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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, so maybe there's no such thing as a "modest" dog, but my dog seems to have a problem with people watching him when he goes potty. Here are a few details (and I'll apologize up front for the fact that brevity has never been my strong suit)...

My husband and I have owned five dogs since we bought our first home back in 1977, so we aren't complete novices at this. Right now, though, I feel like I'm in over my head. After the death of our 22-year-old cat on August 4, we decided to rescue a few animals in need of homes. We drove all the way to Los Angeles from Salt Lake to pick up a 2-year-old male, Keeshond-Pomeranian mix from a rescue organization (I'm using the term very loosely) there. We arrived in LA on a Friday evening and contacted the rescue organization when we arrived. Friederik's "rescuer" brought him to our motel just before noon the following day (Saturday, August 26), exactly 8 weeks ago today. When she delivered him, she mentioned, in a kind of an offhand way, that he'd been attacked by a Doberman the night before. The wound (near where the shoulder meets the chest) looked bad, and my husband said, "This dog needs to see a vet before he leaves LA." I looked at his "rescuer" and said, "You'll be willing to split the bill with us, won't you?" "Oh no!" she answered. "That's simply not in my budget." We paid her $300 for Friederik and took him directly to a vet, where he required a two-hour surgery and treatment for more than ten ticks on his abdomen. We also learned from the vet that he was closer to 3 or 4 years old than he was to 2. Anyway, $971 later, we headed back to Salt Lake.

Friederik had to wear the "collar of shame" for the first two weeks he was with us. Although we had a doggie door from the last time we had a dog, we were unable to teach him how to use it until the collar came off. His "rescuer" had told us he was housebroken, but I suspect that any dog, if left in a crate almost 24/7 and then taken outside to go potty will do so. Long story short -- Friederik was not housebroken. For those first two weeks, we took him out in the back yard every two to three hours, telling him each time to "Go potty!" and rewarding him with profuse praise and a treat every time he complied. We noticed right away, though, that he always tried to find a place in the yard where we couldn't see him or wait until we were momentarily distracted before either peeing or pooping. We also noticed that this little guy has a really heavy-duty bladder. When we'd let him out of his crate in the morning, he would wander around the yard and do absolutely nothing. After waiting for a reasonable length of time, we'd take him inside, feed him and wait a half hour or so before trying again. Generally, on the second time out, he'd at least pee and sometimes poop.

Once we got the collar off him, we introduced him to the doggie door, which he picked up within literally minutes. We continued with the potty training, but encouraged him to use the doggie door instead of waiting for us to open the door. Things seemed to be going well. Within a few days, he started going outside on his own. He'd stop playing or get up from a nap and head outside. He never stayed out there for long, though. It was almost as if he thought we'd disappear if he was away from us for more than just a couple of minutes. That was okay with us; as long as he was going outside, we were happy.

Even after he was consistently using his doggie door, though, and going out of his own accord, once a week or so, we'd see a puddle or a big glob of poop on the carpet. We just cleaned it up and didn't make much of a fuss. So... here's where I got extra stupid. After we'd had Friederik for four weeks, I brought in a 6-year-old cat, and roughly two weeks later, a 10-week-old kitten. I know, that was quite possibly a mistake, but what's done is done. All three animals are getting along very well. I couldn't be happier in that regard.

But, here's the problem: Friederik has either peed or pooped right next to one of the litter boxes, the cat's beds or their toys on several occasions. I'm not sure what's prompting that. Maybe he sees them using the litter box and figures it's okay to go right next to it, and maybe he's marking his territory (although I've never known a dog to mark it with feces rather than urine). That hasn't happened for a few days now, and I think he may have stopped that. But, the bigger issue is that he is still occasionally going to places in the house where we don't spend much time. I have those places fenced off, but when I opened the gate between the living room and the rest of the house yesterday, he followed me downstairs where I was getting out some of my winter wardrobe, ran into the adjacent room, pooped and ran back upstairs -- all within a matter of just two minutes at the most.

