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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,
About 6 weeks ago we adopted Rupert from my elderly parents. He is 3 years old.
He didn’t eat dog food at my parents house and often didn’t eat much at all, so therefore didn’t need to poop very much. He often went 3-4 days without having to go.
Now he lives with us and he eats dog food twice a day, so is going to the toilet more often. The problem is that he doesn’t seem to know when he wants to go and just squats wherever he is.
For example, when I’m cooking, when we are getting ready for a walk, when we are playing. If we shout no, it makes no difference. If I pick him up to move him outside, he just continues to go.
Help please!!!
 

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Assuming that there are no physical issues, and he does not have diarrhoea, it is a case of back to basics, I think. Treat him as you would a young puppy who needs house training, keeping him very close and watching him carefully, and taking him out every hour. When he toilets outside reward him with something good immediately - a good treat, a favourite game, or whatever his favourite thing is. If he starts going indoors, take him out immediately and reward him if he does it outside. If you watch him carefully you will learn to know when he is about to squat, and will be able to get him out before he starts.

Did he do it in your parents house? Once an adult dog has the habit it is harder to retrain, but still perfectly possible, with patience and persistence. Shouting at him or otherwise punishing him will just encourage him to hide from you when he needs to go, both inside and outside, making life even more difficult.
 

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At 3 years old he is very much trainable. As fjm sad, go back to basics and treat him like a puppy. Teach him a command and praise him a lot when he goes, so he learns what you want.

If need be, you can get some kind of doggy diaper to keep him from doing it in the house until he learns that he needs to go outside. Also, until he learns, feeding less often will help. Avoid free feeding and feed once in the morning and once at night, or even just once a day. Wait 20 minutes and take him out until he goes.

Also keep in mind that he was fed table scraps and his stomach now has to adjust to a steady food supply and different ingredients. Keep a regular routine, it will help him a lot. Always take him out at the same time of the day, on top of when you think he needs to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
He doesn’t show any signs! No circling, sniffing, nothing! One second he is playing and the next bam! He squats, it’s out. Normally there a lag between squatting and it happening, but not for Rupert.
Not sure if he did it at my parents, mum has dementia so can’t remember if she ate much of the time. I know dad used to walk him and Rupert got used to walking/being dragged and going at the same time. So maybe that has a lot to do with Rupert going so quickly...
 

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He doesn’t show any signs! No circling, sniffing, nothing! One second he is playing and the next bam! He squats, it’s out. Normally there a lag between squatting and it happening, but not for Rupert.
Not sure if he did it at my parents, mum has dementia so can’t remember if she ate much of the time. I know dad used to walk him and Rupert got used to walking/being dragged and going at the same time. So maybe that has a lot to do with Rupert going so quickly...
Oh, poor baby ! I think you nailed it. If he was dragged when pooping for a long time, many times a day, then for sure he developed a habit of it. It must have hurt his paws a lot so he had to be real quick !

It’s an unfortunate situation but most probably reversible. If you walk him very slowly, take your time and let him sniff around, then hopefully he will start to relax and take his time without fear of being hurt again. It might be worth speaking to a behaviorist, as this is kind of tricky and unusual.
 

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How many times a day is he pooping? Is there any correlation between when he eats and lapsed time til he poops? Are his meals at the same approximate time each day? How much more is he eating now?

I ask because once we hit adulthood, my girls and boys both were on a 2x daily meals, and their poop times were very regular, correlating to their meals.

For example, my boys get brunch about noon and dinner about 7p (we get up and go to sleep quite late). They usually poop about 9am then around 3p, and sometimes a bonus round before bed.

Maybe his system is still learning to regulate. I'd expect his rhythms to be a bit out of whack, but hopefully it'll become more regular.

I don't necessarily think anything's wrong, but my experience has been that regular mealtimes make for regular poop times. I also think the suggestions to restart training are good thoughts. The challenges your folks were dealing with, while doing their best, made it difficult for them to properly train him.

Dogs can learn to pee and poop on command so while you're working on the housetraining, that additional trick is something to consider.
 

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Poor Rupert! And poor you!

It really does sound like he's just doing his best.

