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Old 04-26-2010, 08:10 PM
kashelkey kashelkey is offline
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Question Rescue Dog - Love him - but i cant take it

I adopted a rescue dachshund about 4 months ago. He is GREAT, very loving, calm and perfect fit energy wise for my house hold. With a couple exceptions.

He is so attached to me he goes crazy when I leave, paces and paces from door to door until I get home. He is very skittish around people he doesnít know but he knows my parents and wonít calm when Iím not there. Any way to get him to calm down?

Second, no matter what I try I cannot get him potty trained. He is 4-5 years old and was rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri so he has spent his life without a loving home and used to going potty in a cage or crate. I have tried positive reinforcement with little to no success. I know that with his age this can be difficult but I cannot believe that it is impossible. I have also tried changing his feeding schedule, this week I am getting up at 3am so I can feed him and be able to take him out before I leave for work at 6am.
I leave him in a crate during the day; the crate is just big enough for him, but he still pees and poops in it, and more than that he walks through it and lays in it. Same thing if I just leave him in the bathroom with the door shut, he pees and poops and walks and lays in it. During the night, I am guilty I let him sleep in bed with me and itís a habit I am not willing to give up, 60% of the time he will wake me up if he needs to potty, the other 40% of the time he just potties on the floor. Can you still punish for that? I have heard no, but I donít know how to let him know itís not ok.

PLEASE I am willing to try anything, my parents are both of bad health and my mother is to her end with him and I really donít want to have to get rid of him!
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Old 04-26-2010, 10:21 PM
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lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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Originally Posted by kashelkey View Post
He is so attached to me he goes crazy when I leave, paces and paces from door to door until I get home. He is very skittish around people he doesnít know but he knows my parents and wonít calm when Iím not there. Any way to get him to calm down?
It sounds like he might have separation anxiety. Here is a good article about separation anxiety that I think will help you. There's also a great list of suggested reading at the bottom of the article that you should also look into.

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Originally Posted by kashelkey View Post
Second, no matter what I try I cannot get him potty trained. ... I have tried positive reinforcement with little to no success.
There are a lot of different ideas about how to potty train, many of which involve positive reinforcement. Just because you're using a positive reinforcement method doesn't necessarily mean that the method is effective. Don't give up on positive reinforcement training just because it hasn't worked yet.

Plus, four months is really not very long to have worked on it when he's 4-5 years old.
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Originally Posted by kashelkey View Post
I have also tried changing his feeding schedule, this week I am getting up at 3am so I can feed him and be able to take him out before I leave for work at 6am.
How long does it take him to eat?

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Originally Posted by kashelkey View Post
I leave him in a crate during the day; the crate is just big enough for him, but he still pees and poops in it, and more than that he walks through it and lays in it. Same thing if I just leave him in the bathroom with the door shut, he pees and poops and walks and lays in it.
He walks and lays in it because 1.) he doesn't care to avoid it, and 2.) he doesn't have the room to avoid it. So our goal will be to 1.) make him care, and 2.) prevent accidents from happening so he doesn't have the chance to walk in it.

This is the first thing I'd work on as far as potty training. Yes, being from a puppy mill it will be next to impossible to teach him not to potty in the crate. But there IS a chance you can prevent it, which will be extremely important and helpful for potty training.

First of all, clean the crate thoroughly after every time he pees/poops in it. Use an enzymatic cleaner - such as Nature's Miracle - every time, to hopefully get all the smell out. If you're using a plastic, "travel" type crate, I'd suggest using a metal one instead as it will probably be a lot easier to clean.... With a plastic crate, you will definately have to take it apart every time to make sure you get it completely clean. That's very important. If there are any blankets or bedding in the crate, you should consider taking them out altogether; otherwise, you will have to really soak them in the same enzymatic cleaner to make sure all the smell gets out of them as well.

Second, feed all your dogs' meals in his crate. I'd suggest using a food dispensing toy or even just tossing the food on the floor of the crate. Dogs often won't potty where they eat, so if you can teach your dog that his crate is his food bowl, he might decide not to potty there. But at the same time, it is very important that you don't leave food/water in the crate if he's going to have to stay in it for more than a few minutes. So make sure the food dispenser is empty before you leave, and make sure he has a chance to potty after he eats his meal.

