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How do you house train a beaten dog?

Winston's Human
September 30th, 2006, 03:06 PM
The wife and I adopted a dog one week ago today from the local SPCA. She was abused badly by her previous owners. She is a German Shep X (Lab, Pointer and Collie) and is very smart. Obviously we are trying to build trust with her, security etc. However, she has peed in the house 3x despite our best efforts to be proactive (it could be worse we know). She has yet to anything to indicate when she needs to go to the bathroom. She has only peed in our yard once (yesterday) otherwise she goes in the same area during her walks each day. She has peed in 3 different places within the house. We can't move fast, use stern voices or anything as she cowers and is scared. How do we teach her to not pee in the house given her history?

September 30th, 2006, 03:21 PM
I'm sure you'll get some great advice here :) But here's mine for what it's worth... You must prevent these accidents. So your dog shouldn't have access to the whole house because you can't be everywhere at once. Keep her where you are, even better, you should keep her tethered to you, also known as the umbilical cord method. That way, if you see her start sniffing the ground or position herself, you can distract her and run outside. Also, don't forget to praise her like crazy when she does her business outside. Treat her like a puppy. Take her out often and go with her. Don't just let her loose in the backyard: you must reinforce every pee in a good place! And, very soon, you should be able to put peeing on command (it's really helpful when you are in a hurry!)

Oh yes, make sure you use an odor neutralizer to clean the spots; bleach is not a good choice.

Thank you for adopting a dog from the SPCA :thumbs up

Winston's Human
September 30th, 2006, 03:25 PM
Her name is Shilo (already named). We do reinforce her peeing and pooing outside. In fact, the last two days when she has she stopped in front of us waiting for the positive reinforcement (petting and such). She goes for 3 walks a day, morning, afternoon and night - first with the wife, second with me and the third with both of us. We'd prefer she do her business in our yard. We have a long tether to a tree (40 ft) that we put her on when we are outside as well. We leave her now and then for a bit, either outside or in the house for brief periods. We can't reinforce constant human contact when that is unrealistic. She has not displayed any behaviors that would indicate she is going to the bathroom. All 3 incidents happened at night.

September 30th, 2006, 03:34 PM
You need to go all out. When we got Boo, he was terrified of peeing outside. We brought tons of cookies with us outside and every pee outside was a miracle. :D You have to excessively praise for the good things. In my experience, beaten dogs, just want to do good, so you make sure they know what you consider to be good, and how they can get praise. :shrug:

September 30th, 2006, 03:38 PM
Maybe I wasn't clear that you will not do this eternally. But Shilo is still in a transition phase and it's the best way I know to get her through it. How old is Shilo?

Did you give the positive reinforcement for the pees on walk and in the yard, or just on walks?

You say she didn't exhibit any behaviour? Did you then witness the 3 pees? And do you mean at night as in overnight? If that is the case, then set your alarm and take her out during the night. It won't be forever, just for a little while. She is still adjusting to your home.

As for constant human contact, don't worry about that. When I adopted my dog, I found out that she would not do anything (pee or poo) on leash. I was staying at a friend's house for a week and he had a yard, so I didn't really know, except that during our walks, she wouldn't do anything. When I got home, I knew I had to break that fast because I had to go to work... I kept her tethered to me for 36 hours, including sleeping with the leash in my hand, just so I wouldn't give her a chance to pee in the house. She didn't pee for 36 hours!!! But then we got it, and a few days later, she was peeing on leash, on command. Putting the time in at the beginning is worth it, trust me.

And I forgot to add, it doesn't matter that she was abused, no dog should be hit or yelled at for housetraining, ever

September 30th, 2006, 03:42 PM
I would leave her inside when you go out, in a small place such as the kitchen. Abused dogs are often tied up outside for long periods so leaving her tied might not be the best approach. Get her a kong and fill it with treats, only give it to her when you go out, to help distract her when you're gone. Also, the importance of the human voice cannot be overstated. Talk to her alot, in a breezy, reassuring voice, everything's fine now but she doesn't really know it yet. I like the 'umbilical cord' approach, it also puts her within reach, so you can go on communicating with her.
If she only wets at night, could you backtrack a bit, as if she was a puppy and take her out once or twice during the night?
Bless you for taking this dog in. I'm sure it won't all be perfectly smooth sailing but gradually she will realize that she has nothing to fear, whereas before she had everything to fear.

