Housebreaking - the Shame


This is a difficult post for Huff because it involves the story of how he made not one but two mistakes.

The shame!

Welcome Home

When I brought Huff home, I used Caesar’s method of introducing a dog to their new environment. First, I walked him around the yard so he could relieve himself. When I took him inside, I kept his leash on while I showed him around. Only after that little tour did I unhook his leash. Even with this gentle introduction, he was a bit overwhelmed.

When I turned on the television, the sudden appearance of a noisy moving image in the living room startled him. He backed away. Then he assumed the classic border collie crouch.  He approached the screen warily. He gave it a sniff. Tilted his head and decided it was a silly useless thing. Well, yeah.

Ten minutes later, he lifted his leg against the back of a chair. I yelled “No!” and took him outside. I brought him in, made him go in the crate while I cleaned up the mess. I don’t know what Caesar says about housebreaking, I went with what has worked for me in the past. Mess cleaned up, I let him back out with no further recriminations. The past is the past.

He wandered around the house a bit.  I petted him. He found a comfy spot on the carpet and laid down. I tried to see how dirty his ears were (ugh!), whether that was a tick over his eye (nope, skin tag).  I found a few random lumps on his body  that I would ask the vet about.  I thought they were fine, but why waste all that time and money she spent in veterinary school?

I got up to get a drink of water for myself. I checked his bowl. He had emptied it again. If there was water available, he would drink it all. I was afraid his stomach would burst with all the water he drank or he would have another accident.

He did.

Even as I yelled “No!” again, my brain realized that he wasn’t disobeying my former no. He did not  pee where I had previously told him not to. He used a different spot. Technically correct. But still unacceptable. It would take a long time to housebreak him if we had to do this with every spot in the house.

I crated him. I cleaned up this second mess. Then an idea hit me. He had tried to obey my first correction, so maybe I should be more specific about where I did want him to go.

Huff was watching me. I gathered up the soiled paper towels from this mistake. I pulled the ones from the former mistake out of the trash. I put the whole mess into a plastic bag and  tied it shut. I went to the front door. I made eye contact with Huff, held up the bag, and said “These go outside.” I  opened the door and put the bag outside.



I Wonder . . . 

A bit later as I petted him, I ran through the possible reasons for these accidents:

His constant water consumption could mean thirst, which could mean diabetes. The vet should check for that.

Two accidents in less than an hour could mean incontinence. He was old; he might not have proper control. But I didn’t recall his former crate smelling of urine. He didn’t smell either.

I  had followed Caser’s introduction instructions so he shouldn’t be trying to mark this as his territory. I made it clear the place belonged to me. But who knows?



I Get It!

I settled on a lack of housebreaking. Especially after the television incident, I suspected he might never have been an inside dog. If  so, he would never have been taught any  indoor manners. In particular he would not understand the need to “go out.”

His behavior made sense now.

If you have been crated for long periods of time, when you are not crated, the smart move is to relieve yourself frequently. You never know when you will be summoned to the crate without a chance to empty your bladder.  So about every twenty minutes, that is what he did.

His copious water drinking might be a survival mechanism, too. If  you don’t know when you will be given water again, drink when you can, as much as you can. Then empty your bladder again.



Huff Gets It!

Later, I took Huff out for pre-bedtime bladder relief. He sniffed at the bag of shame outside the door.

The next day we went out for our morning walk. He sniffed at the bag a second time.

Midday, we went out again. He ignored the bag of shame. He looked straight forward. Likewise on our evening walk. Eyes forward. 

I put the bag in the trash bin for pick up and we did not speak of it again.