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Old 09-12-2008, 12:25 AM
Soaker Soaker is offline
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Default Housebreaking our English Setter...?'s

We have a 15 week old English Setter we have owned for two weeks. Our living environment does not allow a back yard though we do have two large porches. We have a moderately felxible schedule so there are only a couple days per week when our pup is home for about 4 hours between walks and outside time. Our current situation is: crated at night, when we can't keep a close eye on her, and when not home. Pup only allowed on main floor of house right now. She gets 4-6 walks per day and regular time at the local dog run area. We seem to be doing ok with housebreaking but we seem to occasionally miss the signs she gives us for wanting to pee or poop and she uses our floor at least 1-2 times every other day (today was three times!!). She does both at the drop of a hat. My question: are we creating bad habits by missing her occasional need to go (no stern words if we don't catch her in the act and a firm "No!" and quick exit outside if we catch her in the act)? Lots of praise outside when she goes...she goes anywhere she pleases outside. I understand English Setters can be stubborn and housebreaking can take a while. Here is something I read about some more serious crating technique that I wonder if we should be applying:

"Confinement from the wrong places
Confinement means that until your dog is housebroken, he is never allowed to walk freely around the house.

Confinement means every minute of every hour of every day -- unless you are sitting with your dog, playing with him, walking him, feeding him, grooming him, teaching him something, or otherwise interacting with him.

Because if he is loose and you take your eyes off him for just a few moments, he can go to the bathroom on your floor -- and the bad habit is begun."

We try to keep an eagle eye on her, but she seems to sneak in her mistakes anyways...often after just returning from a walk...this is usually a poop. I am mostly worried that contiued accidents will create a more solidified habit. Any remarks? Specific advice regarding the breed? Thanks
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Old 09-12-2008, 11:10 AM
Cheza Cheza is offline
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This might get a little more attention in the puppy forum, and there's a handful of good stickies there to give a good read too.

I had this issue with our first dog. As well as always keeping an eye on her (even if this meant tying her leash to my belt), I recorded what she did.

Ex:

6:30PM - Eat
6:55PM - Poop
7:00PM - Drink
7:15PM - Pee

For about a week. After the third day a sort of pattern starts to emerge, that you can use to anticipate when he is gonna need to go.
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Old 09-12-2008, 12:45 PM
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TheGoldenRetriever TheGoldenRetriever is offline
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You said she gets "4 - 6 walks per day". Does that translate into "4 - 6 opportunities for outside potty time"? If so, that's not enough potty times for a 15-week old puppy ... and may very well explain why she's having anywhere between 1 -3 potty accidents in the house per day. Many adult dogs need 3 to 4 outside potty times in a 24 hr. period so 4 -6 times is not nearly enough for a puppy. First thing to try is more opportunites for her to potty outside.

You also mentioned she has "regular time at the local dog run area". Does that mean a public dog park? Not a housebreaking issue but please be careful about taking a 15 week old puppy to a dog park! Even with puppy shots puppies can still get Parvo because there's more strains of that virus than are contained in vaccinations. Dog parks are common areas for puppies to contract Parvo because people bring unvaccinated adult dogs there, adult dogs can be carriers of Parvo and the owners don't know because there's no symptoms. But Parvo kills puppies. It's transmitted through dog feces, lots of those in dog parks from people who don't clean up. But even when people DO clean up, Parvo can survive in the soil for a very long time ... some strains can live in soil up to an entire year.

On housebreaking, the stricter confinement you posted is a good idea, but "confinement" does not have to mean "crated". It can also mean confined to a small area with an easy-to-clean floor, such as confining her to a kitchen by using baby gates when you're at home but cannot watch her every minute. It might be tempting, but you don't want to over-use the crate ... doing that isolates the puppy too much. It could get her to the point where she doesn't like her crate but instead sees it as punishment/isolation ... you sure don't want that!

What I find helpful with housebreaking is not to give a puppy too much freedom too soon. You mentioned she has run of the "entire main floor" ... that may be too much freedom for her at this point. She may understand that she cannot "go" in the living room but doesn't yet understand that she can't "go" in the dining room either! When she has free time try one room first, then add one more room at a time until she finally gets to the point of understanding that she may not potty in ANY areas of the house.

Also whenever she is not crated or confined to a small room with an easy-to-clean floor you have to watch her the entire time. Just like a crawling human baby or toddler, you can't take your eyes off a puppy or they WILL "go" in the house. Other consequences of not watching very closely when not confined is that she could start chewing inappropriately or try to eat something that could harm her ... many pups try to eat everything in sight!

If you don't see her "go" in the house or chew inappropriately then there's not much you can do about correcting it .... puppies have short memories and attention spans. They don't understand corrections after the fact ... you gotta catch them in the act when saying "No!". Right after the "No!" when caught in the act, you pick them up and rush them to the appropriate potty spot for housebreaking or for inappropriate chewing substitute an appropriate toy. Praise profusely when the puppy finishes pottying in the correct spot or chews her own toy. This kind of close watching means you really can't divide your attention between the puppy and the television, phone, computer, etc. It's not so bad though ... puppies do nap frequently and besides all the extra work is worth it ... as you will end up with a housebroken dog who doesn't chew inappropriately.

Also helpful is to put the puppy on a feeding schedule ... feed her the same times each day. From there you keep track of her habits, just like Cheza suggested in the first reply. You keep track of things like how long after she eats does she need to poo? How long after drinking water does she need to pee? Most puppies also need to "go" right after any nap and shortly after play sessions. There are books and internet articles that say things like "puppies will urinate within 5 minutes of drinking water" ... "puppies will defecate within 10 minutes of eating a meal". But they're only guidelines, because each puppy is an individual. YOUR puppy may urinate 15 minutes after drinking water or defecate 20 minutes after eating.

You also mentioned that "she goes anywhere she pleases outside". Housebreaking is easier if you pick the spot where you want her to potty by taking her to the spot while she's on-leash. Pick a spot that's fast to get to, and go out the same door each time.
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Old 09-12-2008, 04:10 PM
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Gena Gena is offline
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If you are anything like me, time gets away from you. I set a timer for going outside. Then, because I know I'd shut it off and "finish this one thing" and forget, I stuck it on the door. With a young pup that has been having accidents, I'd probably set it for 30-45 minutes until I was having good success with that. If pup has done well for a week at 30 minutes, bump it 10 minutes the next week. If you have accidents, you went too long too fast. I also save a yummy treat JUST for potty (and I still "pay the dog" for potty about half the time.
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Old 09-13-2008, 08:59 AM
Soaker Soaker is offline
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Thanks for the replies. The morning after I posted this we started having her tied to us with a 15 foot rope when in the house. We don't want to crate her and keep her separated/isolated, so we opted for this. Also will start a schedule of eating/eliminating to monitor patterns. Will definitely look more into Parvo. thanks much.
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Old 09-13-2008, 09:36 AM
msm4 msm4 is offline
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English stetters are excellent dogs and are generally easy to train. My grandfather has one and is the best dog ever!
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Old 09-13-2008, 11:25 AM
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smkie smkie is offline
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YOur going to have your hands full with no back yard, and a bird dog. I hope you have a good exercise field you can take your dog to at least once a day. I use the timer as well, starting with every half hour from wake to sleep...especially after eating, first rising from a nap, and eating. AFter drinking from play...mostly every half hour until i see their pattern as Cheza says.

A lot of the time puppies will hold it during the walk because they are afraid that once they go, it is in time. Your going to have to walk until the dog goes and then walk a little more to keep them from figuring that out.
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