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too distracted to go potty

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too distracted to go potty
  • Miya is a 1.5 year old GSD/Husky mix.  She's definitely potty trained and she hasn't had any accidents since she was a puppy.  

    For the past week she's been too distracted wanting to chase squirrels that she won't go potty outside.  I stay out there for a while longer than normal hoping she'll calm down and go, but she doesn't, and three times she's ended up pooping on the floor of the guest room (the room her crate is in).  At night she's fine bc there aren't any squirrels out at that time, but by then it's too late.  I've taken her to the dog park a couple times and she'll go out there, but I can't just take her to the park every time she has to go to the bathroom.  

    And when she doesn't go, we'll come back inside, and about half an hour later she's whine and let me know she has to go potty, so I'll take her out hoping that she has to go bad enough that she'll go regardless of the squirrels, and she still won't do it.  

    She's always been fascinated by squirrels and has always loved trying to chase them, but it's never interfered with her going to the bathroom until the past week.

    Does anyone have any insight or advice? It's driving me crazy!

  •  A couple of things you can do.

    For now, if you don't already, take her out only on the leash.  Give her 3 mins to go.  If she doesn't go, then take her back inside and put her in her crate.  Leave her there for 30 mins, then repeat the procedure.  You should also have a command for going to the bathroom outside.  Ask her before going out, "Do you need to ___________?  Then outside.  If she goes, then lots of praise and cookies.  If not, back to the crate.  She needs reminding of what she is supposed to be doing outside.  Restricting her to just that activity will help remind her. Be consistent with this, never letting her off-lead until she is doing it consistently for a week.  Always praise and make a big deal of her doing it!


  •  Well I live in an apartment so she's always on her leash/harness unless we're at the dog park (there's one at my complex). 

    I'll try your idea of putting her in her crate for 30 minutes if she doesn't go outside.  And I do always say "Do you want to go potty?  Lets go outside and go potty" to get them excited about going outside.  (I also have a chihuahua who gets really excited when I say that).   


  • ah... i feel ya... live in an apartment as well and have a distracted dog... or try having a distracted dog that doesnt wanna do it in the rain.. argh... anyways, what really helped me, is having a specific pee area, and then a different area just for pooping. then, after that's done, i let her off leash to do some bird chasing or zoomies. course i realize you might not be able to do that, but maybe you could do some extra fun running around AFTER she's done her business... but yeah.. that, plus extra supervision (or crate time) at home will do the trick with time. it's a pain, i know...

  • shanemiya
    "Do you want to go potty?  Lets go outside and go potty" to get them excited about going outside.  (I also have a chihuahua who gets really excited when I say that).   


    If they get excited about it, that's because to them, "potty" means "outside". (They're not getting excited about relieving themselves, they're getting excited about going outside.) So, I wouldn't say it in an excited way or they're going to think that just means "Let's go outside." I would start using a new word with the crate training. You can call it tu-tu or whatever you want and then when they go, you say, "Good tu-tu"! Because you want to relate that word with going POTTY, not going outside. As it is now, if you're outside with the dog, you're saying to him, "Go outside" and he's not going to relate it to potty.

    Know what I mean? 

  • What you need to do is basically like firedog said... potty break, crate, potty break, crate... etc. till she goes and THEN let her have freedom indoors.

    AS she is ALREADY going, say your cue.  Pick a different one and make sure she connects it strongly with actually eliminating before using it as a prompt.  Initially you want to take out some super rewards with you... very tasty treats like liver cake for example.  You can fade these out quickly once shes got the hang of it again, because eliminating feels good anyway, plus if she goes outside she has freedom indoors and a ton of praise.

    My sister has a dog.  She takes him out and says goforawee goforawee goforawee LOADS of times and its only when she says gooood boy!! that he goes... because those were the words he heard while he was eliminating when she was attempting to train him!

  • That funny that he only goes after she says "gooood boy".  That goes to show that you have to be careful when you are training, what you intend and what they perceive are 2 separate things.  I find people all the time in training that say things like that.  Why does my dog do this when I say/do this.  When we start talking about how this behavior came about, I can usually tell them what happened.


  • Are you walking him around when you go out? This often speeds up the process for my 7 month old lab/boxer. If he's tired, he goes straight out and does his business without fuss, but when he's got energy, he usually likes to sniff around the yard for a while before getting anything done. And it's the same situation; pees right away, but pooping is another matter. So try walking your puppy around a bit.

    A puppy that's been crated all night will be thrilled to be up for the day and out in the fresh air. Just make sure he gets plenty of exercise every day and he should begin to grow out of his distracted stage. Also, look at things from his perspective; he likes being outside....when he poops right away, you put him right back inside, ruining his good time. So if he delays pooping, he delays going in and extends his time in the great outdoors. You may want to try breaking this cycle by taking him in when he doesn't go poop within a reasonable time period. If you let him stay out there until he goes, it will reinforce for him that the longer he dawdles, the longer he gets to stay out. As soon as he goes poop, praise him! Give treats for proper bathroom behavior...and try switching things up for him by letting him play for a few minutes AFTER going poop. This way he starts to associate pooping with play time instead of pooping with END of play time.

    Good luck!
  •  Yeah, I walk them around a little bit when I take them out.  But if she sees a squirrel she'll run in that direction.  Thank goodness I have a harness on her with the hook in the front because she's a strong puller. 

    She's been doing a lot better.  The first two days I did as suggested and crated her if she didn't go and rewarded her and praised her if she did and after that I haven't had any problems with her.   

    She's actually been doing so well lately that I've started trusting her in the apartment when I'm not home.  We've been leaving Shane (the chihuahua) out of his crate when we're gone for the past year or so and I've worried about Miya because she's so big and can get in to more, but she's easing out of the puppy stage (she's a year and a half) and she's been doing wonderfully.  Over the last week I've been testing her little by little, increasing the length of time each time I leave and yesterday was the longest I've trusted her out of her crate, it was for about 4 hours.   I was so happy when I came home and she was just sleeping and hadn't gotten into anything. 


    Thank you all for your help! 

  • no advice to add... but i just wanted to add that i share your pain! lol. try having a terrier that wants EVERYTHING that moves!  In the summer time, it's the little bugs that flies around (during the day, mosquitos and butterflies and such, at night, bettles, and moths etc.) and in the fall, any leaves that makes any sudden movement.... lol and of course in between, the birds, squirrels, chipmunks etc... she's only 16 months old now, but she has already killed 2 little mice, a baby bunny rabbit, a baby oppossum, and a huge bull frog.....

    i thank my lucky star that she has a fenced in back yard so when she gets too distracted, she can just stay outside by herself... and that she has a terrier coat... so any dirt she gets in, simply slides off of her....

    that and my father installed a doggy door for her for the summer time as she likes to stay outside anyways and sun bathe.


  • The only thing I can suggest is that if she starts to get distracted, call her back.  Or tell her "NO!, Go Potty!"  You'll need to find a way to get her attention away from the squirrels and whatever else that steals her attention away from doing her business.  Good Luck!!