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Discussion Starter #1
Good afternoon all. I have spent the majority of the morning/afternoon reading threads, stickies, etc, but can't seem to find an answer to my question.

We recently adopted a beagle mix from our local pet shelter. They say she is around 1.5 years old and our vet has agreed with that age assessment. She is a wonderful companion and it is obvious she wants to try and please. She has done very well during the two weeks we have had her; however, she refuses to use the bathroom in front of us. Despite the fact that we have refrained from codemning accidents, in the two weeks that we have housed her she has yet to ever "go" when we take her outside. We go outside many times throughout the day, you can tell she has to "go", and she can't wait to get home so she can. You do your best to keep your eye on her, but eventually she slips away for 10seconds and has an accident. We clean it up, throw it outside, etc. but we cannot get her to go outside. We strongly believe that if we could just get her to go to the bathroom outside that the positive reinforcement would be enough for her to learn, but we can't get her to go! Any ideas?
 

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Take her back to potty training 101 as if she were a 10 week old pup.

Keep her tethered to you while you're in the house so she can't "Slip away." Watch her like a hawk. First sign of needing to go and take her out the door, you may need to pick her up and carrier. Take her out once an hour to start. How long are you waiting outside with her? If she's only going when she's away from you in the house she may not like being watched so maybe get a longer leash and just ignore her for a while outside. Praise praise praise, lots of treats if she goes outside.
 

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As strict as this sounds, anytime you cannot keep an eye on her, she must be crated. That is the first step. If you do catch her going, you should pick her up and put her outside immediately. She may be thinking that the place to go is in the house because of the lack of correction. Be sure to clean the floor/carpet completely...I had to steam clean mine to get the smell out, otherwise she will keep going in "her spot.". When she does go outside, praise her immensely and continue taking her to the same spot daily to go. That is how I trained my very difficult carpet marker to go outside! She has not had an accident in over five months. Good luck!
 

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As strict as this sounds, anytime you cannot keep an eye on her, she must be crated. That is the first step. If you do catch her going, you should pick her up and put her outside immediately. She may be thinking that the place to go is in the house because of the lack of correction. Be sure to clean the floor/carpet completely...I had to steam clean mine to get the smell out, otherwise she will keep going in "her spot.". When she does go outside, praise her immensely and continue taking her to the same spot daily to go. That is how I trained my very difficult carpet marker to go outside! She has not had an accident in over five months. Good luck!
I wouldn't crate her all the time, but certainly tether her to you. And if you can't tether her, then crate her (but limit this- crates are best used judiciously!)


I also agree Potty Training 101, just like a beginner is a GREAT idea. We potty trained our pups by doing 'jackpot' treats, and going outside every hour for the first 24 hours, and every 2 hours for the next 48 hours. It was a helluva 72 hours, but we have had only about 15 accidents between the 2 of them in 6 months.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
She is crated during the day, so I really do not want to crate her once we all get home. I will definitely try the tethering idea. I do not know how feasible this is since we have two kids (3 years old and 1 year old) and it is almost impossible to remain in a given spot for more than 3 seconds. The dog actually prefers to rest and will stay in one place (the couch usually) for most of the time. But, as soon as she starts roaming around there is no doubt she has to go. Her fortitude is amazing. We can go in and out in 5 minute internals or stay outside for 45 minutes (we have tried both) and she will hold it the entire time she is outside. You can actually tell she is distressed, wants to go, but is holding it in, which makes it all the worse. If we could just somehow get her to "go" outside I think she would understand very quickly. She had learned so many things over the course of the past two weeks, but obviously this was an issue with a previous owner/family as she shows such extreme fortitude.
 

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A couple tricks you can try.

1. Definitely make sure you are cleaning her messes inside with an enzymatic cleaner to get rid of the smell or she will just want to remark the same places.
2. Take the cloth you use to clean her pee inside and place it outside where you want her to go.
3. Try taking her for a long walk (1 hour+), the exercise often gets the bowels moving.