In the eight weeks we've had him, we have never once seen him pee or poop in our house. He's with one or the other of us the vast majority of the time, too. It's as if he doesn't see the house as a whole as his den, and so he feels he can use certain rooms as his toilet -- provided we don't see him. Obviously, if he's going outside on his own well over 95% of the time he goes potty, he does know that outside is an appropriate place to go. We're not taking him out; he's going out by himself. My thoughts are that we need to start spending more time in the rooms we don't use all that often, and that once he starts hanging around those rooms in our presence, he'll come to think of them as part of his den, too, and stop going potty in them. I could keep them blocked off indefinitely, but I don't see that as constituting training. I would be totally okay with him having the run of the house as long as I could trust him. But as to how I should go about getting to that point, I don't know.

Anyway, I've rambled on long enough. I could definitely use some advice here. I don't know how long he will have to go without any "mistakes" for me to be able to confidently say, "My dog is fully housebroken."
 

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My guess is that he has been punished for pottying in the wrong place in the past and associated the punishment with going potty in general rather than the location.

I suggest treating him like a puppy and not using the doggie door but rather taking him out on a schedule, use a long line if needed to give him "personal space" and restrict free access to places he has eliminated in for the awhile.

I think once he realizes that you are not going to punish him for his bodily functions that he will be OK with gradually more freedom.

As silly as it sounds, I have had success with taking a shy pooper outside and turning my back and taking a very clear extra step away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My guess is that he has been punished for pottying in the wrong place in the past and associated the punishment with going potty in general rather than the location.

I suggest treating him like a puppy and not using the doggie door but rather taking him out on a schedule, use a long line if needed to give him "personal space" and restrict free access to places he has eliminated in for the awhile.

I think once he realizes that you are not going to punish him for his bodily functions that he will be OK with gradually more freedom.

As silly as it sounds, I have had success with taking a shy pooper outside and turning my back and taking a very clear extra step away.
Thanks for your input, Shell. You could be right about his having been punished for pottying in the wrong place, and I understand how he could have interpreted that to me, "I guess I'm not supposed to potty, but Damn it! I've really gotta go!" Still, I hesitate to back up six weeks, now that he has learned he can go outside to relieve himself any time he wants. I almost think that to suddenly make that door inaccessible to him might confuse him even more. If we even missed taking him out one time when he had to go, I can imagine how frustrating that would be. Also, he's been with us 8 weeks and the only thing he has ever heard when relieving himself is praise. It obviously must have clicked to some extent if he's going outside almost all of the time.

I'm still kind of thinking about just opening up more rooms to him over a period of time, but always making sure I'm with him when he goes into those rooms. Then, if I should happen to catch him in the act, I can scold him. But my gut feeling is that he needs to realize that the whole house is his den, not just the five rooms he has the run of right now. Of course, if he continues to go by the things belonging to the cats, then I'll know I'm dealing with two entirely different problems. I'll keep your idea in mind, though. I just want to test out my theory first.
 

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Thanks for your input, Shell. You could be right about his having been punished for pottying in the wrong place, and I understand how he could have interpreted that to me, "I guess I'm not supposed to potty, but Damn it! I've really gotta go!" Still, I hesitate to back up six weeks, now that he has learned he can go outside to relieve himself any time he wants. I almost think that to suddenly make that door inaccessible to him might confuse him even more. If we even missed taking him out one time when he had to go, I can imagine how frustrating that would be. Also, he's been with us 8 weeks and the only thing he has ever heard when relieving himself is praise. It obviously must have clicked to some extent if he's going outside almost all of the time.

I'm still kind of thinking about just opening up more rooms to him over a period of time, but always making sure I'm with him when he goes into those rooms. Then, if I should happen to catch him in the act, I can scold him. But my gut feeling is that he needs to realize that the whole house is his den, not just the five rooms he has the run of right now. Of course, if he continues to go by the things belonging to the cats, then I'll know I'm dealing with two entirely different problems. I'll keep your idea in mind, though. I just want to test out my theory first.
Dogs will generally try to go outside of their living space if given the chance. But him going outside via doggie door does not mean he is not trying to avoid being caught in the act.

Do not scold him!! Scolding is still a form of punishment and will not help you on your quest to full house training.

