Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lucy and the Potty Detective

Did you know that a large portion of any dog trainer's week consists of helping people figure out how to potty train their dogs? Once I helped a couple whose two small dogs had been pottying in the house for nearly 9 years. They woke up one day and said "time to train the dogs." And we did.

While the two most important concepts: schedule, schedule, schedule, and, management, management, management, apply to all dogs, it does not apply equally because, well let's face it, people are people and  all our lives have idiosyncrasies.

I consider myself a potty expert and when I was privy to information about Lucy, our foster dog who was ADOPTED this past weekend, I was mentally prepared to schedule schedule, scedule, and manage, manage, manage.  By the way, manage means supervise or confine. Lucy's family work schedule had changed and the dog had  found herself alone a large portion of every day. This was an important puzzle piece in figuring out was what going on with her.

Here is the thing. When you have an adult dog who is having accidents in the house, you need play potty detective. It's Dog Trainer 101 to learn to ask questions and look at things from the dog's point of view.

Whether it is aggression, barking, jumping, or whatever, finding the dog's motivation is the first step in solving any problem. It is a dog trainer's job to figure out what is going on. First we rule out physical.   Dogs may have a urinary tract infection, or possibly something more serious.

Even with schedule, schedule, schedule, and management , management, management, Lucy peed in my house in the first week. Just as the family had shared, Lucy found a pile of dirty laundry and eliminated there.. Ok, in the big scene of things, not so bad. I made a mental note of all the circumstances of that day. What she ate and drank and when, how much exercise she had, who was home etc. It is a great idea if your dog is having potty issues to keep a potty journal with as many factors written down as you can. Sometimes patterns are not clear without one. Right away the fact that I came home after being out for 2 hours, combined with the  fact that I saw the dog eliminate outside and then she came in and peed again  inside was a red flag. These are the times that owners often think their dogs pottied "out of spite".
There is no such thing as a dog who goes to  the bathroom out of spite.

I was quite sure the dog was anxious that I left, and had not totally eliminated  outside becasue she wanted to be back in with me. Plus, it was one of the coldest days of the year.

The following week, we had a poop accident in my laundry room. This time, I had been out teaching at night for the first time since Lucy had been in my house.  Same thing, I came home, the dog was excited to see me, she went outside , eliminated and came back and did it again right in front of me.

I knew my first inclination was right, and that Lucy  was stressed and  anxious that I had left her. The next day when I called Victoria from  the rescue to pass on how wonderful Lucy was and how well the dog was doing, she listened to my potty hypothesis, agreed with me and exclaimed;

"Of course, she gave you an I love you shit.  It was an I love you shit!"

Yes, I do believe it was! An I love you shit. Why had I never thought of that?

Lucy problem was based in insecurity, and she did not have any more accidents in my care. I just slightly changed my routine. The next times I came home, we just stayed out longer.
Case closed. Dog adopted! Can't wait to share that diagnosis with a future client.

Lucy is doing great in her new home.
She has  her very own boy.


Mom Bomb said...

What we were talking about last night via twitter- this is TOTALLY the case with Tia. Didn't happen when she was with me- but happened in her new home. Stress is HUGE! Figuring it out and dealing with it is even bigger!

gooddogz said...

It is really common for even potty trained dogs to lapse in a new place. Stress and change and learning how to communicate to new poeple are also factors. I was told that Sapphire was not potty trained at all by her adopter that didn't work out. Oh really? She sure as hell was and didn't have a problem in her new home. Scedule and management. New owners often feel bad crating. Tell your adopters to leash the dog next to them if they dont want to use a crate too much.

Busymom51 said...

The first time I went out and left Isla she peed in the dining room. When my husband walked in the room, she raced to the back of her crate, looked at him and snarled. He immediately realized that she expected him to physically punish her, a common occurrence in the sad excuse for a home she had been in previously. He just went over and sat down next to the crate and talked gently to her, coaxed her out of her crate and gave her a lot of hugs and pets. She never did it again.

gooddogz said...

Busymom51 welcome! Yes, it sure does sound like the dog had been puninshed. What good doggie detectives and humans you both are. it is also common for dogs to just not go near people once they have been punished and that is often in the house, but never on walks.

Diana N' Kallie said...

Kallie rarely has accidents in the home anymore. However, whenever we are in a new training environment she will go outside, not do anything, come back in and will leave a 'great' gift for us.

I think it has to do with the new environment in her case too.

Diana and Kallie