House Soiling Perp Walk

House Soiling Perp Walk

Question:

My 1 1/2 year old yellow Lab poops and pees in the house, sometimes after being taken outside multiple times and doing nothing out there. She knows she’s not supposed to potty inside; I can always tell by her “guilt” walk. I’ve never hit her, of course, but she is scolded and clearly knows she’s in trouble.

Dr. Nichol:

It’s a vicious cycle: crime, punishment, guilt, repeat. Your dog wants to do the right thing but she just isn’t clear on the concept.

Many pet parents believe that the guilty look is proof of their dog’s stubbornness. We know from behavioral research that it’s actually the person’s angry body signaling that triggers the “perp walk.” Your Lab is stressed because she sees no escape.

At bedtime give this big girl a loaded food toy in a small room, like a bathroom. First thing the next morning lead her on-leash to your yard and wait silently until something happens. Forget the treats, praise, cartwheels, and mylar balloons. She’s a dog, not a toddler. When she passes stool or urine you will bestow the canine-specific reinforcer: an immediate jaunt off territory. Then return the kid to the bathroom. Every hour, repeat this opportunity for her to earn the privilege of reading the bulletin boards and posting messages. If she produces nothing, say nothing. Just return her to the small room. Repeat this tedium every waking hour for 4 consecutive days.

During the following 2 weeks leave a 6 foot leash attached to your dog’s collar when she is inside so you can happily lead her to the loo every 2-3 hours or whenever she appears ready. You will reinforce any output with a relaxed stroll.

Patience counts. Scolding, on the other hand, would only damage this important friendship. Be your dog’s trusted canine leader and she’ll be student of the month.

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I’ll address pesky and dangerous behaviors of dogs starting at noon on Thursday, May 9 at the K9 Resort, 4740 Pan American Frwy NE. Admission is free for everybody. Bring your toughest questions.

For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (drjeffnichol.com). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Email pet behavior or physical questions to drjeffnichol@drjeffnichol.com or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.

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