Bladder stand-off
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  • Hello all!
    I've got an eight month old bitch, Scout. We are having lots of fun with training, and she gets tons of exercise. So far she's been a delightful handful-and-a-half… but in the last few days we've run into a bit of a sticky wicket with house training, and just wondering if anyone else has run into this particular issue. I'm probably going to go overboard on detail, but am hoping for detailed feedback!

    Every day our routine is I get up at around 5, feed the cats, putter around for a bit as I wake up, then get her out of the crate about 5:20, 5:30, collar on, out the door on a leash, potty in one area of the yard, work out for an hour, feeding, then tethered on mat with toys for a couple hours (or crate if she's squirrelly). The workout might be a parkour-style play & walk, a short run next to the bike plus scent work or other training games, or just a long walk. Often the workout happens somewhere that necessitates a car ride, first. Sometimes if I have a late working night, I'll sleep an extra cycle and get up at 6:30, which doesn't affect the routine otherwise.

    In the last four days, she's refusing to pee in order to relieve her bladder in that morning potty break. She's eager to get out and do the fun thing, and she's just coming out of her first heat cycle so she's discovered the joys of marking out in the world, so she no longer sees the utility in the morning pit stop.
    The first day this happened, we stood around in the potty spot in the yard for twenty minutes, then took laps around the yard (on the theory she just needed a little physical action to wake her bladder up) for another twenty minutes, and then I gave up. I knew she'd pee as soon as we got to a novel area, and figured I'd wait until after her heat cycle to do any "enforcement", for now I figured I'd just work on reinforcing the potty "command" with treats and praise when she did pee. So I put her in the back seat (harness/belted this time, in cooler weather I crate her, but I'm overly sensitive about the heat and humidity here and the crate feels stifling in seconds). We went two blocks to the farm store (dogs welcome, potty area next to the parking lot. I parked, went to get her out, and she was peeing on the seat. I "no potty!"'ed and scooped her out onto the grass, but of course she was done peeing.

    Day 2 of the standoff, she again refuses to potty in the yard, so we aborted the routine and went back in the house. I handed her off to my husband so I could go to work, with plans to try again in an hour. She was tethered next to him while he worked, on her mat. She waited about twenty minutes, then went and peed on our other dog's bed.

    Day 3 she again refuses to pee, and I finally catch a clue that this is a pattern, so we went back in the house and back in the crate. I or my husband took her out every hour on the hour for between fifteen and forty minutes, all day until midnight. She refused to pee. We tried standing in the potty spot for the whole time, tried walking laps around the yard, tried running laps, tried simple training games, she would either stare off at a gnat two blocks away if we were just standing there, or would try to pull toward the street, or would do whatever I asked, except she would. Not. Pee. Or poop. Or drink water. All day long. Finally at midnight I crated her and went to sleep, figuring that she'd either cry if she got desperate, and I could get up to take her out, or she'd pee on herself and then we'd have that issue to contend with, but either way I figured she could live with her choice for a few hours. Her bladder didn't feel distended and she wasn't uncomfortable with me palpating for it.

    Day 4: I took her out again at five, and we stood around for ten minutes, walked around the yard for twenty, then stood in the yard for another ten, and 43 minutes in, she finally peed. She about half emptied her bladder, I cheered like an idiot the whole time and gave her a whole jerky strip, then we went on a run and she did great. I fed her when I got home, but she still wasn't interested in water. My husband took her and the big dog out for a long walkies later that day and she peed and pooped normally then, too, and drank a bunch of water when she got home.

    Today is Day 5. No morning peeing. We set up to do the whole thing all over again, and every hour one or the other of us has taken her out, and she won't pee. My husband just took the 4:30 attempt, and he just called me to report that we achieved pee, and he treated/praised her and was taking her straight out on a walk. So this time it only took most of the day. Hopefully tomorrow it'll be even faster?

    I have talked to her breeder about it, but just wanted to share the bladder show-down in case anyone else has had this kind of battle. In case anyone is concerned, I'm acutely aware of bladder heath concerns, so we'll be closely monitoring her for any symptoms of irritation or infection from holding it. I did consider that issue, but there are going to be times when I'm not going to be able to take her out for a fun romp, and times when I'm not going to be able to offer her hourly pee breaks, or times when we're travelling and there's one specific place I need her to pee when and where I tell her to because there might not be a comfy opportunity for a while. She is JUST coming out of her heat cycle, and I would NOT have chosen to have a show-down about anything while she was in heat, but she peed in the house and car, so... back to basic potty training boot camp.

    Off to search the forum for potty training mishap stories!

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  • Just coming out of heat is suggestive. Maybe something related to that. No chance she has a UTI and the pee burns her?