Third, prevent potty accidents from happening in the crate. It is most important that he does not potty in the crate; he could potty anywhere else in the house and it wouldn't matter as much, but the crate is very important. (Plus you don't want to have to take it apart to clean it.) Do not leave him in the crate more than about 2 hours during the day if you can help it at all; 4 hours is probably ok at night (or let him sleep in your bed).

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Originally Posted by kashelkey View Post
During the night, I am guilty I let him sleep in bed with me and itís a habit I am not willing to give up, 60% of the time he will wake me up if he needs to potty, the other 40% of the time he just potties on the floor. Can you still punish for that? I have heard no, but I donít know how to let him know itís not ok.
Yes, you can punish for that. Just punish the right person. It is not the dog's fault he had to go potty, and it's not his fault he had nowhere else to go besides the floor. It's not his fault that his entire life - four years - all he's ever known is to potty anywhere anytime. So is it fair that he's the one punished for going potty on the floor at night??

Plus, punishing after the fact is not at all effective, ever, and will just add to your dog's anxieties and insecurities.

The answer here is not to teach your dog it pottying on the floor is not ok; the answer is to prevent him from having to potty on the floor at all. Be proactive about taking him outside - if you know he will probably have to get up at some point in the night, set your alarm for about 30 minutes before he usually would wake you up, and take him out then. Do not let him have any food or water at that point, do not let him run around and play; take him outside on a leash if you need to. Make sure he pees AND poops before you take him back inside if he usually pees and poops during the night.

Also do not give him food or water at least 4 hours before bed (unless he's doing really strenuous exercise in the heat and needs water.... but I'd suggest avoiding strenuous exercise before bed). This way you have a good idea that he'll be pretty "empty" by the time you have to go to bed and eventually he might be able to hold it through the night (but that's weeks, if not months down the road).

Any time he eats or drinks, be sure to take him outside to potty 30-60 minutes later; eating and drinking stimulates the system and makes them have to go shortly after. If you leave food or water down all day, stop that now. Feed him meals - give him 15-20 minutes to eat and then take the food away if he's not interested - and offer him water several times a day. This way you'll be able to better keep track of what's going in, so you know what's coming out.
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Old 04-26-2010, 11:13 PM
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BluButt BluButt is offline
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Awe poor guy. So, am I reading right that he has NEVER lived in a home type environment? He has always been in a cage/crate? And you've only had him for 4 months? You may not like what I'm going to say, but, hopefully it will offer a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

For his sad situation I'd say you've got a ways to go yet. The good news is that he's ONLY been with you for 4 months. For most typical dogs you can expect that it takes a good month to adjust to a new home. But for a rescue, an older puppy mill rescue at that, one who I assume was intact this whole time as well (?), that has never lived in a home with a family, you should expect to put AT LEAST 6 months into rehabilitating this dog.

And it sounds like he no doubt has separation anxiety. If he's never had the opportunity to bond with people he is probably so confused about why you're coming and going. He doesn't know what a normal relationship is all about.

My first suggestion is to a hire a good trainer. Better yet, a board certified veterinary behaviorist. Be wary of trainers who call themselves behaviorists. Which ever, have someone come into your home and observe his behavior, then help you to formulate a plan. He really needs one-on-one behavior modification and not an obedience training type of class. The socialization of the latter would probably not do any harm, but the former is important as he sounds like a very confused little guy that really needs to learn what most pups learn in their first 3-4 months of life. He's WAY behind!

For the potty training, you really need to throw out any and all expectations that you may have and start over. Pretend he's a brand new baby puppy. Even forgot the last 4 months. Start over.

Invest in some sort of unbelievably tasty treats, or a super motivating toy. I haven't met a dog that doesn't go bananas for a microwaved hot dog sliver.

Buy an egg timer.

First thing in the morning clip him up and take him out to pee/poop and REWARD, REWARD, REWARD. Give him the hot dog as soon as he's done. (If you haven't started him with a clicker, I highly recommend it. For him he might do really well with the instant reward that the clicker offers.)

Bring him inside and set the egg timer for 30 minutes. Normally I'd say 1 hour, but if you can dedicate a weekend to this, I would try to aim for 30 minutes and really make an impression.

Keep him on a leash in the house, and keep him with you at all times. If you can keep some of the hot dogs in your pocket and randomly reward him for calm and settling behavior this might help you two fold - for the pottying and the separation anxiety. ONLY reward him if he settles unprompted by you. For example, if you sit down at the computer and he lays down at your feet, reward. Don't say anything, just wait for him to settle and then reward.