The point of tethering is that she has to stay with you. You don't need to stay in one place with her. She might not be too happy about it at first but it's just temporary. If you can't watch her or tether her then she should be crated.
 

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Oh my goodness, I feel your pain -- we had this same problem with our rescue pup, Biscuit, when we adopted her last summer. We always felt like she had been mistreated by her previous owners for having an accident in front of them and that made her reluctant to do her business on leash. I actually think this sort of thing is pretty common among rescue dogs, especially females. Despite all this, it still only took us a week to housetrain Biscuit and she was 6 months old when we got her. It was traumatic for everyone involved at the time, but I am here to tell you it can be done! And it won't take very long if you do it right!

What I recommend, is a combination of CONSTANT SUPERVISION when indoors (yes this means tethering) and a 30-foot leash so she can get some privacy when you're outside. Tether her to you wherever you go, like tie the leash to your waist. The goal is to wait her out. If you don't give her any opportunity whatsoever to sneak away and have an accident in the house, then she'll come to see that outside is the only option, undesirable as she may think it is. Tethering is a huge pain in the neck but it won't last long because your dog is old enough to have muscle control (obviously), so I STRONGLY recommend that you deal with this annoying inconvenience for a few days.

The second piece is the hard part. You have to convince her that it's safe and desirable to do her business on leash in front of you. What we did was, we got a 30-foot leash and allowed Biscuit to go behind bushes or parked cars or whatever she needed to feel like she had some distance from us. We kept taking her back to the same place for a few minutes at a time. If she didn't go, we would take her in and tether or crate her, then out again in 20 minutes. After about 48 hours of the tethering/long lead combo, she started to pee in the new place. When she did this, the second she finished we threw a praise parade (but not a loud or scary one) and gave her a treat (drop the treat on the ground if your pup is too rattled to take it from your hand, as ours was). After a few days of this, Biscuit would reliably go in her one spot, which was enough to make our life livable. Things continued to improve from there. You just have to stick it out. Remember, she is scared that bad things will happen if she goes in front of you. You have to show her that that's not true, and that in fact if she does her business outside you will be very happy!

Clicker training is also great for this, especially if you're using the clicker for other training as well. We started putting "go pee" on command starting in December because Biscuit was (and is) still wary of going to the bathroom in new locations. We say "go pee" when she squats, and then we click when she finishes and give her a treat and some praise. She has made leaps and bounds since we started doing this; she'll obey the command now most of the time and has even started marking things when we're out walking (which I never thought would happen). If I had to do this again (which I really hope to avoid!), I would use the clicker and a "go pee" command from day one.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hamandeggs, thanks so much for the response. It is somewhat reassuring to read such a similar experience from someone else. Plus, your response is exactly what I needed to hear! BTW, I love the pic of biscuit in your signature. What a sweetheart!

Thanks again!
 

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Aw, thanks! Hint: we love pics of pups - post some of yours!

When we first got Biscuit, we loved her so much and were so afraid she would never really be housetrained - I had never met a dog with this particularly neurosis before - but the bad phase really did pass within a few days once we figured out what was going on inside her little head. This problem was actually how I found this forum, so there was an upside!

I will add: I know you said you haven't been condemning accidents or punishing her for them, but I want to underscore how important that is for other people who might read this. You really want to make her believe you're someone she can trust not to hurt her. If she has an accident and you don't catch her in the act, just silently remove her from the room and clean it up without making any fuss at all. If you do catch her in the act, do something to startle her into stopping (but try not to scare her too much) and whisk her outside immediately, and praise/click/treat if she finishes outside. This goes without saying, but NEVER yell at her or hit her or stick her nose in her mess. She's obviously sensitive and eager to please. This is a dog that is going to respond best to positive reinforcement in all aspects of training, and I would strongly recommend against trying to establish "dominance" or any of that hogwash. It will only set you back.

Again, good luck, and let us know how it goes!
 