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  • I don't have any reason to think so. She didn't have any changes in her peeing pattern the day before, and her pee doesn't smell. She doesn't act uncomfortable when she does pee, and seems specific about marking, which started about halfway through.
    She specifically likes to poop in front of one neighbor's house on a certain walk we sometimes take. On the part of the lap around the yard when we were heading for the street, like the direction we head when we're heading out on that walk, she would pull toward the street and start to relax in anticipation of pooping. When we then turned around and headed back for the potty spot, she would clench up and refuse. This dog is very clear and specific in her intentions ;0).

    I am sure the heat is connected, behaviorally. She's just discovered "marking" behaviors, and we always romp in the morning. She doesn't do anything she's not motivated to do, and given the option, presumably she's more motivated to get romping and marking than wasting time or pee. She's funny!

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  • It isn't surprising to find a Basenji is willful. In my experience, they will absolutely refuse to do what you want them to do if they have decided it isn't on their agenda at the moment. The more pressure, the less likely they will comply, once you activate their "stubborn" button. I even wrote a haiku about it:

    Stupid, f*cking dog,
    Has not peed this morning yet
    And I want breakfast!

    I wrote that after a rainy morning walk. ;)

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  • Ha! I'm glad I had practice working with wild animals first, who have not a single f*keth to give, in re: a human's desires ;0). Our dogo went through his baby brat stage around nine months, so this seems about right.

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  • If it was my girl, I would have her checked for an UTI or vaginal infection…. especially if she was just in season.....

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  • It's good advice! Fortunately for our critters, dad's a vet and husband's a microbiologist, so we are keeping a close eye on her, health-wise. I have a call into her local vet, and I'll keep you posted if anything comes up positive on that count or medical stuff is advised.
    Behaviorally speaking, no difference today. Still refusing, still going out every hour for a fifteen minute tour. I'm concerned about it, but she's getting plenty of outdoor time–actually more than she normally does--and is getting exercised, etc. We've rewarded her like crazy with praise, food, and immediate walk/run/play when she does pee, and I can't think of any other reason she'd be refusing except stubbornness or an infection. She's peed in the yard every morning on schedule since she got here, until halfway through her heat.

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  • First Basenji's

    @eeeefarm:

    It isn't surprising to find a Basenji is willful. In my experience, they will absolutely refuse to do what you want them to do if they have decided it isn't on their agenda at the moment. The more pressure, the less likely they will comply, once you activate their "stubborn" button. I even wrote a haiku about it:

    Stupid, f*cking dog,
    Has not peed this morning yet
    And I want breakfast!

    I wrote that after a rainy morning walk. ;)

    I R Laughing now!!! U R Funny!!! can relate to the deep emotion in the haiku…..:)

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  • First Basenji's

    Mixie
    after reading your post, I really don't know of a different approach. You seem to have it covered. It is hard to be writer and then a reader of a detailed report. Some things are missed and being there is different too. The sentences that stood out for me were when you mentioned she was squirrely after the pee, something there either the outside place is too messy for her, how big is that place, in heat the girls act out differently and may want something different, ie: new place to relieve so she can announce "her coming of age…". and though she does not drink too much, consider the last water intake vs how long she holds it.? You did what I would have done or even suggested in that you put her back in crate when no pee....So, as of today, what has changed or what have you done or noticed about her pottying??? Very interesting really if she does not have a UTI or menstrual cramps ?????

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  • @mixie:

    It's good advice! Fortunately for our critters, dad's a vet and husband's a microbiologist, so we are keeping a close eye on her, health-wise. I have a call into her local vet, and I'll keep you posted if anything comes up positive on that count or medical stuff is advised.
    Behaviorally speaking, no difference today. Still refusing, still going out every hour for a fifteen minute tour. I'm concerned about it, but she's getting plenty of outdoor time–actually more than she normally does--and is getting exercised, etc. We've rewarded her like crazy with praise, food, and immediate walk/run/play when she does pee, and I can't think of any other reason she'd be refusing except stubbornness or an infection. She's peed in the yard every morning on schedule until since she got here, until halfway through her heat.

    Keep in mind that with an infection, many times it will not show up when they test the urine… I would have to say it has something to do with being in heat.... and the fact that she is a baby....

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  • Thanks, guys! It does seem behavioral… she refused all day today, and I was starting to get really worried, so around five we stood around the pee spot for fifteen minutes, then took a few laps around the yard, then on one lap around instead of staying in the side of the yard where we have them pee, I crossed the invisible line into my neighbor's yard. She immediately zoomy-zoomed around and peed what looked like a pint ;0). We had a party then went on a quick run, and she marked a few times like normal.
    If she feels like she won by peeing three feet to the left, I guess that's a fine compromise ;0). We'll see in the morning if "letting her get away" with peeing over the line works.
    We may give her a course of Cipro just to be on the safe side. Her local vet thinks it sounds behavioral, but we do have the abx on hand. I'll see how it goes tomorrow.

