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    House Training Issues with Shelter Dogs
    etbm2003 posted:
    About two weeks ago my husband and I adopted an American bulldog mix from a shelter. The vet thinks he's about 7 months old; he has no health conditions and was neutered last week. It's clear that he lived with people at some point--he's well taken care of and knows how to sit on command--but 9 days in the shelter with no access to the outdoors have wreaked havoc with any house training he may have had. We set up a small, empty room in our house as his and have not left him alone in it for more than four hours at a stretch. We take him outside about once an hour when we're home and he gets treats for going to the bathroom. He has a bush that he uses as his restroom and we clean up the area around it frequently. The problem is that although he understands that it's a good thing to "go" outside, he doesn't get that it's a bad thing to go in his room. If we catch him at it we startle him and take him right outside; we clean up the messes with an enzymatic cleaner and don't scold him. But when he's left alone he'll go in the room, almost guaranteed. We tried putting him in a crate that's appropriate for his size, but he pooped in it. He doesn't go anywhere else in the house, nor does he mark. He just seems to think of his room like his kennel at the shelter--where he was forced to toilet--and we're not sure how to change that.
    Bernadine Cruz, DVM responded:
    You are fabulous for adopting a shelter pup. Wow, it sounds as though you are doing everything correctly...outside frequently, no scolding, positive reinfrorecemt, restricted access to the what. I would be sure that there are no internal parasites. Even if his stool appears normal, there is a chance of internal parasites. If a sample has not been checked, take a sample to your veterinarian. When you aren't home to take him out every hour on the hour, how long is he confined in his room. Often it is recommended that a young dog be left alone for 1 hour per month plus 7 months, he should be able to 'hold it' for 7 hours, but we are all so different. You may need to make his private suite even smaller, so he is less inclined to soil in the room. If it is too big, he can merely go in the other corner and not have to live next to it....try the crate again. If worse comes to worse, there are indoor pet elimination products that are basically a plastic tray with artificial turf...he poops on that rather than the floor. Patience and of luck.
    etbm2003 replied to Bernadine Cruz, DVM's response:
    Thanks so much for getting back to me! His stool was tested and is clean. He's usually in his room for 4-5 hours at a stretch on weekdays. I think we may need to find him a smaller crate because the kennel we used is big enough for him to do more than turn around in; twice in one day he pooped inside and stepped in it--lots of fun cleaning between his toes! I think he may also not like the wire mesh because he's a cuddler and likes to sleep curled up against something. A plastic crate may be better. We'll keep trying!

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