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Thread: Desperate over rescue dog's behaviour -please help!!!

  1. #1

    Default Desperate over rescue dog's behaviour -please help!!!

    Hello everyone!

    Seven months ago we adopted a 9-month old ACD-cross who we love and adore. He's basically been pretty easy to train although he loves to chew things up - we can live with that. We got him a companion dog (mixed breed, they say lab / german shepherd cross] also from the RSPCA six weeks ago. They said she's 4, our vet said 3-ish. RSPCA said she had been found on the side of the highway, terrified. We picked her pretty much on the basis that she got along with our ACD - similar size and energy levels. They love each other and play together beautifully - in that respect she is just what we wanted.

    I'm at the absolute end of my tether with her though in regards to her toilet habits including submission weeing. My husband is about to give up on her and is becoming very intolerant. A few examples - our ACD was at the vet's due to a tick bite, and as is is getting cold we thought we'd let the other sleep inside by herself. She scoffed a loaf of heavy sourdough off the kitchen bench (in itself kind of cute] and consequently my husband arrived home yesterday afternoon to two massive poos on the verandah area where they are left during the day. He took her outside after removing her from the verandah and she wet herself all through the house en route to the front door (I understand this is submission wee-ing]. ACD came back from vet's yesterday and we put them in the bathroom to sleep (they sleep together]. Two massive craps and wees across the bathroom floor. I spent 35 minutes cleaning that up and went to have my shower - to see her just outside the bathroom preparing to take a dump on the tiles. I caught her just as it started and my husband grabbed her to take her outside (I did yell also] and yes she then wees all over the floor. She had been outside with the other dog for over an hour before that, so no excuse for either???

    I've done the ignoring her when I get home and taking them straight outside with no fuss - the ACD does his business but she just jumps around me manically - the other day I ignored her till she sat, and then patted her, and so she starting weeing herself lying down!!!

    I've read a truckload about not yelling at them etc reinforcing the good behaviour when they do go outside etc, but zero progress it seems.

    Usually we put them in the crate on the verandah to sleep. On Sunday morning, when the other dog was at the vets, she had done a poo in the crate. She's done that before with him in there as well (I'm assuming it was her].

    Sometimes she gets through the day on the verandah without messing, but it's hit and miss. We have no choice but to leave them there as we both work plus it's a large enough area for them to play and be safe. Even if they were outside during the day it's not really fixing the problem.

    We have tried the quiet calm talking with her, giving her lots of love, not yelling, ignoring her when getting home etc, but she does not seem to be improving. She is also very jumpy and when you arrive home she twists and turns her body madly - I'm trying to say she's not very self confident. She also sticks her head in your face if you are sitting down at the table, demanding attention. We have tried ignoring her, pushing her away, saying no etc etc. She hasn't stopped that at all.

    My husband seems to think there is no hope for her, and I have spent the morning looking at dog behaviourists etc (but not sure of the right one for us in Brisbane]. I fear my husband is contemplating the gas chamber for her. That would be devastating for all I think.

    She does has many lovely qualities - when you get her to sit she will just sit there and enjoy being stroked, very calmly. But the house is turning into her toilet and my husband is losing respect for her and say she has no respect for us (this is his theory].

    Any ideas or advice most gratefully received as I want to see her "come good". I do not want to give up on her.

    Trying to be a good mum!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Rural Western Australia


    You may be dealing with a dog that has been shut in a kennel and perhaps never toilet trained. Sounds like you will have to make a concerted effort to toilet train her the way you want. I must say that I also leave a couple of my young dogs in an enclosed verrandah and had the odd accident for quite awhile especially if I was gone all day. I dont really sweat it and these days it is very rare.

    6weeks after being picked up from possibly an apalling first 3 years I am sure that you can not expect miracles. I fostered a kelpie who sounds very similar and it probably took a good 4 months of effort to start seeing real progress. I had to put a lot of effort into training her.

    She is probably insecure and with 3-4 years of past habits and interactions entrenched in her behaviour. I doubt it has anything to do with respect. You are just going to have to find a way to work with her and set small goals. You may have to really crate train her too so that you can mange her better while toilet training. Who knows she may have been contained in a crate for days hence the pooing in the crate.

