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ARGH, she's NOT housebroken!!!!

Bearsmom
August 6th, 2008, 07:16 AM
Help needed here! As most of you know, we rescued Molly 2 months ago from a nasty owner. This is very embarrassing to admit, but I'm losing the housebreaking battle!

We suspect that she was just allowed to go anywhere she pleased in her former home, and we also suspect (given her anxiety levels when outside) that she was just left outside for hours on end (she will work herself into a FRENZY if outside without someone for longer than a few minutes). We've been going outside with the dogs on a regular basis, praising her like CRAZY when she goes outside. We've also closed off several rooms in the house-she's not allowed in the basement unsupervised, and the upstairs dining room is closed off to her. The way our house is designed does not permit confining her to a kitchen or some other room.

I think that we were making a tremendous progress when I was off with my surgery (for 8 weeks), I had established a routine with her, and no accidents. As SOON as I went back to work, she's been going in the house! I'm a shiftworker, and my husband works straight days, but my dad is there with our son. Molly and Bear get walked in the morning before I leave for work, and dad lets them out regularly during the day. As soon as she's left alone, she poops in the living room. This is the longest week for them, as I'm working dayshift and don't get home till 5:30. I cannot ask my 71 year old father to walk 2 giant breeds.

PS we've tried crating her, and she was so panicked by it, she chewed through the wire. Believe me, we've tried to convince her that the crate was safe, but she's terrified of it (thus, I think, the destruction of said crate).
I wish to GOD we had her history so I could figure out what she went through.

HELP!

Frenchy
August 6th, 2008, 09:02 AM
oh Bearsmom , I've been there with Nelly ... took 3 months if I remember correctly. I'm sure what I will tell you , you already know / tried. You're making sure she poops outside before you leave ?

If you want to try the crate again , I used to feed Nelly in there for every meal. When I would leave , I would put her in the crate with a frozen peanut butter stuffed Kong , a Cuz and one doggie treat. So she would always be excited to get in there. But she did soil it a couple of times :yuck: I feel for you , because if these dogs were chihuahuas , the mess would be minor but THIS IS NOT THE CASE !!!

Maybe give her some rescue remedy when you leave ? There's also diffuser to plug in a room and it's suppose to help with their anxiety but it's expensive (have to change the refill every month) and doesn't work for every dog ....

Sorry I can't be more help. :o

Bearsmom
August 6th, 2008, 09:27 AM
oh Bearsmom , I've been there with Nelly ... took 3 months if I remember correctly. I'm sure what I will tell you , you already know / tried. You're making sure she poops outside before you leave ?

If you want to try the crate again , I used to feed Nelly in there for every meal. When I would leave , I would put her in the crate with a frozen peanut butter stuffed Kong , a Cuz and one doggie treat. So she would always be excited to get in there. But she did soil it a couple of times :yuck: I feel for you , because if these dogs were chihuahuas , the mess would be minor but THIS IS NOT THE CASE !!!

Maybe give her some rescue remedy when you leave ? There's also diffuser to plug in a room and it's suppose to help with their anxiety but it's expensive (have to change the refill every month) and doesn't work for every dog ....

Sorry I can't be more help. :o

She has a HUGE dumper on the early morning walk, and she's not fed until we get home at night (she eats the same time Bear does).

Unfortunately, the crate was demo'd during our last attempt at crating, and she doesn't like a kong (I don't know why). I wish I could describe the destruction of that crate, she was soooo stressed she actually chewed through the wires of the crate, sustaining cuts to her tongue.

I've tried rescue remedy, and that seems to work at soothing her a bit.

I'm wondering if it's because this is the first week I've been gone all day?

Frenchy
August 6th, 2008, 09:30 AM
I'm wondering if it's because this is the first week I've been gone all day?

Of course that is all new to her. She doesn't like the Kong ? Even if you put peanut butter in there ? :confused:

Bearsmom
August 6th, 2008, 09:41 AM
Wierdest thing, both she and Bear HATE kongs. Won't even touch them with any type of treats/snacks in them.

