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House Training An Adult Rescue Dog: Need Advice & Suggestions !

15 years ago

I've just (thankfully!) found this forum, and am really hoping that I can get some good suggestions to help us with this problem . . . and soon! Some of you may already know me from GW's Decorating, Holidays and Kitchen forums, where I'm a regular.

My problem is our 3 y/o neutered male dobie, Ronin, that we adopted just 3 weeks ago from our local doberman rescue group.

Oh, and let me tell you quickly, that DH & I are not novice dog owners. Ronin is our 3rd dobie and our 7th dog in the 26 years we've been married. We KNOW dogs . . . but this is the first adult dog we've ever adopted. All the rest were puppies and we know how to train puppies.

Hx: Ronin came from a couple who had him from puppyhood, but gave him to the rescue group when their baby grew into a toddler and was getting knocked over by Ronin. (Their loss/ our gain!) So, he's had one home for 3 years and then a couple weeks in a foster home before he came to us. He was a house dog there and house trained, but we don't know what that situation was like. His foster family noted that the previous owner seemed unphased (or uncaring) when she dropped him off and Ronin never seemed to miss them. He took to the foster family quickly, though. So, that's something else you may want to consider. The general consensus of the rescue people, the foster family and us, is that he does not seem to have been physically or emotionally abused, was well-fed and was clean and had regular vet visits (we have copies from his vet visits there).

Our Take So Far: We've found Ronin to be very gentle, affectionate and good-natured. He's bonded wonderfully with myself, DH, DD (almost 15 y/o) and DS who was home on Winter Break from grad school when we got Ronin. We're very patient and affectionate people and good with dogs. We've also taken dog training classes before and know the right way to train a (young) dog/pup. Ronin doesn't have separation anxiety; isn't a destructive chewer; is not the least bit aggressive; gets along great at the dog park with other dogs and people. In other words, he's pretty near perfect except for . . .

Problem: we can't get Ronin to tell us when he needs to go out to relieve himself. Our 4 y/o Tibetan Spaniel comes up and does a low bark or growl to us when she needs to go out. We've taught all our puppies to do this with perfect results . . . until now. But, if we don't watch Ronin like a hawk he'll poop on the Oriental rug in the foyer with NO indication that he needed to go! We know he can bark and it's a healthy deep loud bark, but he only barks when someone's at the door. Ideal . . . except that we're tired of the accidents.

~ We've tried to teach him to speak on command when he needs to go out to no avail.

~ We've bought one of those doggie doorbells, but so far we can't get him to ring it.

~ he doesn't go to the door and scratch it (this is good!) or whine or even just stand and look at it until we notice him. He just poops in the foyer.

~We don't have a dog door from the house outside; we have a dog door from the (connected) garage into a 24ft x 6ft double-walled kennel, where they relieve themselves. The problem is that they have to tell us ~ somehow~ to let them out into the garage when they need to go . . . and Ronin doesn't!

~ we don't have a fenced in yard at the moment. We do have plans to have a walled yard put in this Spring if the economy picks up a bit

~We're thinking that Ronin probably had a dog door directly from the house into the backyard at his last home, although we don't know for sure. We live on acres of land here in the mountains, surrounded by other homes with the same, but dogs are not allowed to run free here!

~ Invisible fencing is allowed, but we have problems out here with plague (yes, the bubonic one), Hanta Virus, coyotes and rattlers that make allowing your dogs to run free, extremely risky at best.

~Ronin has an accident perhaps once or twice a week, although never peeing. All the other times, we/I just take him out to the kennel and lock him in until he goes, when we let him right back in, praising him, "Good dog, kennel!". He only needs to poop twice a day, but the timing is never predictable.

~ Another Ronin quirk: if we're out there in or near the kennel, he won't move off the step. I'm serious! This dog will only poop if no one is looking!

~ We never yell or hit him when he has an accident. We just show him and tell him, "NO . . . bad dog! Kennel!" Pick up the poop and take it and him to the kennel where we put it down and say, "Kennel . . . good dog, kennel" We then meticulously clean the rug using a good quality dog accident cleaner & deodorizer.

~ adding a dog door from the laundry room into the garage is against fire code here, so we can't.

~ One last Factoid: I'm home all day with the dogs, so they get plenty of attention, long walks, play time, have lots of toys and get lots of affection. When I need to be away, both do well in the house together without crating. We have a big, long, one story home, so they don't get cramped or bored.

I/We could sure use some advice as to how to help Ronin.

I apologize that this is a long post, but I didn't want to waste anyone's time giving me suggestions until you knew all the facts.

Many thanks!


My sweet furkid, Ronin:


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