I'd keep a detailed schedule for a few days, divided into one hour blocks, and track all food, pees and poops, play sessions, sleep time, etc.

You'll likely see a pattern quickly emerge that will help you get ahead of his accidents. And then praise! praise! praise! Dr. Ian Dunbar has an excellent guide to housebreaking, which might also be quite useful. Consistency is key, and listening to all of our well-intentioned (but sometimes contradictory) advice here might set you back even further.
 

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I too would a. go back to basics and b. put him on a strict schedule . I might even slowly change his diet. (follow the 25%new-75% old over the 4 week plan until your at 100%). Many years ago I had a dog that cold hardly hold it in, he ended up on a prescription food that helped his digestion and made his stool harder and a bit more difficult to expel. They all eat on schedule and I know when they will need to go. They all will pretty much go on command.
 

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Mufar42's post made me think of a couple of other possibilities. Diet or digestive issues may be a factor. Maybe a change of food again would help, maybe probiotics would help. These types of issues put him in the check with your vet category.

I don't remember If you said you've had him to your vet for a thorough checkup but parasites might be a possibility, too. We normally think of that when puppies are involved but an adult is susceptible too. A stool sample would rule that out.
 

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Mufar42's post made me think of a couple of other possibilities. Diet or digestive issues may be a factor. Maybe a change of food again would help, maybe probiotics would help. These types of issues put him in the check with your vet category.

I don't remember If you said you've had him to your vet for a thorough checkup but parasites might be a possibility, too. We normally think of that when puppies are involved but an adult is susceptible too. A stool sample would rule that out.
Good point. And then maybe for a while, just to help him hold it, find a specific food that would make his stools bigger/firmer.
 

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Poor Rupert, he didn’t get a very good start in life. How wonderful that you have adopted him. You’ve clearly gone through a lot of stress with your parents and their health and it’s affected Rupert too.

You didn’t mention if you had taken him to the vet for a checkup and brought in a stool sample for testing. As mentioned above, parasites could account for some of his pooping problems. His poor treatment due to your parents health......pulling him while pooping, irregular meals, and perhaps he was pooping inside their home too are factors. Is his stool normal looking? If it’s too soft or diarrhea it could be the new food which also has an impact. I suspect he probably wasn’t well toilet trained as a puppy due to your parents health issues which may not have been so obvious but might have been in the early stages.

Another thing to consider is you’ve had him a short time and he’s undergoing a lot of changes, all changes for the good and it takes a couple of weeks to months for him to fully settle into the new routine.

Unless he has physical reasons for this pooping pattern, you can train him to potty appropriately. It will take time and patience. You do have to start from scratch as if he were 8 weeks old taking him out often. Never yell or punish him for accidents in the house. Don’t rub his nose in it either. Those were old methods that aren’t as effective as the current training method and teaches him to hid where he poops. It may be hard to accept in the beginning but if he has an accident in the house you have to realize it’s your mistake that you didn’t get him outside early enough or often enough to be successful outside. Be sure to use an enzyme cleaner to thoroughly remove all trace of accidents including the smells which could attract him to potty there again. You could buy a cheap blacklight flashlights to find any accidents that were missed.

I have a friend who adopted a puppy from a serious hoarding situation. Almost 100 border collies inside a house, never let outside to potty, poop and pee all over. Mostly puppies because the few adult dogs weren’t neutered and well, nature took its course. She’s gone through a real struggle because her puppy never learned to keep his crate clean or sleeping area clean. It’s taken her longer to toilet train and she’s had many more accidents than the average trainer because of the sad circumstances. There’s good news though, her puppy has eventually learned and now is not having accidents in the house.

I think your situation is similar to my friends... you will train Rupert but it will not be as easy as having a new puppy raised in a good home. It will take time for him to figure out. OTOH he’s old enough to have neurological control over his bladder so once he understands the concept of potty outside you’ll be done.