    My mum rescued a dog that had been kenneled all her life and even after training, and she was usualy reliabe, she still occassionally had the odd accident in the house when she felt upset or under pressure for whatever reason.

    It is probably a good move to consult a behaviourist if you cant see a way forward, perhaps people from that area on this site could help with a suggestion.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 05-27-2014 at 12:07 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Hi Goodmum

    I think you need to be super patient and super consistent and set this dog up for success as much as possible.

    If you catch her about to do something where you don't want - interrupt and get her outside as quick as possible but don't yell.

    You might want to spend some time pairing grabbing her collar with yummy treats. Start off just reaching slowly for it and build up day by day. So when you grab her collar to take her outside she doesn't freak out.

    But she may be peeing because she doesn't have much bladder control - and this might be as a result of a bad spay or some other physical reason. Maybe have a chat with your vet about the pee problem - and see if you can get some treatment for it. Sometimes a hormone treatment can help.

    Otherwise a lot more supervised and rewarded pee and poop stops outside where you want them, with her on lead so you have control and no going to play or back inside until she's performed. You just need to be very patient. Be prepared for it to take 30 minutes or longer the first few times. Rug up.

    Pair a word with potty time so she gets a clue about what she's being rewarded for.

    She scoffed a loaf of heavy sourdough off the kitchen bench (in itself kind of cute)
    Any opportunity to eat the wrong food is going to result in potty accidents. So you will need a lot more supervised potty time outside if this happens. Not good to regard this as cute tho it is good to keep calm and make sure nothing is on the counter a dog could want to eat. If you notice any "air scenting" (sniffing) near food on tables - do the collar grab and relocate dog to a dedicated dog mat or crate and reward there. Air scenting / sniffing comes before counter surfing so if you can prevent that - you can teach the dog not to steal also.

    And you might want to look up a couple of games on youtube called "its yer choice" (susan garrett students) and "leave it" (kikopup)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011


    I think you might need to go back to basics with the toilet training. As if she was a young pup. It has absolutely nothing to do with the dog not having any respect for you! She clearly doesn't quite get the idea yet. Also, you can't really blame the dog for doing her business inside when she is locked in? If she has to go, she has to go? The best you can do is to make very sure she goes when you take her outside. Best is to take her on the lead, on her own to avoid distraction and just act boring till she goes, no matter how long it takes. Then praise and back inside.

    Getting her to ask to go out is the next step. Not all dogs easily get how to do this either. I solved that problem by installing a doggy door.

    If you think she poos too much, you might want to consider changing her diet.

    The dog obviously has some confidence issues, and it will take patience to gain her trust. I would avoid yelling at her at all (I do understand how hard that is, especially when it involves wee and poor on your clean floors!) and just concentrate on positive reinforcement and bonding exercises.

    Hope you can come up with a strategy that works for everyone. Good luck.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011


    Our BC girl spent most of her first 18 months on a chain and she too has no concept of where to poop. Our other dog, whom we had since a pup is pretty particular to poo only in one corner of our property. It's 'his' bathroom. Not our Rox... I find her poos everywhere. I think it's a result of her being not able to move around freely when she was young. She had to do her poos in the same area where she slept and ate so now it's completely normal for her and she just doesn't get it could be any other way.

    She was super-submissive too in the beginning and it took her a long time to come out of her shell and trust us. Far longer than 6 weeks! Closer to 6 months. Maybe even longer than that As long as she didn't really trust us she was pretty much untrainable. As soon as she thought she had done something wrong, which was almost every time we said her name, she just froze in fear. In that state she was simply not able to think and connect her behaviour with our reaction she just didn't get it - too scared to think.

    I would maybe not focus so much on teaching her something at this stage. Instead minimise her opportunities do do wrong. If you can put up with a poo on the verandah for now but supervise her when she is in the house. Could you put her on a lead inside so you always know where she is and what she does? I'd focus more on gaining her trust. Have fun with her, play and cuddle and just give her time to understand that this is home now and nobody will hurt her. No matter what she does wrong. Once she trusts you enough to not pee anymore in fear when you grab her on the collar it'll be a lot easier.

  6. #6

    Default Thank you!! And an update...

