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Just before Christmas we rescued an approximately 2 year old beagle/poodle mix from the local no-kill shelter. We also have a 9 year old English springer spaniel.

She was reportedly potty trained and initially seemed to make good on that promise. Despite that, she did not come without baggage. There was a clear pack leader issue that required some effort on our part to rectify. Those issues are no longer present in any way, shape or form and were resolved without violence of any sort.

At some point a couple months into our ownership, we started to notice accidents. She would leave pee spots on our tile as well as the occasional accident on our carpet. We had been crating her during times when we'd be gone, never more than 2-4 hours, with success. But when the accidents started, we noticed that she'd also started messing in her crate both while the door was closed and when it was open. Baffled by the behavior I set up a webcam on the crate and immediately noticed she was going in there strictly to pee, often times lapping up the mess in an apparent effort to hide it.

This brought on a visit to the vet who checked her for a bladder infection. He also ran a urinalysis to check for any other potential issues. Everything came back normal.

After the vet visit we decided to really concentrate on retraining her. I started by letting her out every 90 minutes, using a timer for consistency, during the day. She rarely, if ever, would pee when in our back yard. When she did, she was praised a great deal and offered a treat. She was still messing all over the house, except even more frequently. We pulled up all our rugs (the entire main floor of our home is ceramic tile) and to our horror discovered literally 50-100 pee spots we didn't know existed, probably due to her licking them up so they dried very quickly.

We called the vet and were advised to start over from scratch using an appropriate sized crate to re-train her. She is crated all day with frequent (every 2 hours) periods where she is let out to pee. We exercise her twice a day by playing fetch for 30-45 minutes each time. She is also permitted to roam the back yard with our other dog for several hours each day. When she does pee outside, we bring her in and play together, doing everything we can to reward her good behavior.

Yet through all of this, she pees in her kennel at least once a day. Today she was out at 7am, 10am, 11:30am, 1pm, and 3pm. She peed at 7 but not again all day. Then, as I she sat in her crate (which is right next to my desk, so we are together all day), she peed about 15 minutes after we had come in. She sometimes pees her crate at night, but often makes the 5-6 hours without an issue. Very oddly, she *always* pees when I let her out before bed at around 2am. That is literally the only time we are guaranteed she will do so outside.

She does not hate her crate at all. She actually goes to it voluntarily and will even sit there with the door open. She doesn't wine or cry and shows no signs of stress or anxiety with being crated.

We are very much at wits end - this has been going on for 6 months. She is a wonderful dog with a great personality, but I am starting to wonder if either she is scarred psychologically from her life prior to us or if we are just ill-equipped to handle this unique situation. So, please, if you have any advice to offer, we are listening!
 

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Are you cleaning up the places she peed with an enzymatic cleaner like nature's miracle? If not she smells it and dogs like to pee where they smell pee, so if they pee inside and you don't clean it up properly it's very likely they'll pee there again.
 

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Are you cleaning up the places she peed with an enzymatic cleaner like nature's miracle? If not she smells it and dogs like to pee where they smell pee, so if they pee inside and you don't clean it up properly it's very likely they'll pee there again.
I have heard that is true, which is why we cleaned our carpets with just such a cleaner mixed in. I didn't think that would apply to her kennel though? I am under the understanding that 99% of dogs will almost never pee in their crates.

In any event, I will give it a scrub with enzymatic cleaner in the morning. Thanks for the advice!
 

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Are you free feeding her?

What strikes me is that when you lifted up the carpet there were spots you didn't know were there. How is/was she peeing in these spots without you knowing?

I would work on re-training as you are with a few tweaks. Clean out the kennel and continue to use it, but don't trust it. Tether her to you. Take her out every hour instead of 2 hours.

Is she sniffing around before she pees? Or is it an immediate thing? If you see her start sniffing rush her outside. Write down when she eats and drinks. About 30 min after that she will need to pee.

I also second enzymatic cleaner. Enzyme clean everything.

Is she food motivated? When she goes outside use a super duper food she only gets for eliminating outside. Garlic chicken, steak pieces, hot dogs, cheese, etc. You say you reward her by running inside and playing but is that really motivating for her? Also, the time it takes to run inside and play (with a green dog especially) separates the reward from the behavior a little too much, know what I mean? She pees, you call her inside to play, is she rewarded for peeing outside? Coming when called? Following you? Coming inside the house? In my opinion you need something more immediate, something more distinct to say "you peeing outside=reward". Once she begins to associate outside elimination with a reward then you can start adding time in between behavior and consequence.

