Poops and Big Houses!
  • KajaKaja
    Posts: 216
    Hi guys! Quick question.

    We live in a large 3 story house. Once in a while, without asking to go outside, Kaja will poop on the top floor where no one hardly ever is. It isn't common. Like maybe once a week? I don't punish her for it because I consider it my fault for not letting her out at the right time, and also I don't think it serves a purpose to show disapproval when it's after the fact.

    My partner, on the other hand, is demanding that I drag her up there and punish her whenever I see a poop... put her nose in it, smack her. It's how they trained their dog not to poop in the house. But he knows she is my dog and in the end I make the call.

    I know there are different schools of thoughts on this. Being handler soft dogs, I try not to punish Kaja and only use positive reinforcement as often as possible. So for example, treating her or telling her she's a good girl when she goes outside.

    I also try to section the upstairs off with a baby gate, but we also want her to have run of the house as much as she likes, so it's only up some of the time.

    Any advice for minimizing these occasional poops? Is there a consensus that punishing dogs for pooping in the house is a bad thing? Anything else I can do to encourage going outside only?
  • AjaxAjax
    Posts: 123
    You need to block her access to the parts of the house she is doing this in. Close doors and get gates if you have to. Having free run of the house is a privilege not a right and the worst thing you can do is allow her to continue doing this and further reinforce her habit. Getting a baby gate and restricting her to the first floor will do her no harm, but letting her continue this will. It's back to potty training basics with her because if shes regularly going in the house she is not potty trained.

    You are correct punishing after the fact does nothing. You need to catch her in the act to be effective and if the house is too big to catch her in act, you need to make the house smaller. Then the question becomes what do you do when you catch her? Positive reinforcement makes something more likely while positive punishment decrease the frequency of a behavior. It's easy to forget that positive punishment as defined by operant conditioning is just the addition of any negative stimulus. Hitting a dog for a potty training issue is unnecessary and over the top. Sticking her nose in it is plain silly. Humans understand the connection, but not necessary dogs. Has this old school way worked in past? It sure has, but usually when someone is rubbing their dog's nose in the feces they are angry and also telling the dog some variation of NO. You need to interrupt her in the the act and tell her NO (the specific word or sound doesn't matter) and then while she is distracted rush her outside and praise her when she finishes her business outside. Also reward her when she asks to go out on her own.
    Post edited by Ajax at 2017-06-13 01:54:23
  • KajaKaja
    Posts: 216
    @ajax thanks for the reply! I'll definitely do as you say. It confuses me how she knows not to poop on the first or second floor, but thinks the third floor is ok? I suppose because it's out of the way? Because when the baby gate is up, she doesn't leave poops anywhere and she will ask to go outside if it's an emergency. Either way, you're right, it's a privilege to go upstairs and we will have to try this all over again.

    But with the top floor sectioned off, she already knows not to poop on the other levels of the house ... so in order to teach her no element of the house is ok should I maybe instead consider *trapping* her up there and if she tries to go poop I drag her outside so she knows better? I'm thinking maybe try to capture the behaviour through manipulation? Or would that be a bad idea you think? heh

    Thanks again for the response!
    Post edited by Kaja at 2017-06-13 05:35:45
  • AjaxAjax
    Posts: 123
    That could work, as she needs to make mistakes to learn the third floor is off limits but if you do trap her upstairs you need to keep eyes on her 100% of the time. If you trap her and she poops and you don't catch her, you are reinforcing the habit. Also if she is insistent about going down stairs and you think its because she needs to poop and wants to go outside (and that's what she does), make sure you praise her.
    Post edited by Ajax at 2017-06-13 05:57:57
  • KajaKaja
    Posts: 216
    I might try to figure out a way to do that then. Even if it means I need to set up my laptop as a camera when I'm not in the room to watch her haha.

    But when not doing that we will definitely treat everything else as if she is learning all over again. High praise for asking to go outside, when pooping on the grass, etc.

