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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18815
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Our puppy (dob 26/7/2013) who has been with us from 7 weeks

Customer Question

Our puppy (dob 26/7/2013) who has been with us from 7 weeks old, has started to poo in his cage/den. We don't understand it. He has never done this before. He has been trained to go out for toilet (bottom of the garden) at least 4-5 times (7am - after breakfast, 12 Noon, 2.30pm, 6pm - after dinner, 10:30pm) a day. He has been sucessfully following this routine with no mishap.

It happened for the first time on Sunday nigth around 11:30pm. We have ruled out illness. My Mother and sister were as usual watching tv and the puppy was lying in his unlocked cage/den all in the livingroom. The puppy has the freedom to go in the den (wired cage with bedding and toys) placed at the back half of the livingroom or leave it and lie/sit on the floor by family in the front half when he wishes. The den is only locked when my Mother goes upstairs to sleep or goes out (a couple of hours or the maximum 3 hours), but while the family is about it is unlocked. The puppy ignores the tv and often goes to the den and plays, or pulls out his toys and plays in the front half of the livingroom. The puppy was told off by my Mother, cleaned up and went out. He had already gone out an hour earlier and did go to the toilet, so it was totally unexpected, especially for him to go in his den. He did not cry or pace round at all to go out. In the past he has paced up and down to go out.

As usual he was left to sleep downstairs in his den. At night, the den is locked so that he doesnt wander round and get into mischief. At 6am, time for breakfast and to go out, he had poo/wee in his den. My Mother was very disappointed. 2 times on the trot. There was no cry from him to go out. This has never happened before. Never in the den and never in the livingroom (carpet) since he has made the transfer from the kitchen/utility hallway to the living room from when he was a very young pup and first came to us. My Mother felt she had no choice, and transferred his den to the kitchen/utility hallway. This is beyond a room from the livingroom and the puppy would feel excluded from the family, but the area is tiled so any further mishaps can be more easily dealt with.

On finding the mishap, the puppy was told off and put outside immediately. After cleaning up, he was fed (morning feed) and was sent out again. Then he was placed in his den now locked. Within an hour, he had another poo/wee. Then it happened again after he went out at his usual time at 12 Noon.

What is going wong? My Mother feels she can't trust him anymore. At this rate he will never be allowed back in the livingroom with the family....
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,

My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.

What breed is your dog?
Has he been neutered?
What obedience training has been done?
What was used to clean up the elimination on the carpet?
You stated that he gets told off and put out. Is it only a verbal reprimand?
Is the garden enclosed?
Does he like being out in the garden normally?
I know he is both defecating and urinating. It is more urinating or both?
You state you know it is not medical, can you tell me what tests were done to ensure it is not physical?
I know it seems like a lot of questions, but the more information I have the better I understand the circumstances and can formulate a useful answer.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Jane,

Thanks for getting back to us so quickly.


He is mix breed - Labrador / Bull terrier. He looks more like a Labrador.


He is due to be neutered on 29th January when he will be 6 months old.


He has done no obedience training. My Mother has had few puppies before as family pets (Jackrussells) and has toilet trained him. She intends to take him to obedience classes once he has been neutered.


Normal spray detergent and elbow grease.


Yes, this is a verbal reprimand and a cross face (my Mother's).


Yes the garden is enclosed. My Mother takes him out to the bottom of the garden. She waits for him to go to the toilet. Then depending on time , they may have some play time in the garden, or she may bring him straight back in.


He normally likes going out in the garden during the day time, but at night when its cold, dark and wet, he is very reluctant to go, even though he has my Mother as company.


It is mostly defacting.


No tests have been done medically. We state it is not medically, as from observation the poo is normal, not loose or hard ie he is not suffering from diarrhoea or constipation.


Hopefully all my answers are accurate. I'm waiting for my Mother to call me back as I wanted her to know your questions.


It's such a disappointment. We just don't know why he is doing this, as he learnt gradually how to go toilet in the garden and because it went so well, his den was transferred to the livingroom. It has been in the livingroom for the majority of the time he has been with us. Then as he got on so well, he has another den in my Mother's bedroom. Both dens (Mother's bedroom and livingroom was working out fine) but at night he preferred to sleep in the livingroom den downstairs. We think it was because he didn't like my Mother snoring. He opt to go downstairs as the both dens were left unlocked. He just went downstairs himself and then just beofre my Mother drops off to sleep she would then lock the den to stop him from wandering about.


