jeevdawg has lately been experiencing some trouble in the housebreaking department, and I am hoping that one of the Teeming Millions might be able to help jeevgurl and I out.
jeevdawg was adopted from the pound, having been placed there after being found on the mean streets of Chicago last winter. We know nothing of his history prior to his being picked up on the street. jeevgurl adopted him several months before I met her. Other than an initial instance (where he pooped on the floor immediately after being brought home), he’s had very few troubles in the housebreaking department. While I won’t say that accidents never occurred, they were very few and far between, and tended to occur when we had been absent for an unusually long period of time (in excess of 8 hours).
jeevgurl and I started dating approximately seven months ago, and I’ve been spending pretty nearly every weekend for the last six or so months at jeevgurl’s place, since my building doesn’t allow dogs. After some initial adjustments, jeevdawg has accepted and welcomes my presence.
jeevdawg is left alone at home while jeevgurl is at work. Generally speaking, he seems to be fine at home. He’s confined to an area consisting of the dining room and kitchen, and has access to his water dish while he’s home alone. We usually don’t fill the food dish after his breakfast, but we do leave some treat-filled toys, like Kongs and a talking treatball, to occupy him.
Although, as I said, he doesn’t usually have any housebreaking incidents, he’s lately had several, and we’ve come home to be greeted by puddles of urine. We can’t seem to figure out why this is happening. We asked the vet, who said that it appears to be behavioral, not medical. (This was just a phone consultation, though, not an actual examination.) The vet suggested that maybe he has too much freedom and we need to confine him more. This is difficult both geographically (because of the way the rooms are laid out) and economically (jeevgurl can’t afford to buy many more gates to create a smaller pen for the dog, and while I can afford it easily, jeevgurl won’t let me pay for it, which is a whole separate discussion.)
Anyway, the theories we’ve been bandying around are as follows:
During the winter months, we’ve been letting him have unsupervised playtime in the enclosed backyard. He has taken to letting us know that he wants to go out, play, and bark at strangers by jumping on the back door, and we usually accomodate him. Perhaps this has led him to be less inclined to hold it. We’re trying a new routine where we only let him out when we choose to, and will keep him on leash until he pees, after which he can have off-leash playtime. We just started this, so we’ll see how it goes.
Separation anxiety. He had early problems with separation anxiety when jeevgurl adopted him, which is why the sofa cushions are slightly less than intact. But he seemed to have gotten over that. We’re wondering, though, if he has bonded with me to the extent that my extended absence from home (since I’m usually not at her place during the week) has led to housebreaking problems. It seems far-fetched, but we’re at straws here.
Crating jeevdawg while we’re gone is not a really good option for us. He is completely afraid of his crate (and I would be too, it’s kind of more like a travel crate than an open cage, so he can’t see much except out the front. But I didn’t buy it. ). We think that between his time in the pound and whatever happened with his previous guardians, he’s developed a crate phobia. Plus, we know that he is physically capable of holding it, and don’t think that keeping him confined in one corner of the house for 8 hours a day is necessarily good for him. He’s an active dog (terrier/lab mix), and needs to move his legs.