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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Behaviorist, Breeder, See Qual.
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 18962
Experience:  18+ years Breeding Experience, Former vol. Vet Assistant, Dog Behaviorist
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I have a 1 1/2 year old German Shepherd mix and I work 9 hours

Customer Question

I have a 1 1/2 year old German Shepherd mix and I work 9 hours every weekday and he consistently uses the bathroom in the house every day. I pick it up let him smell it and tell him no. Then I take him outside, he does his business and I give him a treat for going outside and it is still happening. I don't know how to fix it. He also chews on my things when I'm away and I don't know how to stop that either. Please help!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
Hi JaCustomer,
My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
In order to supply you with an informed answer, it is necessary for me to collect some additional information from you. When I receive your response or repy, it will likely take me between 30-45 minutes to type up my reply. I hope you can be patient.
What methods have you tried in order to house train him?
Is he urinating or defecating or both?
What are you cleaning it up with?
How are you cleaning it up?
Does he do this when you are home as well or only when you are gone?
How often do you walk him?
Is luke neutered?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I've tried telling him no when it happens, then take him outside. When he goes outside I give him positive reinforcement(small training meat treats). I've been cleaning it up with Natures Miracle Oxy Formula dual action pet stain and odor removal by spraying it on the stain and then soaking it up with paper towels. He only does it when I am out of the apartment. I walk him at least 4 times a day. And yes he is neutered
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
Jacustomer,
I'm glad to hear that you have been doing quite a few things correctly such as rewarding the good behavior when he eliminates outside, and using a good odor remover that is enzymatic as well as walking him multiple times.
Be sure when you are cleaning that you clean UP on the wall, chair leg, etc where there is urine since dogs generally lift their legs and if you clean the floor but leave the wall, it will eventually draw him back to that place. You also need to be sure you blot first, then add the cleanser, let it soak in as long as the urine did and then clean that up.
Since this behavior only happens when you are gone, it may be a case of separation anxiety more than a house training issue. However, lets address the house training issue first. I recommend crate training. Crate training helps teach a dog to control their bladder and bowels. The dog learns that if he goes and doesn't hold it, he will have to sit in it. So they learn to control it. It is effective and at his age, he should be able to control his elimination. In addition, he can not destroy or chew on things if he is contained. Here is a site on crate training. http://www.inch.com/~dogs/cratetraining.html
This is how I house train all my dogs. In addition, put a bell or other noise maker on the door low enough for the dog to reach. Each time you take the dog out, ring the bell. The dog will associate ringing the bell with going out and one day ring the bell to signal to you that he needs to go out.
That is the most effective way of house training any dog from puppies to adults. Adults learn quicker since they are physically capable of holding their elimination for long periods of time.
Now if this is separation anxiety, crating can help as well. However, reducing the anxiety will also solve the problem. So lets work on that as well. First thing is to take your dog for a nice long walk before you leave, preferably 30 minutes or long. Make it a long, quick paced walk to tire your boy out.
Second is to use a low-key approach to leaving the house. Ignore your dog before you leave and after you come home for at least 5 minutes or more. If your house is like mine in the morning everyone is running around getting ready to leave. This has the dog in an excited mood and then suddenly he is alone. If this is the case, put him away from everyone, say in a bathroom until the frenzy is over.
Don't punish or shout at your dog when you come home and find he’s chewed something or eliminated again. When you do, you increase his stress level rather than reduce it.
You can provide him with small stimulating toys or toys that you can fill with treats. Kong filled with peanut butter and frozen can keep a dog busy for hours.
Sometimes leaving a TV or radio on can help a dog with this problem as well. Also remember to not reward a dog's excitement to you with petting and affection or even eye contact. You want to show him nice calm praise when he is being calm.
The best way is to crate him. This prevents injury to the apartment and protects him as well. Another thing that might help is a DAP collar. These use a pheromone to calm a dog. See one here:
vetmedicine.about.com/od/behaviortraining/gr/DAP-Dog-Collar.htm
Practice putting him in the crate, leaving the house, opening the door immediately and rewarding him with a hot dog treat if he did not scratch, bite and carry one. This teaches him that you leave but come back quickly. Once he seems to not do anything when you initially leave, lengthen the time he must be quet for you to come back in. Change the time as well. Make it 2 minutes one time and 10 mintues another, so he never knows if you are gone for an hour or gone for 2 minutes. It helps him stay calm for longer periods of time, just be sure you reward him when he is good. Start with a crate and then without one so he won't need to be contained forever.
Another thing that helps is to do things that might make the dog feel you are leaving and then don't such as putting on your coat or picking up your keys. Or leave without doing those things. This helps remove things that might trigger the dog to become anxious.
These should help his separation anxiety and boredom and help curb his destructive behavior. t will not be an overnight cure and will take work on your part to be consistent in your interaction with him. Here is a site that also offers idea to combat separation anxiety.
http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/overcoming-separation-anxiety.aspx
I'd try as many different techniques as possible since it is often a combination of techniques that work. Another option is medication, which is discussed on this site:
http://www.cpvh.com/2011/08/08/separation-anxiety/
I hope this information is helpful to you. If you need more clarification or other information, please respond and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.