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Dog Training/potty training adult dog



I adopted a neutered adult pug/beagle mix from the shelter a few years ago when he was about one year old (as far as they could tell), and I love him to death, but he's still learning the ropes when it comes to doing #2 indoors.  

Here's a little background on him.  I've made a routine for taking him outside: he goes out in early morning, at  noon, before dinner, and mid-evening.  He never urinates indoors - he understands just fine the concept of doing that outside only.  However, he gets easily distracted outdoors.  (Even his vet has commented on his level of distraction.)  Since I live in an apartment complex, this means there is *always* something going on - people walking to cars, other dogs, etc.  Even if there is nothing moving nearby, once he's distracted, he stays distracted... watching avidly for the next interesting thing to hove into view.  So, doing his business once he's urinated is the last thing on his mind.

However, when we go back indoors... then he remembers, and runs around in circles, smelling the carpets in preparation for going.  He knows he's not supposed to go, so he'll try to do it out of sight.  Since I keep my eye on him, he'll never get to the point where he actually goes, because I'll tell him no in a stern voice whenever he's about to crouch.  Then he acts like he's an innocent lamb who would never do anything wrong, and casually lies down like, "See? I'm a good boy."  

So, here's my question for you.  I've tried the two following solutions to remedy this problem, but neither has worked:

1) Take him outside again as soon as he starts running around.  Usually he'll just get distracted again and nothing happens.  When we get back inside, the cycle repeats.  I don't like this method because it enables him to think that if he doesn't go now, it's no big deal because he'll get to go outside again in a little bit, when that may not be possible due to my work schedule.  Since he has to be on a leash, it's not like I can just let him stay outside until he goes - that's not an option like it would be if I had a safe fenced-in yard and didn't live in an apartment.

2) Put him in his doggy kennel for a little while.  This seems to help things go back up the pipes and when I let him out, he's fine until the next trip outdoors.  I hate doing this, though, and I don't think he gets the connection between not going #2 outside and being put in his cage.  But I also don't want him to think of his kennel as a place of punishment - because I can't trust him not to do #2 in the apartment during the day and because he's destructive to personal property when left to his own devices (even with all the legion of bones and toys he has), I have to put him in his kennel every time I go to work. (I've tried using a gate to keep him in the kitchen - he's like a spring and can leap over the tallest gate available at my local stores.)  He doesn't mind it now, and runs inside, waiting, as soon as he sees me putting on my work clothes, because he gets a treat before I leave, but of course I don't want to cage him any longer than necessary.

What would you recommend that I do?  I'd be grateful for any advice you could give me that would help me train my confused little dog. :)


ANSWER: You need to go back to STRICT supervision, so if he goes out and does not do #2, back in the crate he goes.  Wait a bit, take him back outside.  If he goes, reinforce him by saying, "Good poo" or whatever you want his word to be, AND provide him a piece of freeze dried liver or other goody for going.  After he goes, he gets the additional reward of a bit of freedom in the house.  The crate is just containment, not punishment - in fact, when I'm training a pup, I toss a tiny kibble into the crate when I put them in, so they associate going in to the crate with good things.  They get NO freedom in the house unless they are being directly supervised, or the house training has been completed.
If you are exercising him adequately, being in a crate for safety while you are away is not horrible.  
Re-training a dog for housebreaking, provided you do it strictly so as to completely prevent any accidents during the training period, usually takes 3-4 weeks at the maximum.  
Letting him stay outside to go wouldn't teach him anything anyway. It's the REWARD that tells him he went in the right spot, so arm yourself with liver and get training, instead of just hoping, LOL.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: You can reject this, since this does not contain a question. But since you do not accept ratings, there was no other way for me to give you any feedback.

I appreciate the advice you gave, but it's clear you did not read my full question to you, because you told me to do things I'm already doing, and which I had already informed you about.   Perhaps you felt my question was too lengthy to read, but I gave you all the information about my dog that would help you understand the situation, and in return, I feel that I got a copied & pasted answer from some other previous questioner.  

The time in which you got back to me was also disappointing, much slower than any other expert I've ever used, and much slower than I myself, also an expert on this site in another field, would ever get back to a questioner.

This isn't mean to be mean, but as constructive criticism.  I think you would benefit from accepting ratings so you can get some honest feedback from your readers.


I'm sorry if you were not satisfied with my answer, and felt it was "copied and pasted" which is not the case - however, there really is only one way to house train an adult dog or older puppy, and that is to strictly supervise the dog any time he's out of his containment area, take him out frequently, and reward his correct responses (simultaneously pairing the cue word you wish to use to tell him to perform, such as "go pee") while NOT punishing the incorrect ones, and not allowing ANY freedom in the house for several weeks during the retraining efforts.  You mentioned that he runs around outside, won't pee, then you bring him in and he pees.  Instead, you should wait in one spot outdoors, so that the only running around he gets to do is AFTER he pees (that's a reward, too).  He should be on a leash while you are doing this.  If you can't wait, and must bring him in, he should go into the crate for a short while, then be taken out again until he does pee.  If he's rewarded with a nice piece of freeze dried liver when he goes, he'll soon start to realize that he can trade his pee for liver:-)
By the way, I accepted ratings for YEARS on this site, and did quite well.  I have no problem with honest feedback, and you still managed to give me yours, so that's good.  

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Anne Springer, B.A., Dip., CTDI, CLWI, CAPCT, VA


I'm happy to answer questions on behavior and training. I prefer a training philosophy much like your physician might adopt when treating patients - first, do no harm. Dogs are generally best trained using humane methods that make sense to them and put you in control, not necessarily by physical means, but by controlling the dog's access to resources, such as food, toys, access to the outdoors, etc. I want your dog to behave, but also to trust you and rely on you for guidance.


Professional trainer, owner of Paws for Praise, in Danvers, MA. We use positive training and behavior modification techniques, and are committed to having the dogs that come through our center be both as well trained and behaviorally healthy as we can help their humans make them.

International Positive Dog Training Association (Regional Director for Massachusetts) APDT Therapy Dogs, Inc. Truly Dog Friendly

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B.S., Cum Laude, Salem State College Diploma, Dog Obedience Training/Instruction (Apprenticed also) Graduate, New York School of Dog Grooming Pet CPR/First Aid Certified Certified Pet Care Technician AKC CGC Evaluator Therapy Dogs Inc. Tester/Observer

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