Thursday, March 10, 2011

Advice Needed

Blogger Friends, I need some advice. I know quite a few of you have dogs of your own and I'm searching for a method that I'm comfortable with to curb some of Lily's habits. It's really one habit in particular, the potty. At my condo when I first brought her home 2 years ago she would pee upstairs on the carpet if I left her alone. She'd only pee on carpet and I didn't have much carpet in the house so I started shutting the doors to the 2 bedrooms with carpet when I'd leave her home alone and that solved the problem. Then as I would be gone for longer amounts of time I introduced her to "potty pads" and she would just pee there if I was gone and she'd have to go. She's been staying with my parents for the last 2 weeks While I travel and get this move sorted out. She is alone with their dog all day and pees everyday on their carpet now. She will pee beside a potty pad if you lay one out. Sometimes she even poops. At the new apartment there is about 90% carpet so this habit cannot last! I can get her to a pretty regular schedule, but when were both gone is when there are the most problems.

I'm coming to you for some help. Let me tell you that the way I have "raised" my Lily is mostly through positive reinforcement. I have seen it work on everything I've taught her. I know that there are different ways to train a dog and my parents often make remarks because I choose not to hit her. (not that they are abusive, that's just their discipline style). I cannot wrap my head around hitting my dog because I am frustrated that I can't teach her to do what I want her to do. I can understand in a few very serious situations the need for quick punishment that immediately teaches the lesson. When I walked Lily close to the street and she tried to run around infront of a car, I smacked her butt, to frighten her and make her immediately understand that something about what she did was very bad. I don't want her to run into the street. But smacking her when I see that she's peed on the floor after I come home doesn't cut it with me. I don't see how she'll connect the peeing as bad , especially if she did it hours before I got home.

So I'm looking for other suggestions that may help us work throuh this bad habit. Thanks in advance guys!


Lindsay and Bill said...

Have you tried crating her while you are out of the house? I know it sounds mean but I once lived with a beagle (she was my roommate's dog). She found she had to crate her when she was younger because she was doing the same thing. She didn't want to 'go' where she was laying. Later on, that gave way to doggie daycare. I hope you are able to find a solution soon!

Bana said...

Definitely don't hit her, especially when you come home after being away. You are 100% correct - there is NO WAY for her to cognitively understand or connect her mistake hours ago to you hitting her when you get home.

My best guess is that right now, she is messing your parents house because her routine has been disrupted and she is stressed. She misses you, she's alone all day, and she has no idea what's going on.

Potty pads don't really help, because they condition her to think that it's okay to go in the house.

The best thing you can do is remove her ability to fail. Once you get her set up in the new apartment, start from the basics, as you would with a housebreaking puppy. Take her outside on leash every 2-3 hours and after every meal. Get her on a strict schedule for feedings and bathroom breaks and stick to it. Don't leave her alone for too long (especially more than 4-5 hours), until she stops messing the house. If you can't get home, get somebody else to walk her. If you see her start to mess the house, immediately pick her up and take her outside. If you come home to poop on the floor, pick it up, take it outside and show it to her outside. Let her sniff it - she'll start to connect her excrement to the outside again. Do the same thing with her soiled potty pads, if you have them.

If you must leave her alone, you can crate her. We were never able to crate our dog (she was a rescue with a TON of psychological problems), so we created a "safe" zone for her. We put her in our guest bathroom, which was just roomy enough for her to stretch out, walk around a bit, etc. without being SO big that she could get away from a mess if she made one. We put a baby gate in the doorway instead of closing the door, so she could see out and not feel so claustrophobic. She had her water bowl in there, and a few toys.

Honestly, it takes a lot of patience and planning to change bad habits once they've started to form, but you can do it. You WILL get frustrated, but please don't lose your temper with her. Remember, all these changes in your life make a stressful time for her as well.

Let me know if there's anything I can do to help. I have totally been there, done that with bad dog habits. It DOES get better.

Caitlin said...

Hi, stumbled onto your blog and I am a fellow dog owner :)

I would try crating her as well. They are very loathe to pee in their "den." You could put your a shirt of yours (that smells like you) in there so she would be less stressed. I know dogs that are crated for 8 hours or more as puppies and it's usually a great way to help the potty training process.

You can tell your parents that hitting her after she peed wouldn't do anything anyway, she wouldn't be able to connect why exactly you were doing it and she would probably just get more stressed. Same reason why you don't hit a kid for peeing in their pants, it's not something they're doing to piss you off (normally, hehe, though I'm sure sometimes it's that way for dogs AND kids).

Does she get a fair amount of exercise? Beagles (as you know I'm sure) are hunting dogs and as such typically need pretty frequent walks. The more she is outside I imagine the easier it will be to empty her bladder. You could also schedule times for her to go out and pee, even if she doesn't show signs of needing to. Like, 30 minutes after eating take her outside and keep her outside until she pees.

The only other thing I can think of is maybe a bladder infection. My sister had a dog who peed everywhere all the time and the vet said it could be a problem with his bladder.

I hope you get it figured out soon!

Stacey said...

Thanks for your help guys!!! Bana, you are so right, her schedule is completely messed up right now. And I forget that the moving process is stressful on ALL of us. Thanks for your tips. Next week once we get to our new place I have a ton of time so I will be patient and go back to teaching her again. I think a solid schedule will help! And Caitlin thank you- I know she doesn't get walks at my parents right now because it's snowy and cold and just not part of their routine. I can and will walk her often at our new place.
Thanks everyone for your support! You just made my day :)

Heather, Brett and Annika said...

I would also suggest crating her. It will be like her 'den' to her and dogs don't like to mess in their area. It will take time but she will learn.

As for hitting there is no point in disciplining a dog for going potty when you aren't around. The dog would have no idea why you just hit it or what not. But, if she is only messing when you are gone then I will go with crating her to fix the problem.

I would also look into an obedience program and they can help you with the potty issue and any other issues you might be having. If you need suggestions let me know.

Sharon said...

Hi friend! Patton does this when his routine is messed up, too. I would crate her, even for those long days, until you know she is 100% capable of holding it. Once she's reached this point, leave her out of the crate along with her potty pad (or whatever it's called). If you come home to an accident, go back to the beginning: crate her. I agree -- hitting doesn't do any good, especially after that amount of time. I hope this helps -- good luck! She'll do just fine :)

Sharon said...

I just read Bana's suggestion -- I agree, eliminate the potty pads all together. We havd a "safe zone" for Layla and Patton, too. It works well!

Stacey said...

Thank you all for your suggestions! I think this will help me out, and help me know I'm doing the right thing :) I appreciate all of you guys responding!! I'll keep you up to date on how it goes.