Help Needed With An Odd Dog Habit

OK … bear with me , this is going to be long and possibly TMI .

I have 3 Papillons and a Gordon Setter living under my roof , and have owned dogs for all of my 45 years , including showing and obedience training since 1982 . I have trained for our local obedience club , so I am not exactly an inexperienced owner , but the problem I am having with my 5 Y/O Pap , Gidget , has me at witt’s end .

She smears poop as a hobby .

She will back up against any vertical object (furniture , appliances , shoes …) and SQUEEZE out a tiny bit of poop and vigerously wipe her butt back and forth , smearing it all over . She has chronic diarrhea because of the constant straining . I have had her fully vetted several times - no worms , anal glands are normal , there is NO physical reason for this behavior . We have tried medication , I have switched her foord 4 times . Nothing has helped .

When she first began this habit , it was about 3 years ago . She would do it on occasion , and I could live with it . But it has become more frequent , and I am ready to pull my hair out . She has had a personality change as well , become very stand-offish with me , in fact I will go so far as to say she acts like I have abused her horribly , which I can assure you , I have NOT . She was basically my father’s dog (even tho she was bought by him for me for Xmas 2000) , and since he passed away May 7 , she has gotten 10-fold worse . Where she was doing it once every 2 or 3 days , she is now doing it 6 or 7 times a DAY .

I cannot contain her in an exercise pen because she backs up against the wire and oppos thru it , and wipes on the wire , whch is a BITCH to clean up . I have tried crating her , she wiped it on ALL THREE WALLS of the crate and pooped out thru the wire door . I an currently trying a suggestion I got to keep her on a lead , tied around my waist , so I am able to correct her as soon as she starts to poop .

Even tho she weighs in at only 4 and a half pounds , she is definitely thr alpha bitch in the house and absolutely BULLIES my 10 year old Setter . My vet and most trainers/behaviorists I have talked to think this is a donimance/marking thing .

If I cannot correct this habit , I will be forced to surrender her to a Papillon Rescue group , or , if they are not willing to take her (I will not sugar-coat her habit to make her more appealing) I will have to have her euthanized . I have asked everyone I know what they make of this porblem , so now I am turning it over to you guys , to see if anyone has any insight I might have missed elsewhere . Please … My sanity and possibly Gidget’s life hangs in the balance here .


You say that she acts like you abused her. Is it possible that she is being abused when you’re not around? Any neighbor kids have alone time with her, are you SURE another dog isn’t giving her a problem? Maybe it is territorial, anyway to compleatly quarentine her from the rest of the group, make her think she’s the only dog around for a few weeks?

My back yard is privacy fenced , and are never outside alone for any length of time . And since Dad’s death , I now live alone . The other dogs all get along fine with her ; the 3 Papillons are constantly buddied up , and the Gordon is just too mild-mannered to bother anyone , she would be more likely to want to adopt Gidget as her puppy .

Right now I am trying out a suggestion I got from someone on my Papillon e-loop , I have her leash tied around my waist and she has to go everywhere with me . And I do mean EVERYWHERE . :dubious: So far so good . She has even made brief eye-contact with me a time or two !!


What an awful problem. Poor Gidget and poor you.

I was going to suggest that you consult a really good dog behaviourist … Patricia McConnell does phone consultations:

My experience has been that dogs who find it necessary to bully other dogs in order to prove their status, are actually not particularly dominant dogs, but are insecure bullies.

I have one very dominant dog, he’s head of my small pack, but he’s not a bully about it … in fact he’s very quiet and gets on well with other dogs. But he’s so sure of his status that he doesn’t need to make a fuss.

Since your Papillion has got worse since your father died, I wonder if she’s worried about the change in pack structure and isn’t coping. She might feel that she needs to be alpha, but doesn’t have the character or resources to do it. Her dominance might be not an inherent quality, but a desperate attempt to take responsibility she’s not really willing to handle.

I’d consult a behaviourist, but I might also try the “nothing in life is free” method to make it clear to Gidget that you are head of the pack and that she doesn’t need to try and hold that position. Possibly if she’s clear in her own mind about the stucture she won’t feel quite so desperate about middening.

You might also try the methods described in this discussion, which is pretty much a more sophisticated version of the NLIF method:

And as an aside, would those “dog diapers” used for bitches on heat be of any use in your case to remove some of the burden of cleaning up?

Good luck … with Gidget’s little problem I think rehoming is problematic, and I admire your committment to her. My very old dog is often incontinent, so I know how unpleasant the constant clean-up is.