When you take her outside to pee during those time do you just put her outside and watch her? Dogs, like humans, usually get a need to eliminate once they start moving around. So I would try going for a short walk or a walk around the backyard and encourage her to explore with you.

These are just my immediate thoughts on the topic. Not sure what you are trying or not. But her behavior to lick up the pee is kind of...interesting. You said in the beginning you had "pack issues". How did you take care of this? Do you think she is in any way afraid of your reactions to her behavior? If you catch her peeing inside, what do you do?

When she pees/poops outside do you pick it up/wash it? For her I would leave it outside. Show her pee/poop outside is good and the signals in the urine/poop will also encourage her to go there again. If she pees on something inside use an old rag to sop it up as best you can and put that rag outside in the grass. Use it to encourage her to pee outside. It might help and it's something to try, albeit, a little gross.

You're right. Most dogs won't eliminate in their crate, but some do. Makes it that much harder. You're main objective right now is to get her to eliminate outside as much as you can to reward it. You're not so much teaching her that peeing inside is bad, just that peeing outside means she gets better more rewarding things, so it is worth it to wait.
 

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We do not free feed her and are very careful to take her out right after she eats.

I do watch her when I take her out but we don't do walks that often as we have a large back yard which we use to exercise her for an hour or more each day (mostly fetch). I have read the last 24-36 hours that walks may help us and we've taken her for one a couple times, both led to her peeing. So I think this may be key in the retraining.

She is not super food motivated, but I do greet her with a good treat and tons of praise immediately after she pees. Then we come in and play, as opposed to her having to go to her crate.

As far as her letting us know she has to pee - she is AWFUL at this. You have to notice what is the most subtle hint I've ever seen from a dog. She walks past my office door and goes and sits at the back door silently. If I miss her walking by, she messes. I've read about a method where you tie a bell to the door knob then jingle it when you say, "potty" so they associate the two. Supposedly then she will learn to ring the bell when she needs to go. We may try this as well.

I am super commuted to this poor little pooch who apparently had a pretty terrible life before we got her. I just need to make sure I am doing the right things and not just things for the sake of things. :)

Thanks a ton for the advice/help!
 

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You've gotten good advice already, but I'm interested to note that this seemed to evolve over some time. Is that right?

It may be that she is developing some neurotic behavior because she's not sufficiently stimulated. I was going to suggest taking her for walks, and I'm glad to see this might already be helping. Walks, in various places at various times, socialization with other dogs, training, all these can help you not only build your bond and understanding of each other, but also give her a higher quality of life, and more emotional stability.

I also wanted to suggest the bell, and there you are with that idea already! :) It worked great with the one dog I tried it with (a greyhound puppy). You could even put a bell on the inside of her crate, maybe a little higher so she doesn't accidentally bump it, but can still reach it easily.

What is sometimes called the "umbilical cord" method of leashing the dog to you at any time she's outside the crate can also help you both learn to catch each others signals and reactions. You won't have to do this for too long.

Another helpful idea is to restrict her freedom in the house to a much smaller area, such that you can slowly establish that each newly open zone is a no-pee zone, only moving on once it's clear she gets it, and going back a step for mistakes.

If she does pee and you see her peeing, make a bit of a fuss about getting her outside, even WHILE she's still peeing. I'm not talking about screaming or whacking her with newspaper, just use a tone of voice that is no stronger than you have learned works for her, and leash her (if she's not already leashed) right out the door, where you can then throw a party if she finishes outside. Keep saying simple things like, "NO pee!" and then "Good pee pee!"

As Nil said, find what counts as a high-value reward for her, whether that's a particular toy, a walk, an ear rub, or a piece of chicken jerky.

Also a STRONG second to the enzymatic cleaning of every surface that pee has ever touched inside your house. Even repeated cleaning. She's established for herself that peeing in the house works just fine, and it smells like her pee space to her sensitive nose, so why not?

Good for you, for your strong commitment to your little girl! And good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That is a great reply - thanks for taking the time to help.

I am going to stop at the pet store this afternoon and load up on cleaner (quick, hit Wall Street and invest in that sector!). We also just had another successful walk. As hard as it is for me to stop work mid-day 3-4 times and do walks, if that is what needs to happen, I'll make it so.

Thanks again.
 
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