Housebreaking Woes - Please Help!
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  1. #1
    sweet_pea's Avatar
    sweet_pea is offline Junior Member
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    DefaultHousebreaking Woes - Please Help!

    My husband and I are nearing our wits end with our new puppy. We took him home at 8 weeks of age and he is now 16 weeks old. He has been crated since the first day that he came home and has been extremely successfull at holding his bowels and bladder from the very beginning. We crate him overnight and now for 3-4 hours in the morning and afternoon while we are at work (he has an hour in the middle of the day when we are home and play with him). He has never had an accident in his crate.

    The problems occur when he is out of his crate--he can not hold his bladder for more than about one hour. In his first few weeks home we took him outside every 1-2 hours and kept a very close eye on him while he was in the house -- he was rarely unsupervised. He had a few accidents (maybe about 1 per week) and we just attributed it to the fact that he was a young pup who couldn't hold his bladder and accepted that it was our fault for not watching him. We thought he would get the hang of things. Once he reached about 14 weeks and was still having problems we realized that maybe we were doing something wrong. We stepped up our game and began supervising him at ALL times. He is always tethered to one of us when he is in the house out of his crate. We still take him outside every 1 - 1.5 hours and praise him like crazy when he pees. We have even started giving him small treats everytime he goes outside.

    It has been about one week since his last accident--before tonight--and we just don't know what to do. It had been not quite an hour since his last visit outside, and he was in the kitchen with my husband and just squatted and peed. No circling, no sniffing, no whining or any other indication that he had to go. He just squatted and went. My husband yelled no, which stopped him mid-stream, grabbed his scruff and gave him a firm shake. He then took him outside and praised, praised, praised while he finished his business.

    What are we doing wrong? Our dog gives no indication that he needs to pee, he just goes when he needs to go. We have tried hanging a bell by the door, but he doesn't catch on to it and usually backs away when we ring it. He can hold it in his crate all night and for 4 hours during the day, but when he is in the house he doesn't last an hour. We always use an enzymatic cleaner to clean up his messes and he has never gone in the same spot twice, so I don't think urine odor is to blame. He is a smart pup and has caught on to every other training we have undertaken with him, but for some reason he is just not getting it when it comes to housebreaking.

    Sorry this post is so long--I am just so upset and I don't know where to go from here. Any advice?

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  3. #2
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    sarah is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Housebreaking Woes - Please Help!

    Firstly, if he can't hold it for an hour outside his crate - why dont you try taking him out every 45 mins? If he can't hold it even 45 mins then try taking him out every half hour? Secondly, don't shake and yell at him while he pees!! You'll just teach him to pee where you can't see and it'll make it worse... he'll hold it until you're out of sight and then have a busting bladder and just go where ever he can.

    Remember that he'll still need to be taken out straight after eating, playing, waking up.

    If all else fails check with your vet, he may have a UTI but if he did I don't think he'd be able to hold it for 4 hours in a crate.
    Sarah & Milly - Sydney Australia






  4. #3
    sweet_pea's Avatar
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    DefaultRe: Housebreaking Woes - Please Help!

    We will definitely be taking him outside every 45 minutes from now on. It troubles me that he can hold it for 4 hours in his crate--but less than one hour outside of his crate. We do always take him out after he naps, eats, plays, or has an intesive chewing session.

    This may seem like a stupid question but how will we know that he can hold it longer than 45 minutes? Do we wait one week with no accidents, two, three?? I would assume we can just increase the time in 15 minute increments once he is successful? Part of me worries that he will never learn to "hold it" if we are ushering him outside all the time. How will he learn that he is only supposed to go outside? It seems like he should have caught on by now and at almost 4 months old he should be able to hold it 5 hours (following the months of age plus one rule). I realize that not all dogs advance at the same pace and I wouldn't mind if he couldn't go the whole 5 hours at this point in time, but the fact that he can't (or won't) hold it for an hour conerns me.

    I may have given the wrong impression with my first post as to how we handle it when he does have an accident. Before we had always just ignored the fact that he peed inside, took him outside and praised him. We cleaned up the mess and moved on. I think I have read just about every thread on this forum dealing with housebreaking issues and it seems like it has been overwhelmingly recommended that a firm "No!" coupled with a firm shake of his scruff is the way to go (supposedly it is how his mother would discipline him). We are not abusive with him by any means and have only "corrected" him this last time and it was because we caught him in the middle of the act.

