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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I recently got 2 maltipoos from a previous owner who couldn't take care of them due to her personal circumstances. They are both 4 years old and from the same litter. I'm having some trouble potty training the boy. To start off, I should let you guys know the previous owner trained them on potty pads (indoors). I am not a big fan of this. I've had them for nearly 2 months now and the boy continues to pee & poop inside the house. About 1/2 the time, he uses the pee pad and the other occasions, he goes where ever he pleases. I am a big time dog lover but this is driving me nuts.

When I first got the dogs, I would take them on a morning walk (short 10 min), then a much longer one mid-afternoon, then another short one before bedtime. This routine has not paid off as I had hoped so I'm trying something different. Instead of our morning walk, I let them out in the front yard (supervised) and encourage them to go potty. If I see them do a #1 or #2, I bring them inside and give them a small little treat. If they don't go, I do not give them a treat.

Additionally, I bought a doorbell like this one. I ring that bell just before I let them out in the front yard. It hasn't worked. Linus (the boy) seemed scared of it at first. Even after he got over his fright, he couldn't seem to associate going potty with that bell.

The girl on the other hand is extremely smart and learned within 5 weeks. When she needs to go potty, she sits with her back turned towards me over by the edge of the living room and the hallway area. I did not teach her this - she just did it on her own and I've learned that is her way of letting me know.

Linus is very sneaky. He'll go potty when I'm not looking (like when I'm doing the dishes or laundry). He'll sneak off to a part of the house and poop when I'm not looking. As a first time dog owner, I'm very perplexed on how to correct his behavior. He's a good boy - just very stubborn.

Oh one more thing - I think the dog has some severe anxiety issues. He was separated from his mother at just 4 weeks old. He shakes & shivers during car rides and barks at everyone. I'm surprised he took a liking to me in the first place. Maybe he sensed I am a dog lover.

Correction: They were not separated from their mother at 4 wks. I was scrolling through the past text messages with the previous owner and she did say she got the dogs when they were 8 wks old.
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Just a small update on this. 6/25/22

After reading the comments in this thread I realized I was not taking them out nowhere near frequently enough. I removed any potty pads laying around and I started taking them out for potty every 2 hours and it has helped tremendously. Each dog has had just 1 accident so far. As recommended by the members, I make sure I give lots of praise whenever they do #1 or #2 following a small little treat.

Also, whenever I have to leave the house, I put Linus in the bathroom (on the main floor) and toss in one of his chew toys. I have taken him (actually both dogs) on several shopping trips before but Linus does not do well on car rides. He gets nervous and shivers and shakes. He also pants very hard - so much so I'm afraid he's gonna hyperventilate and pass out. LOL.

I also take them out after every meal. (I usually wait 30-45 min after eating, then I take them out).

I want to thank everyone who helped. My frustration level was getting up there, now it's becoming manageable.
 

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The first thing you need to do is limit where he can go in the house through the use of baby gates etc. You also need to get a crate that is only big enough for him to stand up in and turn around in.

I would start by crating him when you feed him. After eating take him out and only him. If he pees/poops outside make it the best thing ever. If it takes the finest bits of roast beef, use that!

Then I would bring him in, watch him like a hawk and only allow him in the kitchen or wherever area is gated off. If he starts to pee simply interrupt him and get him out. You may need to leave a leash on him to expedite this. If you cannot watch him, crate him. I would continue taking him out.. hourly if need be.. with prevention of ANY pee/poop in the house my priority. I would take him out mostly by himself so you can focus on him. Crate him when you take the other dog out.

He gets no freedom in the house with the other dog until he is reliable about going to the bathroom outside and even then you will have to never let him out of your sight so there is no opportunity to sneak off.

This will take perseverance and time... and it may take a few months. You will need to make his house training a mission.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
3GSD4IPO

Very well said. Understood. Thanks for the succint reply.