September 30th, 2006, 05:35 PM
I would also add another walk, right before you go to sleep. When I first got Dory she was the same way, she would have an accident in the night, so I pushed her last walk, right to where I was almost hopping into bed, it really helped, and I have to wake up early to walk her first thing when I wake up, if I don't she'll have an accident, but she's small, so it might not be the same for your situation.

Back when Dory first came to my house she always slept right beside me, i don't know your sleeping arrangement, I am a light sleeper, and I found I could catch her before she went looking for someplace to 'go' if she was really close. So, having her close at night might help.

Good luck!:thumbs up

P.S. maybe she is telling you she has to go and you just don't know how she's saying it yet, my dog yawns and stretches, it looks like she's saying, "okay, I'm awake, you can walk me now." trigs can be really subtle sometimes, he'll put his head on your lap and look at you until you say, you wanna go for a walk.

Winston's Human
September 30th, 2006, 05:54 PM
Shilo is 1.5 years old. This is her second adoption, the first adoption when she was a pup is the one that broke down due to the abuse. We finalized her adoption today! We both recognize the work involved to have her trust us and to feel safe with us. We both use lots of positive reinforcement when she goes to the bathroom, even more so when it was in our yard. Lots of loving, petting, soft and reaffirming voices but we also do this at other times too like when she initiates wanting attention/affection. I also take her for a quick walk right before bed as my wife turns in earlier than me. Shilo does not like treats, none that we've bought yet, or isn't prepared to show us she likes them. We were looking for a reinforcement besides loving and petting as well for the bathroom thing and coming to us when we call her. She is very reluctant most of the time.

We can't do the tether thing because Shilo isn't allowed to stay in our bedroom. We have a 9 year old cat who has the claim to that room (our house isn't very big) and this is her space where she feels safe. She is very slowly coming around to the dog - she lost her brother Winston who was a true brother (same litter) when he went missing in early August (I posted about him). So this is our compromise towards her. Middle of the night trips outside sound like the best option.

Three accidents in 7 days/nights is pretty good, we just wanted some experienced opinions from fellow posters. We, and Shilo thank you for your suggestions, feel free to keep them flowing (pun intended).

September 30th, 2006, 07:11 PM
Normally with a severely timid dog as a result of abuse the recommended approach is to use the umbilical cord technique. The dog is tied to you at all times during the day when you are around, generally with a 20 ft lead. The dog learns that you are just an extension of it's life and that every little daily task or movement is safe. Lots of praise and treat reward for each time there is no reaction to a "scarey" situation etc.. You ignore the negative and praise like heck the positive. Sounds maybe a bit nuts but it does work and when she tries to pee you just head outside quickly so she can finish.

September 30th, 2006, 07:18 PM
Thank you for giving this darling a home and a chance at a real life. I have nothing to add to the great advice that's been given. I just thought I would let you know that when I brought Declan home he peed in the house repeatedly as well for the first week or so. As all his tests checked out at our first Vet visit I put it down to nerves or not being accustomed to being indoors. But I followed the same sorts of advice as you have been given here and he was fine after a week or so.

September 30th, 2006, 08:12 PM
as far as not liking treats i had an abused dog that seemed like he didnt like treats when we first got him. he would spit them out, but like many things as soon as he saw another dog do it he loved them! so if at all possible have your dog spend time with polite, gentle and friendly dogs. It helps them come out of their shell alot, nd they can understand and take cues from the other dogs. good luck with your new addition to the fam and thank you so much for adopting.

September 30th, 2006, 10:10 PM
Confining her in a large cage with soft blankets and her toys when you're sleeping will prohibit the urinating in the house and also give her security and a place to call her own. At her age being crated for 8 hrs. overnight shouldn't be a problem. Upon waking if you take her to where you want her to eliminate in your yard she'll likely catch on pretty quickly. For the foster dogs who stay with me until adoption I have been buying tiny liver treats from the pet food store that most can't seem to resist, to be used as rewards for even the smallest achievements in training. Small cheese cubes seem to be well liked also. As she's timid and nervous ignore all unwanted behaviour (mistakes) and make a really big deal over any positives.

