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And The Nightmare Begins…

by TerriAnn

Since we got our puppy two weeks ago, I have been bragging. I’ve been saying how sweet she is, how she is perfectly crate-trained, how we taught her ‘sit’ and ‘leave it’, how she knows to let us enter first, how she never has accidents in the house, etc. My actions can be summed up in one word – stupid. The past couple of days have confirmed that I had no idea what I was talking about and am obviously a first-time dog owner…

WARNING: The rest of this post is a bit ‘bathroom’ graphic as any puppy-owner, or even parent, can relate to . . .

I usually like to keep my posts on the up-and-up but felt this was necessary for anyone following my recent dog chronicles. After doing A LOT of research and preparation, I felt like we were especially well-prepared for having a dog. In theory we were.

The foster family did a fabulous job in training Speckles and her siblings to use the puppy pads. Speckles adjusted very well to the crate, slept through the night (maybe only got up once), and only went to the bathroom on the pads as trained. She did so well that we felt we didn’t need a playpen and let her roam freely, when we were there, through the living room and kitchen. The problems began as we tried to acclimate her to pee and poop outside.

Since Speckles only had 2 of her 4 sets of shots, it was not yet safe for us to have her on the ground in public areas (see parvovirus). Though we don’t necessary want our dog to learn to relieve herself in our backyard, we felt it was important to get her used to being outside. It took several trips with her to get her used to the sounds, weather changes, and a leash. In fact, she just sat there. After a while we took off the leash and let her sniff around. She did pee on a small grassy part and we praised her. She pooped in another dirt section, and we praised her. We got her cleaned up and when inside we gave her a small piece of chicken. We tried to time her outings during the day based on her food/water intake and were often going in and out. This is when the downward cycle began.

Now she was thoroughly confused. She began peeing on towels that we had out for her to lay out. She pooped on the pavers in our yard versus the grass. Small puddles began appearing on our Pergo living room floor and linoleum kitchen floor. We put her in the back of our hatchback for a small drive to the pet store but she immediately peed on the towel (fortunately we had put a tarp down first). We replaced that and got in the car. After constant squirming in our arms while in the shop, we put her back in the car for about 10 minutes to finish our transaction. When we got back, we discovered she had peed again and saw traces of brown. Traces – meaning she pooped and then ate all of it to get rid of the evidence. Eiuw!

Accidents continued during the day. We tried to speak in a firm voice but she would run away and hide. We tried sitting nicely with her near her pads inside. My daughter even tried to show her the motions but Speckles turned her head away and my daughter said, “Speckles, I’m trying to show you how to poop here.”  Now she avoids them all together. Two nights in a row she even peed on her towels in her crate (dogs don’t typically soil where they sleep).

6:30 am this morning I take her outside. She pees and I praise her.  She goes down the walkway and begins pooping on the cement. I rush over to move her and I notice something hanging. As I set her down in the dirt to finish up, the poop that was hanging drops and I just happen to step right on it. For the next 20 minutes I am going through wipies and paper towels trying to clean everything up. I have to disinfect my Crocs and hose down the walkway. During this time I thought Speckles would be okay just finishing her breakfast. Wrong again.

After finally finishing, I walk inside and she her nicely sitting down. I worry that she is a bit too quiet. Cautiously I enter the living room and see a huge puddle in front of her crate. I raise my eyes across the living room to see a lovely pile of poop near the sofa with a small trail of droppings, showing the path she took back to the kitchen. I sigh and say, “Frans, I need help! Just watch where you step!”

While my husband took care of the pee, I did the other ‘duty’ and we got everything disinfected. It was like raising our daughter all over again, only she didn’t eat her own poop or leave trails in the house. Knowing that raising our voice doesn’t work with Speckles and praise is too confusing and tiring right now, we are now stuck. We decided that we underestimated our new puppy and gave her too much freedom too fast.

We have now restricted her to the kitchen once again and are hoping to get this new behavior under control. We still love her and know it’s just part of puppyhood. Now we are really starting to get a feeling as to how having a dog/puppy is like having another child. She’ll get her next set of shot in two weeks. After that we can take her for proper walks outside and enroll her in obedience classes. Until then, we will be disinfecting like madmen.

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Samantha March 20, 2011 - 9:59 am

When we got our puppy, we went through the same thing. A few things actually really helped so that we could get him used to going outside and never inside.

We’d carry small, chewy treats in our pockets and the very moment he started ‘going’ outside, we’d give him the treat. This helps the puppy associate ‘going in the grass’ with getting the treat. Works 10X better than the firm voice.

One of my downfalls was not taking him out often enough. I just didn’t realize how tiny his bladder was – so I started taking him out VERY often, so that even if he was ‘going’ outside by accident, he was getting that treat and realizing that he was doing a good job!

