One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained
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    One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    I have a little Yorkie female who will be one at the end of this month. We bought her when she was two months old and have been trying to house train her from the very beginning. She was making really great progress for quite some time. She would go several days without any accidents inside our apartment. But recently (the last month or so), she's gotten really bad about going to the bathroom outside. She rarely signals to us that she needs to go outside and will instead just go on the floor without warning. She seems to have preferred spots in the house of where she'll pee or poop. And today she actually peed on our bed. That is something that has NEVER happened, and I am in total shock that she did it at all.

    We respond for her requests to be taken outside (when she gives them), I try to make sure to take her out every few hours, and we give her a treat and praise her when she goes outside. But lately, we'll take her outside, go on a walk, and she'll refuse to do anything outside, and once we get inside, she'll go on the floor instead. We're at a loss as to what to do. Why is she regressing so much and not even trying to go outside anymore?

    Any help and/or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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    Re: One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    Has a vet checked your dog? It could be an infection of some sort that's causing the incontinence.

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    Senior Member hamandeggs's Avatar
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    Re: One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    This sounds like a training issue, not a vet issue, to me, as it sounds like your dog has never been housetrained, but I agree that it's worth checking with your vet anyway.

    Two questions: what did you do to housetrain her? And what are you using to clean up her accidents? If you're not using an enzymatic cleanser (like Nature's Miracle), you should start with that. Otherwise she'll just keep going back to the same preferred spots.

    Biscuity goodness, CGC.

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    Senior Member Poly's Avatar
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    Re: One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    Quote Originally Posted by Popcorn View Post
    I have a little Yorkie female who will be one at the end of this month. We bought her when she was two months old and have been trying to house train her from the very beginning. She was making really great progress for quite some time. She would go several days without any accidents inside our apartment. But recently (the last month or so), she's gotten really bad about going to the bathroom outside. She rarely signals to us that she needs to go outside and will instead just go on the floor without warning. She seems to have preferred spots in the house of where she'll pee or poop. And today she actually peed on our bed. That is something that has NEVER happened, and I am in total shock that she did it at all.

    We respond for her requests to be taken outside (when she gives them), I try to make sure to take her out every few hours, and we give her a treat and praise her when she goes outside. But lately, we'll take her outside, go on a walk, and she'll refuse to do anything outside, and once we get inside, she'll go on the floor instead. We're at a loss as to what to do. Why is she regressing so much and not even trying to go outside anymore?

    Any help and/or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
    First of all, do have her checked by the vet. It's about time for her one-year exam anyway. Make sure that you mention to the vet that you are having houstraining problems. He'll probably want to run some extra tests to rule out any physical issues. They aren't the likely cause of your problem, but it is important to rule them out.

    Now for some realities that you are going to have to face. Althugh it is a toy breed, a yorkie is actually a terrier. As terriers mature, they do tend to become more independent. They lose that puppy attitude to please their owner and simply do for themselves. Additionally, toy dogs in general are difficult to housetrain. So you have a double whammy.

    It is VERY important with terriers that you maintain your NILIF with everything that you do. So for example, when she does do her business outside, don't simply reward her, ask for some "work" first. The work could be very simple like a sit, but it should be something. And do that for everything that she wants (her food, her playthings, etc). The only thing that you don't do it for is water - that's a freebie. Everything else requires "work".

    All this having been said, I will repeat that small dogs in general are difficult to housetrain and toy dogs even more so. It's not a training issue so much as a question of their anatomy. Besides which, some of these little guys are not particulary overjoyed about going outside for any reason. A lot of people who have these dogs train them to use a litterbox, and find that it is more reliable and easier than outside training. Females in particular do quite well with a litterbox for obvious reasons.

    Here's an article on training to a litterbox. It is written for IGs - another toy breed - but you would do it the exact same way with your yorkie.

    How To Litter Box Train Your Dog

    Make sure you do get a dog litterbox. Don't use a cat litterbox. Even if you cut off the top like the article says, some dogs won't use them. And you can still take your dog for walks or let them out in the yard if you want to.

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    Re: One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    I disagree with Poly about not rewarding for simply doing her business outside, but actually requiring some "work" like a sit, before getting the treat. The reason people recommend treating for potty training is so that the dog learns pottying outside is good. If you WAIT, and then have her sit, she will think she is being rewarded for the "sit" instead of the potty.

