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Canine Behavior/Dog won't go to the bathroom


we got a pit bull terrier lab god-knows-what-else mix from the pound a 10 ago.  She is probably around 2 y/o.  For the first few days she wouldn't go to the bathroom at all, to the point where I spent $500 on lab work to make sure her kidneys and everything else were working okay.
Finally, she started going and she found her "sacred" spot... we went there she pooped, 2 min later she peed and was done.  This was great for 4 days.  Yesterday, she was stung by 2 bees at the "sacred" spot, and now we are back to stage one-- she will go on long walks, she eats, she drinks, but when we go any where near her spot, she freaks out and tries to run, her eyes are clearly fearful etc.... but we can't find a new special spot.
She has had 3 accidents at home... which I know is not a lot, but still....
What do I do now?


I think I understand what's happening here: this dog was most likely seriously abused during her "house training" experience, perhaps beaten, perhaps dragged to the spot and shouted at before being beaten, which renders her very, very slow to urinate or defecate in FRONT of a Human.

I presume you meant TEN DAYS ago?  This dog has a lot to overcome, emotionally, and is still making an adjustment to your home and will be doing this for a long time, perhaps even months.  NEVER yell at her if you find urine in the house, EVER.  Instead, when she is not watching, clean it (use an OTC enzyme to help reduce odor to her even though she will still smell it).  You should be feeding her twice a day.  PUT HER FOOD down on the spot she chose to urinate.

Now: try this.  Buy "wee-wee pads" (NOT for indoor use!)  Use one to clean up a future accident, put it into a plastic bag and take it out with you about four hours later to a NEW SPOT, totally different direction and even general location from the first; take the soaked pad out of the plastic bag and put it down.  Say nothing.  Stay within the area of the soaked pad, do not wander.  Walk in circles near it gently saying "Go pee, go pee".  She should respond to the soaked pad by urinating ON TOP of it; the moment she finishes, softly praise her and pop a treat into her mouth (bit of string cheese to start with, she should like that).  Then WATCH for the times she has to defecate because they will almost always become regular: first thing AM, perhaps next walk four hours later, four walks a day.  She may change her routine now and then but she will always have to defecate first walk if you feed her at about 7 to 8AM and then about 4 to 5PM.

If she's eating and drinking she has to defecate and urinate.  This dog has an enormous amount of "will power" and it HAS to be fear conditioned, there's no other explanation.  If you take her out at four to five hour intervals four times a day, and carry a soaked pad with you (or, if she has no accidents - highly unlikely btw - a plain pad that will interest her in marking it, that's what the "wee wee pads" do) she WILL begin to urinate/defecate regularly.  This will take a great deal of patience on your part and time.  The dog is traumatized.  You may begin seeing other signs of the traumas she suffered in the next two to three months.  

Now to build trust in you:  study this link and train this dog accordingly:

It will take approximately 30 trials (training "events") to obtain a conditioned response to a NEW WORD for "sit" (do NOT use that word, it was most likely abused).  Once she "sits" on cue (your new word) ten out of ten times, ask for "sit" for everything: being taken out/brought in, petted, fed, etc.  This will ease her anxiety since it puts you clearly in "control" in a humane way (psychologically and emotionally) and help build trust between you and her.

Any further questions, refer to the original email you received this link in, return to the answer, scroll down and see "Ask a Followup Question" so I can see original question and answer.

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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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