Also, you already sound like you’re doing a great job with the disinfecting. We have tile floors, so I made sure every soiled spot was disinfected thoroughly so he couldn’t smell where he’d gone…because if they can, they’ll start to associate that spot with the ‘toilet.’

Having a new puppy can be such a pain, but so rewarding. Good luck to you in your journey and I’m wishing you FAST training for Speckles!

Cookies & Clogs March 20, 2011 - 11:33 am

I need to be better about carrying treats on me. Usually we just give her one when we get back into the house, but I realize that could cause her to miss the point. I found out that she poops about four hours after eating so that helps. Thanks 🙂

Heather March 20, 2011 - 10:16 am

This is very common with new puppies. If you think about the composition of those puppy pads they are very much like a towel. I recently went through this same thing with a puppy and I personally believe those puppy pads should be pulled from the shelf. You are literally training your dog to pee on your clothes (and other soft surfaces) by using them.

There is no substitute for taking the dog out regularly and if you try to make a place for them to go in the house you are only confusing them. Because then they think it’s ok to go inside. If she is less then four months old, she maybe too young to get it at all.

Make sure you take her out after meals, and if she takes a long drink, after playing hard, and regularly every 2-4 hours depending on her age. Set a timer if you need to. Make sure you are staying outside with her long enough. Use commands like “go pee” and “go poopie” when she gets out in the grass and praise her thoroughly when she does.

Right now you have a very upset confused puppy, Scolding isn’t as effective as positive reinforcement, you are only scaring her more and giving her reason to hide when she does go, right now she doesn’t think it’s ok to poop or pee anywhere!

When you aren’t keeping an eye on her crate her, grab her leash and take her around the house with you if you must, tie her to your desk so you can keep an eye on her while you work. If she tries to go in the house immediately pick her up and take her outside and use the command.

I hope some of this helps. Good luck with the pup!

Cookies & Clogs March 20, 2011 - 11:38 am

You’re right. Puppies/dogs ‘act out’ in different ways than humans. Now that she is used to outside, I put the leash back on and it went much better. I was thinking about using commands for poop/pee but have been too flustered thus far to use them. I am definitely going to keep these points in mind. Thanks! Please feel free to leave more tips if you think of them 😀

Kimberly March 20, 2011 - 11:31 am

You made me laugh. I know it’s not funny, but it brings back all the memories of when our 7 year old Lab was a pup. I don’t think I will ever get another puppy or kitten for that matter. You pay for all that cuteness! Give me a full grown, potty trained animal anytime. Hang in there, this too shall pass.

Cookies & Clogs March 20, 2011 - 12:02 pm

Haha, this is probably one of those “you’ll laugh about it later” type of situations. My husband was saying, “Oh, I should take a picture of this” and “I need to tell my mom about this.” You can imagine the look on my face at that point 😛

sara March 20, 2011 - 1:24 pm

Ok, so I know that this is really really difficult but dont get mad at her. She sounds like my Rat Terriers that take it really to heart when they get disciplined. The first thing I would suggest is to find a treat they love (perhaps the chicken or some small pieces of cheese). When you take her outside to potty say potty outside and immediately after she goes give her the treat. If she goes poo inside pick up the poo and put it outside in the grass and have her with you, say potty outside. Leave it on the grass perhaps until the next time she goes out there (i really recommend leaving one on the grass until she is fully trained). Also puppies can get into so much even things like chewing gum are super bad news, keep her penned up or blockaded into the same room you are in. If you watch her enough you will get the clues when she has to potty, like doing a lot of sniffing. The second you see sniffing start grab her up and go to the grass and put her down say potty outside and again be sure to have the treats with you as the reward has to be immediate.
BTW I hate potty pads for this reason, it teaches them its ok to potty inside which really its not. Of course if you are gone there isnt much choice but i would really try not to have them around at other times. When outside keep her on leash so that you can confine her to the grass where you want her to go. Sometimes things like a marker flag (plastic flag on a metal thing) in the area will help them understand thats the area.

I know its super frustrating but hang in there! When my dog got fixed at 6 months I had to train her all over again! Im not sure what the problem was but she also had a herniation that she had fixed at the same time

Cookies & Clogs March 20, 2011 - 4:15 pm

I can see the logic behind leaving a piece of poo . . . but it’s kind of nasty 😛 It went much better the last time we went out WITH the leash and treats in hand. I really think the flag is an interesting idea! Thanks!

sara March 20, 2011 - 1:26 pm

oh yea now my dogs know what potty outside is and they even will go on their own before we get in the car. Getting them to potty on command is awesome and I suggest for the time being taking her out every hour. We had a timer set.

