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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19593
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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TO AN EXPERIENCED DOG TRAINER:I recently rescued a 4 month

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I recently rescued a 4 month old Chihuahua puppy from a woman who had purchased him for her kids but found that dealing with a small puppy and three small children was just too much for her to handle. She was going to take him to the pound, but I convinced her to let me take him instead. I love dogs, and have four of my own, including a chihuahua/dachshund mix not much older than Romeo, our new arrival, but who is already nearly housetrained.

We're struggling with Romeo's housetraining, up till now his training (by his previous owners) has been very hit or miss, and seems to have been left largely to a seven year old. Needless to say, the puppy seems very confused. He is a chihuahua as I said, and seems to have a lot of their characteristic nervousness and timidity, but none of the aggression. He is affectionate and likes to be held, and is very much a lapdog. He seems reluctant to leave my side when out of doors, and will frequently pause and look back as if to make sure I am still there when searching for a place to "go".

I have trained my other four dogs with wee wee pads overnight, then during the day by taking them out starting at every hour when they were young puppies, then to every two hours, then three, and so on as their bladders grew more mature. I take them to the same place every time, say, "go potty", and after they comply they get a treat and love, and we go immediately inside, where they are allowed either supervised play with each other for about 15 minutes, or I will play with or cuddle them one on one. We don't hang around outside, and their play area is elsewhere from their potty area, I want it to be clear in their mind that that area is for pottying only, when we come here it is to go potty. So far that has worked brilliantly. However, with Romeo...

Romeo will pee or poo outside, get his praise and treat, then when we go back inside to play, anywhere from 5 to thirty minutes later he will do his business again, on the floor. There is no warning, he will simply break from whatever he is doing, often right in front of me, and squat wherever is convenient. Not only is this frustrating for me, I'm not able to spend the time I would like to strengthening our bond because I can't trust him, even after just pottying, not to suddenly go on the floor.

I would really appreciate any methods, tips or sage advice I can get on how to curb this habit and help get things straight in this poor guy's mind. I know he would make someone a great companion, but I'm going to have a very difficult time finding his new forever home if I can't get him properly housetrained. Thanks!

P.S. This is unrelated, but still a dog training issue. I take my other puppy, Pete, with me as much as possible for socialization purposes, but he is a much bolder, outgoing dog than Romeo. I'm wondering if doing the same thing with Romeo would help him overcome his timidity and fear, or make him so frightened he just becomes aggressive with others? Thanks again.

Hi Danielle,

My name isXXXXX have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

We are sometimes too close to our own dogs to see where we need to change. Remember that puppies this age do need to be taught to hold their urine. It seems that this pup has not been "taught" to control his bladder. While your method works for some dogs, other dogs need different methods.

The first thing I would do is establish a clear signal that all the dogs can use to let you know that they need to go out. I recommend that you 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. This will help as a dog that needs to go doesn't have to wait till the next "potty" break but can signal they need to go out. Some dogs work out a signal with their owners, but if you have a clear signal, it helps with house training.

The other thing I would do is try and teach him how to hold his bladder. Dogs do not like to lay in their own mess, so we can use this to teach him to hold his bowels and urine. That is why crate training works. So you might try crate training him. You may have to bathe him a couple of times, but that usually is enough to start teaching them to control their bladder. Remember that the crate needs to be small enough that they can not have a potty area in one part and room to lay down in another. Read about crate training here:



You can use a pen as long as it is small enough. Use time out of the crate as reward. You also need to remember that puppies tend to urinate or defecate after eating, drinking, waking, and after PLAYING. So the playing reward may actually be contributing to the problem. Once suggestion would be playing OUTSIDE.

I always suggest owners teach dogs that play behavior is for outside and calm behavior is for inside. While I have a chihuahua (who was harder to house train), my breed is rottweilers, so he is the tiniest one of my dogs. I know owners tend to let smaller dogs get away with more than larger dogs. Larger dogs are rarely encouraged to play inside since it is easier to break things, but often owners will not put the same restrictions on little dogs. For house training, it is a plus not to encourage play behavior in the house.

As I'm sure you know, it often takes a combination of techniques to achieve the desired purpose, so I would combine these suggestions and see if that doesn't help get him house trained.

I think it is a great idea to take him with you places. However, I would not push him to be social. In fact, I would discourage people from trying to pet him or rushing to him, etc. I'd just let him be around them so he sees that they are not a threat. You might carry treats and let visitors toss him a small treat when they meet him. Over time he will make the move to greet them and then they can interact with him. Be sure they do not bend over him and instead crouch and let him approach them.

I would do group obedience classes with him as well for socialization. as before, I'd keep interactions with strange dogs and people at a distance at least initially.

I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have ..

Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Hi Danielle,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Jane Lefler

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