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Canine Behavior/dog defacation in house


We have a 7 year old Husky/Malamut mix who will not poop unless my husband is standing next to him. At times he will do the potty dance, and when we let him outside he will start to go to the yard, turn around and see that my husband is not there, and come back and sit and the door whimpering. He will sit there at the door for hours whimpering. If my husband goes outside with him, the dog will stay on the patio until my husband walks out to the grass. Rudy will then follow and do his business. This has been the case since I met them 4 years ago. Lately, however, it's been getting worse, and last night around 4am he woke up, walked from my side of the bed to my husbands side and pooped next to the bed on the carpet, walked back over to my side and layed down to go back to sleep.
We have attempted to kennel him and let him out at periodic intervals, but he will hold it until he no longer can and then spray feces out of the cage. I am at my wits end. Are you aware of what emotional issue could be causing this behavior?

Now, this is a NEW one for me!  The best guess I can offer is that, somehow, social status is involved here (between your husband and the dog).  Defecation in a shared, social space (and this can be one room or a huge castle!) can be regulated by social status.  In such a case, a dog will defer and refuse to defecate without the "allowance" of that one higher in social status (in this case your husband).  When he defecated on the side of the bed your husband sleeps in, he was desperately attempting to do the "right" thing.  Confining him to the crate is not the answer; in fact, it is socially isolating, further demotes him in social hierarchy, and "when ya gotta go, ya gotta go" so it is forcing him to go against his own nature and the (apparent) strong social inhibition he has acquired.

I suggest you need to consult a certified applied animal behaviorist (NOT a dog trainer).  If you and your husband are interviewed and the dog is evaluated and observed with both of you by someone with the education and experience to read dog body language and make sense of this odd problem (and yes, it is possible to make sense of it), then you will be given a course of action to empower the dog's status in your hierarchy.  At age 7, he may experience response perseverance (hard to change "old habits") but it's worth a try.  If the dog does defecate indoors out of desperation, do not yell at him (he will never defecate in front of you if you yell at him).  Pick it up in his presence and go out to the yard with it. Allow the dog to accompany you.  Put it down in plain sight of him and have a "party" for five seconds: be very, very happy (don't direct it at him) and then go on as usual.  Something is inhibiting this dog from defecating in your presence, PERHAPS (past "indiscretions" that were "punished" or provoked your anger or frustration).  It CAN be fixed.

You can find a CAAB at one of the following sites or by calling the veterinary school in your geographical area:  

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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