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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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Potty training- frustrated and concerned

So, the last puppy I had was probably about 14 years ago, a big dog, and at 8 weeks old bringing her home she was housetrained in a week and never had an accident.

I've had Sachi home for a week and a day and I can't even count the number of "accidents" she's had. She's 11 weeks old.

Reading through the threads here has me thinking that one of the issues is how she was penned before I got her. Basically she was in a playpen scenario that was like a raised grate over a tray with pee pad underneath, where 3/4 of the pen the pups were on was covered with a pee pad in addition to the pee pad underneath the grate. When I went to visit I observed her laying on the pee pad, playing on the pee pad, and peeing pretty much wherever within the pen.

For the first few days after I brought her home I kept to what I now think was a rather loose schedule, that is I took her outside every hour on the hour and mostly had her either running around the house with me or in her ex pen if I couldn't have eyes on her. Unfortunately she just seemed like a pee machine, would squat wherever constantly surprising me with no warning, and the constant accidents in the house caused me to really go on a much tighter confinement schedule.

Now I've been on the tighter schedule for about 4 days and just when i think she might be getting it I'll do something like put her down when I'm putting my shoes on and she immediately just squats and pees wherever. If I bring her to another part of the house for our play session that's not right in the room we normally play in it's almost a guarantee of her peeing.

If books like Ian Dunbar's are to be believed, even one accident spells future DOOM. if that's the case, I am screwed.

I have a month to be home with her all the time and get her trained. Here is exactly what I'm doing as a daily potty training routine, please whoever can help me read this and tell me what i'm doing wrong or can do better:

She has never had an accident in her crate and holds it all night (7-8 hours).

1. Take her outside first thing in the morning. Assuming she pees (which she always does), this starts the cycle for the rest of the day's routine.

2. When I am sure she's peed outside and has an empty bladder, I bring her in and we have a play and training session for about 20 minutes to a half hour.

3. After play session, I put her in her ex pen with toys and pee pads in one corner, her crate in the other, for another 20 minutes

4. After 20 minutes in the ex pen (I set a timer) I put her in her crate with the door closed for 15 minutes.

5. After 15 minutes in the crate, I take her out of the crate and immediately outside. If she doesn't pee while outside I do not reward and immediately bring her in and put her in her crate for another 15 minutes, then bring her outside and try again. This part of the cycle repeats until she's peed, then a new cycle starts with another play and training session, the whole thing beginning anew.

I take her for a long walk and/or trip to the park every day that it's not raining, usually about 2 hours.

Sometimes while in the ex pen she pees anyway even though the time is short (usually when she's drank a lot of water), and at those times she may or may not pee on the pads. It's about 50/50 she goes to the pads or just squats on the wood floor.

I wanted to try and train her to use a litter box but considering half the time she doesn't even go on the pads I'm feeling it's probably not the smartest thing to try and switch it up.

Please anyone who can, review my system and give me some advice or maybe reassurance? I'm biting my nails wondering if this is how it's going to always be or what.

Thanks
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 08:33 PM
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yes this is what happens when they miss the boat early on. Here' s a method that a freind has found helpful.

Get an
ex-pen and set it up on a tarpaulin, in a location where you spend lots
of time in your home. In the ex-pen, put a crate with a comfy bed in
it, and if possible, put the crate up so that it is a few inches off the
floor. Also make a bed for him that is a few inches off the floor. You
are putting beds higher because dogs often like to sleep higher than
their surroundings and with dogs who are not housebroken as adults they
will sometimes take the height as a salient criteria for not soiling a
bed. Then on the floor, cover 100% with pee pads. When you cannot
directly handle him, that is where he should be. Don't worry about
urination and defecation in the ex-pen cause the whole thing is covered
and on a protected surface. When he has been on this successfully for
three weeks, take away a pee pad. If he is successful on this surface
for three weeks, take away another pee pad. Continue in this way until
he is choose pee pads. I tell people that in dogs who missed the
critical period for learning to eliminate outdoors, it takes between 8
and ten months to retrain, but it can be done.

