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Would I be imposing to solicit your advice on this same topic? Doc is the first dog we have ever owned. Actually, we have two human children and our 11 year old son is the official owner. Doc is seven months old, male, a 9 lb. mini longhair, and was neutered last month. He is very good natured and enjoys all the attention he can get. The only problem we have with him is his pooping indoors. My wife is growing less tolerant of this and is suggesting that we need to roll up the newspaper and apply it to his back side.
I read a book about raising dogs. We picked up Doc when he was 10 weeks old. We both work, so Doc stays in an oversize crate during the day. I would guess it is about 30" wide by 48" long and is in our son's room. He has never pooped in the crate and has not peed in it since he was several months old. He also sleeps in the crate. We get our son up about 6:00 AM and as soon as he's dressed he takes Doc out through the kitchen and garage to the fenced back yard where he does his business and runs around for a while. Around 7:30 we say "kennel" and Doc reluctantly heads off to the crate under his own power. About 3:30 our son gets home and lets him out again. He has the run of the house until about 10:00 when we go to bed. Doc gets 1/2 cup of Eucanuba in the morning and another 1/2 cup in the evening.
We followed the book's recommended method of watching him when he is not in the crate and if he starts to squat say 'bad dog', scoop him up, and quickly get him out side. I don't think he has peed in the house for several months and was pooping inside less frequently up to about 4 1/2 months old. But for the last two months he has gotten steadily worse about pooping in the house in the evening. We clean up with "OUT!" to get rid of the smell and he usually picks a different spot each time. He just sneaks off and does it before we can catch him. We don't say 'bad dog' unless we catch him in the act or still sniffing it. His head goes down and his tail drops and we get the sad eyes when we say 'bad dog', but still he does this again almost every day and sometimes 2 or 3 times a day on the weekends. He will wait by the kitchen door to go out and then pee outside when we take him out, but then 10 minutes later will poop inside. We give him plenty of time outside. He doesn't seem to mind the cold, rain, or snow and likes to take his bath. If we take him out about every hour in the evening he does okay, but if we forget... He doesn't display any aggressive behavior toward any of us, loves to cuddle and play with us, but when we see him walking with his nose to the carpet, we take him out quick.
Any thoughts on what we are doing wrong would be greatly appreciated.
Jerry, Christy, Devon, Charis & Doc
Well you aren't imposing, and I may be able to help. I'll start by telling you that I think the best book on dog training, dolphin training, and human training too, is "Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor. It is available from Bantam books. It is worth getting.
Now given Doc's age and progress toward being housebroken, it is not unreasonable for you to expect that he would have it all figured out by now and you wouldn't have any problems. In fact, what seems to have happened is Doc doesn't really know what to expect from you. I suspect that to begin with you probably praised him whenever he did his thing outside. I'll bet you are not doing that anymore, because you have begun to take it for granted. Meanwhile Doc has discovered that he captures quite a bit of your attention when "he does it in the house". Well, attention is what he craves, so guess what? He increases the number of times he poops indoors and lo and behold he gets more attention.
Your reaction should take four steps. First, everyone who is with Doc when he poops or pees outside should praise him lavishly and have treats in their pockets to reward him. Second, you should teach him to pee and poop on command, so that you can get him to attend to both functions when required. Do this by giving him a one word command for each function. Say the magic words every time you see him in the act and outdoors. To begin with you will give the command just as soon as he is in the act, and then when he has finished you praise and reward lavishly. Keep this up until you can prompt him to poop and pee "on cue". The advantage of cuing his toilet behavior is that he is unlikely to egage in a cued behavior in the house where there is no reward given for the activity. Your third strategy is to put Doc under close scrutiny when in the house to eliminate his chance of sneaking off to poop in a corner. This can be achieved if each person volunteers a certain amount of time to be Doc's supervisor. The supervisor will stay with Doc wherever he goes and will especially keep a sharp eye out to make sure he does not get a chance to defecate indoors. If he tries, scoop him up quick, rush him outside and observe plan one and two. Your fourth strategy is unbelievable! If Doc does manage to poop inside you will do nothing at all. You will not even utter a discouraging word. This reaction is to ensure that Doc gets diminished attention for in-house lapses. Do clean-up out of his sight too, so that he sees no consequence whatsoever for the undesirable behavior.
Every one in the house should understand and commit to this four part plan. That means agreeing on the two commands you will use to "cue" urination and defecation, carrying treats ready to praise and reward "good" behavior, and understanding why supervision is important for a little while. Finally, explaining and understanding why you ignore a mistake is really important.
Hope this all helps, it will work if you all work at it... Good Boy Doc!
David K. Candline