Question:
Hi,
I stumbled across your blog when I was searching why my 6 year old
Boston obsessively licks our couch.  I think you may be right…it
soothes him.
 
My question for you:
We also have a 6 month old Brindle Boston female.  I got her from
a breeder whom I think allowed her to sit in her own feces.  We used to
kennel her while we were gone but stopped when we realized that she
will urinate and defecate in her kennel.  She doesn’t seem to mind to
be covered in it.  It was such a mess–coming home and having to bathe
her and then spray down her kennel each day.  We have a doggie door and
she learned quickly to use it.  When we are home, Emme doesn’t have any
accidents.  She understands that she needs to go outside to relieve
herself.  However, when we are gone, she has accidents in the house
even though the doggie door is open.  When we arrive home, she will
sometimes hide under the table, almost as if she knows she did
something wrong.  Do you think she has anxiety when we leave the
house?  Why do you suppose she defecates in the house when we are
gone?  OH!  Another thing–if we are in the house but behind a closed
door, she will also potty in the house.

Answer:

  This kind of situation can be down right frustrating. Boston’s are great dogs, but if they are raised by a breeder that doesn’t crate train them properly this sort of thing can happen. Refer to my blog entry about puppy buying basics. More than likely, you got Emme from a backyard breeder. Dogs do not naturally like to potty where the eat or sleep. So what had to have happened is that she was forced to go in her crate because she wasn’t let out of it very often. She then learned that going in the crate was ok. However, there can be other problems caused by this. She could develop coprophagia, which is where she learns to eat her own feces in order to keep her crate clean.

  Here are some tips. First, don’t throw out the crate, it can be your friend. What’s happened in your situation is that Emme has been what we call, reverse trained. Where instead of holding herself in the crate, she is relieving herself in the crate. So to counter this you will have to use her instincts to your advantadge. Put the crate somewhere in the house where she can escape if she wants, but still be amidst all the goings-on of the home. Make sure to put some bedding in the crate (Bostons love to snuggle under blankets), and start feeding her in the crate as well. Leave the door open at all times so she can go in and out as she pleases. We want her to think of the crate as a den. Dogs are den dwelling creatures, and when she hides under the table, she is retreating to a den like spot where she feels safe. When you feed her in the crate, make sure you put the food all the way at the back so she will have to go all the way in to eat. Just set the food inside, and wait. Pay no attention. Don’t even try to coax her in. Just let her go in on her own when she is ready. Don’t feel bad if she doesn’t go in right away, or even at all the first day. She will eventually get hungry enough to go in there and eat. You can even add chicken broth to her food to make the food even more tempting. When she does go in, don’t make a huge fuss about it, and leave the door open. Do this everyday for at least a month.

  At night, you’ll want to let her sleep in her new den. Make sure to let her outside just before bed. Then put her in her crate and close the door. Say good night and go to bed. If she cries… you have to ignore it. If you give in and go to her, she will never learn to sleep in there. In the morning, let her out to potty right away. When she potties outside, PRAISE HEAVELY! It is important when potty training to go out with the dog and praise them for pottying outside. Bostons especially love a nice scratch right above the tail! They also love having their ears massaged!

  So why would you leave your new pup out to run around the house while you are behind a closed door? That is just asking for trouble! The key is prevention. Never let her out of your sight!!! EVER!!! She has already learned to potty in the house when you aren’t looking. Dogs are very smart, if you’ve read any of this blog about how smart they really are, then you would know that they study our every move. Dogs know when we close our eyes, we can’t see them. Test this if you want. Put a treat on the floor and tell your dog not to get it. Then close your eyes, or walk away and see if that treat is still there. They know.

  You have to build up trust in your relationship with your dog. They have to trust us, and we have to trust them. If there is no trust, behavior problems can develop, or pre-existing ones can get worse. To build that trust, you need to praise her for pottying outside, and never let her out of your sight inside. Crate her, or confine her to a single area in the house if you can not watch her until you know she will not potty in the house. You can also keep a journal of when and where she potties in the house. This will help you identify any patterns she may have. At 6mos old, her bladder is pretty well developed, but don’t count on her holding it for longer than 5 hours until she is at least a year old. Most dogs will have to go potty about 2 – 4 hours after they eat or drink. Puppies go even sooner, about 1-3 hours, depending on the breed.

  If she is hiding under the table when you get home, it may not be because she knows she did something wrong. Dogs forget about pottying in the house after they do it, because they live in the present, not the past. Most likely, she has been scolded when someone got home and found it. She has come to associate someone coming home with being scolded. Therefore, she retreates to a den like area for safety. However, Bostons are very intelligent dogs. They rank number 52 on the breed list for intelligence. Number 1 being the Border Collie. If she had just done it and someone came home and found it and then scolded her, she may understand why she is being scolded. But if it happened an hour or more before the person arrived home, then most likey she doesn’t know why she is being scolded. If she potties in the house, spanking, yelling, and rubbing her nose in it won’t help. These actions can cause her to develop fear issues. You have to catch her in the act, and then take her outside as she is going. She should stop going once you pick her up, and then resume outside when you put her down. If you don’t catch her doing it, then there is nothing you can do to help the situation other than cleaning it up. Get a cleaner that will repel her from that same area, or completely get out the scent or she may soil that area again.

   Remember, patience is a virtue and consistency is how dogs learn. Good luck!

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