    Thank you for all your replies, it is very helpful and reassuring. I appreciate the time you have taken to share your experiences and provide support.

    I'll provide the latest in the state of play:

    Came home last night to two poos. She also pooed in her crate during the night. This morning my husband took out the two dogs (the problem poo-er on a leash] and she finally did a wee (half an hour wait after she had been in her crate all night]. While I was in the shower she just did a wee on the lounge room floor. The front door was open (pretty much next to the bathroom] and she could easily have gone outside. It doesn't seem to be that she is desperate to go and therefore goes, it almost seems her preference is to poo and wee inside whenever she can.

    This is what we have decided to do, and started this last night - as one person wisely put, limit her opportunities to go inside. So we had her on the leash the whole time last night and it totally changed her disposition. She was sooo much calmer. We've decided to keep her on the leash until her behaviour settles somewhat. It doesn't sort out the poo and wee drama but it is an interesting thing to try and figure out what is going on in her head - it is as though she has no idea how to behave at all so she acts like the painful kid at the birthday party going completely crazy. With the leash, she doesn't have to question how to behave, she just has to. It's as though she likes the limits it puts on her.

    Anyway that's my little Freud job on her. I will keep you posted on how we go and again if anyone has any insight into whether a dog behaviourist would be helpful for us and has a Brisbane recommendation, that would be of interest. Don't want to spend the money though if it is only going to be along the lines of "give her a treat when she does go outside". I've done so much reading about this and the only thing that has brought some relief in her behaviour has been the leash. I do think there is also room for improvement however in how my husband and I manage her - this is where I think the dog behaviourist could help.

  7. #7


    It will help your problem immensely ! Start from scratch with the toilet training, teach her a cue word like - wee wees. Take her out every hour or so and keep on practising with her. If she goes outside - treat and praise every time !

    She is still new to you - so you haven't her trust as yet. That will come with heaps of patience, training, time and love.

    Love updates like this - keep it up !

  8. #8


    I would think you and your dog would get more benefit out of dog school training classes – such as the following:

    Dog Training – Brisbane:

    Bonnie's Dog Obedience & Care Centre - Homepage

    RSPCA Qld

    V.I.P. Dog Club - V.I.P. Petfoods.

    Urban Dog Training - Brisbane's Best Dog & Puppy Training & Obedience School!

    The next 2 links are for behaviourist/trainers:

    Jane Harper: Dogs On Track - Home Page

    Craig Murray: Dog Training Brisbane Dog Training Gold Coast Dog Training Ipswich

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    I've seen Jane Harper and Craig Murray recommended often.

    I think you're on the right track. Treat her like an 8 week old puppy until she gets some understanding of what is required of her (eg pooping outside).

    It's a pity she managed to sneak a wee in the lounge room (by the way - no bleach to clean up - smells like a good spot to pee - soak up the mess, use water, bicarb soda and vinegar to clean up). When my dog was a small puppy and I had a shower, I shut the door to the lounge room but left the door to the shower open. She came in and peed down the overflow drain in the floor. I was so excited but she only ever did that once. Sigh. Haven't been able to persuade her to do it again.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Melbourne VIC


    HI Goodmum,

    Glad to hear you are restricting her access to the house. This is a typical resolution to the problem you are having. I believe it is called tethering technique. Having the dog with you at all times allows you to observe its behaviour and prevent any unwanted accidents. If she is trying to go to the toilet just outside the bathroom (twice now) it is likely there is an odour that is attracting her and this will need to be eliminated to help resolve the issue.

    If she is pooing in her crate overnight, the best way to help resolve this is to go back to puppy toilet training. Set your alarm in the middle of the night to get up and let her out. For now I would also consider changing the bedding in the crate. Put a simple towel in there. If she makes a mess, take the towel out and put a new one in there. Is she toileting up one end of the crate? If so, it is possible that the crate is too big for her so she is able to sleep down one end and toilet up the other end if she is desperate. This won't help her learn to hold it so this is something you should consider during your training

    I also wouldn't expect the verandah to be free of mess if they are secured there all day. Expecting this is unreasonable for the dog. Once again the previous toilet spots will need to be cleaned thoroughly to remove the odour and temptation.

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