When the timer goes off clip him up and take him out. Give him 2 or 3 minutes to go, and if he does, reward, reward, reward.

As for the crate, since he has absolutely no concept of going to the bathroom outside, you're going to have to start out with really short amounts of time in the crate. Start with 15 minutes. When he comes out of the crate, immediately take him out for a pee. If he pees, reward like crazy and then play with him for a bit. If he doesn't pee, put him back in the crate and wait 5-10 minutes and try again. Repeat until he goes to the bathroom. When he does, REWARD REWARD REWARD. I also suggest you feed him in the crate, and work on making the crate a fun place to be.

Unlike potty training a puppy, you have to break the habit of peeing indoors or in his crate. He has been doing this for 4 years. Going inside is what he knows to be right. You not only have to teach him to go where YOU want him to go, but you have to implement a preemptive strike element here and get to him before he does what is normal to him, which is eliminating inside or in his crate. Breaking a 4 year long habit is far harder than teaching a new puppy that doesn't know one way or another and just goes wherever because it has to go.

Basically, you have to take HUGE steps to set him up for success. If you take him outside, on a leash, as often as physically possible, and you reward him each and every time, he'll start to think that one way is a whole lot better than the other. You have to make going outside more motivating that going inside. Not only does rewarding him help move toward that goal, but the biggest key here is going to be PREVENTING him from going inside (thus, setting him for rewards, and the more he gets rewarded, the more he'll work to get rewarded). He needs 100% supervision. Frequent trips outside. And acclimating him to the crate (pretty much in the same manner as housebreaking him - frequent trips outside, reward, don't leave him long at a time).

Leaving him in the crate while you work is going to be the biggest set back. Can you hire a dog walker for a couple of weeks? If you can dedicate a good week or two and REALLY stick with a strict, strict schedule, you can do it. Otherwise you'll go two steps forward and one step back until he gets it.

For the seperation anxiety, if you work with a BCVB they could help you find a med that might bridge the gap between the work you'll do with behavior modification and his adjustment period. SSRI's (fluoexetine, aka, prozac, is commonly used with dogs), and with non aggression related anxiety even valium is sometimes used. Not all dogs need to be on, or are candidates for, medication. Work with someone qualified to make that judgment.

The single best thing you can do is demonstrate normality, eliminate emotional ups and downs, and reward the behavior you want while trying to ignore the behavior you don't want.

It sounds like he's quite bonded to you, which means he's going to look to you for cues on how to respond to the stimuli in his environment. It's REALLY important for you to respond to him and what's going on in the way you want him to respond. Essentially you're going to model the behavior you want.

Also keep in mind that dogs don't speak our language, so to them attention is attention is attention. When they're nervous and stressed they'll pick up inflections, and when you're nervous, he'll get nervous. Plus, having a conversation with a dog is more meaningful to us than them. Don't get me wrong, dogs respond a whole lot to verbal commonucation, but that's because we're giving them attention. Saying words is a human thing. Saying things like "hi puppy, I'm home", or "be good, mommy's going to work now", are a form of giving the dog attention.

When a dog is nervous and anxious that you're leaving, and you give it attention, ie; say things like "mommy is going to work now, be good", we're giving them attention, thus rewarding them. It's in our nature to be nurturing and reassuring. When we see them act stressed or scared, we want to reassure them that everything will be Ok, and for humans, we do that verbally. But when I said to model the behavior you want, if you want calm, relaxed, confident behavior, then you must act that way. Preferably non verbally.

Nurturing and reassuring verbal communication from humans is probably the worst thing you can do for an anxious dog. They sense that something is wrong, but they don't understand that what you're reassuring is actually their behavior, and when a dog senses something is wrong and YOU aren't handling it, they feel compelled to do something about it themselves. And when a nervous dog decides it must "take action", you have a recipe for disaster.

The skittish behavior has to be a non-issue. You HAVE to ignore it. If you acknowledge it, it will never stop. Acknowledging it confirms it's something that is worthy of time and energy.

And then of course, exercise, exercise, exercise. A tired dog is a peaceful dog.

I think a behaviorist is your best bet. And time. And consistency.

Last edited by BluButt; 04-26-2010 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:41 AM
RawFedDogs RawFedDogs is offline
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Originally Posted by kashelkey View Post
He is so attached to me he goes crazy when I leave, paces and paces from door to door until I get home.
This is not full blown seperation anxiety but it's getting there. I suggest when you leave, don't make a big deal out of it. If you make it a big deal, it becomes a big deal. Don't tell him bye, don't say anything to him. Just pickup what you are taking with you and leave. Same when you return home. Don't make a big deal out of it. Ignore the dog when you first walk in the door. Ignore him for about 5 minutes or until he calms down. After he calms down, without using a lot of exuberance to get him excited again, praise him and give him a good treat.

