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Pet potty issues- dog and cat whisperers needed

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Holly-Isis posted 8/14/2013 12:27 PM

We have a dog and two cats.

I can't seem to get a handle on our dog's potty cues/schedule. He's nearly two years old. We take him outside a few times a day and walk him. I try to notice if he's indicating he has to go. He doesn't go to the door, doesn't bark...I just find poop or pee. Yet when we crate him while we're gone, he can go for hours without messing the crate. He will indicate that he has to go outside...when he wakes us up by licking our feet or faces in the middle of the night. It's frustrating because if I wanted another baby to wake me up at 3am, I would've had one.

He's been checked out by the vet and he's fine. I just need some advice on putting him on some sort of schedule so I'm not having to scrub things down. Thankfully, at 4.6 lbs his messes are smaller than the 70lb Greyhound we had.

Additionally, we have a kitten we rescued. We found her on the street, she was between 6-8 was old and feral. She started out using the litter box to some extent but now I've found that she's not always using it. I think I'll try switching litters and getting a covered box since she seems to be going in places that are enclosed. Any other suggestions?

I don't want it to snowball, especially if I have to go to work.

jennie160 posted 8/14/2013 13:14 PM

The best thing that works for my dog is praise. I go outside with him and as soon as he goes potty I will give him lots of "good boys" and attention. When he had accidents in the house I would keep a neutral/calm attitude and put him in his kennel while I cleaned it up then take him outside to go to the bathroom. He associates going potty outside with lots of love and attention.

Lionne posted 8/14/2013 13:35 PM

The go to thought with any cat is always to check for UTI. Very often, that is the reason for litter box issues. I assume she is neutered? If not, do that straight away...

GabyBaby posted 8/14/2013 13:45 PM

Two things, I thought of:

First, do you feed your dog at specific times during the day or does he have a food bowl that's out all day?
With our dogs we feed them at specific times, then (specifically when we were housetraining them) let them outside within 30 minutes after the meal to go potty. Loads of praise, etc. Now, they let us know when they need to go out, but its still usually within 45 minutes after eating. Your pup may need some re-training.

Second, one or more of your cats may not like sharing the litter box. We have a pair of brothers and one of them went through a phase where he wouldnt share the litterbox.
We got a second litter box and placed it in a different area of the house. Problem solved (for us).

KeepCalm_CarryOn posted 8/14/2013 13:45 PM

With the cat- is the litter box always clean? Sometimes they're super finiky about that so we get a self-cleaning box and it's helped! Be careful changing the litter as the other cat may start having issues.

Could you train the dog to ring a bell or something when he needs to go out? I know others who have done that and had great success.

Amazonia posted 8/14/2013 13:49 PM

I was going to ask when you got a second cat, and then got to that part of the post.

Would the dog use one of those indoor pee pads do you think?

Holly-Isis posted 8/14/2013 14:04 PM

I do praise him. He actually understands when I tell him to "go potty" or "go pee-pee".

I used to give him treats, I think I'll start again and keep it up until he is completely trained.

I tried to teach him to use the bells, he only did once. That once was when I was doing laundry and my alarm rang to pick the kids up from school. When I didn't leave right away, he ran downstairs to ring the bells as if to tell me "It's time to leave!" That's how I know he's smart enough to get it. We took the bells down because the kitten kept ringing them and not the dog.

The food is out all the time. I feel like I shouldn't restrict water even though pee is usually the issue. Should I restrict food but not water?

Ama- we rescued her around the 4th of July. I was trying to find her a home when MrH balked. She's now Chip's cat. She follows him around and sleeps near him. We named her Millie (DS approved because it's a nickname for Amelia- AKA Amelia Pond).

Chip has used the pads...but also just peed against the table.

We clean the box daily. I'll be getting a second box, one with a cover. I'll use the new litter in that box and see if it works. I have noticed that even though he's fixed, our older cat is scenting more since we got her. Fixing the kitten is next on the list of things to do.

Thanks for the suggestions...I'll start implementing them.

[This message edited by Holly-Isis at 2:54 PM, August 14th (Wednesday)]

marchmadness posted 8/14/2013 14:18 PM

Toy breeds can be difficult to housebreak. They do not have that den instinct like larger dogs. Crates work but the house is just too big. I used a wrap (belly band) on my male papillon for well over a year. It really reduced cleaning the floors. I never restricted water but feeding time is on a strict schedule. I have three small dogs and NONE of them let me know when they want out. I just assume if they are awake that at least one will need to go.

