Q: Cairn Terrier Potty Problems

March 1, 2011 | By emily c. | 1 answer | Expired: 1792 days ago

emily c.

After a lot of struggles and heartbreaks with adopting adult dogs, we came to the conclusion that to achieve a non-aggressive, fit-into-our-home dog, we had to start from scratch. So we did extensive breed research and then started researching actual breeders. Finally, we found a breed that met our criteria of child-friendly, hardy, and non-shedding. Despite my honest dislike of little dogs and their asthetics and yappiness, I did manage to find one I thought I could care for until our family was ready to try a "big" dog again. Last fall, we brought home an eight-week-old Cairn terrier male who has since won our hearts.

August is a very mild-mannered terrier. We made sure to teach him at a very young age that barking was unacceptable. And to many people's surprise, he literally does not bark in the house but saves it for outside when there are birds! He's a great learner and, surprise, very treat-oriented. Even our girls have him sitting, laying, staying, rolling over, and playing fetch, and our youngest is only two!

Potty training took much longer than we expected. And we still struggle because he refuses to learn a way to tell us he has to go out so we operate on a constant supervision existence. But he does well with only one or two accidents every few weeks...and that's only if the adult in charge wasn't paying attention. I should say now that my husband and I are always home, as we do daycare. (That was another deciding factor in getting a puppy.)

However, August has always been a poop-eater. We discouraged it when he was littler...cleaned up after him right away...and supplemented his diet with two servings of pineapple every day. No good. So we asked our vet and he subscribed him For-bid (a powder product). That also didn't work. Finally, we gave in and bought the expensive Nasty Habit tablets from the pet store. He's been on them a week and STILL NO CHANGE!

We are beside ourselves on this one. I can't have a dog doing this, especially as we're out and about during the summer months and the risk of parasites is terrifying. Please help!

Our second issue is pottying in the crate. Despite our being home all day, there are times that August needs to be in his crate (like when he's just come inside from eating his poop!). He goes in on command and it is his quiet place and also a time-out zone. I never catch him at it, but I know he pees in his crate because his bedding starts to stink and is sometimes wet when I change it. (Not to mention that the dog, himself, gets stinky too.) He isn't usually in there for any period longer than what he'd be loose in the house without a break. The crate gets wiped out properly every time and he gets new bedding at least once a week. How do I break this frustrating habit?

Readers' Answers (1)

Mar 02, 2011

What you could do is buy training bells, which is a strip of bells that hangs from the doorknob. You'll first want to teach him to mouth the object. This is done by offering it to him and when he touches it w/his nose, you say "Good boy" and treat him. Once he learns that by touching he gets some food, hold off on the treats until he actually puts his mouth on it. You can encourage this by lightly bumping his muzzle w/it, not in a mean way, but in a playful way. When he mouths, praise, treat, open the door {letting him out if he wants, if not, shut it and keep going}, repeat as necessary.

You can also train this by having him paw the object. If the bells don't hang far enough for August to reach w/his little paws, go w/the mouthing. Otherwise, just have him paw it. You train this similar to how you'd train shake, except instead of having a treat in your hand you'll have the bells, keeping treats hidden until he paws. Praise and treat for the pawing and then move on to opening the door each time.

One last thing you can teach is the potty command. This is done as you would in initial potty training - by taking him out each time you suspect he may need to go and waiting until he does - but this time adding the command "Potty" and praising him for it. Done consistently, you'll actually be able to have him go on command when and where you like, and this doesn't need to be permanent.

For the poo-eating, go w/the leave it command. This takes practice for both of you b/c timing is crucial. Present an object to August and before he can get to it, say "Leave it" while offering him a treat w/your other hand. Do it just this way a few times before adding a break in between the offering and the command. Don't extend 3 seconds too soon and never go beyond 5. You just want to get a point across, not teach him absolute patience. Stick to 3 maybe 4 before putting him in a real life setting w/real life poo. This will, like potty training, take your entire dedication to supervising him outside. The second you see him going for any nastiness, demand that he "Leave it". Once diverted, praise him. This can take months, however, and has no guarantee of working at all. It really depends on the dog. Stick to it regardless.

What are you feeding August? Sometimes dogs will eat their own feces b/c they're lacking proper nutrition in their diet. Commercial dog brands suck. There's no easy way to say it - they're just horrible. Try Wellness or Blue Buffalo or something else 4 stars or above on this site: www.dogfoodanalysis.com/dog_food_reviews/

If you're leaving August in the crate longer than 5 minutes for a time out, it's too much. Typical time outs last 2 minutes and go up to 5 for consistent bad behavior. Giving him a time out for poo-eating probably isn't getting through to him since the deed was done outside w/a big gap of time {dog speaking} in between. B/c dogs will not normally pee in such a small area that they're confined in, this leads me to believe this situation is stressful to him. Either b/c he doesn't understand why he's locked up or b/c he relies on human companionship too much, for some reason it bothers him. I would continue the time outs in the crate for naughty behavior, but only for behavior you feel he can actually connect to the punishment.

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