I LOVE my Golden ---- I'm about to kill him!

pirulaMarch 28, 2008

Oh help! Please!

Many of you were kind enough to give me no end of advice when we were researching getting a Golden Retriever puppy. We got him, he's the best dog in the world. I adore him, he's my wubbawubbawubba! My son loves him, calls him his "little brother." Anakin is 11 months old now.

He's got a very Zen temperment, very laid back, unsual for a Golden puppy. He's obedient, he's a great traveler (even 13 hours in the car to Florida), he's affectionate. What's not to love?? I'll tell you....

He POOPS in the house! Okay, not always, and not even often. But he's done it three times this week and something has to be done.

Normally, he's on a pretty good poop schedule....In the morning after breakfast, when I get home from work at 2:30 (sometimes not always) and then after dinner at 5:30. If he's in his crate, he whines to go out. But otherwise he NEVER signals if he's outside his crate. I'm supposed to read his mind. So what happens is I find myself taking him out often to see IF he has to go. He usually piddles, fine and dandy.

We've tried the bell on the door, he doesn't get it. If he's tethered to the kitchen island, he whines. If he's in his crate, he whines. BUT if he's free, loose in the house, he lets it go, usually in the dining room.

WHAT am I doing wrong? He's ELEVEN months old. He KNOWS he's supposed to friggin "go" outside. He KNOWS it. The first time (couple of days ago), I wrote it off because he had a bad tummy from his heartworm pill. But then this morning, he'd already had his post breakfast poop, had JUST been outside to piddle, then five minutes later what do I find in the dining room? You guessed it!!

Please help. There's no question of Ani-banani really being killed. I'll pick up poop forever. But please, it doesn't have to be this way. Please tell me what I can do to help him stop pooping in the house when he's not restrained in some way. I want to be able to give him full freedom in the house.



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It may be that he is not ready to be loose on his own. Our goldens were older before they got full range of the house.
And if he had not been pooping in the house and now he is, there may be a medical reason. Our dog Cooper started suddenly and needed an injection of a pepcid ac type med to calm his gut- it was not diarreah though, it was just his system became overactive and he could not hold it and he was going several times a day. He was on Pepcid AC before meals for a couple of weeks. The vet thoughtit was caused by the rimadyl he took after elbow surgery. Perhaps it is the heartworm pill? We now know that Cooper needs Pepcid AC at times. Yeah,he eats the human pills like a treat!
Goldens can have sensitive digestive systems. and esp if they something they shouldnt( don't ask me how I know this)I guess the bottom line is it could be housebreaking or it could be medical. HTH Sue

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 12:57PM
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Oh JEEZ Sue, I dunno.

Today, when it happened, there was absolutely no medical reason for it to happen, except the VOLUME was way more than normal. He'll go to the vet at one year and I guess I'll discuss with him, and see about removing him from Intercepto heartworm preventative to something else.

P.S I mean he is IN his crate for six hours. The rest of the time he'd be free if he would only stop having accidents (vice being tethered to the kitchen island). Are my expectations just unrealistic?? This is my first dog.

He's been tethered to the kitchen island for three hours now and no accidents. It breaks my heart. I want him to be free when he's not in his crate for the six hours he needs to be during work schedules. But but I dunno.....

Am I expecting too much too soon????


    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 4:02PM
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I don't have a dog, but a friend does. When she first adopted the dog, Ruby was much older than a puppy - like 2. There were still accidents with puddles and sometimes poo. Maybe that's why Ruby was up for adoption? My friend kept the dog crated longer during the periods of accidents if she could not watch her.

Eventually the accidents got less, then finally stopped. It's better for the dog to be leashed to the table and doing the right thing, than free roaming and doing the wrong thing. A dog wants to be praised and trained.

Keep leashing him or crating him - it's not that bad of a punishment. Keep a bed and toys within range. He has to learn to do the right thing in the house. Obviously he's not ready to roam if he can't distinguish inside from outside. I also think you need to get a really good pet cleaner with enzymes to clean the areas which have been soiled.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 8:13AM
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When you take your dog out of the crate...WALK him on leash for at least 15 minutes. With a male dog they'll stop every few feet and urinate he won't have anything left. Within that 15 minutes he should eliminate if not keep walking. I also have my dog wait by the door with her leash on while I get ready to go out and now when she wants to go out she will go and sit by the door. Have a regular feeding time and take him about two hours after eating.

I walk her even in the rain I don't know what your weather is like but the walking on leash is important to get the dog to eliminate. It's the movement that gets them to go. I take her out when I get up, again when I get home from work and just before I go to bed.