GabyBaby posted 8/14/2013 14:54 PM

We keep water out at all times, but only feed at specific times of the day.

sparkysable posted 8/14/2013 15:14 PM

Toy breeds can be difficult to housebreak. They do not have that den instinct like larger dogs. Crates work but the house is just too big. I used a wrap (belly band) on my male papillon for well over a year. It really reduced cleaning the floors
I was going to ask if he is a toy breed, and suggest diapers. Sometimes, the toy breeds just never *get* housetraining.

hurtbs posted 8/14/2013 16:41 PM

Neither of my dogs will "indicate" that they have to go out. They might stand up and pace around but that's it. Frustrating at times.

What works for me is that I have them on a food and potty schedule. My big dog has certain times she will potty if she has free roam (middle of the night) so I make sure she is kenneled during those times.

Also, make sure that you *thoroughly clean* those areas that he has soiled. You need to use the special cleaner that neutralizes the enzymes. Even if you can't smell it, they can.

While you are 'retraining' make sure he is kenneled when you're not around or the tail ends of the times you are trying to train. For example, if you want him to potty at 8 am and 5pm, you may need to crate 2-5 pm. Dogs are okay in their crates for about 8 hours - some longer.

The cat... you're on your own Good luck. IT's a frustrating issue.

ETA: I would not restrict water until nightime. I take up water at 8:30pm. Otherwise, my dog will drink at 11pm and then potty at 4am. This is not harmful as long as you give them water access first thing in the morning.

[This message edited by hurtbs at 4:42 PM, August 14th (Wednesday)]

tushnurse posted 8/15/2013 10:15 AM

Small dogs are the hardest to get potty trained, because they are able to sneak off and go without being noticed, and catching them in the act is difficult.
Tricks I have used that work.
Feed at specific times, and let them out to potty right after, and keep them out until they go, this takes time and attention until they get a routine. Take the water up in the evening and make sure you do a good potty break before bed, that will stop the middle of the night stuff, just like with toddlers.
To keep them from sneaking off, I have a fairly short training leash, that I wear around my ankle, so the little stinker can not sneak off, you will notice the act much more quickly when it's happening by your foot, and then you can rush them outside to go, so the connection is made. Granted this can be a bit cumbersome, but it really does help them get it.

Dogs won't go where they have to spend their time, that's why they don't go in their crate. However if they can get away from it, they will go in the house. Reward for good behavior.

The other thing you can do, is hang a bell on the door that you let her out with, start by jingling it each time you let her out, show it to her, as she gets used to it, have her brush it with her muzzle. This is basically training them to ring a bell to go out. IT WORKS WONDERS!!! I had a dane, and a Golden that did this. My lab just wine at us, and then runs to the door to tell us.

The cat issue, the experts say that you should have a littler box for each cat you have, + 1. So if you have 2 cats you should have 3 boxes. I know extreme, but if you are having potty issues I would definitely get another box. Also try to limit access to those covered spots. If she is going in enclosed places definitely get her a box that has a lid, she may feel to exposed. Cats are hunters, and survivors, they feel vulnerable while pottying, that is why they like the enclosed space, they no one can get at them. Make sure you thoroughly clean the spots outside the box where she has gone with an enzimatic cleaner, like natures miracle, to completley get rid of the smell, otherwise she will continue to use the same place over and over.

Hope these answers help.

osxgirl posted 8/15/2013 17:14 PM

Definitely get your kitty checked for a UTI if you haven't done that yet. The vets will tell you that is the FIRST thing to suspect with a litterbox issue. I can tell you that over the years, almost every time a cat went outside the box, it ended up being a UTI. At one point, the vet was amazed at how early I caught one - I knew he was prone to them, and any time he went outside the box, even once, off to the vet he would go.

Outside of that.. if your older cat has started scenting more - have you noticed any "stalking" behavior by the older one? If so, you may want to watch and see if he is attacking or even just bothering the kitten while she is in or getting out of the litterbox. A cat is a little more vulnerable and easy to surprise when doing its business, so if your older cat is taking advantage of this and harassing the kitten while she's in the box, she might be avoiding using the box.

Fixing her should hopefully help if that's the problem, but no guarantee. A covered box strategically placed so the entrance is kind of protected (facing the wall or a corner instead of out to the room) may help - it makes it harder for one of the cats to "surprise" the other while in the box.

And definitely at least 2, if not 3 boxes for the two cats if possible.

Williesmom posted 8/16/2013 06:08 AM

With my dogs, I took them out every 2 hours until they were trained. Toy breeds have small bladders, so you may have to do more often until they get it.

Williesmom posted 8/16/2013 09:49 AM

I just read an article that said to put a container of Vicks vapo rub near where they tend to go. Worth a shot.

knightsbff posted 8/16/2013 12:56 PM

We used clicker training for our puppy. Hung a bell by the door and rang it every time we took her out to potty, then give her a click and treat every time she squats outside in the potty area of our yard.

She now rings the bell to tell us she needs to potty. I think it may be on YouTube.

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