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Behavior Modification and Pet Training Post here with questions about your dog's behavior. Potty training. Crate training. All day to day problem behaviors.

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Old 11-07-2008, 07:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Relapse in House Training

About 6 months ago, we got a three year old dobe from the local humaine society. He's a very good natured, sweet animal. He was a forfeit... the owners brought him in because they lost their house and had no place for him. HOWEVER... based on his condition (he had frost bite on his ears and other signs that he had been neglected) he was not very well cared for previously. He was very sensitive to touch (wouldn't let anyone pet his rear end, doesn't like being hugged or in any other way confined in his movement), he was skittish (loud noises scared him easliy), and he was the opposite of territorial. When we brought him home, he would submit to our 2 year old terrier very readily. He also was not house trained. Final weirdness, and something that (like his loath for hugs) has never improved: he will ravenously drink any amount of water that is given to him/within his reach until it is completely gone. He will take the dish rag from the sink and chew on it if it's wet and left within his reach. He figured out how to open the toilet lid one day while we were at work and drank the entire bowl of water!

We put him on a feeding schedule. Before my fiance leaves for work (at about 5am) he feeds them. Then, he lets them out around 5:30, just before he actually walks out the door. I get up and let them out again at 6:30am. I leave by about 7:30. Since they had issues with tearing up the furniture, we had to close the dogs in the dining/kithcen area and shut the doors to our bedroom. We would leave a bed for each of them on the floor. When Beau arrived home at about 2:30, he'd feed them again. After just a short time in our home, we saw much improvement in most of Alex's behavior. He seams happy and comfortable in the house, very responsive to our affection and is much more comfortable and relaxed. He was also house trained until recently. Ok... *deep breath*...

In a recent progression of problems, Alex has went from being happily house trained to peeing on the beds we left (we removed them after it happened two or three times in a week) to peeing and pooping on the floor while we were gone (which brought a "what is this!?" and an immediate trip outside) to peeing and pooping in the house immediately after we let him IN from outside while we are STILL HOME!! At this point, I am unsure what to do. It's pretty obvious that it's not an issue of house training... if he was trained, he's not going to be untrained.. but some other behavioral/anxiety issue. I've considered separation anxiety, since he is overly excited when we come home but since he was doing so well for five months or so, it doesn't make sense... other recent changes/ big events in the house:
Beau (my fiance) has recently started working overtime to "bank hours" for extra vacation when our baby is born end of this year. So, he now leaves about the same time but doesn't come home until about 4:30 or so. I'm pregnant... but have been since we got Alex and haven't had the baby yet so...??? I can't think of anything else that has changed in the time frame to start this chain of events... our roomate got a girlfriend who has started practically living with us but that was about a month ago and I don't recall her arrival corresponding at all with his problems... they are moving out in a couple weeks, btw... in time for me to decorate Baby's room before her arrival around christmas...

SO... any suggestions? ideas? We really love our dog, he's just the sweetest guy you've ever met and he gets along with our current dog very well, so we don't want to get rid of him... (who would take him, anyway??) but we have to find a solution to the problem or we'll have no other choice. I won't have this happening with a baby in the house... plus I'm much to pregnant to continue cleaning up dog poop and having to mop the floors once or twice a day!! HELP!!!! HEEELLLLLLPP!!!!!
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Old 11-15-2008, 08:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
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wow.. no one, huh? bummer...

we've been working on sit-stay before feeding and have been taking him on more walks (almost daily) to get him out of the house more. (Now that it's colder, we don't spend much time in the yard like we did in summer.) Beau has been doing other tricks with him.. and we got a kennel that we are going to get him used to this weekend so that we can start using it on monday. Hopefully some combination of all or some of these things works! (Still open to suggestion if anyone thinks they can help...)
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Old 11-15-2008, 11:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm sorry, I thought someone did reply, but it was a similar thread I was thinking of!

It sounds like it may very well be a medical problem, because he's drinking excessive amounts of water and having trouble holding it. I would take him to a vet ASAP to rule out a UTI or diabetes or something, and then start re-housetraining if there is no medical problem. Honestly, I'll come back and give specifics for re-housetraining after a medical problem is ruled out, as with him drinking that much water, it's more than likely medical. Though anxiety could cause that, too... Either way, keep us updated, please! And welcome to the forums.
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Old 11-16-2008, 06:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm sorry I missed this one. Please have your vet draw some baseline bloodwork. If there is no medical reason, it is most likey due to anxiety...very common in neglected dogs. You are taking correct steps with the crate but you need to work on this in a positive manner. Ya can't just stick him in there and go to work. Feed him there, let him go in and out with lots of praise, etc.
Here's a great crate-training site:
Levels.html
Good luck and keep us up-to date!
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Old 11-17-2008, 06:18 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you both for your input. We took him to the vet right away when we got him (the water problem was an issue from day 1) and everything came back normal. He still doesn't seem quite comfortable with the kennel so we left it open in the part of the house that the dogs are in so he can get used to it... is it OK to crate Alex and not crate Hunter (who we've had for quite a while and have no problems with)? I'm just worried it will bother one or the other. Or can we just keep the crate in a different room from where we let Hunter run around?
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Old 11-17-2008, 11:34 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Because the peeing problem went away and now re-occurred, I would go get him tested for an infection/diabetes again to begin with. I've heard of UTIs being tested for with no result, treated, and the problem goes away anyway despite there never being a confirmed diagnosis.

When I'm out of the house, 3 of my 5 dogs are crated, and one typically is closed in my bedroom with the crated dogs. So I've never had a problem with crating one dog while others are free roaming.
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