The best part is I've lost 5 pounds and really firmed up my thighs!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 11:27AM
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I know that it seems like he really does KNOW he's not supposed to go inside, but his behavior says he clearly doesn't. And the big problem is that each time he poops inside, the behavior is being reinforced just by the relief it provides. You really must nip it in the bud.

The only way to curb this behavior, other than preventing it altogether, is to catch him in the act. As you may know, punishing after the fact is useless. Dogs don't associate our anger about a pile of poop with any behavior on their part.

My suggestion is to set him up. When you've taken him out and he hasn't pooped outside, let him loose in the house, but keep a very close eye on him without him knowing it. Follow him around sneakily, especially if he goes near the dining room, since that seems to be his preferred spot. As soon as he assumes "the position," yell "noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!" Not really loudly or meanly or anything, but clearly and firmly. As you are doing this, grab his collar and take him outside. Stay there with him until he finishes the job out there (which may take awhile if he was super startled by your reaction). As soon as he poops where he should, praise him up a storm.

You may need to do this a few times for him to get the message, but he surely will. Realize, though, that every time he gets away with it during the process will mean a few extra times of catching him in the act.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 8:32PM
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That is good training advice, but I will say that when Coopers system was irritated by medicine, the huge volume was significant- his bowels would just empty. We knew something was wrong when he actually pooped while he was walking down the stairs.
So keep this in mind as you retrain.Just in case. Cooper was totally housetrained but couldnt control his bowels for those couple of days. the shot to calm his bowels did the trick.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 10:19PM
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I think it might be good to move your 1 year vet appt up so you can rule out any medical issues. Perhaps he has intestinal parasites that he picked up and that are irritating his intestine enough that he feels like he just has to go, now!

The other thing I will pass on is that sometimes dogs go through a kind of emotional/behavioral adolesence at about 9-11 months. I used own a beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback and all through her puppyhood and most of the first year, all went swimmingly. But at about 10 months she seemed to go downhill in many ways: soiling when she hadn't (and my dogs were never crated, just free to go in and out as I live on a farm), and being pesty, and most worrying in a big, hard breed like Ridgeback, she starting nipping me and attacking my legs. I was beside myself because I thought I was causing this change. I had had dogs before and never experienced this. I had her checked out at the vet, all good. And I took her to various trainers and did exactly what they said, no improvement. I seriously began to wonder if I had a 'defective' pure-bred animal, or one with a brain disease.

Fortunately I live in upstate NY, and I was able to take her with me to visit the famous New Skete monks. They watched me with her and worked with her for a few hours and then sat down to tell me their thoughts. They declared her to be perfectly normal teen-aged dog and they told me I would have to just live with it for a few more months and all would be well. And you know what, they were so absolutely correct. My beloved Ridgeback turned out to be the best dog I've ever owned. Indeed since she died I have never had the heart to get another one. And even after 15 years I still miss her, so much ::sniff::

However, you can't just live with a house-soiling dog, hoping it will get better by itself. If your vet says he's OK, then I would step up your efforts at reinforcing the correct places and times for him to eliminate. This will be a big pain for you, in the short term, but I think effective in the long run. When he 'performs' correctly make a huge, foolish, most-wonderful-dog-in-the-world deal over it. Dogs live for praise from their pack leaders.

Have there been any big changes in household schedule or make-up that coincides with the change in dog habits? That might play into this, too, even if it appears indirect.

And of course, though I realize it may sound whacky, if this was my problem I would use a good animal communicator to help figure out what's really going on behind those beautiful, soft, eyes. I use a particularly skilled one who works long distance. (I didn't know about communicators when I had my Ridgeback - sure wish I had!)


Here is a link that might be useful: Gayle Nastazi - Animal Communicator

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 2:01AM
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Thank you everyone. I particularly like your idea of setting him up holligator. That's a tactic I haven't tried yet.

Like I said, this is not a regular occurence. It only just seems to have started, soon after we decided "Hey! Cool he's trained! let's let him loose!" But no. I guess not.

To be fair to him, it was very clear his tummy was not happy. I caught him eating some cat poop outside the other day (wtf?) so I think I will have to take him to vet soon and get his tummy checked out.