    I'm sure we've all heard how you shouldn't punish unless you catch them in the act, so they make the connection about what they're being punished/reprimanded for. The same goes with rewards. Timing is crucial. Reward the potty until she is 100% potty trained. Don't wait and have her do something else before getting the treat.

    I DO agree that some breeds are more challenging to potty train. I have dachshunds, and they are definitely one of those breeds!

    It's very common for dogs to regress in their potty training. Some things that can cause them to regress are: changes in environment (ranging from something as subtle as new furniture or rearranged old furniture all the way up to a new home), changes in routine, changes in health (yours or the dog), going through a fear stage, or going through doggy adolescence.

    I would recommend going back to potty training basics, as if she was a new puppy. I'm not sure how you did it when she was a puppy, but I'd suggest severely limiting her freedom, don't let her out of your sight. That way, she can't sneak off and pee. If you keep her in your sight as if she was a new puppy, you can see her signs and take her out. And, take her out every 2 hours tops.

    Clean with an enzymatic cleaner, and deny her access to the "usual" spots inside where she pee/poops, if you can. Good luck!

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    Senior Member Poly's Avatar
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    Re: One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    Quote Originally Posted by doxiemommy View Post
    I disagree with Poly about not rewarding for simply doing her business outside, but actually requiring some "work" like a sit, before getting the treat. The reason people recommend treating for potty training is so that the dog learns pottying outside is good. If you WAIT, and then have her sit, she will think she is being rewarded for the "sit" instead of the potty....
    Except that this is a terrier. It's important when training terriers to think outside of the box, especially as they mature.

    In this case, she knows exactly what she is supposed to do - as the OP said, she was making really great progress. But like a lot of terriers as they mature, she only wants to do it on her terms. The whole point of NILIF is that her terms are not going to be good enough.

    If you simply reward a terrier for occasionally doing what she already knows that she is supposed to do all the time, you will get nowhere with her. You have to constantly 'up the ante' with terriers in order to create problems that they must solve. Yes you WANT to create problems for them. They are great independent problem solvers. They can put together a string of behavior on their own if they know a reward is coming at the end of the string. A 'potty plus a sit' is not much of a problem, but it is at least a bit different. .

    Going "back to basics" to teach behaviors she has already learned is not only a waste of time with an obstinate terrier - what are you going to teach her that she doesn't know? - you run the risk of boring her. You must find a NEW way of getting to the same end result. A bored terrier is a disobedient terrier.

    One of the reasons to recommend a litter box - in addition to the fact that it actually works - is that the learning process will be a new challenge for her.

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    Re: One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    I still disagree. If you read the original post, the OP said

    "She was making really great progress for quite some time. She would go several days without any accidents inside our apartment...."

    If this dog has only been able to go "several days" without having an accident (not weeks or months), then she's not 100% potty trained. So, your argument that "she knows exactly what she is supposed to do." doesn't fly with me. If she knew exactly what she was supposed to do, she'd be able to go more than "several days" without having an accident.

    If "several days" is the progress, they still have a ways to go. This dog isn't 100% potty trained, IMO, to begin with. So, stick with the "basics" until they have this dog 100% potty trained is what I still say. You can't start shaking things up until the basic knowledge is there. And if the dog can only go several days without having an accident, then it still considers inside an ok option.

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    Senior Member sassafras's Avatar
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    Re: One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    If she has preferred places in the house and waits to come home from a walk to pee/poop instead of going on the walk itself, I am sorry to say that she HAS been housetrained - she's just been inadvertently trained to go in those preferred spots instead of outside where you want her to.

    IMO you are going to completely go back to square one... basic, basic, unhousetrained-puppy level stuff - a combination of confinement, extremely close supervision, and going outside very frequently to practice and reward success outdoors and prevent mistakes indoors. I agree with doxiemommy, reward her right when she potties outside, don't make her wait or do something else, it will just muddy what she's being rewarded for. And keep her tethered to you so she can't wander off and eliminate out of your sight.

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    Senior Member sassafras's Avatar
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    Re: One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    Quote Originally Posted by Poly View Post
    Going "back to basics" to teach behaviors she has already learned is not only a waste of time with an obstinate terrier - what are you going to teach her that she doesn't know?
    She DOESN'T know. She was never housetrained to go outside in the first place.