October 1st, 2006, 08:35 AM
Nervous and/or abused dogs will often pee in the house when they feel insecure. One of my Greyhounds is like that, if anything changes in the house he'll pee on the floor, usually right in front of me. We have to be very careful to keep his routine on schedule or he gets upset. He doesn't ever give me any indication that he needs to go out, I just make sure that he gets out 4 times a day and I have to watch him in the yard to make sure he actually pees. I use the command "go pee" and this seems to work well for us. He also gets lots of praise, and I make sure to never raise my voice. If he misbehaves he gets a gentle "nooo" and that's it. I agree that you should try crating her at night, but this may or may not work depending on the dog and her previous history. I find treats work really well also when training the dog to go pee outside, the dog will often make a big effort to go just to get the treat. She probably just needs some time to get used to her surroundings. Good luck!

October 1st, 2006, 04:17 PM
with all the good advice you have been given in the posts above, it will take patience on your part but once your puppy has settled in and learns to trust you the fear wil go away. All dogs love to please there people but sounds like your baby had a bad experience and will take time to trust again.
It will be worth it in the end, please dont lose hope and good luck.

Furbaby Momma
October 2nd, 2006, 09:21 AM
Congratulations for your new family member, you are already doing a great job, thank you for adopting Shilo. You have been given great advice, the only thing I was going to add is with my experience in training abused animals that I have rescued is to first and foremost think of the animal as a baby even though they are an adult. Everytime the beautiful rescue furbaby wakes-up, eats, or drinks I bring them outside and praise them gently with loving words, hugs and kisses, also I have bells hanging on the door and I ring them gently before I open the door saying ok pee pee time...yay!! Lets go outside!
If an accident happens in the house I don't say anything I just clean up the pee/poop with paper towel and bring it outside to use it for a scent spot for the next bathroom time. So when they do make a pee/poop outside I then give them the verbal/physical attention of love and praise...and they seem to understand hmmmm...this sure feels good having hugs and being told I am wonderful when I do something good. :pawprint: :love:
A treat that is a sure winner is hotdogs cooked in the microwave till crispy, let them cool and break them up into bite size pieces then put them in ziploc baggies, and keep them in the fridge until needed. MMMMYummy!

October 2nd, 2006, 07:27 PM
You have received lots of great advice. I just wanted to mention that no one had probably bothered to house train her so when she needed to go she did even if she was in the house. You now have the job of re-training her to only go outside. It will take time but keep in mind rescue dogs are very eager to do everything that is asked of them.
When you see her peeing outside make a huge deal of it, even if you sound like an idiot. Use a high pitched voice, tell her what a good girl she is and make sure you use a word consistently like pee so she knows what is expected of her.
Rescuing a dog that has been abused or neglected is very rewarding and you will not be sorry for the time and effort you are putting into giving this girl a normal life.

Winston's Human
October 4th, 2006, 12:20 AM
Well, its now been 4 accidents at night in 10 days. The new twist was today when she peed 2x in the kitchen, same spot. Once while my wife was making supper just a half hour after we got back from a walk with Shilo. The next time later on the evening, Shilo was resting with my wife on the couch, got up, went to where we had cleaned up already and went again. This is new and concerning. Not sure what Shilo was trying to tell us, she had been walked, lots of loving, etc.

We do make a big big deal out of every time she goes outside and uses the bathroom. We are trying to reinforce this positively - no negative reinforcement.

How long will this go on for? Its frustrating, especially when Shilo adds a new dimension to it. The real saving grace was adopting when we did forseeing this potential because we're tearing down this house in the spring and building so if the carpets are wrecked its ok because we hope she's trained by then.

October 4th, 2006, 07:31 PM
Has she been checked out at vets for bladder infection?

October 4th, 2006, 08:27 PM
Take a urine sample in, to collect while on a walk used a new small ziplock freezer bag fold down the sides and slowly slip under her when she goes to pee, then fold up the sides and zip closed and take the sample to the vet asap refrigerate if more than 1/2 an hour, the fresher it is the easier to check. She may need an extra walk just before bedtime, my bridge girl Callie would pee within an hour of me going to bed if she was not taken outside "immediately before" bedtime even if I had taken her out a half hour before her bedtime, it was just one of her quirks, once I figured that out she never had an nighttime accident again.