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It has now been three weeks. As I was getting up this morning I was preparing myself to update this thread with the fact that Cricket (our dog) had not gone to the bathroom outside once time since we rescued her. However, this morning she actually went! I can't say I have ever been that happy to see a dog "go" outside. Obviously a huge positive and a gigantic step in the right direction.

Having said that, we are still frustrated with the fact that it has been three weeks and this is the first time that she has done her business outside. To tell you how bad it has become, she will wait all day and night. Eventually, we have to leave and we put her in her crate. She will wait until we leave the house and then she will "go" in her crate. So, can anyone help us in finding ways that we can entice her to go outside? Obviously the party I threw for her this morning helped, but any tricks you can offer to help us encourage that behavior are greatly appreciated!

Thanks all so much for your help with this!
 

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Is the crate large? It should be only big enough for her to turn around and stretch out right now. Most dogs won't do their business where they sleep, especially if they don't have space to get away from it. Also, if there's any absorbent bedding in there, remove it for now, and make sure to clean everything up with enzyme cleaner. Is she anxious in her crate?

It sounds like you may have turned a corner this morning! Keep it up. She WILL get the hang of it and learn she can trust you. You can try putting the paper towels you use to clean up her messes outside where you want her to go, but I will say, that never worked for us even slightly. But I think it does work for some dogs, so worth a shot if you haven't already tried it.

Finally: what happens if you take her to an off-leash dog park? Will she eventually go to the bathroom there? That was the first place Biscuit was willing to go outside. I took her at an off-peak time and stayed for like 2 hours and eventually she went and I threw a parade. Just an idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
hamandeggs, I have thought about the off-leash park idea because I do think that would make a difference. Unfortunately, we have not taken her to one because we have been trying to acclimate her to a leash and to trust us. When she is off the leash she runs around with her tail between her legs and avoids people. She just runs and runs. There is no doubt that this dog has been through some awful owners prior to us. Your point earlier about the positive reinforcement is dead on. She really wants to please, more than most dogs I have known.

Her crate is definitely the right size, although prior to today we had a bed in there with her. Today we put her in the crate without anything. I'm glad to hear you say that because I was worried she would be uncomfortable without the bedding. I'll be interested to see what difference this makes in the coming days.

Nonetheless, I'm just so happy she went this morning that I am beside myself! While it's only a step, it's a big one! I got so excited I scared her so I hope I didn't set her back! We will just keep having a party every time she does the right thing.

We'll get there I am sure, I just don't want her hurting herself in attempt to please us.
 

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It is a big step! I remember that feeling of victory. Try to make your praise parade more of an earnest quiet one, not loud and scary. I don't blame you for being super excited, though! Just get down on her level, scratch her shoulder, and say nice things and she'll get the message. And don't forget the treats! Drop them on the ground if she's too nervous to take food from your hand.

I felt guilty when we got rid of Biscuit's bedding, but it was fine. We ended up never putting it back because she seems to like the cool plastic and we're using the bed that was in there in another room now. We put a towel underneath the plastic tray to keep it from rattling around.

If she is OK with other dogs, I don't think an off-leash park would do any harm to your leash training, and maybe running around a lot would tire her out enough to relax a bit. That said, if she's scared of other dogs, or you think she might become so scared of the situation that she would snap or become aggressive, or if you don't think you would be able to catch her if you need to, then don't do it yet. You'll get there either way.

You're doing a really wonderful thing for this dog, giving her the time she needs to learn that she's in a safe place now. It sounds like she has been through some really bad things. Have you considered calling up a behaviorist for a phone consultation? The rescue or shelter or your vet might be able to recommend one.
 

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I am incredibly happy to report that yesterday morning was NOT a one time deal as she went to the bathroom outside both last night and this morning! Plus, no accident in the crate yesterday for the first time since we rescued her!!! What a glorious day! She is definitely learning.

Hamandeggs, thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful responses. I will keep you posted on the progress.
 

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Yay!! I have been reading this thread, but didn't really have more to add. But, I am so happy for you now that you're going on two days of success! :)
 

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Double yay!! And so glad I could help. It really sounds like you've turned a corner with her. Great work!
 
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