Monday, February 21, 2011

Little Pooper

You were told that Clover is perfect—and she is, as long as she's tied to FarmWife by an eight foot cord. Here's the one glaring flaw with FarmWife's little Christmas angel—poop!

FarmWife likes dogs. She understands dogs. She feels that training dogs comes naturally to her, and she feels that there is very little about problem dog behavior that she cannot understand and/or remedy. This problem, though, is beyond her.

Clover, who's about one year old, recently spayed, and adopted two months ago from the Humane Society, understands that outside pooping is good. FarmWife passes many chilly moments standing outside in the rain and sleet with Clover, and praising Clover with effusive pats, play, and cheesy globs when Clover poops outdoors. Clover understands that peeing outside is good, too, and since her first day here has never made a mistake in THAT department.

FarmWife feeds Clover in a crate, and takes Clover outside immediately thereafter to do her business. Clover does her business. All is well. Still, Clover will sneak away, given an opportunity, and poop in a favorite, solitary spot. When the favorite spot is deodorized, sanitized, and blocked off, Clover will pick a new favorite spot. Clover gets to go outside, with a human for company, after every nap—every play period—every snack—every meal. She can't possibly be missing adequate opportunities to move her bowels outdoors.

Clover has been on a leash and/or gated in a room with FarmWife for nearly two whole weeks, and during those weeks Clover has not had an accident. Today, a trial off-leash period ended badly, with poop in the downstairs bathroom. (Closer, Clover—next time, use the toilet, 'kay?)

So, animal trainers extraordinaire—how can we make the connection happen for Clover? FarmWife has caught her in the act, scolded firmly (without any physical abuse, of course, but with firm words and removal to the outdoors), and shown her outside. FarmWife has cleaned up the messes privately, to avoid giving Clover a Master/Servant complex, and FarmWife has tried putting the poops carefully into Clover's designated outdoor bathroom spot in order to give her the idea. FarmWife has made much of Clover every time she's gone outdoors. Clover is healthy, and the poops are normal and well-formed. Clover is on a good grain-free diet and, in all respects, seems to be thriving. FarmWife sanitizes the heck out of the floor wherever Clover goes, so there should be no lingering odor to mislead the pup into thinking it's a good spot to go.

Finally, let me say this—Clover is beloved, and this is a small problem in the big picture. Still, advice is welcome! FarmWife would love to let Clover have a little more freedom indoors, and FarmHusband would love to stop stepping in dog poop.




  1. Good question. I would highly recommend William Campbell's website . His information is amazing and easy to read. His books are available at many libraries. But if you look in the case of the month section he had many many tips on housebreaking dogs.

  2. Litter box train Clover! I have a friend that did that and works like a charm!

  3. Completely off topic but didn't know if you saw what my blogger friend Fran wrote about mules for President's Day..

  4. Sounds like Clover prefers to poop in private. Can you give her 'private' time outside?

  5. Put a cork in it! You are, after all, in or near wine country, I'm sure there's lots of them available!
    Seriously, tho - as mrs cravitz above sez, "Litter box training". Don't know if dogs really would consider using a litter box (sometimes I wonder if our dog does because there are clumps in there that I just cannot imagine my cats could produce!!) Have you considered the potty mats that are on the market? Just Google "dog potty" and you'll find many from El Cheapo to OMG expensive.
    Good Luck!

  6. My past chihuahua would use a litter box no problem, easy to train him to use it as well. We used the cedar/log type litter and on really snowy cold days he'd hold it until he got inside back to the box.

    My current chihuahua is also potty trained but I provide him with a potty pad for when he's not feeling that well or if he just can't make it.

    It's nice to have them pad trained so if you ever do travel off the farm they know where to potty if they can't hold it/ can't get outside.

    Another idea might be to train Clover to ring a bell when she's got to go?


  7. I agree with litter tray training. Also, many Italian Greyhounds also have this unfortunate habit... looking up some IGgie websites might have tips if you didn't want to go the tray route.

  8. I had a chihuahua that did the same thing - and as a former dog trainer, have seen many chihuahua's with this same problem. Never did find a 100% cure, some liked litter box training, potty pad training etc and some (like my dog, sigh) always had the problem, no matter what. My mom's poodle does this when she is upset with my mother! Good luck!!!

  9. Something that worked like a charm on a problem poodle pooper was putting the smelly deposit into a plastic bag, then attaching said package to pooper's collar to wear for the remainder of the day. Dogs do not like poop pendants.

  10. Hmmm... boy, this is a toughie. I've not had the problem myself but I'm going to side with Christy. Maybe it's a privacy issue??? I would definitely consult with some Chi experts, though. Good luck!

  11. Clover may be trying to assert her dominance in the family order, by pooping where she know she should not. If this is the case, then cleaning and sanitizing her poop spot for her is like flushing the toilet for her, giving her renewed permission to use that spot. Next time she poops inside, I recommend taking the poop and putting it on or near where she sleeps. It may not work at first, but once she learns that she will have to smell the growing pile, instead of having it cleaned up for her, she will probably quit the behavior in preference of a clean sleeping place. It will work faster if you can catch her in the act, and have her watch you take it to her sleeping place, so she will understand that it is only the poop from inside that ends up there.


Thanks in Advance for Your Mulish Opinion!