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  • Well, I think I ruined last night's success by being too obvious about walking her across the line and telling her to pee, haha. This morning, as we came out the side door, she pulled toward the street, and leaned back against the leash, I had to tow her down into and around the yard. About halfway along she started walking without resistance, but she wasn't looking for a place to pee, just kind of staring off into lala land. I included that bit of the neighbor's yard in the potty lap and I think the official sanction made it lose its charm.

    There was a question about the size of the area, our yard is around a tenth of an acre. I don't have any garden or flowerbed to avoid, so she can pee anywhere in the yard. We've been using one area, the back right quarter, as the "pee place" for potty training purposes, but we'll walk all over and around the yard during these sessions and she could pee anywhere. All I care about is that it's on my property so that it's somewhere I can take her quickly, wearing a bathrobe, and that she pees in a relatively brief period of time when presented with the opportunity.

    At this point, if she doesn't have a bladder infection, she's going to give herself one with all the retention, so I think we're going to start her on a course of Cipro. I'd love feedback if anyone else has had this kind of stand-off, or has any other ideas about how to motivate her or trick her into thinking she WANTS to pee quickly in the yard!!!

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  • I'm guessing your yard isn't fenced? So letting her loose to do her own thing is off the table?

    I think if I had this problem I might try just walking her first thing instead of continuing to make an issue of it. If you go straight out for a walk (your idea, not hers), rather than ending up using that option after an unsuccessful attempt at home, it may alleviate the current situation. If you continue to insist she go at home, there is a danger of it becoming ingrained to resist going in the yard.

    Also, some dogs do not want to use their own home area as a bathroom. Many would prefer to go elsewhere, and do so if they have the choice. (back in the day when dogs often ran loose, it was common for them to go use the neighbour's yard for the purpose). Perhaps sexual maturity has resulted in triggering the instinct not to leave a calling card at home base.

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  • Lucky in 25+ years of Basenjis, I have never had this problem….. I would try the meds and then after that course see what happens. If it is medical, I would say that after 3 or 4 days you should see a difference.

    Are you planning to have her spayed?

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  • Yard is not fenced, it's a rental. We've done lots of off-lead work under distraction, but we've got wildlife, loose dogs and cats, etc everywhere right around our house, and a fair amount of traffic on the street. And, honestly, I don't even trust fencing to contain a dog with this kind of motivation and agility. Our last house was fenced all around, with a heavy blackberry hedge to boot. I found out ten years in that our old dog was sneaking out of the yard through an invisible hole behind the garage, visiting the neighbor kid, and making it back into the yard unnoticed, sometimes in a two-minute window. We never knew he was doing it, the kids just told us years later that he'd come over to play. He was with me 100% of his life, with the exception of five to ten minute potty breaks in the fenced yard. I never, ever took my eyes off him, and I didn't even start doing that until he was three or four. Where there's a will, there's a way, and I like a dog with a lot of will ;0).

    I wouldn't mind if she held it to pee on the workout, but she does not. I'm not always going to be able to work her out first thing in the morning; sometimes I'm travelling and someone else is handling her, sometimes we're all travelling and she won't get exercised until we get to a good place for it, sometimes I get called out to work at 4 am, have the flu, etc. The first few days she refused to pee, when I didn't immediately walk her, she peed in the car and house.
    So I guess on the days I can't walk her in the morning, she could remain crated all day until I'm free in the afternoon or evening for exercise and just hold it if she refuses in the AM potty break. That seems unpleasant to me; if she would relieve herself in the yard, she can have some relative freedom of movement, play with the other dog, etc during the day as we've been doing.

    @tanza:

    Lucky in 25+ years of Basenjis, I have never had this problem….. I would try the meds and then after that course see what happens. If it is medical, I would say that after 3 or 4 days you should see a difference.

    Are you planning to have her spayed?

    I haven't quite decided what to do about altering. Ideally I'd prefer to do a simple hysterectomy and leave her endocrine system intact, but my vet here isn't sure she wants to do it, and it'll be a while until we're in an area where there are vets who are familiar with OSS options. Depending on how she matures it might also be fun to show her, not as a breeding prospect but just for the practice and fun of it. Either way, I'm not into pediatric spaying, so it'll be probably a year before we do it, if we did.

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  • Sometimes you just have to figure out what works, at least in the short term. Would ten minutes around the block walk get the required results? If so, I would just make that work until conditions are right to really deal with the problem. (If it's entirely up to you, get up ten minutes earlier if need be! Roust her out of bed at 4 a.m. if that's what it takes!) Dogs don't think like we do, even Basenjis. It will not occur to her that she is uncomfortable because she didn't comply with your wishes. She will just decide it isn't worth "holding it" and being uncomfortable, and oops, there goes your house training. This is one issue that simply isn't worth trying to "out stubborn" her on. Best to finesse it as well as you can, and you may be pleasantly surprised when the problem goes away all by itself.

