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Thread: 15 months old, regresses in crate training (very long, sorry!!)

  1. #1

    Default 15 months old, regresses in crate training (very long, sorry!!)

    History:

    This is my first dog, a 15 mo old chihuahua I've had since he was 8 wks old. I had no clue about housebreaking, everyone said use puppy pads so I did. This eventually led to him pooping and peeing on everything remotely soft or paper, even a single grocery receipt on the floor was fair game. This progressed to him going on furniture which, in Februrary, was the last straw for me.

    I learned about crate training. At 8 months old I started training again like it was day one. He went from having free reign over the house to only being allowed on pillow beds during the day which I put in every room so I could supervise him at all times. He had maybe 4 accidents in the crate in the whole 7 months we've used it and not a single accident in the house unless we try to take away the crate. The reason we still have to use a crate is that, in the couple trials weve done without it, he will still go on the floor at night rather than holding it. Still undoing old habits sadly.

    Today:
    For the last month he has been pooping and peeing in the crate, first here and there and now every single night within 20 minutes of going to bed. Even though he hasn't eaten in 4-5 hours. He even went in the crate after only 3 hours Sunday morning. I'm so frustrated because I know he can hold it but for some reason has stopped trying. His crate is a good size I think, it's the smallest I could find a 52x37x37cm. Too big still? He poops on the blanket then pushes it to one side and sleeps in the other side. When he's curled up asleep he only takes up half the crate, I wondered if that means its too big even though when he stretches out he only has a few cm extra space.

    Schedule:
    4:30 am- put outside
    5:30 am- crated
    9:00 am- put outside and fed
    9:30 am- inside, but not crated.
    12:00 pm- outside to explore, dig, play
    3:00pm- inside
    4:30- eats dinner
    5:00 -goes for a walk
    6:00- outside during our dinner
    7:00-inside, not crated
    8:30/9- outside
    9:00/:30- crated for bed


    This schedule worked flawlessly for 7 months. The first accident was after a 2.5 hr car ride to our holiday home. It was late so we didn't walk him, just put him outside for 40 minutes then straight in the crate. 20 minutes later he's pooped and peed. We had a couple similar nights later that week back home until it became every single night. We crate him, turn the lights off, go to bed, he cries, I immediately get up to put him outside and change his bedding. Every single night.

    Question: WHY WHY WHY if he had to go that badly doesn't he just go when he was outside not 20 minutes ago?? WHY, after 7 months, is he doing this now?

    Admission: he had not been walked as regularly lately. This has happened in the past though with no ill effect, so I wonder if it's really as simple as that. He has been walked daily for the past week with no effect on the pooping anyway. :-/

    Advice from others: we've been told to time his feedings. Also to make sure to catch him pooping outside and praise him. Also don't stop walking him after dinner until he finally poops/pees. (he rarely goes on his walks, always in the backyard) Take him on another short walk before bed. Theory being if he never has to poop or pee he'll never go in the crate.

    Question: Why is all this necessary after 7 months? Isn't the purpose of the crate that it goes against everything in their nature to soil it? So why the multiple walks a day suddenly when it was never necessary before?

    I am 9 months pregnant with 2 weeks to go. The timing couldn't be worse because soon we literally will not have time or energy to obsess over trying to catch the dog pooping outside or walking him for hours til he poops with a newborn to look after. Are these the only solutions?

  2. #2
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    I found on car trips with my dog, she would not toilet on some strange football oval or park until we'd done at least two complete laps of it. Usually took about 20 minutes.

    At least with a crate the problem is confined to one area. But how much time are you wasting having to clean up after him.

    You may want to take him to a vet to check that he's ok. He may also be stressed out about the changes in you, including your frustration with him.

    I would try - keeping him on lead in the back yard until he pees or poops or whatever you're expecting and then loads of praise and let him off lead for a play or whatever he likes doing. I would walk him on lead around the space where you want him to go but I would not talk to him or engage him in anything and I wouldn't let him sniff anywhere else except where you want him to go. I would praise sniffing where you want him to go as a precursor to what you want him to do. I'd praise and treat when he does go. I'd use a cue word eg "go potty" or "Mr Abbott" and repeat that when he goes.