I do hope you can help us.


Kind regards



Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for all the wonderful information. It is very helpful. A few general comments first. I strongly suggest starting obedience training now and not waiting. You do not have to go to classes to teach obedience. He is quickly maturing and going to challenge the human's right to tell him what to do. Usually by now most dogs have had some obedience training and I'm sure your dog has some even if it hasn't been formal training. I would start training as soon as possible

The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.

Unfortunately, the site does not allow me to make clickable links, so to view the supporting websites, you will need to copy and paste the link into a new browser window or tab.

Neutering is best as it will help reduce any dominance that you might start seeing with him. It is best to catch it before it starts. A maturing male who is dominant may start feeling that it is perfectly ok to eliminate wherever he feels like since the house belongs to him. When the owner establishes dominance and leadership over the dog via obedience training and the NILF program, the house belongs to them and a dog shouldn't eliminate in the house once the human makes it evident that it is not acceptable anymore.

I also want you to get a stool sample (fresh if possible) and have a fecal done on it. Since the dog is already scheduled for a neuter, they should just run the fecal without having to see your dog. A dog might have parasites but not have diarrhea. The parasites might make it more difficult for him to control his bowels. So it is best to rule that out and he is at an age where we frequently see them contracting worms again.

It is also important to clean with an enzymatic cleanser. Most cleansers are designed to fool the human nose and the urine or fecal fluids tend to soak down into the carpet and padding and spread out when it hits the floor under the padding. So you really need to use an enzymatic cleanser like nature's miracle and let it soak down into the carpet so it can reach everywhere the urine did. The enzymes help break down the protein and eliminate the odor well enough that even the dog's sensitive nose can't detect it. The reason this is important is because a dog is wired to eliminate in areas they have eliminated before and to strengthen their particular scent. So when a dog smells the fading scent of its own urine or feces, it is more likely to eliminate there again and strengthen their own odor.

Another thing to remember is that reprimanding a dog after the fact is worthless. They may cower and act guilty but it is the reaction to the owners anger and not any notion that they have done wrong. So you can only reprimand them if you catch them in the act. This sound like it might be a little difficult to do. So once your mom is in bed, I strongly recommend that she continue to lock him in at night.

As to retraining him, there are a couple of ways to do it. She might retrain him using the same method that she used before which may or may not be effective. However, this usually does work. An alternative method and one I feel is more effective is to leash him to a family member so he can not wander away and defecate. If he goes to assume the defecation position, the person on the other end of the leash can give a reprimand in the form of a short tug and firm NO. They can then take the dog out to the garden and wait for him to eliminate. Take some vienna sausage slice or raw liver slivers to reward him for eliminating in the garden where he is supposed to. This gives him negative reinforcement for eliminating indoors (so he knows it is unacceptable) and positive reinforcement (treats) for eliminating where he should.

Be sure you don't skip something as it is important to at least clean up properly and keep him contained when he can not be watched closely.

I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may go here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Jane,
Many thanks for coming back to us so quickly. It's much appreciated. We will have look at those websites, get that fecal test done and look to getting him trained/ retrained as per your message.

I will let you know how we get on. We have just discussing this dominance strait you have mentioned and wondering if it mainly in make dogs. Just thinking back, the 3 puppies that my Mum grew to become family adult dogs that we had many years were all bitches. There were no experience of this type of behaviour so I guess this is why it has been quite shocking to us. Another thing we have noticed, that we have not seen our other family pet dogs do, is our puppy has actually sat and turned his back to us. I couldn't believe it at first, but my Mother pointed it out to me on one occasion. It was no accident. The puppy unbelievably sat tall with his back to us deliberately! No mistake!

Hopefully my next message will be a much happier one with your help.

Kind regards
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.

The behavior isn't strictly in males but shows up a lot more often in male dogs and this bull terrier cross might overshadow the laid back labrador personality so watch for a strong willed dominance. And turning his back on you definitely lets you know that he does not think he needs to watch and see if you want him to do something. Submissive dogs tend to be watchful of their owners. I hope you found my answers helpful.

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