Last time, I told you about the newest member to our family, 4-yr old Ranger, the shelter dog. I’d like to say up-front that he is still as wonderful as ever. You may recall, however, his lack of embarrassment in regard to pooping in the house as well as his strange habit of pooping only once every two or three days. Because we feed him raw chicken, the poop is relatively dry, so there was no mess, but there was a very bad habit being established nonetheless.
An excerpt from some of what I wrote about the problem last time: “… he never indicates, ever, that he wants to go out at all…How do we get this four-year-old to see the house is not the place for unseemly canine scat deposits?
So, I did what any woman in my situation would do. I listened to the advice of my older brother and his wife, my friends from church, my Face Book friends, and those who wrote on this blog to offer suggestions. The suggestion I heard most often was “GET A CRATE!” We have never used a crate to train a dog, but we have found that it WORKS!
A couple from our church offered us a crate that was too big for their dog and we took it on a trial run. It is just high enough for Ranger to stand up in if he keeps his head low. He is relaxed in it, so he’s probably been in one before.
Since we started crating him at bedtime (one week, two days now), he has not once “gone” in the house. At first, this was due to his being unable to sneak out of the bedroom at night for a private moment with our living room rug.
The first morning after the first crate-sleep, I had my coat on and the leash ready when I opened the crate door. I was warned by all my advisors to take him out IMMEDIATELY upon releasing him from the crate. He did not “go” when I took him out. I walked him for about 15 minutes and he watered every bush and tree trunk, but didn’t do anything else.
So, I crated him in the afternoon for an hour (as per the suggestion of a veteran crate-user), took him out again, and he wandered around for ten minutes and wanted to go back inside. I stayed out another five minutes with him and he did what I’d brought him out to do. Patience on MY part was the key.
I made a BIG fuss! Normally I do not speak to him AT ALL when he is on the lead, except for simple commands if needed. This worked to my benefit because when he did his business that day, I rubbed him and squealed at him and hugged him, and he, in turn, got all wiggly and excited and happy and jumpy. My response to his actions was (I hoped) beneficial positive reinforcement.
The second morning after crating overnight, he did his thing outside 10 minutes after I took him out. Again, we partied.
Friday morning, he did it again! What happened to the dog that only “went” once every two or three days!?
Saturday, no dice.
Sunday, dice! Squealing, jumping, dancing. And Ranger did some dancing too 🙂
Nothing Monday, but he did it on Tuesday….so we were back to every other day. But, he hadn’t done it in the house on ANY of those days, so that was good.
Wednesday, was interesting. Nothing all day, so we thought he was skipping a day as usual. We went out for dinner with friends in the evening and instead of leaving him in the crate for four hours (knowing we would only come home, let him out of the crate for a few minutes, then put him back in overnight for six or seven hours more), we decided to leave him in the roomy, linoleum-floored, laundry room with a towel to lay on and a chewy toy to play with. We have left him there for short periods before we got the crate and after it got cold here (I didn’t want to leave him in the garden shed in the cold). He’s never done anything unseemly when he’s been left in the laundry room for some reason. He didn’t Wednesday either. We got home, opened the laundry room door, hooked the lead onto his collar—and as soon as we were outside he immediately began doing the tell-tale walking-in-circles dance.
You know what that means, don’t you? It means that while we were gone, he held it even though he REALLY had to go, and even though he had not been crated!
So there are two questions: First, is the idea of where to “go” finally getting into Ranger’s head??? We hope so. And second, if my mother ever saw that I’d written a post on scat, would she be as mortified as I think she would be? I think she would, so I’ll stop here 🙂