    Lots of things are changing in your household - especially you and I don't think it's going to get any easier.

    I also would restrict his access to food and water after 6:30pm and take him out for the last minute before bed "go potty" and stay out there until he goes. Keep him on lead so he can't get distracted by anything else going on out there. And don't let him in until you get what you want.

  3. #3

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    Thanks so much for responding!

    Can you think of a reason why, after 7 months of not needing supervision or praise to go outside, that this is the only solution? Maybe I'm just being lazy but I sat out there with him for 2 hours the other day waiting for him to go and it just felt ridiculuous because usually if he has to go he'll just go straight away. I read a book and waited, but when it was almost midnight I gave up. Sure enough, 20 minutes later he's screaming from his crate because he's soiled it. Do you think it's to get attention/ out of the crate when I come to clean it? I've ignored him the three nights since and just let him sleep with it but no change.

    He never eats after 4:30 pm so he holds it all that time just to go in the crate even though he'd have a 45 minute walk and two separate trips outside since then.

  4. #4
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    Something's changed. I think it's you. Most pregnant women change during their pregnancy in many ways. A dog would notice. You look, act and smell different.

    Maybe some DAP (pheramones to help a dog feel better) would help?

    Sometimes when I want to go out with or without my dog - I have trouble catching her or getting her to come inside, so I shut her outside with me inside. Almost always she does a crap outside in the time in between me packing the car or dog walkie bag. It's like she just wanted some privacy. I think this is very specific to my dog though. Not sure if it would work with your dog. Eg shutting him outside without you - will it give him the shits or not? And it could also be something wrong with him that requires vet attention, but I can't think what since he goes normally in the crate. You could try putting him in the crate about 30 minutes before you want to go to bed and after 20 minutes take him outside (set a timer - if you don't have a timer/stop watch yet - get one - you're going to need it - the electric cooking timers are great - mine does count down, count up and clock).

    So I'd be aiming to try to notice how long before he has an accident in his crate and take him out just before that happens.

    Also my dog - her routine is 4:30pm goes for walk, 6:30pm eats her dinner, 7pm - outside for until she s&p then inside - ie she knows she doesn't get inside until she's s&p and she knows the faster that happens, the faster she gets to come in out of the rain and cold. If she doesn't go out onto the lawn where things don't splash on her own, I put her out there because I've lived with many dogs that don't like to get their feet cold and wet but don't like to go on a hard splashy surface either so they hold on until they explode somewhere inappropriate... as if it would stop raining just for them.

    I don't know what is going on in your dog's head. He's just learned himself a new way of doing things and you need to go back to the beginning to get it right again. A smaller crate might help - but not if the reason he's going in there is because he won't go outside. I would also give him less uncrated time after his dinner. Just to build him up some more or see if you can trigger the screaming - earlier. My dog doesn't like s&p on lead but she will if she has to. And if I'm repeating the word walking around a small patch of grass being otherwise very boring - then she knows nothing else is going to happen until she performs or tries to.

    PS on re-reading - you might want to try putting a "grocery receipt" out on the lawn where you want him to go... and then when he's got the hang of going on the lawn again - you can try not putting paper out (aka fading the target).

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    Hi Whitewood! How very frustrating! And especially when you are about to have a baby.

    I have no idea why he could be regressing. I think the thing is, in the end it doesn't really matter and it's probably better for both of you to forget all that's happened and start from 0. Treat him like he is a puppy and re-condition him. Easier said than done, I know...

    Do you allow him to wander around the yard when you let him out? Because that could be why it takes him so long to go too. I used to take my dog out on leash when I toilet trained her (she was 8mo), told her the cue and would stand there looking boring until she went. Then lots of praise and a treat and immediately back inside. I had noticed that she would try to always go in the same spot, so I took her straight there which seemed to speed things up also.

    They can usually always do a wee even if it's a tiny one. It's harder with poos though... And some dogs just poo more than others I've discovered. My previous dog used to do one a day, my current one can easily do a few.

    Diet might make a difference though. What do you feed him?

    As hard as it is, try not to get frustrated. I believe that you can re-train a dog successfully at any age. You just have to be methodical.

    Others might have some ideas on what to do with the crate too. It sounds like it has lost its function and there may be things you can do to change that too.