Cookies & Clogs March 20, 2011 - 4:16 pm

Every hour. Hmm, I guess I will really have to be dedicated to train her well. Good tip on the timer. I wonder if there’s an iPhone app for potty training 😀

Heather Kelly March 20, 2011 - 1:28 pm

I didn’t read anyone else’s advice.

Go back to using the puppy pads, put them in her crate at night. Don’t give her towels to sleep on. Try buying some cheapy fleece blankets, Walmart has infant ones for around $3 to $5 each for her to sleep on. Put her blanket in the back of the cage, and her puppy pad towards the front part of the cage.

When she is in the kitchen, put down some puppy pads, but, put them near the back door. Then move them closer to the back door. Then put one or two outside and keep her standing near it ON the leash when you take her outside to go potty. Put the puppy pads on the grass, since this is where you would like her to go potty. Keep doing this, then lead up to only having one puppy pad inside, and one outside for her to use. Probably do this for a few days, up to a week I am thinking. Then when you take her outside, only use a small square of the puppy pad, so eventually, there won’t be a puppy pad there for her to use, but she will be going on the grass instead.

I hope that works, just keep trying. Have someone take her outside on a leash every half hour on days when you are home. Set a timer and keep doing it. She might even get the hang of going outside on the grass after two days or so. Soon, she should start to whine, bark, or jump and scratch the back door to get someone to let her out.

I wouldn’t give her chicken or real food at all. Buy some dog treats or tiny milk bones and give her one and lots of praise each time she goes if you want to encourage her. If she does have an accident inside, don’t yell or raise your voice, don’t rub her nose in it. Just clean it up, and keep trying. She also might not like trips in the car, so it might be best to put her inside of her crate, in your car when you take her some place. Dogs also don’t like being left in cars alone, nor should they be since it’s getting hot outside. Even if you leave the windows down, it can make her sick.

If she is chewing up toys, buy some toys for her, yes, this does cost money. When you see her trying to chew on something that she shouldn’t have, take it from her, firmly say NO, but then tell her that she can have this, and give her a toy or small rawhide chew that she Can have. I Love stuffed toys and Nylabones the best! This will take a few months, but she will soon realize that she has her own toys. Even get a little box, it can be cardboard, to keep her toys in. Keep her toybox down where she can get into it and grab the toys or balls out that she wants to play with.

Good luck. I have trained a few dogs, and this is what I would do.

Cookies & Clogs March 20, 2011 - 4:22 pm

It seems that a lot of people are on both sides with the ‘puppy pad’ issue. I think it worked fab for when she was young but with us having her go in and out we inadvertently confused her. Thanks for reassuring that if we stick to a good training schedule that she should start responding in a couple of days. Whew – guess my daughter’s homeschooling will have to be on hold for a bit or I just need to be more ‘on it’ to handle both. I’m going to get box for her to keep her busy. We are finding that we need to be careful of toys costs though and buy smart since it’s quickly adding up. Wow, great suggestions!

Lesli March 20, 2011 - 2:56 pm

My brother and his wife just got a puppy. They are going through these trials as well! The puppy is so cute but this is why I can’t have one! I am too much of a germ a phobe!

Cookies & Clogs March 20, 2011 - 4:25 pm

That’s why we’ve never had one before this. I just could not bring myself to pick up poop. But, as in parenthood, you tend to get used to it since it’s your own. The first time we looked at the shelter we saw a cute little dog that was a few months old. When we saw it later it was chowing down on some poop. Walking past again the poop was gone. It took us a good few days to get that image out of our heads and to want a dog again. It still grosses us out but we have hope that we can train her and she is SOOOOOO lovable. I guess the pros far outweigh the cons… just not when you currently have it on your shoe 😛

Rob March 20, 2011 - 5:32 pm

My kids want a puppy/dog so bad but after reading your post this is one of the reasons I do not want a puppy/dog. I do not feel like cleaning up pee and poop all of the time. Sorry to hear about your troubles. Hope it gets better soon.

Cookies & Clogs March 20, 2011 - 10:37 pm

After all my griping, the latter part of today went much better. The pee/poop thing does take getting used to but we love our little dog so much. The other night, after feeding our aquatic frogs my daughter said, “Now our family feels complete.” How awesome is that?!

blueviolet @ A Nut in a Nutshell March 21, 2011 - 5:50 am

You have the patience of a saint! I simply could not do it. Here’s hoping that the process goes quickly and smoothly for you.

Cookies & Clogs March 21, 2011 - 8:13 am

It’s not that I have patience, I just get the opportunity to work on it 😛 Thanks for the well wishes.

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