Both Callie and my current girl are genetic spooks, way beyond just being shy they panic out of fear at some of the smallest things that were new to them including me(it took Maya 2 years to come to me while I was standing upright for a pet) , you can use correction but is has to be gentle and no yelling.
A simple firm "ah-ah" no need to raise my voice was used as my vocal correction, a leash with the handle cut off so their feet are not getting caught in it can be left on so if she gets caught in the act a simple ah-ah is used and then get the end of the leash and take her out, if needed on the way out clip on a leash with a handle so as not to risk escape. Maya was also afraid to go outside to the yard when neighbors were also outside in their yards but she had to learn she still had to go outside to do her business once done she was free to come back inside so she learned to do it quickly so she could get back inside away from the sight of my neighbors, though if the neighbors grandchildren were outside running around and being loud and boisterous I knew that was too much for her to be able to handle, so I did not force her out then and tried to time outings when they went inside the second summer was a little rough as well as there was 3 months of street reconstructions so I sent her out early in the morning tried to aim for another outing when they went taking lunch breaks hope no big equipment running at the same time and after they were done for the day usually around 8 pm, I needed more tolerance then and often did not correct simply because I knew the level of noise and commotion was too much from her to be to handle going outside so it would be pointless, she has been almost 9 months now without a single accident as she is being more confident with being outside and is startiing to become brave enough even to pee when the neighbours are using the pool though she still wants back inside pretty fast at those times.

October 5th, 2006, 06:48 AM
I agree that a pee sample needs to be taken to the vet for analysis. It sounds like she's peeing more times a day than she should which could signal an infection. Is she drinking a lot of water?

Winston's Human
October 5th, 2006, 02:29 PM
Her water consumption varies. We do have a vet appointment early next week to make sure she is medically ok. We can't get a urine sample, its a tough enough task getting her to pee outside let alone when I slowly attempted to get a sample and she simply stopped peeing. She is far too nervous to allow that. However, since there was been no accident in 38 hrs, a new behavior has emerged, her complete and utter defiance to do anything. For example, walks, she loves them, we have 3 a day. She will stand/sit and refuse to move. If we are successful getting her going, she stops every 5 feet and the process starts all over. Anyone have any ideas why the stubborness and defiance? There have been no changes in the house, routine, nadda, other than her not peeing inside for 38 hrs. Not sure what she is trying to tell us. Any ideas?

October 5th, 2006, 04:52 PM
I think she may be confusing your compassion for lack of leadership. :shrug:

October 5th, 2006, 10:55 PM
Her name is Shilo

Isn't that Brad and Angelina's girl? :D :p

Anyhow, I think somebody already mentioned this already, but limit her to only certain (easy to clean) areas of the home for now and maybe take her out for quick walks more often -- chances are, she'll have to go during one of those times, then you just praise and treat :D

Good luck!

Winston's Human
October 6th, 2006, 12:58 AM
She was named already but yeah its the same name lol.

My take is she is feeling safer and trying to become dominant....seeing where she stands or sits as it were in the family. Not certain what the best response is to this to not reinforce her power trip if that's what it is. So far and I have dropped the leash and walked ahead of her and sat with my back to her. All but once she walked up to me. Still looking for suggestions on these type of behaviors - would be greatly appreciated.

October 6th, 2006, 01:01 AM
I think you just have to make her work for things. You can be non-threatening without giving her things free.:shrug:

October 6th, 2006, 06:39 AM
Do you always go the same route out for a walk? Does she stop around the same area each time? I would try switching things up a bit and going off in different directions if possible. I know with a dog that won't go forward that switching directions is suggested.

October 6th, 2006, 10:04 AM
This was my experience with Blackie. I got her at roughly 5-6 months, she was barely 3-4 pounds (she was a cocker spaniel mix, looked like a setter only smaller and completely black). Her fur was also very matted and cotton like from poor nutrition and no grooming.
The first week she hide under the bed. I used to go under the bed to her and feed her but I was so gentle and reassuring that after that week you could not peel her off of you if you ware in her sight. She became very attached to me and my parents but till the day she died she didnít really trust anyone else. We are not sure if she was hit but she was obviously abused and not taken care of before we got her, we never even had to scream at her, and if you ware telling her something in a more serious voice she would go to her dog house and not come out until you asked her to.

