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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 6 1/2 year old Cocker Spaniel who I have Crate trained his entire life. He has never fully potty trained and, despite being in his kennel at night and being let out every hour(I have a timer) he still wets/poops on the carpet on a regular basis.
Because he has been untrainable he ends up being imprisoned in his kennel a lot or taken with me everywhere. He has never once had an accident in his kennel or in the car while waiting for me. Until a few months ago, I worked nights and to avoid locking him in his kennel 16 hours per day (while at work and sleeping) I took him with me to work where he slept in his bed in the car and I let him out every hour. Still, there are accidents regularly; small urine spots or big poops.

He is an extremely unintelligent dog. I know that sounds mean but friends/family often mention to me that he's "not the sharpest tool in the shed" or "dumb as a box of rocks." It took weeks and hundreds of repetitions to train him to sit and shake when other dogs pick it up in an afternoon. He is also as silent as a mouse; never ever barking so he doesn't understand signaling me if he has a potty emergency. The idea of going while he's outside is way beyond his comprehension. His mind doesn't think to let loose until he absolutely has to go and its too late.

I got married four months ago and moved to live with my wife in British Columbia. Since then, his problem has persisted. Despite sharing the cottage with her well-trained dog to observe, being kenneled at night, walked every day and having me home to let him out hourly(I'm waiting for my permanent residency so I can legally work) I still walk into the living room and find surprise pee spots or poo on the carpet(the only carpet in the house) and him having retreated to his kennel. he knows what he did was wrong but still decided to go instead of holding it.

The potty problem has put an immense stress on my relationship with my wife. She is a patient woman but is extremely fed up with the continual messes and the pee smell we can no longer get rid of despite trying several products. Last night turned into a HUGE fight after yet another accident and I realized that my dogs chronic problem has become a liability for my marriage. I also feel like I've developed a lot of resentment/anger towards my dog which I feel guilty about because I fully know that he is just a dog and not trying to hurt anyone.

I need some ideas quickly or I am going to be forced to send him back with my parents when they visit from Oregon in a week. Right now we are broke since I cant work and cant afford to pay a trainer, build an outdoor run/fence the yard(no garage), or make other dog related investments. I would have to send him away and give things another go when my residency comes through.

I love my dog and don't want to be apart from him for up to 9 months. What can I possibly do? Should I try hanging a bell from the door and training him to ring it? I'm at my wits end and need a solution.


1,043 Posts
I'm going to take a stab at this. I might be wrong but it's worth a shot.

You say he's been like this his whole life? It sounds like he just never understood what you were trying to teach him and fell into a bad habit and doesn't understand why you insist on waking him up to take him outside every hour. It could very well be that he's not bright, but it could also be that your training is missing the mark somehow. It could also mean that he has a strong imprint of where to go based on his puppy-hood experiences.

Normally, my first trip would be to the vet, however, the fact that he doesn't go in the crate or car, does suggest a training issue, rather than a health issue though.

For a short-term solution, you might consider diapering him, (to save your marriage, of course), but crating might be more successful than diapering.

Does he have a specific area he keeps going back to? What type of surfaces does frequent? What do you use to clean up the messes?

I have noticed that some of the pups I raised had a strong scent imprint from where they pottied as puppies. For example, I have a small fenced in area, within a larger fenced in yard. Years ago, the full yard wasn't fenced and I only had the smaller fenced-in 'dog yard'. I always kept a few inches of mulch in the dog yard to help keep it cleaner and fresher. Consequently, two of the pups I raised became accustomed to going potty on mulch and wouldn't go on grass or anywhere off the property. When I took them on long outings, I ended up bringing a small bag of mulch with me, just to help them get used to going on grassy areas, (because they wouldn't go potty, no matter how badly they had to or how long we were out). I placed the mulch on the ground, they would sniff it and eventually make the decision that it was ok to potty there. Over time, they transitioned the odor of mulch to the odor of grass and were more comfortable going on just grassy areas. I'm thinking this could be a similar situation. If your dog favors carpet, or a certain flooring, etc., you could try bringing a piece of carpet or flooring outside to help him get the idea. (probably will take a few weeks, but it's something to try).

So, in short, if you clean inside thoroughly, with an enzymatic cleaner and vinegar and bring a carpet sample outside to a designated spot, and keep a record of when he goes, when he eats and when he drinks, (get to know his schedule), then you can diaper, or crate him, until it's time for him to go. Then take him outside on leash, and spend how ever long it takes for him to do his business. If he doesn't go, he goes back in his crate. Try again later.

Don't go outside angry, don't show impatience, pull up a chair if you have to, and wait it out. Repeat, repeat, repeat. If and when he goes, have plenty of treats on hand and a happy, excited voice. Once he goes outside, he can have freedom in the house for a few hours.

Again, just a thought.

BTW, When he's in the house, you can keep him on a leash (tethered to your waist). It will decrease his likelihood of going in the house, but it will also put you in a better position to catch him in the act. If he does, immediately tell him "no' in a calm but stern voice while you pick him up (mid-poop/pee) and take him directly outside. Once outside, say 'potty' (or whatever word you want to use). Wait for him to go, and praise him when he does. If he doesn't go, keep him tethered, or put him in his crate and then take him out again later.
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