Teach an old dog new tricks?

My Squiggy is wonderful and I love him to death!
BUT, his origional home was not so great and it has left him with one outstanding behavior that I just hate.
He will pee/poop on the floor if I am not home. He is fine when I am home and lets me know (kinda) that it is time to go potty. But I can not let him have run of the house when I am away. He also shows no "guilt" when he does have accidents while I am away.
Here is some back ground:
-He was never housetrained and I got him when he was 3.
-He was left alone (weekends? weeks?) at his previous home.
-He was never crated and HATES the crate now. So I have him confined to "his rooms" when I am gone. This is a sitting room and kitchen, I use walk through gates.
-He is fine being told, when I am leaving, to "go to his room".
-He is no more distructive (not much) than normal in his room.
-I tried, over a period of time, to crate him. And he would get so worked up he would explode (#1 EVERYWHERE) in the crate and chew on the bars and make his teeth bleed.
-He was probably abused (pretty darn positive) at his former home. So, I have a hard time justifying coming home to "beat him" when I see pee or poop. That is just not right when he has no clue what he did wrong.
-He does not pee and poop all the time when i am gone.
-I am only gone a maximum of 4-5 hrs at a time.
-I have had him 2 yrs this November 2nd

My question is, what can I try? We are managing now, but I would love crate train him (it would make finding a dog sitter easier)
Has anyone crate trained a "tasmanian devil"?
Has anyone had experience in training an older dog?

**Dont worry, if we fail, I would never get rid of him. And he is amazingly good considering his upbringing. He is still a bit of a nervous dog, but he gets better every day.
And if you cant tell…I love his little quirky skinny self.:p

Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks, but it takes a lot of time, practice, patience and persistence on your part. How is he with treats, smoked bones, favourite stuff, etc? I used beef bones with my Sugar to sloooowly get her acclimatized to being in the crate. She still has a way to go, but she is quiet when she can't see me or she's in the car. At home she's okay if she has something to do in the crate. I started by feeding her in the crate only with the door open. I put the food in her crate and let her go in on her own to feed. Yes, she got pretty hungry waiting for the food to come to her, it didn't so she had to go in to get it. I progressed to closing the door but not locking it, then to giving her a favourite beef bone in her crate and locking the door while she was eating it. Again, this took a loong time. But this may give you at least a beginning point. Also, try a different type of crate. Different plastics, or wire crates may give you a bit of relief. If Sugar can see me she will still 'dig' in her crate and burn her paws, but if she can't see me she settles right down. Good luck!!

Is there no way that he can have access to the yard?….

@tanza:

Is there no way that he can have access to the yard?….

I am thinking about getting a dog door to the yard, but I worry because I have cats (so I automatically have to upgrade/$ to one of the magnetic ones) and my fence is only 4-4.5 ft high (however he has never jumped this one). I would like to try a door, but I hate to spend the money and it not work out. I went through 3 sets of gates before I found these…
Not that I mind spending - if it will work.
The crate we tried was ancient and missing the bottom tray, so it was a hassle. It was also too big and open, I think he would like a smaller "den" type place since he loves to lay under beds and coffee tables. I cant put a blanket over one because he also loves to make blanket confetti:)
I think I will look for a smaller (used-incase it doesnt work out) crate and set it up so it is like a little "hide away" for him. Maybe just leave it up and give him treats in it and see how things progress.

He really is a great dog for all he has been though and I am lucky that this is his only real issue and that we can manage it.

Christy, we use an expen instead of a crate. At least if he had an accident he could get away from it. Maybe that would help.

It sounds like a behavioral issue. He sounds like he goes back to his old settings when you are not around.

I would suggest restricting his movement when you are gone and go with a smaller kennel that is more like a den, covered and small enought that he would have to sit in his own mess if he goes. They typically sleep all day and the small space will make him feel safe while you are away. It may be a little stressful at first, but they really sleep all day. I wouldnt put any bedding in it until you see that he can hold it first, then add it as a special something for him. Add a few chew bones to help him use up his stress energy.

Get him excited when you get home and go directly out for a pee. Feed him next, and walk until he poops. Get him used to the idea of a routine that gives him praises when he does it right. LOTS of potty praising!! Maybe even treats!!

I would suggest the travel kennels because they are cheap. You shouldnt have to use it for long. Once the behavior stops, you might want to move him to a larger wire kennel (cover with a blanket) that he can stand in, but not much larger. Once he is cool in that and keeps the routine, then expand the space more.

It is important to give him guidelines that he understands and praises for goals he can attain. Mine grasp this idea very well.

A very regular potty routine will be essential. Anytime he is out of the kennel, immediately outside to "go potty".

When you are home, pick a time every day that you take him to pee. Not when he tells you he needs to go. Beat him to the punch and tell him to "go Potty", then once he goes, take a walk for the treat.

you will need to give attention to the potty time when you are at home to establish it is important so he will know it is also important when you are not home.

Ignore the accidents, dont scold, just clean it up and stick to your routine. He will slowly adapt to the new guidelines and follow your cues.

Also, its important to make your leaving and returning as calm as possible.
Often owners will "poor baby, I have to go to work now" in a sad tone.
This makes the dog think that this is a bad thing and they should be concerned.
Same with greeting when the owners arrrive home…its all " momma's home" high energy." That just pumps the dog up as well.
You want the kind of calmness that you have when you walk out to the garage to get a tool and then come back.
Its not a big deal...same with your going and coming home.
It should be as matter-of-fact as you can make it.

I would suggest working in very small increments with him & the whole crate thing. I wouldn't even THINK of closing the door until he voluntarily goes in for more than 5/10 minutes.

You might be able to start with a few seconds in the crate…& making it a place that he WANTS to go into instead of a place that he HAS to go into will make a big difference. Pick a VERY HIGH value treat that he doesn't get any place else...you ONLY give him that special treat in his crate. Maybe even a special toy in there too. Remove him from the crate AND the treat & start again. Start with just a few seconds..and build from there. Once he's comfortable & wanting to go into the crate try closing the door (without locking it) for a few seconds & remove him & the treat right away. Don't give him a chance to "lose it" or go "Taz" on you.

All of this may take months...because eventually you can move up to closing the door & leaving for a few seconds...then add on a minute..then a few minutes..etc. Again, this could take many months depending on how afraid he is.

Good luck!

It's taken me almost a year to get Sugar to the point she is at now-I did say that took me a loooongg time!

You might be able to start with a few seconds in the crate…& making it a place that he WANTS to go into instead of a place that he HAS to go into

Great advice!!

It took me 2 years to train my rescue that potty was on grass and not on anything. I finally go her to pee outside, then she would pee and poop on the porch. Finally she got it! I was so proud!! It takes patience and there is a lot of importance to sticking with the same routine! 🙂

Thak you all for the encouragement and great advice.
I have a friend that has both types of crates that I can use/have (chose the travel crate for its den-ness:) ) for free.
So, my next step is to move it into his room and put a mat in there, leave it open and do nothing but give him his "special" treats and let him get use to it.
I honestly think he will use it on his own with the door open.
But I have to remind myself to be patient.
We will slowly work on this and see how things go.
I will keep you updated 🙂

My advice besides the crate training is to empty him before you leave. Make time to go on a short walk until he goes potty before you leave.

My dogs sometimes will poop three times on a short walk. They actually strain to get everything out of them to mark as much as the neighborhood as they can.

Our female even backs up and pees on trees.

If the he is empty & maybe give him a chewy to keep him busy, and a really nice blanket to sleep on. They love snuggling certain things.

He's going to have a hard time pooping/peeing in the house if he has nothing inside of him.

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