I own wierd dogs.:laughing:

Frenchy
August 6th, 2008, 09:44 AM
I own wierd dogs.:laughing:

I never hear of one (and you have 2!!) that didn't like a good peanut butter stuffed Kong :confused:

maybe they're watching their weight :rolleyes:

With time and patience , I'm sure this will settle. If Nelly can do it , Molly can too ! :thumbs up

Lissa
August 6th, 2008, 11:21 AM
Sounds like you've been trying everything. All I can really suggest is patience and consistency and some more time off LOL...

I understand about anxiety issues (my last dog had some major problems) but it sounds like Molly needs some form of containment...It certainly doesn't have to be a crate, but she needs a bathroom, x-pen or being cornerd off in a hallway etc... If confinement is not possible, then she needs to be tethered to someone or at least have her leash dragging so she cannot move far from whoever is watching her. I know its not fair to lumber this on your Father but as long as Molly is given the opportunity to eliminate indoors, I fear that her housebreaking will not be complete.

I would encourage you to put elimination on command, perhaps if she is told when to go she will realize that she can spare herself being left outdoors alone! Your Dad doesn't have to walk her, he can simply use the commands from the back door (once you have trained them of course). I personally do not know how people live without pee/poop commands! I needed them originally for dog sport training but I've come to realize that it has become a basic necessity command - one that I will teach all my dogs no matter what!

Also, while it may seem completely unrelated - work on stays or at least sessions where Molly is slowly desensitized to being left alone. You want to set her up for success so at first you may just walk downstairs and come right back and then reward etc..
Also, I'd suggest that you teach her a "go to your mat/bed" command so that you build value and a sense of security for something. Hopefully, it is something that she will start doing automatically if she's left alone. But even if she doesn't, it will help greatly if you try and desensitize her to confinement again because she will have a "security" blanket of such!

We can hope that this being the first week you are away from her that she is having a normal regression and will bounce back in the next few days.:fingerscr

If she doesn't like kongs would she go for a marrow bone/beef neck bone? I wouldn't want her left alone with one but it may help during the day if your Dad is around. Given her size though, you may have to get a butcher to cut them extra long/wide for you!

Also - while I am sure you tried to make the crate a happy place, IMO Molly should never have been left in it alone or for the length of time that it took to sustain injuries from it. All that does is encourage her fear/anxiety of confinement and being alone which is obviously the last thing anybody wants.
My dog was a crate hater too and I also made the mistake of confining him in it too long, too soon! What ended up happening was I had a dog who wasn't crate trained until he was 2 years old. That was fine by me but I decided that it was a basic/necessary skill and crate trained him as an adult. I am very glad I did because less than a year later, he needed to go for xrays and remain at the vets for 12hrs... Had he not been crate trained, it would have been a nightmare for him and for everything at the clinic that day.
BTW - I used plexi glass and a cedar bookshelf to confine Dodger to my room until he was ready to roam the house!

Bearsmom
August 6th, 2008, 11:39 AM
Your advice is good! Molly is a purebred St. Bernard who was badly abused by her previous owner, and we have NO history on her, other than she had the ***** kicked out of her for in-house accidents, and more than once, was tossed down a flight of stairs.

When someone is home, she has no problems, but as soon as someone leaves her, she poops. I cannot ask my father (who is there to babysit our son) to tether himself to a 104 lb puppy, nor is he willing to. He will let the dogs out and in, but I don't expect him to train my dog as well.

The crate issue happened when she was left alone for 20 minutes while I had to run our other dog to the vet. Again, we don't know what was done to her in the past, so I'm not going to crate her again. We've closed off the house as much as possible, so she's confined to the main floor during the day.

One of the biggest behaviours I've noticed is that when we try to get her to come outside (one of us always goes out with her and Bear), she will skulk away and no amount of cajoling will get her outside-we suspect it may be because her previous owner seemed to leave her outdoors for hours on end.(she'll come outside after about 10 minutes of calling her). We stay with her and reward when she goes.