EDIT:
He gets no freedom in the house with the other dog until he is reliable about going to the bathroom outside and even then you will have to never let him out of your sight so there is no opportunity to sneak off.
So let's say after several months of training, how will I know if the boy has gotten the message or not? I will have to leave him out of the crate unsupervised as a test no? I'm already very suspicious of the boy and keep a close eye on him as much as I can. At some point, I will have to trust him right?

By the way, what is the point of feeding him while he's in the crate?
 

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I did not "trust" my current dog until about 2 years ago (he is 5).. and I have had him since he was 8 weeks old and he only had ONE accident in the house! Even now, when I go out he is in a dog kennel and not loose in the house. He is loose in the house at night and he will let me know if he needs to go out.

IMO if you cannot watch him he is crated and that can be for a loooooong time.

I suggest feeding in the crate to make the crate a positive experience and because most dogs need to pee/poop after eating. Most dogs will not soil their "den" (the crate).
 

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You really need to start from the beginning. Take them out every hour, after every meal, after every play, and as soon as they wake up (including from naps). Every time he potties outside, praise him like he just sang an opera. I don't use treats for potty training because some dogs work it out and ask to go outside just to get a treat. I simply use good old fashioned praise.

Right now, they are following the prior rules: here's a place to go, go whenever you need to. You need to teach them that potty is only done outdoors - and to do that, you need to treat them as young puppies who have never been trained.

When inside, limit their access. I've never used a crate or kennel, I've always just used baby gates and MY FULL ATTENTION. Keep them in the same room that you are in. Watch them. If they are napping and one gets up, stop what you are doing and take them outside to potty. If you are in the kitchen doing dishes, keep Linus in the kitchen with you. Keep one eye on him as you work. If he acts like he's about to go, stop doing the dishes and takehim outside. Use baby gates to keep him from sneaking off. This will also help build a bond between you and Linus that can help with his anxiety.

As he was trained on puppy pads, he will see fabric (rugs, clothes, etc) and paper as acceptable potty places. I recommend putting away any loose rugs for the time being and limiting his access to carpeted rooms to only times when you can directly supervise him.

When he has no accidents for at least a week straight, you can reduce the potty trips slightly (say every 1-1/2 to 2 hours). If he has an accident, go back to every one hour. Each week without an accident, reduce the trips slightly. But always take him out upon waking, after playing, and after eating - these are the times when his bladder will signal to him to potty.

This is more of an effort on your part - always putting Linus first with your attention - but it will work.
 

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If your house setup makes it difficult to cordon off areas with gates (like an open floor plan) another option is to tether the dog to you. You can put him on a leash and attach the leash to your belt or whatever. That way he's never out of your sight.

Don't forget to reward immediately upon pottying outside - if you wait until he comes back in to give him a treat, he won't associate the treat with the action is was supposed to reward. It has to be immediate cause and effect to be effective.

Be sure to clean up any areas where he's relieved himself indoors deeply with an enzymatic cleaner formulated to deal with dog urine. It will help break the habit of marking indoors if he doesn't smell urine indoors.

Dogs that have been punished for urinating or pooping indoors tend to take the wrong lesson from it - they learn that humans don't want to see them go, full stop. They don't usually realize that "inside" is the problem..."Inside/Outside" is a little abstract for a dog brain, really. That's why they sneak off to do their business - it's not to play a trick on you, it's because they think you'll be mad if you see them go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Be sure to clean up any areas where he's relieved himself indoors deeply with an enzymatic cleaner formulated to deal with dog urine. It will help break the habit of marking indoors if he doesn't smell urine indoors.
I learned this the hard way. When they started having accidents in the house, I was using liquid laundry detergent to clean up the mess. I would take a cup of very hot water (almost boiling), pour some of the detergent in the cup and scrub the carpet with that solution. One of my neighbors who owns 2 dogs suggested I buy Nature's miracle instead. I'm very glad he gave me that suggestion because the number of accidents in the house started to go way down after that.

