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I am an experienced dog owner; I have never been without a canine companion by my side. Two weeks ago we recused a sweet puppy (he is approx. 11 months) from the National Mill Dog Rescue. I have never had this type of difficulty training a dog and could use some advice. It’s proven to be a real challenge even though he is very mild-tempered and intelligent.

1. He does not know how to go outside. At all. So far I have seen him pee and poop once outside. I take him out as frequently as I can, but he does not even know how to mark his territory. Since we do not have another dog to show him the way, I have taken him to the dog park a couple times now, hoping his instincts will kick in. He does not show any inclination or interest in marking his territory, even after another dog has freshly marked. He smells and walks off. He uses puppy pads which is a good sign in my opinion, but will hold his urine even on a long walk and wait until we get home to release on the pad.
2. He is not receptive to treats. He shows little interest, even with the real good stuff like fresh bacon! It makes training difficult when you don’t have a way to reward his efforts. I’ve been giving him a lot of verbal praise, but I’m not sure if it sticks. Has anyone else ever had to train a dog who is not very food motivated?

Poor pup simply does not know how to be pup yet. A large part of his psychology lies in his past as mill puppy I’m sure, as it is common for dogs in this environment to have had restrictions and lack of socialization. As I mentioned before, he is very smart, and has already shown improvement in other aspects of his training (i.e. timidness, trust). Has anyone else experienced these types of complications in training?

Any advice is welcome. Thank you!
 

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This is obviously a much less extreme scenario, but when I got my pup he was newspaper/puppy pad trained, but had never really been outside, as he was born in the dead of a harsh winter. He also did not get the idea that outside was for relieving himself when I tried to finish housetraining him. But I put a couple puppy pads down outside where I prefer for him to go, and he got the idea right away.
 

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He is super new to you. Rescues can take 2-3 months to acclimate. I would work on potty training, but the only other priority right now is building trust and routines.
Maybe wipe up the urine and take apaper towel outside so it seems familiar. He’s probably only gone potty in a cage and never had treats.
He should come around.
 
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