House training a five year old terrier 'Rescue'

Posted by Sheafe
Sep 30, 2011
You could REALLY help us with a behavior problem that came with
our Cairn Terrier 'rescue' animal who was raised in a cage for breeding
purposes and never housetrained.

She was four when we got her. We've tried in every way to get her
housebroken, but she isn't consistent in her behavior and frequently
... when she manages to "escape" into the carpeted portions of our
house...uses the carpet.

She gives absolutely no "warning" signal.

She is walked regularly, exercised both on and off leash, has
companionship most days, all day. Accepts her "cage" which is kept in the
kitchen... shut at night to prevent her from relieving herself on the wooden
kitchen floor..... even though taken for a walk just prior to 'bedtime.'

Rewarded for using the outdoors, she doesn't "get" the idea.
Has the terrier instinct for "doing what she pleases". Only after
months of practice will she Sit, Stay.... and then only at feeding time. Will
not Come, in spite of much effort, unless a 'treat' is promised.... and even
then.. if there is some other attraction... does not respond.

There ought to be a special manual for the breed, with a section
written for correcting bad habits in 'rescued' animals.

Any thoughts?
Posted by KOPCaroline
Oct 3, 2011
Hey Sheafe,

Understandable that you're stressed out! Would you mind explaining how you've tried toilet training her? Do you use pads, just let her out often, have you started her off in one room and gradually let her into more of the house? If we know how you've tried training her, we might be able to give better advice.

Off hand, though, I've heard the most success stories by far with the confinement and gradual expansion of house access method. You keep your dog confined to one, SMALL room in the house - the laundry usually works really well, or a guest bathroom. A baby gate or some other barrier is good because they can see out and interact with you, but not actually get out of the room. Keep the dog confined, taking it out only to go STRAIGHT outside and use the bathroom. Make a lot of fuss about being happy if she goes outside, you can even give her a treat. Once she's got it to the point that she doesn't have accidents in her room, let her out into the immediately adjacent room - still the rest of the house is blocked off. You keep on with this method, so you give her access to more of the house as she goes for a few days without having an accident in whatever part of the house she's in. If she has an accident, you back up a step - block her out of the room she had the accident in for about 2-3 days, then try the new area again. Most dogs get it in a couple weeks. You just have to be sure that the first thing that happens (the VERY FIRST THING) when you let her out is going outside! Dont even stop to pick something up!

Reward the correct behaviour, and give stern verbal discipline when an accident happens (moreso if you actually see it happen, its hard to discipline a dog for something you missed).

Try not to get discouraged, 5 years old is not too late to house train!

Its a start, like I said, hopefully we can offer better advice if we know your actual home training methods
Posted by Sheafe
Oct 3, 2011
You ask about methods used before. It would perhaps confuse the situation to list them. Why? Because we're about to move.... to an apartment living
situation.... entirely different than the one we have now, with immediate
outdoor (patio) access.

She'll need to be re-trained, from the outset.

So, I think our plan should be just like the one you outline in your reply:
Small confined space. A "spot" to use. Immediately on getting up in AM,
take outside.... etc. (We do take her outside now.... after urinating, she
is fed. Stays outside until she defecates (unless, on the late evening walk
the night before, she already has.)

We try to remain consistent with what has worked in the past. But, again,
we never get a "signal" of any sort. Our previous Cairn went to the door.
Wish that were the situation now.

Will report back in the time after our move. Thanks for your help.

(Another major hurdle to get over: the dog comes "only" for a treat.
Doesn't obey: "COME !" )
Posted by KOPCaroline
Oct 5, 2011
Hey Sheafe,

Good luck on the move! And with the re-training; I do think that will work best in the new house, especially if you're going to use the patio as a bathroom area. It will let your dog get used to the new house gradually, and re-learn the rules!

For obeying the "come" command -
Keep using treats to begin with - when your dog is away from you, crouch down, hold the treat out, and say "come". When she starts moving toward you, repeat "good girl, come" while drawing the treat back toward you and hiding it in your hand. Keep repeating the word "come" as you're working with this. Gradually, start crouching down and just hold your hand out as if you have a treat (when you dont, actually) and repeat the exact same routine. The key with training any dog to a new command is to repeat the key command word as much as possible. You start out with treats so your dog gets the idea that doing the action results in a reward, and you always start out training this sort of thing at home, not in public where you may become frustrated when she doesn't listen. If going from treat to no treat doesnt work, try substituting a toy instead, holding that out in your hand.

Eventually you should be able to just crouch down, pat your leg, and in a really excited voice say "come here!" and have her respond well

Either way, don't give your dog the treat until she's all the way where you want her and sitting nicely. It may pay off, in the beginning, to hold her collar once she's sitting in front of you, say "good girl, come" again, then give her the treat - BUT, keep a hold of her so that she can't take the treat and run off immediately. If she takes it and gets up, say "No, sit" again and make her stay until you say its ok to leave. This may work better if you keep a couple more treat kibbles in your back pocket to give her when she responds well. Don't just let her get away with grabbing the treat and bolting off - thats not a proper response to "come".

I hope this makes sense, I can clarify any points that dont And other users may have a different method that will work better with your dog. But let us know how things go!
Posted by Sheafe
Oct 31, 2011
It's been weeks, we're barely moved in, but our Cairn terrier has been
making a good adjustment to the move.... in regard to the house training.

However, she still doesn't give any "indicators" of needing to go out.
We are diligent in taking her out to pee before breakfast, then soon after
breakfast to defecate... which she does... at a "spot" down the road.

? How do we achieve having her warn us of need to go ?

In prior message, he misinterpreted our setup... We gave up a patio
outside the kitchen door... when we moved to an apartment with 11 other
units. Although on the ground floor, we cannot just let her outside ....she
must be leashed at all times.

Which makes the housetraining a bit more involved, but I think we're
making headway.

With the work involved in a major move, however, we haven't begun to
get Libby to "come".... although she readily reponds to "treat"... when
we're hard-pressed to have her come from whereever in the apartment
she happens to have gone.

Any comments are appreciated. And thank you for writing.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Nov 1, 2011
Hey Sheafe,

Congrats on the move, hope everything is going as smoothly as possible

As far as your dog signalling when she needs to go out - what happens if you don't take her out at a normal time, when you routinely take her out? Try delaying a typical trip outside and see what happens - be sure to keep an eye on her, though, maybe keep her confined to the room with your front door - so that she has opportunity to go to it and display any kind of behaviour indicating she needs to toilet. She may even just sit in front of you and look at you, or vocalize some how. Keeping her confined to one room while you're testing this will keep her from having an accident somewhere else in the house.

I think your work on the "come" command will improve, especially if she's already responding to a verbal command to come back to you. Try saying "treat, come" every time you are in the situation where she will come back from somewhere in the apartment.

Hope this makes sense, and helps you somewhat!
Posted by confinedspacerescue
Dec 29, 2011
Yes thats nice move to give training to a dog at home . I would like to prefer that trick with my dog.