop' depending, and then treats. No playing, no running, nothing until she's done her business. That's only in the mornings though. We always take her outside after eating and let her run around a lot and then praise her whenever she does go. She's starting to get it on command now. Routine and consitency are key here. Also, feeding on a schedule means you can reasonably assume when they will need to go. At 7 weeks the puppy does not have the physical control to hold it in, but she can pick up from you that going outside will get her pettins and treats and a 'good puppy' from you.

There will be accidents inside. The best way to deal with it after the fact is to just clean it up well and go about your business. Dogs can't think backwards like that. If you don't correct a dog while the behavior is happening, then your actions are pointless. Dogs won't poop or pee in your house out of spite or insolence.

Do not use puppy pee pads. Those teach the dogs that it's ok to go inside.

Just keep your eye on her. Tether her to you if you want or put some baby gates up so that's she's always within a reasonable distance from you.

Good luck! Dogs are awesome and thanks for adopting!
posted by pieoverdone at 2:12 PM on November 28, 2007

If you do a search on dogs on AskMe, there are some real gems. Biscotti's comments and her recommendations for a couple of books are especially worthwhile.
posted by barnone at 3:31 PM on November 28, 2007

2nding or 3rding tethering - a 5 or 6 foot lead seems about right for when your pooch is not crated.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:06 PM on November 28, 2007

My boxer took FOREVER to be fully housetrained. Her problem was that she didn't know how to tell me that she needed to go out, so I got her to ring a bell to let me know she needs to go out. It's worked really well for her, and for other friends who have young dogs. Initially, however, as others have said, it was a matter of crating her when she wasn't under close supervision, and lots of praise when she did the right thing.

Good luck!
posted by rinosaur at 4:10 PM on November 28, 2007

Best answer: Fifthing or whatevering tethering (it's technically called the "umbilical cord technique", and it's useful for everything from housetraining to bonding to teaching appropriate chewing habits). I really feel your frustration: my six month old puppy still has accidents (and they are ALWAYS my own fault, I don't let her out right away when she indicates she needs to go or when I know she should need to go, or whatever), but take a deep breath, this is a little baby dog, no human is expected to be toilet trained much before 3 years or so, and this puppy is nowhere near that old in dog years.

There are just a few simple rules to housetraining successfully: a healthy puppy can generally hold it for its age in months plus one hour (so for your puppy, that's two hours maximum), so govern yourself accordingly and take that puppy out at least every 1-2 hours whether she seems to want to go or not; praise good behaviour and ignore bad behaviour, when she goes outside use happy, calm praise while she goes ("goood puppy, goood go potty"), and BIG praise when she's done, when she goes inside, just clean it up (I do not think it makes any difference if she sees you or not, and I know of no reputable trainer who says otherwise) and use an enzyme spray like Nature's Miracle; puppies will almost always need to go after food, play and sleep, so take her out immediately after any of these events, in addition to the every 1-2 hours rule; if you think she should need to go (i.e. has just eaten, slept, played and/or hasn't been in 1-2 hours), then take her out on a leash and wander around until she does go - I know it's a hassle, but the more times she goes in the wrong place, the harder it will be to teach her where the right place is, and the more work you do doing it right now, the less you'll have to do later. Do not use training pads or paper, the bathroom is outside, don't confuse the issue by making the bathroom inside. Finally, get Dr. Ian Dunbar's Before & After Getting Your Puppy, which has great descriptions of how to raise a happy puppy, including crate training and housetraining. I also suggest Jean Donaldson's The Culture Clash for a very entertaining crash course in human-canid relations, it will help you understand your little one better, and find ways to feel less frustrated because you will have more knowledge of why your dog does what she does, and how you can modify her behaviour.

Relax, find a good, positive-methods puppy kindergarten class, remember you have a little baby in your house, and keep in mind that "there is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face". I think you'll be a great dog owner, you just need to learn how do do it (as Patricia McConnell says (in paraphrase): we take lessons in how to play tennis, so what makes us think we can wing it when trying to communicate with another species?). Good luck!
posted by biscotti at 5:04 PM on November 28, 2007

In the meantime, be sure to get Nature's Miracle Spray for those accidents so that you do not have the smell. After a few dogs and cats I can tell you that a spray bottle of that is very handy to have. You may, at some point, want to get a really good vacuum for the dog hair like a Dyson. She's a cute girl, pets have a way of getting one to relax about messes and attachments to physical goods.
posted by jadepearl at 5:23 PM on November 28, 2007

Oh, and one of the "simple rules" of dog management is the basic animal training rule of "make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard". Don't take your eyes off her, if you have to leave the room, take her with you on a leash or pop her in the crate (after she is appropriately accustomed to it, of course!). You wouldn't leave a tiny baby alone in the bath even for a second, start thinking of this puppy as being that sort of age and that sort of level of awareness of the world, and you'll do fine.
posted by biscotti at 5:41 PM on November 28, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks gang, you've all been very helpful. And're officially my "go to" person for dog questions. If this were an Orwellian board, I would give you a double plus good! :)
posted by dejah420 at 5:57 PM on November 28, 2007

In case she has an accident while your mom isn't looking, flushable baby wipes work really well for a quick cleanup of the carpet, and you can flush the wipe and the evidence. (Follow this later on with a good cleaning with Nature's Miracle or some other enzymatic cleaner.) Good luck!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:13 PM on November 28, 2007

Response by poster: Wipes! What a good idea. I bought a gallon of Nature's miracle. As the owner of cats that live into their 20s, I'm intimately familiar with Nature's Miracle.
posted by dejah420 at 9:13 PM on November 28, 2007

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