    Good luck!

  6. #6
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    Hi my mum has a Chi and we lived with them as the house dog all our lives.

    Firstly is your little guy desexed. They come early to maturity. Secondly I would say it's stress, the more you stress about it the more anxious your little dog gets. New baby about to come into the home etc etc. They are a very perceptive dog and sensitive to changes in the home.

    Next a vet visit to rule out bladder infection.

    Stay at the basics for as long as it takes and remember that a tiny dog has a tiny bladder. They are not the easiest breed despite their small size.

    Cold weather and toileting is not a favourite past time of a Chi. Even long grass remember will be up under his belly.

    Pee pads hate them, many dogs regress with these.

    As to the crate training, it cannot be a punishment but a training tool. I think your little guy doesn't see his crate as his den. Also any mistakes need to be completely cleaned out with the appropriate product, not ammonia. For him I'd be cleaning with BioZet or diluted vinegar very well and I'd be getting him out more often.

    Have you tried a pee post. They are scented and you place them in the yard, for a Chi I recommend they go under an eve of the house so that the grass is dry. Take him out to that every two hours as he starts to go say a cue, I use toilet. Praise with treats, yes food I know but only the size of your fingernail, a tiny pce of BBQ chicken so that he is getting rewarded for going in the right place.

    My mothers Chi started marking the corner of her bed after she moved, things settled again after a while, but as I said they can be sensitive but also the most loyal of dogs.
    Last edited by MAC; 09-13-2012 at 07:04 AM.

  7. #7
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    After what Mac wrote, maybe try to get a routine going with the walks too? It'll be hard to do this when you come home with the baby, but I actually found that it was good for us to be forced out of the house to walk the dog. Sleepy baby in the pouch, fresh air, gentle exercise... I have fond memories of those times.

    And I do think routine with walks does benefit anxious dogs. I especially never skipped the morning walk with my previous dog who was a bit of a stress bucket.

  8. #8

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    Thank you so much everyone, it's really encouraging to hear my pregnancy might be affecting him because this isn't a forever thing.

    He does go outside without me, I watch him through the window usually so it will be a new thing having to go outside with him, catch him, praise him, etc. He will go potty outside all day long still, just not that final one right before bed anymore and he won't go on walks. His walk is at the same time every day, 5:00.

    I suspect he is purposely holding it in because he didn't want to be left in the crate and, though maybe one time was a genuine accident, he learned that if he poos and cries in the crate I will come running and give him attention and he gets to go outside. Like its become a conditioned behavior thing. Is that possible? If that's why he's doing it I can see that waiting with him outside until he goes is the absolute only solution, I just don't have a lot of time left to wait up with him. Our yard is really a tiny square of grass because we live in a unit so he's not really getting distracted. He just sits there and stares at me. I think the key, as you said, is starting over so we have a command for potty. It's so much work with so little time! I hope he gets better within a couple weeks.

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    I do think you have an issue with the crate now that needs to be solved too. But I have never crate trained, so can't give advice. When was the last time you tried him outside of the crate at night?

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    Also does he use his crate as a bed. Mine all love crates, but the door will only be closed at night, but you find them in there throughout the day having a snooze.

    If it is still cool of a night where you are is he wearing a jacket/dog coat? Remember they are buggers for not liking the cold or wet.

    You may also like to try feeding him in his crate, further association this is not where he should toilet.

    I've re-read the schedule and it shows (if I'm understanding it right) that he's in his crate a fair bit, building a dislike of it probably and when he is outside it's not under supervision so he's not putting the association together. I'd be closing off all doors to bedrooms and erecting baby gates confining him to the room that leads to outside and leaving that door cracked open then slowly expanding his area. Dogs don't like to dirty an area they consider theirs.

    I've had the best luck with toileting around 10:30pm and staying out until they go and getting it on cue and for youngsters again around 2am. Mind you this is normally with much younger puppies, but with toilet training it's always back to basics. I also find that with dogs there is almost always a step back somewhere in their training along the way but that they bounce back again.

    Best of luck I hope you can have him sorted out before baby arrives.
    Last edited by MAC; 09-13-2012 at 02:51 PM.

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