Dog Refuses to Housebreak

by Theresa

I rescued a sweet Jack Russell Terrier who is about 2 yrs old.Probably was pad-trained but I have no idea.She KNOWS to go out, but will wait and sneak to places where she is unseen, and do her business.

No matter how much scolding, and HUGE praise for when she does it right will stop her. She will even do it in the crate, so that is not helping.She also wants to run away, and is impossible to catch.I am at the end of my rope!

Vet Suggestion for Dog Housebreaking

Hello Theresa,

Don’t give up on your dog yet!With some patience, persistence, and perhaps help from a veterinarian who specializes in behavior, you should be able to improve your dog’s potty training and tendency to run away. The basics of behavioral modification focus on praising good behavior, ignoring inappropriate behavior (since attention of any kind tends to reinforce it), consistency, and sometimes medications that improve a dog’s receptiveness to training.

In your case, a tether might help. In essence, you attach yourself to your dog (a leash looped around your waist or through a belt loop works well). In this way, your dog cannot sneak away to urinate or defecate in the house without you noticing and correcting her behavior as it occurs. When it’s time to go out, you stay with her to praise her and give her a treat. A tether will also virtually eliminate the possibility that she’ll run away. As her behavior improves, you can start reducing the time the two of you are connected; at first limiting it to right after she’s urinated/defecated and gradually expanding from there.

If a tether is not reasonable all the time, use your crate. Make sure that it is not too big. Your dog should be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably, but the crate should not be so large that she can urinate in one corner and sleep in another.

If none of these recommendations help, make an appointment with a veterinary behaviorist. The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists’website has a search function that allows owners to find these board certified specialists locally.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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