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Case Study, House Toilet Training Part 1

I recently received and replied to the following emails regarding a common problem suffered by many dog owners. Each case has its own particular variations, so not all the normal standard answers will work on every dog in the same way. It also requires an understanding of what the dog is trying to achieve.

Hi Alan,
I am sorry to bother you on a Sunday. I am at my wits end as I have a six-month-old husky/lab 'pup'. He was doing great with the toilet training until we had the rainstorm, which I suppose washed away all his outside 'smells'. He now refuses point blank to 'go' out at all so he now fouls in the house instead.

I received some advice regarding washing the affected indoor area, using washing powder and mentholated spirits. The problem is that 80% of the 'accidents' are on my Chinese rugs, so this is not a possible solution. It did not work on the tiled floors either. He only seems to like areas he has not been on before, e.g. a floor that I have just cleaned with acid and oiled - no trace of poo or wee.

I have tried, over the top praising, treats, shouting, ignoring him, sorry to say even hitting him (when he decided to poo on a rug 2 minutes after an hours walk that produced nothing), all to no avail. Please please help.

Other than this problem, he is a lovely natured dog and is reasonably well behaved outside the house, although a little headstrong. Unfortunately, if the fouling problem is not soon resolved, he will become a candidate for re-housing. I now spend half my day searching the house for his latest spot. I have even had to close off some rooms to prevent his access. I have had two dogs and a few cats in the past, all with no problem. Please tell me what I am doing wrong.
Regards

My reply,
The first thing is to take any of his mistakes and put them in an area where you wish your dog to go to in future.
 
The second is to wash the floors and furniture with an Enzyme cleaner. Arial is good for this, but let it soak well into the tiles and grout. You may not be able to smell it but a dog can still detect the ammonia in their urine. As bleach also contains ammonia, it is better not to use it at all. If you read the papers about the search for Madeline, the Police dogs can still smell old blood, even after cleaning, so detecting urine is easy for them.

You have to treat your dog like a puppy again. Every time it wakes or just been fed, take it outside and do not come back in until it does go to the toilet. Do not play or look directly at your dog until it has been, but when it does, give it loads of praise. You can even teach it to go on command like saying Pees and Poos.
 
There could be a typical problem with Husky type dogs, as they are often quite dominant, so urinating could be a sign his leadership over you. Do you see your dog as being dominant?
 
There are no Alpha dogs in a human/canine pack, so you could try some dominancy training to solve this problem.
 
Kind regards
 
Hi Alan,
Thank you for the advice. Yes, I have been using bleach, in fact a cocktail, Fairy washing powder, disinfectant and bleach in the hope that one of them would work.

I did manage to get him to 'go' outside this morning as I have been leaving his mess outside in the hope it would encourage him to start using the area again, so it seems to be working.

He is quite bossy or dominating. Any accidents happen when he is ignored and I am on the phone or the computer, even if he has just had a walk or been taken outside.

He has 24-hour access to the outside but usually he will only go out if I am with him. The latest trick is to get me to go out, he jumps on me and then barks until I take him, but 4 out of 5 times it is just attention seeking. Most of the time it is just him and me, so I guess it is a male thing. Looks like him or me needs the dominancy training.
Again, any advice is most welcome.
Regards

My reply
 
If your dog unfortunately messes whilst you are there, say and do nothing. Walk out of the room and hopefully your dog will follow you, but ignore him. Once he is outside close the doors on him and then clean up the mess. Do not react to your dog fouling as he has possibly learnt he gets attention, even if it is negative, its still attention.

When you come into the house, totally ignore your dog as if he does not exist at all. Carry on doing things, but no eye-to-eye contact. Wait for him to go off and settle down into what appears to be a sulk. It isn't, but once he seems to show this sulk, add 10 minutes, then look at him and call him too you for lots of fuss and praise, then suddenly stop and look away, as if your dog has disappeared again. Show him you give attention only when YOU are ready, not when he demands it.

Try to notice when your dog demands something and do not respond. If he wants feeding at six, then ignore him and feed him at seven.

You are the leader and you make the decisions for him, not the other way round.
 
For the jumping up, turn away and again ignore him. We do have harmless compressed air that when fired across his muzzle will make him back off as if you Gruffly barked at him just as a dog would do, to tell him to stop his bad behaviour now.
 
For feeding times make his meal in front of him and when ready, hold it up to your face and pretend to eat it whilst noticing his expression. Then put it up high in a cupboard and walk away. Wait until you can go to the cupboard without him following you. When he stays in the other room, then take the food down, walk outside and call him to follow you. Before he gets to you, put the bowl down but before he reaches it, pick it up again and return to the high cupboard. Repeat this but this time allow him to eat half, then walk up from behind saying LEAVE and remove the food to replace it in the cupboard again. Repeat this routine a third time, but let him finish his meal in peace. He should, after a week, start to come to you after his meal as if to say thank you.
 
This teaches your dog you are the leader, to do with food what you want and not just a human servant who just places the food down when he expects it.
 
Does he sleep in your room or sit on any of your furniture. Does he like to sit at the top of the stairs so he is above you?
 
Kind regards
 
Alan
To be continued next week.

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