If you set a schedule, I would not worry that you won't be there when he needs to go. Healthy adult dogs usually have pretty regular body functions. Outside on waking up, outside 10-15 minutes after eating, outside after 7-8 hrs inside for a workday, outside after dinner 1-2 times for an evening and outside just before humans go to bed.

I am at around 15 dogs/foster dogs over the past few years in ages from 10 weeks and up to and a schedule and very calmly taking the dog outside has yet to fail me. (Fingers crossed no jinx!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Dogs will generally try to go outside of their living space if given the chance. But him going outside via doggie door does not mean he is not trying to avoid being caught in the act.
Oh, I know that. I didn't mean to imply that he was trying to avoid getting caught in the act. I merely meant that he goes outside on his own numerous times throughout the day. To me, that says he knows that outside is where he's supposed to go.

Do not scold him!! Scolding is still a form of punishment and will not help you on your quest to full house training.
Well, I never have, after the fact, and I never have caught him in the act. Generally, I just clean up the mess and go on with life till the next mess surfaces.

If you set a schedule, I would not worry that you won't be there when he needs to go. Healthy adult dogs usually have pretty regular body functions. Outside on waking up, outside 10-15 minutes after eating, outside after 7-8 hrs inside for a workday, outside after dinner 1-2 times for an evening and outside just before humans go to bed.
I'll give it a try. But tell me, how does he learn from this that he's not supposed to do it indoors? I mean it would reinforce that outdoors is okay, but how am I ever to know that he has learned if I just keep on going out with him forever? Let's say a month comes and goes and I've taken him outside often enough that he has always done his pottying out there. How has that taught him that inside's not good, too? It seems like it's important for him to know both where he is supposed to go and where he isn't supposed to go. By the way, once the two of you are outside, how long do you stay out there if there are no results? 5 minutes? 15 minutes? A half hour? And what if he pees but doesn't poop? How do I know if he's finished or not before I let him back in? (He generally poops once or twice a day.)

I am at around 15 dogs/foster dogs over the past few years in ages from 10 weeks and up to and a schedule and very calmly taking the dog outside has yet to fail me. (Fingers crossed no jinx!)
I have a spare bedroom. Would love you to come stay with me awhile!

By the way, I just discovered that one of my cats (I think it's the 6-year-old) is peeing outside her box. We had a load of clean laundry in a open hamper ready to be folded. Today when my husband went to fold it, it was covered with pee. We also found pee on the kitchen counter -- of all places. I am absolutely beside myself. I can't watch three animals at once, and I know I brought this all on myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oh, another couple of questions...

Are you suggesting I not even allow him to use the doggie door for the foreseeable future? I am really concerned that this could backfire. I mean, he has been using the doggie door multiple times a day now for six weeks. What will he reaction be when he suddenly goes to use it and it's blocked off? Although I'm not thrilled at the prospect of starting from scratch and going out with him numerous times a day, I'd be willing to if it would solve the problem. I just don't want to create another problem in the process. Do you think I could allow him to go out into the yard alone when he wants to as long as I also take him out at regular intervals for the express purpose of pottying?

And what about after dark? When we take him out before we go to bed, we can't see what he's doing once we're out there. How do we know that he's even gone?
 

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My comments in bold

Oh, I know that. I didn't mean to imply that he was trying to avoid getting caught in the act. I merely meant that he goes outside on his own numerous times throughout the day. To me, that says he knows that outside is where he's supposed to go.
But that's what I am implying-- he may know that outside is the place to go and/or he may be going outside as one option to avoid being caught same as going in other rooms. By taking him outside yourself, you are making sure that outside is his only option

Well, I never have, after the fact, and I never have caught him in the act. Generally, I just clean up the mess and go on with life till the next mess surfaces.
Don't scold him at all. Not even if you catch him in the act. Keep a leash handy, interrupt with a light tone like "woops" and lead him directly outside to finish.

