Questions about dog behavior and training? Send them to:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Remedial Housebreaking

My nine-month-old cocker spaniel puppy is a piddler; he can be outside with our older dog for half an hour and come in and piddle after 15 minutes or so. It's not all the time however.

I have been taking him to the spot with a firm 'NO, Bad Dog' and promptly putting him in the kennel and ignoring him for about 15 minutes.

He now knows that once he does the deed he needs to scoot, because I'll be coming after him. Half the time he's still wagging his tail while piddling or being chased back to the scene of the crime.
How can I get the piddling to stop? I hear cocker spaniels are piddlers.

Yes, you're right, cocker spaniels can be piddlers and nervous poopers, even as adults. But what you're describing is simply a dog who simply isn't housebroken yet. He doesn't know the "system" because it's been presented to him in a way that doesn't make sense to him.

First, teach him to associate going outside with going potty. When you initially let him out with the other dog, WATCH HIM. When you see him squat, PRAISE HIM. Then bring him right back into the house for a minute or two. Next, take him BACK outside and let him play. When it's time for him to come in for the night, bring him into the house and crate him (nicely...the crate should never be construed by him as punishment). Keep him in the crate for just a few minutes, or until it's really time for everyone to go to bed. Then let him out ONE MORE TIME and ENCOURAGE him to go potty. PRAISE him when he does. Then bring him into the house and have him sleep wherever he usually sleeps.

In other words, make SPECIAL trips outside for the sole purpose of going potty. You MUST see him do it, and praise him for it. Do not assume he's going to potty on his own, just because he's outside playing with the other dog. He may get too busy playing and forget....and then have the accident a short time later when he gets inside.

YOUR job inside the house is to deny him the opportunity to piddle in there. To do that, you must keep him confined or supervised. "Confined" means in a crate. "Supervised" means he's in the same room with you, within eyesight, at all times. He should also be dragging a light leash so it's easier for you to watch him and catch him if he starts going the wrong way or doing the wrong thing.

If he DOES have an accident, do NOT scold him unless you catch him in the act. (The drag leash will make that easier too, especially if he now tends to run from you.) Do NOT rub his nose in it, and do not crate him as punishment. Instead, grab that leash and run him outside with orders to "Potty Outside!" or something similar. Clean up the wet spot with Nature's Miracle, available at any pet store. Do NOT use anything else...ONLY Nature's Miracle! It will get rid of the odor that draws him back to the same spots, and it will get rid of just about any stain.

Your puppy wags his tail as he's running from you because he's nervous and excited by your agitation. This, too, can cause piddling (submissive urination). The drag line will make a huge difference, because you won't be having to reach out and grab/touch him to catch him. (This physical confrontation can make him piddle.) All you'll have to do is step on the leash and, without even making eye contact, run him outside to finish the job.

Think of it all this way: you want to help him form good habits, correct habits. You do this by showing him the right way to do things, and denying him the chance to do things the wrong way. You will accomplish your goal much more quickly by helping him praqctice good habits rather than punishing behaqvior that he really doesn't even know is bad.

1 comment:

Shelley said...

My sister has a shi tzu puppy. She loves dogs, but doesn`t want to put forth the effort and potty train him. HE loves me and every time my sister says, "want to go see auntie shelley" (me) he goes nuts. I think I might be more of a mom to him than she is. I`m left with all of the training, which i don`t mind. I tried this and it worked at 1st, but then he went right back to the old way of peeing as soon as i let him in. Plus, he loves to chew on the leash and it`s totally ruiining all of our good leashes. Any ideas?