Don't forget to reward immediately upon pottying outside - if you wait until he comes back in to give him a treat, he won't associate the treat with the action is was supposed to reward. It has to be immediate cause and effect to be effective.
Yeah I was thinking about the reward thing one day and a light bulb went up over my head. I realized for them to associate the reward with the potty outside, I should give it to them immediately - NOT after we've finished our daily walk and come inside. I appreciate you making this comment nonetheless because it just reinforces the importance of proper training method.

And yeah.... I actually did think about tethering Linus to me when he's in the house. After I posted my question here, I started taking him out much more frequently. Like every 2 hours as opposed to just 3 X per day. It's made a huge difference.

They don't usually realize that "inside" is the problem..."Inside/Outside" is a little abstract for a dog brain, really. That's why they sneak off to do their business - it's not to play a trick on you, it's because they think you'll be mad if you see them go.
Wow, that actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. I guess I shouldn't have been so hard on them for having accidents in the house. 😔
The good thing is that Lucy corrected her behavior. One time I scolded her and she must have noticed the look of displeasure on my face. She never had another accident in the house after that time. She always gave me a proper signal that she needed to go potty outside.

On a side note, I think she is pistol smart. When she stares at me, sometimes it's like I"m looking back another "hooman" being. She is absolutely adorable and very smart. (much credit to the poodle mix in her breed). The previous owner tells me Linus is smart too but from what I've seen out of him, he's extremely stubborn and let's his anxiety issues get the best of him. Which makes him that much harder to train.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
You really need to start from the beginning. Take them out every hour, after every meal, after every play, and as soon as they wake up (including from naps). Every time he potties outside, praise him like he just sang an opera. I don't use treats for potty training because some dogs work it out and ask to go outside just to get a treat. I simply use good old fashioned praise.

Right now, they are following the prior rules: here's a place to go, go whenever you need to. You need to teach them that potty is only done outdoors - and to do that, you need to treat them as young puppies who have never been trained.

When inside, limit their access. I've never used a crate or kennel, I've always just used baby gates and MY FULL ATTENTION. Keep them in the same room that you are in. Watch them. If they are napping and one gets up, stop what you are doing and take them outside to potty. If you are in the kitchen doing dishes, keep Linus in the kitchen with you. Keep one eye on him as you work. If he acts like he's about to go, stop doing the dishes and takehim outside. Use baby gates to keep him from sneaking off. This will also help build a bond between you and Linus that can help with his anxiety.

As he was trained on puppy pads, he will see fabric (rugs, clothes, etc) and paper as acceptable potty places. I recommend putting away any loose rugs for the time being and limiting his access to carpeted rooms to only times when you can directly supervise him.

When he has no accidents for at least a week straight, you can reduce the potty trips slightly (say every 1-1/2 to 2 hours). If he has an accident, go back to every one hour. Each week without an accident, reduce the trips slightly. But always take him out upon waking, after playing, and after eating - these are the times when his bladder will signal to him to potty.

This is more of an effort on your part - always putting Linus first with your attention - but it will work.
I don't know how I missed this post. This has a chalk full of good information. I meant to reply to you yesterday when I saw this comment but I got busy with some household stuff. When you say take them out after every meal, are you suggesting that I do so as soon as they are done eating? Shouldn't I wait 30 minutes or so? (I mean they need some time for the food to settle right?)

After posting here, I thought about the various comments in the thread. I realized that I have not been taking them outside potty nowhere frequently enough. So now I"ve been taking them potty every 2 hours. So far it's worked. Ever since I cleaned up the previous soiled carpet areas with Nature's Miracle cleaner plus taking them out every 2 hours, Linus has not had another accident in the house. Plus if I have somewhere to be, like a job interview, I put him in the bathroom (in the main floor) by himself. I know I should buy a crate for him - eventually I'll get around to doing so. Right now I am in-between jobs and I'd like to spend my money on the more urgent stuff like good quality dog food and heartworm prevention medications.
 

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How quickly depends on the dog. For young puppies, it's immediately after they eat because their bladders are small. For older dogs like yours, you can wait a bit. But watch them carefully. If Linus starts to make signs of going at 20 minutes, then take them out at 15 minutes - the idea is to take them outside BEFORE they have to go. This will help teach them that outside is for pottying.
 