Dave and Molly
Ian Dunbar was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from I.P.D.T.A. Here's a picture of me accepting the award on his behalf.
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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Dave, when you say "missed the critical period" are you saying that 11 weeks is past the critical period?

Also, I have the ex pen as described in my post. Her crate which she sleeps in is in the pen and I will make up another bed in the pen if you think that will help....not sure how to get beds up off the floor but I'll figure out something.

I'll go ahead and cover the entire floor with pee pads but I'll also say that she likes to tear them up and play with them so I'm not sure how effective that's going to be.
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 09:01 PM
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they learn at a few weeks to prefer a certain substrate ., depending on the breeder. Once they are homed ,they should be well on their way by eight or nine weeks; Once they start indiscriminate eliminating it really is harder. tape em down if you can, .

Dave and Molly
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 09:12 PM
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I agree with Dave that the breeder makes a huge difference...naturally they do NOT want to pee where they sleep etc.,but if they are forced to early on, it gets to be not such a big deal, so it will take a lot longer to retrain them.

That said...some dogs do learn quicker and some are slower. Bigger dogs will train MUCH faster than small dogs.

Taking her out every hour may not be nearly enough. When we were training Marley, we literally needed to have an eye on him at ALL times when he was out of the ex-pen. And we took him out after play, after food, after drink, after nap, after any other excitement and every 20 minutes otherwise to start. And yes, I am not exaggerating. It still took him about 6 months to fully "get it". He never pooped inside the house, somehow that was something he only wanted to do outside from the get go. And it took a few times of catching him "in the act" and then reacting accordingly that he made the connection.
I honestly didn't even expect any real results until about 16 weeks, which is where we started having some better results.

So be patient, she truly is a baby right now and with everything else, she just needs a lot of patience and understanding. It's like dealing with a human toddler...potty training only really starts working at a certain age and then they are still all different.
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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 09:30 PM
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At this age, their metabolism is flying. You can feel how fast their heart is beating. I don't think there is any kind of time schedule that will work to just go by without watching closely. You have to watch for the signals. They always give some indication that they have to go, but they can be VERY subtle.

The worst habit for them to develop is to let it fly any kind of way and not have to hold it for even one step. You have to go back to a size that works for her to be confined to. I'd start with an expen folded in to 2x4 with the bed on one end. You may even have to put some sort of box in one end to take up part of the space. This is what our pups go into for the second stage at 4 1/2 weeks. Find the thread on our potty training system in pictures and keep going back until you find the size that works.

You are not only having to teach the proper habit, but you have to eliminate the already learned bad habits.

We had two 11 week olds here this morning, but one left today, and the last will leave tomorrow. He has had the run of the house since 3:30 this afternoon and not had one accident. He will most likely have a few in his new home, because he's going to a new dog owner, but he'll get it pretty quickly. It really does take experience, but unfortunately yours is going to come in a real intense period for a while ahead.

I wish you and the pup very good luck.

Last edited by Tom King; 09-10-2012 at 09:35 PM.
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 10:02 PM Thread Starter
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I'll change her ex-pen to a 2x4 right away.

As for signals, do you think that starting bell training makes sense? I could start by ringing the bell when we go out the door and after a couple days maybe move the bell into her ex pen?
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 06:34 AM
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If you're going to bell train, leave them by the door. Hit them with her paw on the way out the door every time. Your goal is for her to ring those when she's out of her expen, out about in the house, to tell you.