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    Senior Member LilasMom's Avatar
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    Re: One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    100% house trained means zero accidents 100% of the time. An accident every few days is not house trained.
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    Senior Member Poly's Avatar
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    Re: One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    Quote Originally Posted by LilasMom View Post
    100% house trained means zero accidents 100% of the time. An accident every few days is not house trained.
    I can see you haven't worked much with hard-case terriers. With a lot of them, there's no such thing as guaranteed 100% performance in any kind of training situation. They aren't retrievers or BCs or GSDs, and in a lot of instances they aren't concerned one little bit in doing what pleases you. They'll solve their problems in their own way - not always your way. And oh yes, thank you very much Mom (or Dad) for taking care of me but I'm not all that interested in what you want. Biddability? Sorry I don't know what that means.

    I've worked a lot with them - young and old and in-between - and I can tell you that independence is their middle name. When it comes to training, they can be harder to deal with than the bully-terriers

    If one does something that you want just as you want it for three days straight, guaranteed that she has learned EXACTLY what that is. I would call that good progress.

    In fact, chances are with a terrier that she learned what you wanted on the FIRST day. And then when she doesn't do it on the fourth day, it isn't because she suddenly forgot what she learned. It's because she has absolutely no interest in doing it anymore - the challenge, if any, is over. It's up to you to rekindle that interest.

    And one final thing about yorkies in particular. A very common reason why yorkies are surrendered to shelters and rescues is inability to house-train. Most of these owners have tried and re-tried the conventional route and it hasn't worked.
    Last edited by Poly; 03-27-2012 at 10:46 AM. Reason: Typo

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    Senior Member sassafras's Avatar
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    Re: One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    Quote Originally Posted by Poly View Post
    If one does something that you want just as you want it for three days straight, guaranteed that she has learned EXACTLY what that is.
    Or it means that the owner was especially diligent for three days straight and then felt confident and slacked off on supervision. Which happens all the time with various breeds.

    Three days of no accidents does NOT a housetrained dog make, no matter what the breed.

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    Re: One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    I STILL respectfully disagree. Maybe I haven't worked with terriers as much as you, HOWEVER, my parents have two that were easier to train than my dachshunds, and my sister has 4, and only one of them was a tad bit challenging the others were easy-peasy. My aunt (as you can see, most of my family is a yorkie family, I'm the black sheep with my dachshunds) has one that really didn't require much training at all, she just seemed to "know" what to do. My next door neighbor has 2 and one of them tended to have more accidents as a puppy than the others I've known, but she also had constant UTIs. And, until that problem was resolved, they had issues.
    Just because you've worked with a lot of them and "independence" is their middle name, doesn't mean your experiences are the ONLY experiences possible with a terrier. Dachshunds are also very well known for their ability to be very, very challenging to potty train. That doesn't mean I had to come up with a new, unique plan to deal with it, I just had to be super vigilant. And, really, our oldest wasn't that hard. The second was a bit more challenging, but done by the time she was 7 months old. The foster we have now, our third, took about a month only.

    One thing we've heard time and time again on this forum that dogs are dogs first, and then their breed second. I don't see how, just because a dog is a certain breed, you have to change the way you potty train them. AND, in ALL the gazillions of threads on potty training, I don't recall it ever being said that potty training means no accidents 100% of the time EXCEPT for terriers, they can have accidents every few days and still be 100% potty trained.
    In all the potty training threads none of the super wise and super experienced people have ever made any excuses for a dog and said that it's ok that they still have accidents, don't worry, they're a terrier and they are having accidents because, as you say she's learned what you want "but has absolutely no interest in doing it anymore." The general consensus has always been that a dog that has accidents inside isn't potty trained. Period. Or, that there is a medical problem. It's not just me, that's usually the answer people get about potty training.

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    Re: One Year Old Dog Still Not Housetrained

    I will repeat that small dogs in general are difficult to housetrain and toy dogs even more so. It's not a training issue so much as a question of their anatomy. Besides which, some of these little guys are not particulary overjoyed about going outside for any reason. A lot of people who have these dogs train them to use a litterbox, and find that it is more reliable and easier than outside training.

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