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Canine Behavior/Not exactly house trained


Hi! This past summer my family took in a foster dog. He is a 4 year old Treeing walker coon hound named Barkley. We were a last resort for him. He has been bounced around for a long time and no one would consider long term fostering and no one has been interested in adopting him. He has some behavior issues, and one challenge we are having is house training him. We were told he only had rare accidents, but he has them every day. He has gone as long as three days without an accident, but that's rare. He is nurtured. We have three female dogs, all who are spayed. He sometimes gets along with the other dogs, and sometimes has spats with them. With our girls, we used the 7 days to house train your dog method, which makes use of a lot of crate time. This is not an option with Barkley, because he has anxiety with crates. I was told he was left in a crate for days on end in the past. I limit water intake, walk him frequently,give him biscuits and praise when he goes potty outside. I rarely catch him going inside, but if I do he gets a stern BAD DOG. I taught him commands for pee and poop, and he actually goes on command when we are outside. He just seems to sneak off in to the corner and go, even if he was out a short time ago. He has a couple of favorite spots that he uses. He won't just go anywhere. I got the expensive urine cleaner and use a ton of that. I'm not sure what else to do? We tried cutting him off from his favorite places to go inside (by shutting doors, etc), but he just finds another spot he likes. I'm hoping you have some ideas. He is ruining our floors.

Sorry to say because I think you are doing a wonderful thing by taking this dog in, but your training methods are not good.  "Seven days to house train your dog" method is abusive and teaches avoidance; no dog trained with that can be considered reliably house trained. If you move, your entire household goes back to square one.

This is how you help Barkley not to "mark" in the house (which is what he is doing: you have three bitches, spayed or not he is responding to their presence and making his presence known to "all comers": normal behavior).  When he is in the house, put a belly band on him: they are easily purchased (take him with you to insure proper fit) in any large pet supply store.  The belly band makes it impossible for him to urinate: the urine will not exit and the tiny amount that does will be held to his body and the dog will immediately stop urinating when wearing it.

Next: DO NOT LIMIT WATER INTAKE.  This isn't helping at all; in fact, if he develops a bladder issue due to concentrated urine, it will make his "marking" a true problem of "need" and will compromise his health.  Leave water down as you do for your others and available; unless the day has been exceptionally hot or the dog(s) have been exercised heavily, you can pick up the water about 7PM for the rest of the night.  If you catch him lifting his leg indoors and you tell him "BAD DOG" you are effectively extinguishing the very good work you have done by teaching him to urinate on command outdoors: double messages cause learned helplessness.  Learned helplessness in a situation such as this will eventually cause the dog to urinate indoors because he has become fearful of urinating in front of you.

Take him out five to six times a day (unless he has consumed a larger amount of water than usual because of weather or exercise).  Use a high value treat (not dog biscuits) when he URINATES ONLY outdoors (piece of string cheese, chicken hot dog).

Wearing the belly band, he will not be able to urinate indoors.  Now: choose the places he has chosen as his "favorite" and FEED HIM on those spots (twice daily, it is best to feed all dogs twice daily so cut portions in half).  Go from one room to the other: start with the room he has presently selected to mark.  Once a couple of weeks have passed, go to room(s) blocked to him now and feed him on the spot(s) in those rooms.  No matter how well the cleaner is at removing the scent of urine to OUR NOSES, any domestic dog can still smell it.

Now let's promote Barkley so he is at the top of social hierarchy:  greet him first, interact with him first, feed him first: but be certain he "earns" all of this by "sitting" on command.  It's very easy to teach "sit" off leash, here is a video that will demonstrate it:

As for his other behavior issues, if they involve the interaction with the bitches in your home, by promoting him you will solve those issues.  Also you can of course feel free to ask me about those issues.  First, let's clear up this mess!  Barkley *understands* he should urinate on command outdoors; he *understands* he will be rewarded.  He does not *understand* that leg lifting is not allowed.  It may take weeks or more to fully resolve the problem, but resolve it, you will!  And congratulations for giving this dog a new chance at life!

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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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