How I wish I could get him to the Monks. As soon as it gets warm enough we're going to try their "come" exercises with the long piece of rope. Because suddenly, Anakin isn't minding, and he's wandering off by himself in our large yard instead of staying close to me. It's just so unlike him. I'm kind of relieved to hear about the doggie adolescence thing. I hope that's all it is. We'll reinforce his training anyway. I take it the adolescence thing still happens even if they're neutered? Ani is, he was neutered at seven months.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 10:14AM
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Another thing you might try is instead of yelling at him when he does wrong, try rewarding him ONLY when he does right. Get him a big bag of treats, leave it in a conspicuous place, and take one with you when you take him outside (make sure he SEES you taking it with you). If he poops, IMMEDIATELY afterward, right there on the spot, give him a treat and lavish all kinds of praise on him. Sooner or later, he'll begin to expect it ANY time he takes a dump, and if you completely ignore him when he comes up to you looking for the treat if he dumps in the house, he'll start to get the message, associating pooping outside ONLY with the praise and treats. it's kind of like the same thing as holligator, but from the other end of the spectrum. Instead of criticizing the dog and possibly making him scared of you, "kill him with kindness". :-)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 6:01PM
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Ivette - I've got a golden puppy too right now (4 mos old and 55 lbs - yikes!) and spent my entire life around Goldens since my parents bred and field trained them for many years.

When I first read your post, I thought, "he's got worms" but then you said you'd just given him his heartworm pill - That makes me think cooperbailey is on the mark - something is upsetting his stomach...maybe a parasite from the cat poop, maybe the heartworm pill itself, I don't know but I would definitely make an appt ASAP to see the vet AND bring in a sample of poop, especially if you can get one from when he messes in the house.

As for ignoring his training, that's probably just his developmental stage - you've got a teenager on your hands. As much as I'm not always a fan of food to reinforce obedience w/ commands (once they've already learned them), I will say that some not-so-subtle reminders that behaving is GOOD for Anakin will probably get him back in line. First, however, get him to the doctor and get him feeling better.

BTW, love the name - you obviously have a boy in your house :-) Our newest addition is "Crosby", named after my 3 hockey-nut boys' favorite NHL'er

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 1:16PM
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Heartworm pills do not kill the other kind of worms, do they?

My first thought, and I didn't post it a week ago and I'm surprised no one has mentioned, is six hours is a really long time for a dog to be crated on a daily basis. Then he's expected to sleep while the humans sleep too. I never crated our dog for more than four hours and that was rare. I can't image doing it on a daily basis until he grows up. I crated ours for two years when away or at night, but don't need to anymore.

Is there an under the stairs area you could enclose to give him more room than a crate? I linked a magazine page but didn't use on our home. Could be done under stairs also.

When we were building and it was too hot to bring him on sight, I took him to Doggie Day Care.

I would take a sample or the dog to the vet and have it/him checked out.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 1:32PM
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Allison - I didn't mean to imply that the dog having worms (round or tape worms in the intestine) and the fact that they gave him his heartworm pill were the same worm...sorry! No, I just meant that given that he's had something recently other than his regular diet, that maybe the heartworm pill should be considered as a culprit, too! I still think his stool should be checked for the "other" worms -- I know a lot of dogs who seemingly couldn't get or suddenly "fogot" the whole pooping-outside-concept when in reality they couldn't control their bowels because of worms. Sorry to have phrased it all in a confusing way!!

As for crating him all day - I can sympathize as the first Golden my husband and I had together had to be crated for extended periods because I was working back then - still, I would drive 45 mins one way over lunch to let her out and get a short walk in before returning to the office. Back then, doggie daycares were almost unheard of.

As for giving him more space for his time alone, I agree. One thing to consider is the indoor invisible fence - I know it sounds crazy and I haven't done it myself but some of the owners in my training group have recently done it and they rave about it. Same concept as the outdoor invisible fence, but you instead pick an indoor perimeter to keep him contained in, place the wire and he wears the receiver just like he would outside. Otherwise, a mudroom or laundry room that has been "dog-proofed" would be a good option if you can.

I love how these guys can be such royal pains at times and yet we still love them so much!! My moose just dug up an entire small tree with a span of branches about 6 feet across that we'd had planted late last fall - he proudly presented me with it at the back door, ball of roots and all - UGH.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 4:44PM
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It is my understanding that the hearworm pill does act as a once a month dewormer for other kinds too. I think I read that on the back, but don't have it here.
The idea was that the pill may have "primed" your dogs system to be sensitive or irritable and it is overactive. ( duh can't seem to put it into words.) and needs to be calmed down. If it is not a medical reason, then go back to square one with housetraining. I am betting on his tummy tho, dogs seem to get the idea to poop outside much faster than the concept of peeing outside. It is not pee too is it?
Our dogs were crated usually for 8 hours a day with no ill effects as they were worked with and loved the rest of the time and slept in our bedroom. The vet and other resources said that it was fine,(her dog was crated that long) that dogs love their crates- and our do. It is far better for young or unreliable dogs to be safe and cozy in their crates than on their own and getting into danger.
We have a yard and always took them outside to play and walked them etc when we got home. As soon as they were able to be trusted, we began letting them remain out for a few minutes alone, then gradually extended the time out. We then took the doors off the crates because they still enjoyed going in on their own. Don't forget to "babydog proof your house" include your kids rooms... Goldens will eat ANYTHING!! corncobs are deadly- be especially careful of your trash. and pill bottles :( and pumice stones ( dont ask) and knee highs...
We have put the crates away to make more room in my laundry room as they were no longer going in the crates this summer.
We were converts to crating with Bailey and then Cooper, and they are far better trained and happier and loving than the dogs we didn't crate years ago- no bad habits or behavior problems.It is all in how you handle it and consistency in training.
They do go through adolescence and that is why training is so important especially through those years, if they are well trained early, then you can draw on that for their trying teen years( yeah they even whine like kids! but at least they don't want the car)