As for the other parts of what Dave and Tom said, they are truly the experts in this department. Listen to every ounce of what they tell you. As far as what I learned from my experience with Trooper is that I gave him too much space too soon, and he took a bug backslide at around 14 weeks. It was kind of a nightmare, but after I figured out where I went wrong, I corrected it and he got back on track. Don't make the expen huge (I think you fixed that up already, huh?) and don't let your pup have access to a hugggggge space when out and about. Certainly keep her under your constant watch, but don't allow her to have roam of the whole main floor of your house while out. It'll make it easier for you to watch, catch, and haul butt outside. Then, only after she is 100% reliable on the pad in the expen for a goooood while, SLOWLY make the expen bigger. And when she's 100% reliable in one room (meaning you catch her signals and take her out so there are no accidents) then SLOWLY allow more room to roam when out and about. THIS is the advice I learned from digging up old threads here when I had a freak out "what is going wrong here" "he'll never get it" moment. It was all me. After he was starting to get it I gave too much space too soon AND expected him to get to his pad. Wrong and wrong. Luckily I figured it out real quick before his accidents became habits.

And on top of it, they go thru growth spurts around 13 weeks, and it seems like they go out super often for a little bit of tinkle each time for a little while. During this time they seem to forget all the know about potty training, so be forewarned that it may seem like she backslides in a few weeks.

BUT then one day it just will click for her and you'll realize it's been a week without an accident, then longer. I can't even explain it. I swear Trooper just got it one say and we haven't had an accident since. Wish I could remember how long it's been.

Ps, every hour is not nearly enough. For Trooper it was every 15 minutes of out and about time. I'd set a timer for 13 minutes and take him. Not even kidding.

Hang in there!!! It'll happen!!! Promise!

Angie and Trooper

Trooper is a Moptop boy! If only I could think up a registered name...
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 07:48 AM
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At this point, the most important thing is that she learns the habit to go on a proper surface. I don't think outside only is going to be successful for a good while. Bells wouldn't hurt, but small steps first.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone, I made her ex-pen smaller, ordered a water bottle so that her water isn't on the pads, and am adjusting the schedule to take her out more often (3 flights of stairs from our apartment to the outside door...at least I'm getting a workout).

I also had a talk with my husband about curtailing her freedom when she's on play time loose in the house...the last 2 accidents have been in rooms we're not usually in with her during play time. Our apartment is essentially a long rectangle with a long twisty hall connecting 2 big rooms in the back and the front rooms, those familiar with old Chicago buildings know what I mean. So the hall is almost foreign territory for the most part. Running up and down the hall with her is fun (sorry, downstairs people) but probably leading her too much into temptation.

I also think I'm going to go ahead and buy a Ugodog to try and deal with the pee pad destroying issue...as it is right now I'm looking over there at her and she's like "wee! even more pee pads to destroy!" I originally hoped to get her to use a litter box with wood pellets but that seems like too much to ask right now. Going to see how it goes for the next few days and maybe order the Ugodog over the weekend, keeping the ex-pen small until she gets used to it.

I'll worry about the bells later, one step at a time as you all are saying!

This is a tangent, but...I really wish that when researching a breed you came across more "negative" things...I don't mean that in the bad way but like for example let's take rottweilers, my last breed. People are so keen to rehabilitate the reputation of breeds like that and convince the world what amazing family pets they make (which they certainly can) that I'm noticing a definitive lack of realism in terms of the kind of OWNER such a headstrong breed needs to really have a success story. I spent a year rehabilitating my rescued rottie's aggression toward men, which probably could have been avoided from the start had she had an original owner who could handle her. They just sort of expected her to stay a teddy bear.

And in terms of the Havanese, really I scoured the internet and it wasn't until I found this forum and actually did a search for it did I begin to realize that housetraining for these guys was going to be so much different from a big dog, and even more importantly after reading many of Tom's posts having a big "ah-ha" moment about how much a breeder can really help things along with early potty training. It's kind of a shocker for someone who's grown up with big dogs who as puppies you pretty much just show them where the door is and they know what's up. Never seemed to matter what the breeder was doing in terms of potty training before you got them (which in my experience is nothing).

What you DO read about everywhere you search, especially on breeder websites, is endless gushing about what great dogs they are...which they are...I just think all dog breeds and their prospective owners would be better served in the long run if people talked about the challenges as much as they did the fun stuff. I'm glad this forum is here, thanks for all the help.
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