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  • @eeeefarm:

    Sometimes you just have to figure out what works, at least in the short term. Would ten minutes around the block walk get the required results? If so, I would just make that work until conditions are right to really deal with the problem.

    Well, when conditions are right, what would you do? I definitely see the logic in just sucking it up, etc., and early on I was just getting up at 3:30 and running her regardless. But this isn't the safest of areas, and it occurred to me on a stormy pre-dawn that should something scary happen, let's just say she is not the kind of dog whose company wards off danger. I never, ever, EVER worried about going for a jog at night with my dogo. This is also the kind of area where people still let their dogs run around loose at night. One of the last times I went on a pre-dawn run with my dogo, we came around a corner and face-to-face with a trailer-park pack of southern yard scrappers that IMMEDIATELY came after us, en masse. Now, I'm not afraid of much, but that was kind of hair-raising.

    Up til now, if I didn't feel comfortable, or able, to take her on an outside romp, we could pee in the yard and then do relay games or something in the house for exercise. And what if we're in a hotel and there's one tiny patch of outside she can use? Though it does seem to make sense that maybe if it's a non-issue where she pees, at the moment I really need her to pee where we are, it won't be an issue.

    I'm concerned that I could, say, get her to pee in the front yard, then she'd hold it until we went around the block, then she would hold it until she got a half-mile out, etc. That she'll learn that the longer she holds it, the more of a romp she gets.

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  • @mixie:

    I'm concerned that I could, say, get her to pee in the front yard, then she'd hold it until we went around the block, then she would hold it until she got a half-mile out, etc. That she'll learn that the longer she holds it, the more of a romp she gets.

    That can definitely be a problem. Best strategy is not to immediately turn around and go home. Yes, you are in a hurry, but go at least a short distance further, and make something else your signal that it is time to head back. e.g. you are walking slowly, you say excitedly "let's go!!" and you jog or run back home, making it as exciting a prospect as possible. If she enjoys this, it could work into being her reward for the pee, but don't get ahead of yourself.

    As far as safety is concerned, I don't know how to address that. In my neighbourhood I wouldn't worry, but in any case, being very aware of your surroundings is always the best defense. If you see something you don't like, you could perhaps call out to an invisible companion. Or start talking to yourself like a crazy person. ;)

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  • Well, I mean, safety-wise, I am aware, and capable, and do have weapons and can act like a nut, but I very, very, VERY much prefer to avoid any kind of confrontation in the first place. A lady with a big, bad (looking) dog doesn't invite human approach, and we were able to stand-down the yard scrapper pack. Scout would not have worked with me that way, she would either have launched herself at them, or attempted to exit stage left at top speed, and I wouldn't have been fast enough to run.
    And it's not that I think something IS likely to happen, really, but I'm just really aware of what scenarios invite it, and putting myself out in dark places or being on foot where I know there are sketchy, loose dogs just doesn't seem prudent, even if I feel fairly capable of dealing with those kinds of threats. This is a poor, rural area with a higher crime rate than I'd like. There aren't always working street lights and there are lots of abandoned houses, long stretches of jungle-y thickets between sketchy apartment complexes, dodgy trailer parks, etc. I don't worry in daylight hours because there are people around, but I'd rather not be out in the dark when the meth heads, yard dogs, and skunks are ;0).
    @eeeefarm:

    That can definitely be a problem. Best strategy is not to immediately turn around and go home.

    Unless it's the actual middle of the night, there's always at least a small romp post-potty.

    Update:
    Just took her out for this hour's break, and took your suggestion about the short run. We circled the front yard and neighboring property twice, and she peed out on the far side of the neighboring property, so we had a puppy party and took a run around a couple blocks. What I'd like to communicate is that the faster she pees, nearer the house, the longer/more fun workout we can have, but clearly I'm not imparting that idea in a way that's clicking with her. If she pees right away, we can pack up in the car and go somewhere fun for a real workout. If she spends twenty five minutes not peeing and then reluctantly peeing in the neighbor's yard, we only have time for a two-block circle jog.

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  • Yeah, I wouldn't want to have to deal with that scenario either. Is there anyone else in your home that can take her out after daylight in the event that you must leave early? Just a very short walk to give her the opportunity to relieve herself?

    On occasion I have to take off well before dawn, and rather than disturb my sleeping dog and husband, I hire a dog walker to show up a bit later to give Perry his morning constitutional. As this isn't a regular issue, it's a relatively cheap & easy solution. (Perry will pee readily enough in the backyard, but pooping is another matter!)

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