    Thanks again for your thoughts on the matter!
  • AjaxAjax
    Posts: 123
    You literally only have a matter of seconds to interrupt her. Ideally you want to correct her when she's starting to squat and not when the poops already on the carpet. If you are too slow you lose the option of redirecting her to poop outside. Personally I would get a comfy chair and stay in the room with her and have my laptop for entertainment while still always watching her.
    Post edited by Ajax at 2017-06-13 06:12:47
  • WrylyBrindleWrylyBrindle
    Posts: 3294
    I disagree, I don't think you should trap her up there. She doesn't need to do the wrong thing to create a new habit of doing something else. In fact the goal is for her to never repeat that choice again. Don't try to trick her, or restrict her to only the wrong choice. She knows not to poop where you live, she just thinks due to lack of presence that "we don't really live up there". My suggestion would be to make the third floor someplace you DO live! Gate it off typically and then take her up there for play together with a new toy after she's been outside to poop. Create the association that this is a place where we live and play too, just like downstairs. Feed her up there, if you like- they find it terrible manners to eliminate where they eat.

    And if you DO catch her about to poop, interrupt her and take her right outside (which I am guessing might be hard since its 3 floors up?) to the right place- just a "Ah! Ah! This way! Outside! Lets go!" Be there to direct the correct behavior pronto. The gates are a good idea, and if she has 3 stories and nobody is hardly ever upstairs anyway, then you aren't doing her any favors leaving open to 'give her the run of the house.'

    Teach her to ring a bell when she needs you to let her out. Don't set her up for a failure just to prove a point.

    I also want to add - stick with your ethics- you are correct that hitting, rubbing her nose in it, showing it to her after the fact, etc is not about learning and is pointless and cruel. Educate your partner about dog training to set him up for greater future understanding.
    Post edited by WrylyBrindle at 2017-06-13 12:49:14
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 4546
    @WrylyBrindle absolutely hit the nail on the head. The issue is that Kaja does not associate the third floor with her home, so she thinks it is okay to potty there. Teach her that it IS part of your home and I bet the behaviour will correct itself fairly quickly.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3977
    How have you been cleaning it up after she poops up there? Have you sprayed the area with a neutralizing enzyme like Nature's Miracle?

    Depending on how you cleaned it up, the area could still smell like poop to her thus making her think that that is a place to potty.

    I'd personally keep her out of that area and only let her there under supervision. That way if she decides to pop a squat, you are there to interrupt and usher her outside.
  • Have you thought about installing a doggie door? Our house is 3 floors as well and Miko only gets access to the bottom and the middle floor (when we are home) The doggie door is on the bottom floor and we have 2 baby gates one on the top floor and one on the bottom floor so she cannot go upstairs unless we open it up for her. We have to keep her off the 3rd floor because that is where the cats like to reside.

    We installed one of the doggie doors that is a tall glass section that pops into the sliding door track. It was very easy to install and works great!
  • KajaKaja
    Posts: 216
    Thank you so much for the feedback everyone!! i think it's a great idea to make the upstairs seem more livable by using it to play/eat. I think you're spot on about her thinking it's not really the 'living' space. So we will try to fix that with your suggestions. I kennel feed her so maybe what I will do rather than bringing her kennel up there is I will set her old ex-pen up with her food inside. I'll monitor her while eating time is happening and make sure there's no pooping :D

    About the bell -- hahaha I've thought about this actually! But I know people who've done this and the bell becomes a way of asking to go outside for fun. Maybe Kaja wouldn't do this since she's always at the door waiting to come back inside anyway. I will give it a go.

    If I do see her pop a squat while upstairs it's fairly easy to interrupt since she does a 'squat dance' beforehand that can take several minutes. So if I see her do the dance I will interrupt her then ;)

    And thank you for encouragement to not punish them For pooping. Honestly I'd rather clean up the occasional poop than have a ruined dog (behaviour wise). I'll explain this all so everyone in the house is on the same page!

    And yes @Calia ... been using Natures Miracle Advanced formula. I love that stuff. It's the best out of all the stuff I've tried in the past!

    swwahokkaido: that sounds like a really smart set up! i would love to get a doggy door solution one day xD

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