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    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Housebreaking Woes - Please Help!

    What are you using to clean up the accidents inside? You need to use either OTC Hydrogen Peroxide or "Nature's Miracle" (or =) to eliminate the odor broadcast from previous pee spot that calls out, "here's a good spot to pee, pee here!"

    I agree with Sarahnye's comments.

    Dogs get into ruts so they keep doing the same things over and over.

    Yours is in a rut of peeing on the floor when out of his crate.

    You want him to be in a rut of not peeing on your floor but outside the home.

    It will take patirence, time, work, and treating and praising on your part to get his new desired rut established.

    Take him out every 45 minutes (or whatever time is shorter than when he'd pee inside).

    Treat (anything he LOVES that's good for him) and praise (like he's won an Olympic gold) for the correct responses.

    Keep time logs of how long he can last before going and be sure to take him out before that time elapses.

    I think I have read just about every thread on this forum dealing with housebreaking issues and it seems like it has been overwhelmingly recommended that a firm "No!" coupled with a firm shake of his scruff is the way to go (supposedly it is how his mother would discipline him).
    The overwhelming majority of us favor positive reinforcement rather than that approach. Positive reinforcement (treats and praise) is easily directed by most people to the specific act they desire to reinforce (increase happening).

    While punishment can be effective sometimes, it is -- as you've discovered -- extremely difficult to apply precisely enough to accomplish your aims; it often leads to establishing an undesired behavior.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Housebreaking Woes - Please Help!

    BTW, have you read the post "Our Best Advice" pasted at the top of this section?

    In it, on Page 1, Kaytris has a topic, "Tips on Housebreaking (courtesy of Dani)" that gives a good protocol. And on page 2, Dani has the original.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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    sweet_pea is offline Junior Member
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    DefaultRe: Housebreaking Woes - Please Help!

    Thank you so much for your responses. We are using Nature's Miracle to clean up all accidents, so I don't think that lingering odor is a problem. We will definitely be taking him more often--I can handle that. I just need to be reassured that eventually he will catch on. I keep telling myself that he is just a baby and he needs time to learn, but it is just so frustrating when I think we have made progress (going a whole week without and accident) and then he has another one. Sometimes I can't help but get discouraged and feel like he will NEVER get it.

    I have a question about positive reinforcement. How will Gunner know that it is not ok to pee in the house? Just by preventing accidents inside and praising him when he goes outside? He doesn't seem to understand that peeing should be done outside and not inside--even though we praise him like crazy and give him special treats that he only gets when he pees outside. We have been doing this new routine for the past 2 weeks and he has still had 2 accidents (both about a week apart). It doesn't seem to be working. Does he just need more time? Also, he does not give us ANY indication that he needs to go--and we watch him like a hawk. When will this develop?

    We have a few sets of friends who have dogs that are older and they all had no problems potty training their pups. They didn't go to half of the extremes that we do and look at us like we are crazy when we tell them that we attach Gunner's leash to our belt so we can keep an eye on him, and that we take him outside every hour to pee. It really discourages me and makes me feel like we are just inept dog owners--especially when we are trying SO hard to help him succeed.


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    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Housebreaking Woes - Please Help!

    IMO, you must be doing something right. You've gone from a beginning of peeing often inside the home -- what was it, way back then? -- maybe once or more each day? -- to only once in every 7 days.

    Now you need to keep up the method and strive for once every 10 days, then 15, then 20, etc.

    Count the number of successful days without peeing on the floor rather than day it happens.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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    DefaultRe: Housebreaking Woes - Please Help!

    I guess I didn't really look at it that way. I will keep that in mind and try to remember that we are making some progress, even if we have an occasional setback.

    Thanks again for the advice! We will just keep working at it and hopefully we'll get there someday.

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    TangerineFizz is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Housebreaking Woes - Please Help!

    I have always maintained that housebreaking is pure human vigilance - the onus is all on you to get your pup outside when you think he/she needs to go, and take it from there. Like it was suggested - if an hour is too long, get out at 45 minutes and take it from there. Get to know your pup and his potty routine too, and that's half the battle.

    I think you're doing a great job from the sounds of it so far, just hang in there and keep going. The light bulb will go on one day in his head, and you'll forget all about these frustrating days.

    Me, Abzilla and the Helomonster.

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    DefaultRe: Housebreaking Woes - Please Help!

    Thanks for your words of encouragement. It makes me feel better to hear that we are doing the right thing and that it is just going to take time.

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