I'll give it a try. But tell me, how does he learn from this that he's not supposed to do it indoors? I mean it would reinforce that outdoors is okay, but how am I ever to know that he has learned if I just keep on going out with him forever? Let's say a month comes and goes and I've taken him outside often enough that he has always done his pottying out there. How has that taught him that inside's not good, too? It seems like it's important for him to know both where he is supposed to go and where he isn't supposed to go. By the way, once the two of you are outside, how long do you stay out there if there are no results? 5 minutes? 15 minutes? A half hour? And what if he pees but doesn't poop? How do I know if he's finished or not before I let him back in? (He generally poops once or twice a day.)
First, by taking him outside you are breaking any habit of going inside. Second, a slightly more fixed schedule gets his body on a routine so that he doesn't physically need to potty at random times. You're working on the basis of training a dog what you want him to do rather than what you don't want him to do-- this can apply in all kinds of training situations. There are plenty of places that you don't want him to potty right? You don't want him to potty in a car, in a pet shop, at a vet clinic, in another person's home etc. You can't teach him --not-- to potty inside each of those places via any kind of reprimand or even hanging around for a long time taking him outside repeatedly. Instead, you are teaching the dog that outside is where he should potty regardless. If you expect him to need to poop based on the time since last meal, then walk him around the yard for 5-10 minutes, if he doesn't go, come inside for 10-15 minutes where the dog is either crated or leashed to you so that he has zero chance to sneak off and poop.
Then back outside for 5-10 minutes.


I have a spare bedroom. Would love you to come stay with me awhile!

By the way, I just discovered that one of my cats (I think it's the 6-year-old) is peeing outside her box. We had a load of clean laundry in a open hamper ready to be folded. Today when my husband went to fold it, it was covered with pee. We also found pee on the kitchen counter -- of all places. I am absolutely beside myself. I can't watch three animals at once, and I know I brought this all on myself.
I don't have cats, but my understanding is that the recommendation is 1 litterbox per cat plus 1. I think also they have litter preferences and some prefer open litter boxes and some covered ones so maybe have different boxes set up with different litter options and see what they prefer
In general, its helpful if the litter boxes are not accessible to the dog. Some people use a gate that the cats can jump or one with vertical bars that the cats can fit through but not the dog or something along those lines. Prevents dog from smelling that area and thinking its a spot to eliminate and also prevents the dog from eating cat poop.

Oh, another couple of questions...

Are you suggesting I not even allow him to use the doggie door for the foreseeable future? I am really concerned that this could backfire. I mean, he has been using the doggie door multiple times a day now for six weeks. What will he reaction be when he suddenly goes to use it and it's blocked off? Although I'm not thrilled at the prospect of starting from scratch and going out with him numerous times a day, I'd be willing to if it would solve the problem. I just don't want to create another problem in the process. Do you think I could allow him to go out into the yard alone when he wants to as long as I also take him out at regular intervals for the express purpose of pottying?

And what about after dark? When we take him out before we go to bed, we can't see what he's doing once we're out there. How do we know that he's even gone?
I would not use the doggie door for now. Aside from the potty training/schedule part of things, he is new to you and you don't know his outdoor behavior yet. Being outside unsupervised gives him a chance to practice undesirable behaviors like digging holes, eating stuff, possibly excessive barking or even trying to escape the fence. I'm assuming he isn't very big, so there can also be a risk from birds of prey depending on your location.

After dark, you use a flashlight.
 

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I agree, he was probably punished for going in the house, so he thought "I can't potty in front of humans" rather than "I shouldn't potty in the house."

First, he should be 100% supervised at all times. He should never leave your sight. It will be annoying and difficult, but is the only way. When you can't supervise, crate him.

Second, make potty breaks frequent. He probably won't go with you directly watching him, so turn your back or let him feel like you're not paying attention when he is outside, but kind watch so you know he went. When he goes, praise him and give him the best treats ever. Think lunch meat, cheese, hot dogs, everything that is great to a dog. It will probably take a while to reverse his "don't pee in front of humans" mentality, so be patient!

Also, don't scold or punish him an any way. Not saying you are, but what you might find a gentle reprimand, he may find devastating. It's all up to the dog what he thinks is scolding. Be as gentle and as unemotional as possible when he has an accident.

Make sure to clean up accidents with a cleaner like Nature's Miracle that eliminates the smell, as well.
 
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