I’m also wondering if using bells may help? Or it may add another problem. I never trained my dog to bells because I knew she’d be ringing them all the time just to go outside and not just to potty. I could have trained her that bells meant only potty by taking her back inside quickly when she didn’t show interest in potty so she would learn ringing bells means going out to potty and not outside to play. I decided we didn’t need bells. You said Rupert doesn’t give any signal that he has to potty, training bells could teach him a signal. Another way is to have your dog scratch at the door or something near the door such as an umbrella stand every time you take him out to potty. I would train this after you are finding reliable success with no accidents in the house if you still don’t recognize any behavior from him signaling the need to go out.

I’m confidant Rupert and you will get this problem solved.
 

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I have fostered dogs who are not housebroken, or not well housebroken.

What are you feeding him? A good dog food will create fewer poops, making it easier for housebreaking. Dog Food Analysis - Reviews of kibble has reviews of dog foods. Get him a 5 or 6 star food. Feed him twice a day. Take him out in the morning and get him running about. I've never had a foster that needed more than a 25 minute walk. If he has an accident later, he probably was not out long enough.

Feed him half the recommended amount, picking up the dish after 30 to 60 minutes. If you have to add enticements, do so in this phase. Keep him in an enclosed area with a washable floor. Take him out after 30 minutes and every 10 minutes thereafter until he "goes". If he emptied prior to eating, this may take a while. Right now you would be learning his schedule so you can adapt to it.

Feed him again in the evening, after your dinner. Again, give him 30 to 60 minutes to finish, then pick up the dish. Repeat the procedure of taking him out constantly.

When you are taking him out, have him sit by the door, far enough away that he won't get hit by the door. Put on leash if applicable. Place your hand on his chest while you open the door, praising him for proper door etiquette. Say, "Rupert, out." and let him out the door. Do this each time you go out. He will learn not to bolt out the door and will learn that sitting in the proper spot makes the door open.

Take a LITTLE treat with you and when he squats, get it in your hand and put it to his nose. Don't treat when he is finished, you probably are not fast enough. Treat at nose, and the second he is finished give it to him and praise.

Also, after he potties, don't run back inside. Run around a bit, work on obedience, just something so he does not associate going potty with fun ending.
 

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You’ve gotten great advice, with consistent themes of starting from the basics, positive reinforcement, and using treats. I don’t have anything to add except to not give him a lot of freedom until you sort this out. Michigan girl suggested an enclosed area which is important. You may want to use a crate as well, particularly at night. Does he poop in the crate? If not, that will help him regulate.

I’ve also trained a number of adult foster dogs that came from tough beginnings. All but one was 100% when they left. The problem child was 90-95% which was a huge improvement and the family was aware and willing to work with it. She was a Yorkie, which is a breed that is harder to housebreak but she had also lived the first five years of her life in the south tied up outside. Ugh.

Poodles are easy to housebreak, I think with persistence you will be just fine. Keep coming back and asking questions, or ring in if you just need moral support.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the replies everyone.
We took Rupert to the vet after he had bloody diarrhoea in his crate one day (poor thing!) She wasn’t concerned about anything. We have worked him and he is up to date on vaccines.
We have put him on dry dog food as the vet thought wet food might be too rich for him.
He seems to be enjoying it just as much.
He also (fingers crossed) seems to be getting the idea that outside is the toilet. We are still taking him out every hour and throwing a ‘poo party’ complete with a song that my 5 year old made up every time he goes outside!
 

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I'm glad to hear things are improving. Please share the poop song! Sounds fun...
 

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Thanks for the replies everyone.
We took Rupert to the vet after he had bloody diarrhoea in his crate one day (poor thing!) She wasn’t concerned about anything. We have worked him and he is up to date on vaccines.
We have put him on dry dog food as the vet thought wet food might be too rich for him.
He seems to be enjoying it just as much.
He also (fingers crossed) seems to be getting the idea that outside is the toilet. We are still taking him out every hour and throwing a ‘poo party’ complete with a song that my 5 year old made up every time he goes outside!
Ohhhh, your kid is so cute ! How sweet !
 

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One thing I believe helped my Violet during her potty training was leaving a poo or two she had previously gone. I started this by taking an indoor accident and put it on our front lawn where I wanted her to go. She would walk in that area, smell the previous poo, and got the idea. It took a lot of trips out but we're cruising at 100% now.
 

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Great to hear! Thanks for the update.
 

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The celebratory poo song is definitely one to share!
 
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