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Old July 5th, 2011, 01:11 AM
Ryan_M Ryan_M is offline
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Location: Courtice, Ont.
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My dog uses our house for a toilet... I need advice!

I have a male ~4 y.o. west higlander/bichon mix (Ralph). I'm sure there's some other stuff in there too though. He's never really been great at being house broken, sort of went in fits and spurts but he's getting pretty bad lately. Sometimes even if we are home he will go somewhere in the house to crap, even multiple times in the day. He also pees though it doesn't look like nearly enough if he just couldn't hold it any more but too much if it's just marking. I know he knows how to let us know if he wants out. I stay up late either working in the garage or basement and he will come down stairs and go to the backdoor and whine - and I go let him out right away.

When I get home from work I get the usual happy greeting but as soon as I start to go upstairs (or where ever he peed or crapped) he lowers his head, he knows he did something bad. I'll be honest we don't get him out for a walk everyday because me and my wife have busy schedules and sometimes it's just not possible. Though even when we do get in periods of him getting regular walks he'll still go in the house.

As for his health and personality... he's awesome. Loves people, loves other dogs, he even seems to almost enjoy when my daughter (7 y.o.) and her friends pick him and move him around and use him as a prop in their games. He gets his check ups and they're always perfect. He's a hit where ever he goes and people/vet/groomer/etc. go out of their way to tell us so.

I know I'm probably leaving out a bunch of useful info, so just let me know what you need to know. I realize it's hard/impossible for you to tell me what the problem might be but I'd like some guidance on figuring this out. Also I've thought about hiring a 'professional' trainer. I don't really mind spending the money if that would be the best course of action. Would obedience training help?

Thanks for any help!
Ryan
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Old July 7th, 2011, 01:41 AM
millitntanimist's Avatar
millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
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Hi Ryan, welcome to the forum

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan_M View Post
Sometimes even if we are home he will go somewhere in the house to crap, even multiple times in the day.
Has he ever been punished for toileting indoors?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan_M View Post
When I get home from work I get the usual happy greeting but as soon as I start to go upstairs (or where ever he peed or crapped) he lowers his head, he knows he did something bad.
This is a bit of a human misnomer. Dogs are not moral creatures. They have no notion of behavior being "good" or "bad." What they do understand is what behavior makes you dangerous. The "guilt" you are seeing is appeasement behavior. When you came home to find a mess before, you probably got upset. The dog then assumes that something about you coming home when he has messed makes you dangerous (not that the messing in itself is bad). Next time, he starts trying calm you down before the point where you reacted previously (thus, before you see the accident).
Asking our dogs to toilet only in specific areas is a really unnatural demand. There is no reason your dog should understand why it is ok for him to go in one human place and not another. Fortunately for us, it is a relatively easy behavior to train.

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I'll be honest we don't get him out for a walk everyday because me and my wife have busy schedules and sometimes it's just not possible.
How much exercise does he normally get and how long is he left alone during the day?

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Originally Posted by Ryan_M View Post
Also I've thought about hiring a 'professional' trainer. I don't really mind spending the money if that would be the best course of action. Would obedience training help?
For this problem specifically, management is your best tool and may not require outside help. However, I think training is always a good idea. If nothing else, it's a great way to stimulate your dog mentally and build the relationship between the two of you. Be careful though, dog training is not a regulated profession as of yet. There's a lack of quality control. I would advise looking for someone who understands the principles of learning theory and utilizes positive reinforcement.
No dominance theory, no aversive methods or devices.

My suggestion (though I'd still like to get input on those few questions) would be to go back a few steps in your house training.
1. The dog is never out of your sight or given access to the house when you are not around (if he is messing without you knowing it is your mistake in letting him wander unattended, not his)
2. Take him out to toilet every 2 hours or so, and/or after all naps, meals, crating and play
3. When he goes successfully outside, reward him lavishly with praise and food (learning how to use marker training will speed this up).
4. Do not punish him for accidents indoors, especially those that escape your notice (although, if you are following the above protocols, there should be none). If you catch him mid-go, clap your hands or say "oops" to interrupt him and take him outside to finish. Again, praise lavishly. We need to make going outside more rewarding than the instant gratification of going in the house.
5. Clean all spots where he has had accidents with an enzymatic cleaner - this denatures the proteins left behind by his urine and feces that he can still detect. Areas that already smell like waste are fair game in dog terms.

Hope this is helpful
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