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New baby, 7 yr old dog pooping in living room

March 5th, 2007, 01:33 AM
Hi -

I have a 7 yr old lab/pointer mix, Natasha, who has recently started pooping in one specific corner of the living room. In our old house, she would poop in one corner of the basement. I could easily solve that problem by not allowing her access to the basement - she wouldn't poop anywhere else.

We had a new baby in December and the Natasha's pooping problem started about 5 weeks after we brought the baby home. I realize that this stressor probably triggered the behavior, but I can't get it to stop. We've tried giving her more attention, spending more time outside and on walks with her, etc. She'll often come in from having been outside for 30 minutes only to promptly poop in the corner of the living room. She knows we're not pleased with this - she skulks around while we clean up the mess.

Anyone successfully solve this problem? The reading I've done so far (not much) suggests crating the dog ALL THE TIME when it's in the house. This seems extreme. Would the dog have to be crated forever? If not, how long would this crating have to go on?

I'm pretty convinced this is a psychological problem with the dog - she's always been neurotic in other ways. Does anyone have experience with this?


March 5th, 2007, 05:52 AM
Congrats on the new baby!

Your dog isn't neccessarily sulking around because he know he did something wrong, but rather he's reading your body language and is afraid of what might follow when you're in that mood (sees you as unpredictable). "Uh oh, mom's in a mood... I'd better watch my back".

Have you caught him in the act, and if so, how do you react? If you're angry or frustrated, the problem won't likely go away, but instead the dog will learn how to be more sneaky about doing his business to avoid punishment. Is he on a poop schedule (does he do it at the same times every day, after meals or waking from a nap)?

He's established this spot as his own bathroom, and 30 minutes outside simply isn't long enough if he does it as soon as he comes back in. Crate training doesn't mean you have to keep him in a crate all the time, but it might be a good way to show him that this behavior is unacceptable. He stays in the crate for 15 minutes at a time, then you take him IMMEDIATELY outside. If he doesn't poop within 5 or 10 minutes, he goes back into the crate (and let back outside 15 minutes later again). He is only allowed access to the house once he's relieved himself. If the crate doesn't work for you, blocking off access to this area (much like you did the basement) is what you might have to do (temporarily). Once he's earned the right to that spot again, you will have to watch him very carefully that the old habit doesn't come back.

If neither options are available, keeping your dog on a leash in the house is another option. He doesn't have to be tied to anything (let him drag the leash around), but everytime you catch him in the general area, you can grab the leash and take him outside. If he's about to squat, you can grab the leash and sternly say "OUTSIDE!". With puppies, they will do everything in their power to stop doing their business if you pick them up (even in mid poop) and continue outside, so the same idea applies to your adult dog. If you pull the leash so he's forced to walk, he doesn't have a choice but to hold it in (not easy to walk and poop at the same time). Again, pooping outside means huge reward.

Personally, I'd use the leash. Funny he doesn't pee there? Different rules... lol

This mentions only ways on how to re-house train (your dog is no longer housebroken), but stopping the cause of course is the most effectve way. Is there anything baby related around the area shes pooping in?

March 5th, 2007, 06:11 AM
She does pee there, too, but pooping is more frequent. Nothing specifically baby related is in the corner... After denying her access to the basement for months at a time, she still would go down there and immediately poop if I left the door open for even a short amount of time while I was gone. She seems to save poop up especially for the purpose of going there. Ugh. I've had it where we just come home from a walk where she's pooped and peed and she still manages to poop in the same corner of the living room.

Given her history with the basement (going for months at a time without access and then starting again), I'm not sure the crate method will work, but we're willing to try anything. The leash isn't practical for me because I often have the baby in my arms - I can't drag the dog outside mid-poo while I'm holding the baby.

LEt me make sure I understand: if she doesn't go outside, she goes in the crate immediately when she comes in. We wait 15 min then take her outside again. If she doesn't go again, back in the crate. If she does go both pee and poop while outside, does she regain access to the house? How doe we react if we subsequently find a pile? I rarely catch her in the act simply because I don't hang out in the living room much. When she goes outside should we give her treats and praise?

Imterestingly, she has pnly ever done this once while we were out of the house - she seems to poop/pee in the house only when we're home.

That's the other thing - I am home most of the day and my husband recently started working from home - it's not like there's no one around!!

Thanks for your initial reply.


March 5th, 2007, 11:29 AM
After denying her access to the basement for months at a time, she still would go down there and immediately poop if I left the door open for even a short amount of time while I was gone.

So blocking the area off obviously isn't going to work. In Karen Pryor's book "Dont shoot the dog", she talks about a dog who was obsessed with her garbage can (paper bin, not food). She took a spray bottle and filled it with vanilla extract, closed her eyes, and sprayed the dog in the face. She then lined the edge of the trash can with the vanilla, and since the dog now has a negative association with the smell of vanilla, he never went back.

I wonder if this is something would work for your dog? Anyone here have an opinion on this? The only other thing I can think of is to set him up somehow, so the area punishes him (not you). I once had to set an empty pop can filled with pennies on the toilet paper roll because no matter how many times I corrected it, my puppy just REALLY seemed to want that toilet paper. He pulled the roll, the can fell on his head, and he went RUNNING. Never went back. The reason this worked is because I was nowhere NEAR the bathroom when it happened. However, this is a completely different situation... your dog isn't getting into something he shouldn't be. He's trying to tell you something (I think)...

I'm assuming that you've used a product (ie. Natures Miracle) that removes the urine smell, of course. If a dog pees in one area and the area is "marked", the dog will go there again (this is how pee pads work - they're scented so the dogs know that's where they're supposed to pee). Products like lysol or vinegar don't change the chemical that cause the odor, and often will weaken the scent to your nose, but increase it to your dogs.

Anyone? Any ideas?

March 5th, 2007, 12:42 PM
I'm sure she's trying to tell me something, but I don't know what. She did this at my old house in the basement when I was single and she was an only "child". She got plenty of attention and walks.

Her other issue is systemic yeast which we recently diagnosed after years of chronic ear infections and itchy paws. We started feeding her a raw diet and the reaction didn't go away. We're hoping the new treatment works, makes her feel more comfortable, and helps with the inside pooping problem (is it possible these two issues are related?)

Anyway, in the mean time, we'll get the cleaner you suggested and my husband will bring down the large dog crate from the attic.

March 5th, 2007, 01:00 PM
Assuming she asks to go outside (when she doesn't go in her corner), what about training her to ring a bell when she has to go? If the bell (accompanied by using the outdoor toilet) means huge praise or lots of treats, it might encourage her to want to go out more.

Yeast could definitely contribute to the problem, but if she did this in your basement, and stopped when you blocked off the area, it's unlikely. I would think...

March 5th, 2007, 02:12 PM
She asks to go out sometimes. Given the current situation, we practically leap to respond when she asks to go out - she definitely knows how to do that.

Do you think rewarding when she does go outside (i.e. with a treat) will help her "forget" about going inside and choose to go outside so she'll get a treat?

Now I have to sort out some yeast-unfriendly treats - it's been a challenge! She does like vegetables, though...

One more question about crating - if she poops/pees outside, should I still crate her when she's inside or should I use the crate only if she refuses to go outside (bring her in, crate her for 15 min, take her back outside for another try, if she poops give her a treat?)?

Thanks for your continuing help!