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Don't feel the need to buy a crate. If the bathroom works, then you've saved money. You can also use a baby gate to close off the space - allowing him to see out, but not get on the carpet. And once he figures out how things work in your home, he will most likely settle down and behave when you leave so no confinement will be necessary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Don't feel the need to buy a crate. If the bathroom works, then you've saved money. You can also use a baby gate to close off the space - allowing him to see out, but not get on the carpet. And once he figures out how things work in your home, he will most likely settle down and behave when you leave so no confinement will be necessary.
Alright, thanks for the encouragement.
 

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Terrific update.

Regarding car rides: a lot of dogs are afraid of car rides simply because the only time they get a car is to go to the vet - and the stress of the vet and the stress of getting the dog into the car will create more anxiety for the dog.

Try taking him for short car rides to a FUN place. Do it frequently so he connects the car to the FUN. Make sure it's something the dog thinks is fun - not what you think the dog will like. And find ways to entice him into the car and hang out - without going anywhere. A special toy he only gets when he's in the car, spending time cuddling, etc.

I take my dogs camping. Before the first trip, I spent a lot of time letting them just hang out in the camper playing with special toys (you only get these when you're in the camper). They started to see the camper as an extension of the house. By the time we went camping, that camper was established as "home", and they only had to adjust to the movement of the camper (motorhome) that was new. A few short day trips to my dad's to play with his dog and they were fine driving around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Terrific update.

Regarding car rides: a lot of dogs are afraid of car rides simply because the only time they get a car is to go to the vet - and the stress of the vet and the stress of getting the dog into the car will create more anxiety for the dog.

Try taking him for short car rides to a FUN place. Do it frequently so he connects the car to the FUN. Make sure it's something the dog thinks is fun - not what you think the dog will like. And find ways to entice him into the car and hang out - without going anywhere. A special toy he only gets when he's in the car, spending time cuddling, etc.

I take my dogs camping. Before the first trip, I spent a lot of time letting them just hang out in the camper playing with special toys (you only get these when you're in the camper). They started to see the camper as an extension of the house. By the time we went camping, that camper was established as "home", and they only had to adjust to the movement of the camper (motorhome) that was new. A few short day trips to my dad's to play with his dog and they were fine driving around.
Those are some great suggestions! Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@3GSD4IPO
@parus
@Toedtoes

Looks like I spoke too soon. I had an incident with Lucy yesterday. I had to meet my mother had her dental appointment. She is in a nursing home but I am still very much involved her care. The appointment was set for 11 AM. I took the dogs out for potty break around 9:30/9:40 AM. They had been doing so great that I had planned to increase the interval from every 2 hours to every 3 hours instead. I figured as long as I can make it back home by 12:30 pm, I could take the dogs out for potty break at the 3 hour mark. I still don't trust Linus so I confine him to the bathroom on the main floor whenever I leave for somewhere. I trusted Lucy not to have an accident because it's been a while since she had one.

When I finally came home, I found out she did both #1 and #2 in her usual spot in the upstairs hallway. Definitely disappointing. @Toedtoes , you told me to take them out after every meal. But yesterday I didn't have that opportunity because I had to get ready & leave the house for my mother's dental appointment. I think I screwed up the timing in all this. In hindsight, I think I should have fed them breakfast much sooner. Yes?

Linus on the other hand was OK being confined to the bathroom and didn't pee or poo. I took both dogs out for potty as soon as I got home.
 

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Yes. If time is going to be tight between their regular meal time and when you have to leave, just move their feeding a bit earlier to give them that time to digest and eliminate before you leave.

Accidents and mistakes happen. If it does, just back up a step for a while to get them back on track.
 

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Also, if you are in a rush to get out of the house, your stress can affect the dogs. And their stress can bring about accidents. So try to plan things out for when you have to leave. Get things ready the night before or even a few hours before. Then relax with the dogs. And then pick up your things and go. This decreases that "where are my keys, oh jeez my jacket, oops I forgot my phone, and so on".
 
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