I think that with abused dogs the most important think is to get their complete trust, once you do that the dog will want to do everything to please you.
I was able to teach her house manners very fast, we had no behavioral problems beside the fact that she never trusted people, even with some of my family members she was distant, never aggressive she would just go to her place and stay there, if they wanted to pet her she would stay but most of the time her first priority was to see what me or my parents ware doing. She was the best dog I had (will now I have my baby Maltese and I am molding her into the perfect dog also Ė she is a great student), very loyal and sweet, a great guard dog (even took care of the animals that had and was very animate about defending them from foxes and owls because we lived at the edge of the forest).

So, there is hope, be very gentle but firm, you are the law, make the dog trust you and you should be fine. :)

October 6th, 2006, 11:27 PM
Her water consumption varies. We do have a vet appointment early next week to make sure she is medically ok. We can't get a urine sample, its a tough enough task getting her to pee outside let alone when I slowly attempted to get a sample and she simply stopped peeing. She is far too nervous to allow that. However, since there was been no accident in 38 hrs, a new behavior has emerged, her complete and utter defiance to do anything. For example, walks, she loves them, we have 3 a day. She will stand/sit and refuse to move. If we are successful getting her going, she stops every 5 feet and the process starts all over. Anyone have any ideas why the stubborness and defiance? There have been no changes in the house, routine, nadda, other than her not peeing inside for 38 hrs. Not sure what she is trying to tell us. Any ideas?

It is not defiance, you have only had her a short while the first couple of weeks she is more or less in shock from all the changes and has a hard time responding to stimuli, once the shock wears off she is then able to react, the stopping is a sign of insecurity and fear it could be a response to something strange that she hears, sees or smells, It could also be a result she knows she is coming up to an area where something had scared her on a previous outing so she is scared to going forward to that point

This is a very typical behaviour in racing greyhounds that come from a track life to a home, there prior life has sheltered them them from many things other dogs will take for granted like automobile traffic, flags and laundry flapping in the wind, sounds of children playing, doorbells going off, walking on different floor surfaces etc, etc. So once they come into a home they tend to seem fine for a few days and then the odd reactions start to occur even in dogs that are quite confident in their familiar surroundings. and I have seen it occur several times with the 3 I adopted and those I fostered though to different degrees, depending on their coping skills. Sunny was a very confident outgoing greyhound on the track it tokk him almost 3 months before his confidence fully returned once he arrived in my home, on walks he did the same thing as your girl is doing, I simply gave him a few minutes to stand and observe before telling him "lets go" and carry on till he froze again, I could not always figure out what was upsetting him a dogs senses are keener than ours, so I just accepted that he is hearing seeing or smelling something I can't, over the next couple of months the stops became less frequent till he not longer was afraid and unsure now nothing phases him. In the house nearly 3 days after I got him he slipped on the hardwood floor, for the next while everytime he got to the spot he slipped going the same direction he would hesitate and panic a bit, but was totally fine walking in the opposite direction.

A few months later he was running in the yard slipped in the wet grass and took quite a tumble injuring his back(he had a bad fall on the track as well injuring his back and breaking a leg which may play a role in his logic) but to him he connected the backyard with his pain rather than the actual cause being that he was running on wet grass as a result he was totally terrified of going into the backyard, it took almost 3 months to slowly get him over that fear and acccept that the backyard was not a dangerous evil place. With other greyhounds they were worried about one busy intersection I had to cross and also one sidewalk that was right next to the road, so before I got to the point they would starting freezing or try to turn around and go the opposite direction, so I needed to be patient to help them get over that fear and not push to hard but ease them forward and reward them with happy talk

Shilo is young and may have spent most of her time tied up in a yard with very little exposure to the outside world going for walks and therefore her reaction is very normal, so your patience and understanding will be needed when she gets out of sorts, don't try to correct but don't coddle her either as that can enforce fears, instead talk to her in a happy voice so that she sees you are comfortable around whatever is bothering her and it will help to inspire some confidence in herself knowing you are not scared and worried or frustrated because she is not co-operating.