Housetraining a pup: Ready to just buy a couple of corks
November 28, 2007 8:27 PM   Subscribe

Another puppy housetraining question. She'll be 1yo in three weeks and she's still having accidents. help

This is a labradoodle we got at about four months. The person who gave her to us told us she was housebroken. No. She peed and pooped everywhere. Including her bed (we don't crate her, her room is a small laundry room.) She has no problem peeing where she sleeps.

From the beginning we've given her regular, frequent walks, rewarded her for getting it done outside, kept her confined to small areas of the house, etc. Even with all this, she would do things like (after a long walk) pee right next to my wife in the kitchen, which is one of her confinement areas. If she escaped from the kitchen she'd run upstairs and pee there, often on someone's bed. Recently we thought we had her finally trained, as she hasn't had an accident in the house for a couple of months. Then 2 days ago she pooped on the first floor at 7 a.m. (after having been walked (and pooping) around midnight the night before). This morning (again, after a late night walk) she came upstairs and peed on my daughter's carpet. I feel like we're backsliding to some very bad old days and we're getting frustrated, although we love this dog.

She's been checked out by the vet and nothing physical is wrong. She was fixed about a month ago.

Any ideas? I'll try to answer questions to clarify things as necessary.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ok, first of all, since the behaviour's been around for a year, it's going to take a year to correct. That's a basic rule of dog training.

Have you *tried* crating her? Maybe she feels comfortable peeing in the larger room where she can get away from it, but wouldn't in a smaller crate where she has to lay in it.

Third -- you need to pay more attention. The SECOND you see her sniffing around the floor (sure sign a dog's about to pop a squat), then you NEED to correct her and take her outside. You can't leave her unwatched for a second, no matter what, unless she's in her crate or outside. She can't have the OPPORTUNITY to make a mistake.

And fourth -- 1 year old is like "terrible twos" for a dog. If they're going to backslide, that's when it'll happen because they're resisting your control.
posted by SpecialK at 8:32 PM on November 28, 2007

Could be salty dog treats, that triggers accidents in our 1yr old.
posted by iamabot at 8:32 PM on November 28, 2007

Has she had a urinalysis done? If not, that's your first step (urinary tract infections are very common in female dogs, and not all vets recommend them as a matter of routine). Then get a good puppy book (Ian Dunbar's is a very good one) and set about housetraining properly. You need to go back and housetrain this dog as if she were an 8 week old puppy. Be patient, because this dog has learned that she can and should mess where she sleeps, and where she lives. By all means crate train, but you MUST be taking her out regularly, because if she learns to mess in quarters as close as a properly-sized crate, you are in for a really long haul to fix this.

And for the record, anyone who says a four month old puppy is "housetrained" is lying, doesn't know what the term means, or is mistaking a run of good luck for actual housetraining. IME, most dogs are not ready to be considered reliably housetrained (as in can be relied upon to ask to go out when needed 98% of the time when healthy) until much closer to 6-8 months. In all aspects of dog training, relaxing your training efforts or raising your standards too soon, because you assume a dog is actually trained, is the single most common cause of so-called "backsliding" and "stubbornness" - in actual fact, dogs may repeat a behaviour properly numerous times without actually understanding it in such a way that you could call it truly "trained".
posted by biscotti at 9:03 PM on November 28, 2007

Wait, so your dog hasn't had an accident in months but had two in the last few days? That doesn't sound very significant, although I'm sure it's frustrating. Continue to make it clear to the dog that This Isn't Good, but don't worry unless it becomes a real pattern. You can't know everything that's going on with your dog- maybe she doesn't like going out in cold weather? Maybe some diet issue? Maybe something else entirely that will go away on its own? I wouldn't get too hung up on it, unless of course it *does* become a recurring issue.

Just for perspective, we have two puppies a little older than yours and they have had a few accidents in the last week or so. Our previous dog was well house trained, but even she had an incident or two a year. These things happen when you have an animal in your house. Invest in some good cleaning supplies and don't sweat it.
posted by MadamM at 9:43 PM on November 28, 2007

Best answer: This may be a post-spay setback, as one's innards get shifted a bit in the process and things may feel a bit different to her. But incontinence after spay is a good enough reason to have her checked out - it looks like a reversion to old behaviors, but it could be for new reasons. If those reasons are medical, you're not going to be able to train her out of them.

Additionally, she's probably in her adolescent growth spurt and her containment systems may be a little too small for her body just at the moment.

It doesn't sound like she's got a strong out-request behavior yet, which is why you'll have to be hypervigilant and learn her triggers so she can start to make the "ask to go out" connections necessary. Running upstairs to pee on the bed, etc, sounds like almost a panic behavior, like she's got to go and she knows she's supposed to do something but she doesn't know what. I understand that bell training is very popular (hang a bell by the door, she touches it, you know to let her out) and dogs catch on quick, but my dogs would ring that damn bell 24/7 so mileage may vary.

We have one dog who was not properly housebroken (and likely beaten for accidents, and then eventually just put outside with dog food dumped on the patio until they moved out and left her behind). She never learned to signal out until we started walking her (only her) around the neighborhood, which we had to do because she could jump our fence and couldn't be left outside long enough to do her business. We fixed the fence and she does her thing in the back yard now, but she almost invariably takes a little paint off the front door to let us know when she needs to go. (Or she climbs in my lap and punches me in the face, which isn't my idea of a great signal but certainly gets her point across.)

I recommend coming up with a game plan and teaching her a better signal than a poke in the eye, but it's clearly the repetition that will - eventually - do the job (if she's healthy). Just keep good cleaning supplies and an eagle eye until it starts to really kick in.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:51 AM on November 29, 2007

Re: the bell system. We have a string of bells on our door that our puppy rings when she wants to go out. When we put them up we spent about two weeks ringing the string whenever we opened the door, without fail. After awhile we started waiting at the door and rewarded any movement towards the bells. It's been so successful that we've put up a string on the door of my parents' house for when we go over there, and she required very little training to use that one, too. Now she rings the bells a lot, and only needs to potty about 50% of the time we go out, but I'd much rather that than have her sneaking off to go in the house. We had problems with house training until we gave her a way to tell us she needed to go out. I'd try the bells out once you make sure everything's okay physically.
posted by lilac girl at 7:57 AM on November 30, 2007

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