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He is very skittish around people he doesnít know but he knows my parents and wonít calm when Iím not there. Any way to get him to calm down?
Whatever energy there is in the house, he will emulate. IF you want him to remain calm, YOU remain calm and have your parents do likewise. Years ago, whenever my sis-in-law would come to visit, she was always real excited like she hadn't seen us in years. Her voice would go up 2 octaves and she would be very antimated. This excited the dogs to no end. I had to explain to her that we were glad to see her and we knew she was glad to see us but please try not to show the excitement because it got the dogs out of control.

The calmer you are and the calmer your visitors are, the calmer the dog will be.

You've gotten plenty of advice about the potty training so I won't add to that. Just treat him as a new puppy and train him as you would a puppy. Be patient, it will work.
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Old 04-27-2010, 10:23 AM
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Dekka Dekka is offline
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Whatever energy there is in the house, he will emulate.
This is not true (sigh) There is some truth in this, but only some. I know of many people with high dogs in calm homes, and calm dogs in high homes. I have fostered enough to know that dogs ACTUALLY have their own personalities and aren't just lumps who reflect their owners. They have genetic predispositions to certain behaviours, and past experiences which have molded how they react to things.
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Old 04-27-2010, 11:24 AM
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milos_mommy milos_mommy is offline
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As far as the seperation anxiety...I'd suggest giving him something fun and distracting like a kong with peanut butter and leaving quickly without making a big deal about it. If he's staying with your parents while you're gone, put him in another room with one of them and a kong, distract him, and leave so he doesn't see you. Do not say goodbye, snuggle him before you go, or wave to him while walking out the door.

As far as house breaking, I think maybe get an ex pen or gate off a bathroom or something when you're gone, and put down newspaper. You might want to look into clicker training, so that you can click for when he potties outside and set a command to it.

Don't punish him for pottying inside, however if you SEE him squatting or lifting a leg, you can give him a firm "NO", grab him, and take him outside right away. A bell on the door might also help, ringing it each time before you take him out, maybe he'll start pawing or pulling it when he needs to go.
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Old 04-27-2010, 05:33 PM
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lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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Originally Posted by Dekka View Post
This is not true (sigh) There is some truth in this, but only some. I know of many people with high dogs in calm homes, and calm dogs in high homes. I have fostered enough to know that dogs ACTUALLY have their own personalities and aren't just lumps who reflect their owners. They have genetic predispositions to certain behaviours, and past experiences which have molded how they react to things.
I agree with this, but I also think that a lot of times dogs do react to our emotion. It certainly wouldn't hurt to make sure that you're staying calm if you want your dog to stay calm.... and it certainly doesn't help if you freak out whenever your dog freaks out.
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Old 04-27-2010, 11:42 PM
Maura Maura is offline
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I've been going through the potty thing with my present foster dog. We think she was a breeder in a BYB or small puppy mill situation. Fortunately, we have washable laminate floors. I put down newspapers and puppy pads in the general area she seemed to go the most in. Over time she has limited her indoor potty to a smaller and smaller area, now using the puppy pads about 80% of the times she goes indoors. It helps to have her outside first thing in the morning for at least 20 minutes. The running around helps her to finish eliminating at that time. Another thing I've done is to use a large crate, suitable to four dogs her size. She has a cushy bed, which she sleeps in but does not potty on. If she is in the crate too long she will use the crate, but not the bed. It might help if you could gate her in a larger room than the bathroom, like the kitchen; and lay puppy pads where he is most likely to go. If you can teach him to use the pads as well as the outside it will make life easier. I don't know if our foster will ever be totally housebroken. Three years (in your case five) of pooping sleeping and eating in the same place is hard to retrain.
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:37 PM
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Keep in this animal has had a very hard live.

Their owners have relinquished many of the animals offered by rescue groups because they are moving or can no longer care for them. In addition, some of these groups take animals that live in kill shelters or as strays living on the streets. Some programs also offer spay and neuter release program for feral cats.

Rescue groups do a good job of screening animals before adopting them out to new homes so hopefully you can stick it through and I am 100% sure you can help your dog.

Don't give up hope!
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