You have a great attitude and you will be fine! btw if you have a petsmart near you they offer good training classes inexpensively. The trainer we had also volunteered to train the primates at the zoo. She had her own non animal related business but did the training on the side- her degree was in animal behavior! Look into clicker training - it is a lot of fun and very effective training tool. Sue

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 2:05PM
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Thanks for bringing that up, Bill. I had assumed that there was already plenty of reinforcing going on if he was going outside most of the time, but I should have been more clear.

Shaping a behavior like this one takes a high degree of explicitness. It's important for your pup to understand exactly what behavior is desired, but it's also important to understand what is the undesirable counterpart to that behavior. Dogs get it when it's made clear to them, but until it's clear, they will need to keep testing to figure out what is and is not OK.

As of right now, Anakin has established the dining room as an OK place to poop. Right now, his use of the dining room has been reinforced too strongly to ignore it as a factor. In the process of reinforcing outside as the only OK place, which you should do enthusiastically, it's important to also make it clear that the dining room is not OK. While you are reinforcing the desired behavior, you must also extinguish the undesired one.

Hope this helps,

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 6:11PM
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Okay guys, his poop is completely back to normal now for a few days, and he's stopped having accidents in the dining room, even when given freedom in the house. However, I have been watching very carefully just in case, and I have been making a much more enormous fuss and given him a "cookie" when he goes outside like a good boy.

As to the six hours in the crate, I'm not concerned about it as Anakin loves his crate, goes in it willingly, sleeps through the night, and is out of it from 2:30 pm until bedtime. We both work full time, staggered schedules and basically Anakin is in his crate while our boy is at school. It works for us, he gets more than enough exercise with the half acre yard and the long walks.

The interceptor IS supposed to take care of intestinal worms as well. I haven't been to the vet because everything is back to normal again, and we're scheduled to go in three weeks time.

I want to thank every one again for all their help, I think it's still clear that Ani seems to feel it's okay to go in the dining room even if it is only in emergencies. I'm willing to forgive the accidents he can't really help. I just wish he'd learn to signal he needs to go when he's completely free. We'll keep working on it!


    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 6:50PM
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Hi Ivette, how's Ani doing now? Hope you've made progress and it's not due to anything medical. I found your thread while doing an unrelated search and just had to chime in so I could second everything holligator said. What she described is exactly what I did years ago when I took in a non-housetrained dog and IT WORKED like a charm! The hard part is constantly watching them. You can't let yourself get totally engrossed in something else; you've gotta be watching the dog all the time, if only out of the corner of your eye. Is is kind of a hassle to do that but, if done just as holligator describes, it doesn't take long for the message to sink in. With my dog, I only had to catch him in the act twice. After that, it was smooth sailing. Of course, I still kept an eye on him for a little bit longer just to assure myself he really had learned his lesson. He had, and thereafter was completely trustworthy in the house. After Ani learns his lesson, you'll pick up on any signal - some dogs go to the door, some dogs just act restless, and some dogs just get so used to the routine that there's no need of a signal - they just go when their regular time to go out happens. Hope it's straightened out by now but if not, well... what holligator said.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 3:44AM
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Bill - *awesome* advice. Clearly tile is not your only forte !

Pirula, you've had some great advice here, but I thought I would chime in too. Make sure you clean his favourite indoor potty areas really really well. My favourite enzymatic cleaner is Petastic. That stuff is FABULOUS (ask me how I know ? oh ok ... it got icky icky anal gland juices from my beloved Lab out of my brand new mattress with nary a smell or stain).

Organised exercise is also great for getting poop out :-) My morning schedule involves a brisk game of fetch with the labbie before I leave for work. This makes sure that he is completely empty before curling up on my bed for the day.

Good luck, I hope things are still going well with him.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 2:32AM
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