Lissa
August 6th, 2008, 09:59 PM
I cannot ask my father (who is there to babysit our son) to tether himself to a 104 lb puppy, nor is he willing to. He will let the dogs out and in, but I don't expect him to train my dog as well.

I understand that Molly cannot be tethered to him but if its not even possible to have her dragging a leash (perhaps with a bell) so he knows when she's left the room, then you may want to consider a sitter/walker/trainer/neighbour who could help out???
I think it could backfire to let the dogs in and out anytime, especially if your father being home all day is only temporary. It would be best for them (but Molly especially) to be on a fixed schedule (if possible!)

The crate issue happened when she was left alone for 20 minutes while I had to run our other dog to the vet. Again, we don't know what was done to her in the past, so I'm not going to crate her again. We've closed off the house as much as possible, so she's confined to the main floor during the day.

While I agree that crating her without proper desensitization, counter-conditioning and training is a bad idea - I wouldn't rule it out completely. It could work if taken slowly.
Aside from you (people in general), what makes Molly calm or makes her feel secure?

One of the biggest behaviours I've noticed is that when we try to get her to come outside (one of us always goes out with her and Bear), she will skulk away and no amount of cajoling will get her outside-we suspect it may be because her previous owner seemed to leave her outdoors for hours on end.(she'll come outside after about 10 minutes of calling her). We stay with her and reward when she goes.

Poor Molly! She's had to face so much!
While I know you are trying to encourage her, cajoling her outdoors for 10 minutes could in fact make her worse or at least stop her from improving. IMO it is also hurting her recall and general responsiveness to you/commands.
While I do not suggest that any force be part of this, I would encourage that you make things more business-like. Leash her up if you have to. Find a reward and I mean a BIG reward - something exclusive to going outdoors/pottying - something that you KNOW she will do almost anything for. It doesn't have to be food - it could be a toy, another dog, play wrestling etc... The key is that it must be something amazing so you can reward her for being brave enough to go outside. If necessary start rewarding her for taking a few steps with your toward the door and slowly up the criteria. If you know she gets tense 5 ft before the door, reward her at 7ft... Then 6ft, then 8ft, then 5ft etc... Make it random but keep it easy UNLESS she looks confident. With an anxious dog, the last thing you want to do is challenge them too fast, too soon. It destroys their confidence and instead of starting at square 1, you start at square -5 (LOL if you know what I mean!:laughing:)
Make this a part of her daily routine and do it as often as possible. For example, when watching TV, use the commercials to get her in and out of the backyard or when waiting for the oven to warm up, go in and out again. Randomly leave tidbits or her favorite toy near the door so she starts realizing that its a fabulous place. The idea is to make the "in and out" procedure an old hat routine - you do this by making it EXTREMELY rewarding at first and doing it so often that she hardly has time to get anxious!
I also think that you should do anything that she enjoys in the backyard... For instance, if she gets excited when you come home - have her greet you in the backyard (or at least at the back door LOL) or feed her outdoors, or if she likes grooming do that in the yard etc... All you need to do is be patient, consistent and find the right motivation!

Also - another idea is to teach Molly and Bear to ring a bell when they want to potty... While it definately sounds like this is completely anxiety-based, it could help get her on the right track (ie: confidence building, self-control etc..).

Bearsmom
August 7th, 2008, 07:11 AM
Thanks, Lissa, I'm going to try some of your tips.

I really will never be on a fixed schedule of any type, (I'm a shiftworker), so it's difficult to maintain consistency with any training (believe me, though, on my time off, the consistency helps).

Molly only seems to be soothed by having all of us around, she LOVES her pink piggie, and is not very interested in food rewards.

Saddest thing: when we got her, she had no idea what dog toys were, and it wasn't until Bear showed her how to play with them, that she finally began to play.

Frenchy
August 7th, 2008, 09:54 AM
she LOVES her pink piggie, and is not very interested in food rewards.



omg that would make such a cute picture ... ahem .... :rolleyes: