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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all!

I'm just wondering if any of you haveany tips for putting "go pee" on command in a dog that's often reluctant to go, especially in new locations.

A little background: Biscuit was "reverse housebroken" when we adopted her 11 months ago. She was unwilling to go on leash or near people at all. We got past that pretty quickly, but she is still very skittish about pottying in new locations. This makes things like road trips and visiting friends very stressful! She generally won't go until she's seen the new location at least 3-4 times over a period of several hours. (The exception is in receding waves at the beach or a stream. She'll go there right away, perhaps because the water washes away the scent quickly.) When she finally does go in the new location, she's very anxious about it and won't accept treats.

We've been working hard at putting "go pee" on command since January. We use a clicker (Biscuit is quite clicker-savvy). We say "go pee" and click/treat when she does. Around the neighborhood, she's doing great with this, and the command works. The issue is when we're in new locations. She's gotten a little better about it, but really not much.

Has anyone else dealt with this? I'd love some suggestions for broadening Biscuit's horizons, as it were...

Thanks!
 

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I would click/treat and say "Go Pee" as she goes. I would not use it as a command for a while, I would just pair it with her doing it. Once she was dependable, I would try to use it at home, then on the road.

That's a tough one that just takes time. The best thing you could do, in my opinion, is take her someplace new several times a week and just hang out with her and have fun for 10 minutes and then go home. Like take her to a park, a parking lot, a trail, a friend's house. And don't ask anything of her at all. Just put some miles on her with no expectations. You might see her get calm in new places. Once she will accept treats in new places, you will know that the biggest hurdle has been cleared. It takes some time for some dogs to get over environmental shyness.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sorry, I should have been more clear about that. For the first several months, we said "Go pee" as she started to go, then clicked right as she was standing up. Now she's pretty dependable to use it as a command at home, but we also still say "go pee" (and c/t) as she starts to go when we haven't said it beforehand as a command, if that makes sense.

Your idea is a good one. In general, she doesn't act anxious just from being in new places. She acts like her cute and happy treat-loving self - except if she has just peed. I don't know what made her so neurotic about peeing, but she just has a thing about it. Anyway, maybe if we make going to new places and just hanging out a more regular part of her routine, she'll come to see "the world at large" as an extension of her neighborhood. Do you think we should give her treats just for visiting new places, even if she doesn't seem anxious? Would it make sense to like, put her in the car, take her to a new place, do some tricks or play ball for 10 minutes, i.e. make her work for the treats?
 

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I would not train or do tricks in new places until she seems fully at ease.

If you want to feed her for looking at you or do some short re-calls, I think that's fine, but I wouldn't work on the rest.

If she is at all hesitant about accepting food, I wouldn't offer it. It might feel like pressure and sink her attitude a little further.

Story: I got my first shy/worried dog 4 years ago. She was brilliant!!! She trained nearly instantly and was unbelievably cute. I took her everywhere and trained. I used her as the demo dog in community ed classes I was teaching starting a 4 months old. For real. She had her CGC at 5 months. She had a rally title with 3 first place finishes at 9 months. Then, the fear set in. So I took her places and trained. Pretty soon, she seemed to associate training with stress, so the training fell apart and her fear/resentment of new places held strong. I *think* if I had stopped training and just gone to lots of new places and played and had fun and let her take it all in, I would have gotten her over her fears and not contaminated her attutude about performance. It took a TON of work to build back her love of training. We got there, but I had to pull her from competition for over a year. I thought we were ready to trial again, but she had a major neuroligical event a month ago and may or may not even survive, so all of that is on hold, or more likely completely forgotten.

I made a huge mistake with her. I have learned from it. I wish I could go back and get it right.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
First, thanks for the story. I see what you're saying and think you're right. Biscuit is a happy confident dog, but she is cautious by nature. Maybe I'm just not noticing her anxiety signals.

Second...I am so sorry about your pup. I've been reading about it on the other thread. I hope she pulls through.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
OK, this weekend I took her to two new places for a few minutes each time: a new neighborhood we had to drive to get to, and a parking lot near agility class where we hadn't been before. We just walked around (Biscuit on leash) and I gave her small cookies every few minutes. She didn't seem particularly anxious (even when some random fireworks went off near us last night!) - tail in its usual position, ears relaxed looking, just excited to be sniffing the ground in an interesting/new place. She was very willing to accept treats and listen to me when I said her name. She was excited to be sniffing around a new place, so I just let her do her thing. I didn't give her any commands or ask anything of her (aside from "drop that chicken bone" - for whatever reason, there are chicken bones EVERYWHERE WE GO lately).

No changes as far as pee-shyness goes, but I'm hoping that will come with time.
 

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If you REALLY want to fix this, when you wake up in the morning, grab your dog, get in the car, and drive to a new place before your dog gets to potty after holding it all night. Put her on a long line. Throw a party when she goes.

The good news is, any place you go will be a new place, so driving a couple blocks in all directions will give you a huge start without a huge time commitment.

I would bet that this would really jump-start the process.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
OMG, I REALLY want to fix this. I get anxious every time we go to a friend's house or take a road trip. I was thinking about trying a new neighborhood first thing in the AM, but concerned that she would pee in the car! I bet she wouldn't, especially for a short drive. But I also suspect she wouldn't go in the new place.

She has a super amount of will power about this. Once we drove 7 hours with her and she refused to take a single potty break - and then it took another 5 hours and 10 outside trips before she would pee at our destination! That was in December, before we started using the clicker for this - I'm not sure what she would do now. Probably she would refuse to go en route, but would go somewhat more quickly once we reached the destination.

We've covered a huge amount of the territory within a mile radius of our apartment, just walking. We walk a lot. And where we live, parking is at a premium so that adds a little time to driving places. But maybe I'll plan our destination in advance, and we'll wake up super early tomorrow and drive to a new park or something. I do have a 30-foot long line (when we first got her, that was the only way she would pee on leash at all -- she had to hide behind a bush or some such).

ETA that she has recently (past couple of months) started marking things occasionally while walking around the neighborhood, so I definitely think she's getting more comfortable with the concept that peeing won't attract the grizzly bears, at least in familiar locations.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
IT WORKED! This morning I loaded her into the car (luckily she thinks car trips are the best thing evar, even better than squirrels) and drove to the nearest uncharted territory I could think of (just a normal residential city block), and put her on the long line when we got there. AND SHE PEED! Within 5 minutes! I said "go pee," clicked, treated, and threw a praise parade. Several local residents now think I'm crazy due to my public proclamations of love for my dog.

We're not all the way there yet, of course. But this was such a major step! Thanks for the encouragement! And I'm glad there's a place where I can share my freakish joy about OMG DOG URINE, haha.
 
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