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From: Callie (
Subject:         you have to start from scratch
Date: January 20, 2010 at 7:07 pm PST

In Reply to: Housebreaking posted by Topaz on January 20, 2010 at 3:41 am:

She's LEARNED to be quick -- and she's probably learned to not go while you're looking (so I bet she's reluctant to go in front of you on leash outside??)

The very FIRST thing i'm going to suggest is the vet -- it is *not* at all uncommon to find a dog that has had a long term UTI get bounced from home to home as "not housetrained" and she may drink a ton to try and make sure it doesn't burn when she pees -- OR she may only be able to squeak out drops here and there (but my bet is on the obsessive drinking) -- but you have to rule out a medical problem FIRST.

Don't just have the vet do a strip test -- she's new to you - -go ahead and have the vet do an actual urinalysis on her SEND IT OUT -- then you'll find out if there are things like crystals going on that make this complicated (and her in pain).


Leash her TO you. In my experience it's the only way to catch her in the act. She's never been successfully housetrained.

First you must undertstand that telling her bad girl/good girl in different places is NOT going to teach her to be housetrained. She doesn't GET it -- she's spent five years avoiding the human eye to "go" in peace. She does *NOT* understand that you shouldn't go HERE but instead go THERE. She simply knows that you gotta be fast and go when they aren't looking.

So first -- actually put a short leash on her and put it on your belt. The INSTANT she begins to be a bit agitated, starts sniffing or even jumps down to get behind you -- GO OUTSIDE.

over ... and over ... and over ... and OVER a zillion times.

She may be reluctant to actually void in front of you (because she's had people scream BAD DOG at her for years -- and it does NOT make sense to her that sometimes it's "in" and sometimes it's "out".)

Dogs are immediate -- you gotta go -- you pee. If she goes successfully and isn't caught *NOW* then it completely reinforces her that what she did was OK. It doesn't take a "good girl" to reinforce it -- it simply takes the absence of what she now perceives as negative.

So -- when she goofs and does make a mess -- first off, put her in her crate while you clean up. DON'T tell her she's "bad". (listen and hear me out ok?). Tell her 'No' but don't tell her she's bad.

Clean up the mess as much as possible with paper towel but TAKE THEM OUTSIDE -- literally go put those papers where you WANT her to go.

Then -- finish cleaning up (and you have to super deep clean -- you may not be able to smell it but SHE can and that only reminds her "I went here before").

Go back and get her ON LEASH (she hasn't earned the right to freedom yet -- she should honestly *never* be off leash until you can trust her on this). Go take her briskly past where she screwed up and say "no -- not here" (and shake your head). But then walk briskly outside to where you put that paper.

"HERE -- yes, that's yours. Go HERE!" Let her sniff for a minute but no playing -- this is instructional.

Then go back inside ... but watch her like a hawk. (Remember - they typically need to go after play, after drinking, after a meal, after waking, and after being sedentary a while) But ANY sniffing, any agitation, any move to get out of your sight -- TAKE HER OUT.

But take her right back to where those papers are. Yep go here!

I like to have a trigger word -- like "get busy" or "do your business" -- it honestly makes it much much easier later on to have a dog cued to a phrase.

If she doesn't go in a couple of minutes -- no marathons. Go right back inside.

**I'll make a point here -- this is no substitute for a walk -- walks are important (but make sure you don't just turn around and go in as soon as she goes -- she'll be reluctant to go if you do)

But generally speaking, when you take her out because she's been antsy or sniffing ... you don't want that to be a 'walk' -- you want that to be BUSINESS.

You may have to do this over and over and over and over and over and over a zillion times.

DON'T GIVE UP. She's had five years to practice doing this wrong.

Now -- a note about bad girl/good girl.

Dogs don't see their waste like we do. We see it as soil -- dirty, nasty and awful -- something BAD, something to be avoided at all costs. Hence 'bad girl'.

But it's not descriptive -- because when you point to that wet spot and say 'bad girl' -- she does NOT understand "I put it in the wrong place".

SHE Thinks "they don't like ME"

Yes, I'm serious -- because a dog identifies with their waste. it's their scent -- it is **THEM** 100%.

When a dog sniffs a tree or fire hydrant they are literally identifying all the dogs who have been there by scent -- they don't just know this is Poochie or REx ... they know what that dog had to eat, whether or not it is sick, how happy, sad, fearful that dog is, whether it is male or female.

To them it is INFORMATION. it uniquely identifies THEM. So when you point to that wet spot and say BAD GIRL -- you literally just told her you don't like HER. She has not even one small clue you mean you don't like where she PUT her pee. It never occurs to her.

So you have to show her:

A) -- WHERE to go

B) Deny her the opportunity to screw up -- you have to keep SUCH good track of her that it is impossible for her TO screw up until she makes a habit out of doing it right

C) HOW to tell you she needs to go out. Hang a bell on the doorknob, or install a spring doorstop next to the door to outside. On your way out gently take her paw and make it make a sound -- and repeat "OUT!" in a pleasant tone. If you make that association long enough she WILL respond and eventually will use it to tell you when she needs to go (once she is reliable enough to leave off leash).

If you choose to give her a treat reward -- ONLY reward her when she is AT that chosen spot. Not on a walk, not willy nilly -- but ONLY when you've taken her out for a short pee break.

I never use a treat reward for this -- it's too easy to confuse with other things and you don't want a dog peeing in front of you to try to get a reward.

Hope that helps for starters.

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