Tilly's Tales :: A Shelter Dog's Blog

Episode 3 -- Our Potty Girl

We would soon discover that our sweet puppy had no aversion whatsoever to pottying in her crate and then walking in it, an unfortunate side effect of such a young pup spending months on end in a kennel. I set a schedule of frequent walks and constant supervision, even setting the alarm twice in the middle of the night to take her out. Even so, accidents happened. On one occasion, I’d put her in her crate after a walk and left for two minutes to get her a peanut butter Kong and, in that little time, she’d pooped and walked in it. As often as we took her out, pottying outside was completely foreign to her and using her crate was her go-to answer. On day four, I brought   
drawing by Josh Hartl
her to her crate and she peed immediately, and as I tried to rush her outside we ran point blank into our kitty Jazzi and much hissing ensued. Tilly got me wrapped in the leash and I almost fell down the stairs, which scared Tilly and sent her cowering to a corner. I was undone and in tears of frustration and exhaustion. What had I gotten us all into? I, after all, am a professional trainer. If I couldn’t fix her, who could? Housesoiling is the number one reason that people surrender their pets to a shelter, and I was experiencing the frustrations that those people must feel when they arrive at such a dire decision.

   Our one advantage was that Tilly could hold her pee all night so we always knew that in the morning, if I got her out immediately, she would invariably go. On these occasions, we celebrated with all manners of whoops and wildness and then had a million treats. Tilly, above all else, is food-motivated, perhaps to a fault, so these fantastic treat parties impressed her greatly. One evening, Tilly started whining and circling in her crate and so we got her right outside, and she peed. When she finished, she jumped up and nosed the bag and, well, you can imagine, she got a lot of treats for that performance! And so that marked the end of her accidents at home.

Tilly’s housetraining at this point only extends as far as our own home. During a visit to our friends’ home, she had no fewer than six pee accidents! Because our friends had three dogs with whom Tilly was playing, keeping her leashed and strictly supervised proved difficult. We will need to introduce Tilly to other places (first with no dogs so she can be more easily supervised) so that she can learn to generalize her new housetraining skills.