Hello. I am new here, but I hope you all can help me out with some advice.
I have a 5 year old Westie. I got him as a very young puppy. He is very smart and I was lucky to have been able to spend a lot of time with him when he was a puppy. Back then, I took a lot of time reading and researching training methods and dog behavior tactics. As a result, he has been a very good dog and we love him dearly. He was crate trained as a puppy and rewarded for good behavior. He knows all of the basic tricks and seems willing to learn more. Anytime I have him groomed or someone watchs him he gets rave reviews on his good nature.
I never really needed to use any kind of punishment on him to enforce training. I opted for a reward based training for him. He does understand who is boss though and definantly understands the word NO. When he has done something bad, like the few times he went into the trash, he knew he had been bad. I was able to simply but sternly lead him to the trash and tell him NO, Bad Dog, and he has not gone into the trash for a long time even when he was left unsupervised.
As I said, we crate trained him when he was younger. As he got better and better about "asking" to go outside we gave him more and more freedom. He thought, and still thinks of his crate as a good place and does not mind going into it. At first he had to be in his crate anytime we where not home to watch him and also when it was time for bed. Gradually we started first letting him stay out of the crate at night but he was confined to our bedroom. The crate was still there with the door open. Then in the morning when it was time for us to go to work he would have to go back to the crate as he would still Chew on things or have accidents if left unattended. Eventually he completely graduated to being able to just be in the bedroom when we where not home or at work. For a few years this was the routine and he did very well. The only "accidents" he ever had where (i think) because he could not hold it any longer in which case his accidents would be right in front of the bedroom door. By training him to ask to be let outside and be rewarded for this behavior and for going outside we felt he was perma-trained to "go outside". He has traveled with us to relatives houses, hotels, camping, vacations, etc and has not needed a crate for years. Recently however, we have had some problems with him. It started simple and I would find some pee marks after I got home from work a few times, but not every day. I chalked it up to an accident or something since he had not done this for so long. I told him no to be sure and cleaned it up. This happened a few more times but still not often.
Now we have had to move to a new house. Anytime I have taken him to a new place (relatives, firends, new apartment, etc.) in the last few years I have allways kept a close eye on him at first to make sure he does not lift a leg and to be sure to take him out. He would seem to catch on very fast and again would ask to be let outside with no real "accidents" the many times we have done this. Not this time though. The accidents have been increasing in frequency and even worse, lately he has begun to pee on beds. He WILL NOT have accidents when we are home or with him at all, only when he is left alone, otherwise he ask to be let outside. We have made it clear when he has done this that it is bad behavior and he seems to understand that. We don't understand why this is happening now and are desperate for advice on how to stop this and get our dog back on the right track.
The current measures we have taken has been to bring his crate back into his life. He has to be closed in it when we are at work or at night just like when he was a puppy and being trained. We have been doing our best to reward him for proper behavior, going outside in the morning or asking to go outside in the evening. He gets tons of praise for this. We have begun to require him to "ask" (bark) to go outside in the evenings again and rewarding him for this.
The other day, I left for work, but I left him out in our bedroom because I knew my wife was working a 1/2 day and would be home to let him out early. I wanted to see how he did since we have worked with him lately. He pee'd on our bed again :(
Sorry for writing such a book. I just don't know how to reinforce his earlier training and bring him back to the way he was. Any help will be much appreciated.
i would keep up with the crate and not leave him loose alone. i think a new place has thrown him. you may want to start all over again from square one with the housebreaking. sounds like he really needs to learn from the ground up again in the new place. i'd keep him with you at all times in the house even though he doesn't do this when you are there, tether him to you or something so he learns he follows you in this new place.
I read your post over about three times, its quite long so I hope I remember everything. In a nut shell, it all sounds like separation Anxiety, or separation distress. I think the little guy has had it all along, but sometimes it can de-escalate and/or escalate, depending on whats going on in the family. Things can be going along fine, the dog my have a tiny bit of separation anxiety, and one week Mom is home from work on holidays, and spends a huge amount of time with the dog, and then the next week goes back to work. She comes home to pillows ripped apart or poop everywhere.All of a sudden mom's gone, whos going to entertain me? Its a good idea to ease off on all the attention, especially when your comeing home and before your leaveing the house. In your case, I would invest in a good baby gate and designate the kitchen or a bathroom and totally puppy/doggie proof the room. You can use this room for the dog when you go out. If you have to, put some paper down, a sleeping area and mabey provide a small box, and fill it with chewing toys for him to chew. Being a Westie, you could just leave the chews on the floor or a very short container, that he can get his stuff easily.
Toys are for when you are there to play with him, so they aren't necessary (when your not there)and may just make him think of you. Everyday no matter if you are home or not, there should be a down time with a raw hide, kong filled with frozen goodies or actual hollow bones filled with goodies(frozen lasts longer)He should be encouraged to lay on his bed and have a chew time, the more desireable the stuffed bone is, and the more days he is offered them, the more he will become fixated and come to seek this bone time when he feels stressed or looking for something to do. When your at home and offer a bone, you should go about your buisiness and make it a point of leaveing the room occasionally.
When he is left alone he will start to look for them to occupy him, and deal with the stress of being alone, which is not natural for a PAck animal. Dogs need to learn to be comfortable being alone and what to do with themselves.
I would also along with reshaping his bathroom schedule, still reward for going to the bathroom outside, but if he does something in the house, and later you try to scold the dog for it, it means nothing to the dog. He isn't going to understand.
Dogs don't know right from wrong, only pleasant and not pleasant, or safe and not safe. Their learning is more like that of a 2 year old child, if I do this, I get this.
***Edited By: sue on 1/30/2006 11:23:08 PM*** Reason: xdcv
I agree with Peral, new home has thrown him, he might be marking his territory, or want attention, my dogs have been in crates at night and when we leave the house and they have always been happy about it, one time, on a Thanksgiving day we decided to let them run the house , we knew we would be gone most of the day , when we came home they had peed and pooped all over the kitchen floor and they were ages 4 and 6 at the time so I never, after that day let them run, as soon as we put our coats on they run their cages, they sleep in them during the day with the doors open it is their safe place. I am so glad they are crate trained. Their crates are twice the size they should be so they have plenty of room. Good luck, I would stick with the crate.
Thank you all for the advice and I think it will help me out a lot.
I am going to continue with the crate for now but I do hope that I can get him back to not needing it, we like having him sleep in our bed honestly. I don't feel bad about caging him really since he thinks of it more as a home than anything, but I would rather him think of the house or the room as a home, but since they are small den animals originally, this may not be possible. We have a cat, and the dog and cat play together and for I liked the idea that they might be keeping each other company during the day while we where at work before this started.
So, I am going to take the suggestion of trying to help him with a possible seperation anxiety and combine this with reinforcing the proper behavior. When my wife or I are at home, our dog is never more than a few feet from us for very long and during travel he almost allways comes with us. I never really thought this could be a problem in the future. It does seem to me that it may be a cry for attention or a seperation anxiety since it happens only when we are not with him.
At one point he had full run of the home anytime we where away without a problem, so I may also try to use another area, like the kitchen or bathroom as a new feeding room for him, so that he gets used to the room and eating in it. Then see how he does in that room as an alternative to the crate.
also you mentioned it was a new hous.e brand new? or at least, brand new carpeting? have it shampoo'd. professionally. i read that the chemicals in new carpet somehow entice a dog to pee there. the smell or something.