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Canine Behavior/poop in bed


A few weeks ago we adopted two puppies.  A female jug and a male pug.  Both are beautiful and are learning basic commands well.  At night while we sleep they are each in their own 8 panel playpen with a bed at one end and toilet pads at the other.  The toilet pads are removed and replaced every morning and if they use them throughout the day.  The female has used the toilet pads since day one.  The male on the other hand will urinate on the pads and sometimes defacate but always does at least one poop in his bed and lays in it, so he needs a bath every morning.  I also remove his bed and launder it every time.  They are both on the same vet bought kibble and are both taken outside regularly through the day and early night.  I am at the end of my tether and have no idea how to change this habit.  Please help.

IF you intend for these dogs to ever be fully housetrained, you MUST remove the pads from their enclosures, day and night.  You don't mention the age of these two: if they are quite young (up to 12 weeks of age), they are just obtaining control over urination/defecation and must be taken out DURING THE NIGHT (for a short time) just as you would change a human baby's diapers.  At about ten to twelve weeks of age, the dog (male) normally has more control over his bladder than does a bitch at that age, but by four months both dog and bitch should be able to control both urination and defecation, given fair numbers of outings for same.  You will never succeed in house training these pups if you give them continuous double message: it's ok to urinate/defecate indoors.

Now as the the dog (male): I assume he is from the same breeder??  I'm unsure what "adopted" means here but it appears that the dog's dam was improperly supervised during the period of time her pups were neonates; perhaps she was overbred, or was just too young or too tired, to teach her pups what to "do" and where to "do" it.  This would explain the dog's habit of pooping in his bed (it is, at least, one explanation) since he literally had no choice but to lie in filth as a neonate.  The bitch on the other hand (female pup) appears not to have been subjected to that sort of environment as a neonate and is doing what she is supposed to do: eliminate away from bedding.  The other explanation might be that the dog is somehow being rewarded for pooping in his bed (your reaction to finding it??) or is marking his sleeping place (because he can see the bitch).  Age of pups would have helped enormously but the bottom line is this:

In order to change what is happening you must change what happens before, during, after.  This means: remove pads immediately; get up and take both dogs out during the night if they are very young; reinforce house training by taking them out on leash (not sending them out to a yard), praise and reward appropriate elimination OUTSIDE.  MOVE the PLAYPENS to another area where the scent of urine and feces has not penetrated the flooring (yes it definitely has even if you can't smell it).  Anticipate that your pups will be confused at first; if you are leaving them for long hours during the day and they are not of an age to be able to contain their urine and feces, you've made an error in judgment and house training will be quite difficult and time consuming.  Also: they cannot be confined to these spaces for long periods of time, they will learn nothing about how to habituate to living in a household and will not have been socialized outdoors or in to other people, places, dogs, children, etc.  

Now: having moved the playpens to an area where there is NO scent of urine or feces, FEED the pups in their own spaces (up to four months of age, 3x daily; after that 2x daily for life).  You can feed them at the end where you used to place the pads thereby inhibiting any desire to eliminate in those places.  If the dog (male) continues to soil his bed, remove it and feed him ON THAT SPOT for a few days before returning it.  During all of this, continuously reinforce that eliminating OUTSIDE is very rewarding and INSIDE is never rewarding.  

A puppy is an enormous responsibility both in house training and socialization and positive reinforcement training for "obedience" routines; two is quite a big job.  Go back to "kindergarten" with these two: begin re-teaching house training skills.  If you require further assistance, please fill in the gaps regarding age and temperament types.  You can use the FOLLOWUP feature should you need it.  TY.

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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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