The end of the first seven days of Lizzie had shown an enormous transformation from a shy crate dweller to a fun, high-energy pupper, there remain a few things to work on. First, improving the house training, as accidents still happen (more on this below) even during short unsupervised sessions. Second, her hesitancy to go outside is a drawback, and partly related to the first issue. Last, at least at this juncture, is the whole walking on a leash issue – something we were warned about from the rescue group.
Early, I commented how amazing was Lizzies ability to hold her water and stool, approaching 16 to 18 hours. That isn’t normal, or healthy long term, but it was a challenge to get her to go outside regularly, requiring me to extract her gently from her crate and carry her outside. After fixing the food and diarrhea issue (probably a combination of a different food, and the nerves from her new home) she has become much better, but it was still a challenge to get her outside on her own.
The usual method of house training a grown dog (and Lizzie is full size, probably approaching 2 years old) is to keep them in the crate, and take them out a minimum of 6 times a day. That requires a leash, and walking them until they do their business, followed by effusive praise. That won’t work in our case, as she freezes on a leash, and carrying her out just stressed her more.
We believe that she was somewhat trained by fosters before us, but we also heard that she was living in an apartment, and that potty time was equated by the scary outside, and the leashed walking. Big negative reinforcement there to overcome.
Progress is being made, she has been pretty good about hitting the potty-pads, but this will take time. part of it will be to leave her unencumbered access to the yard when we leave for short, and increasingly longer periods of time.
The scary outdoors
We are totally baffled by her hesitancy to go outside. Perhaps it was being dumped and having to fend for herself, or perhaps it is the negative association with potty/leash/forced outside time.
She has figured out the doggie door, and is quite good at using it to get back in the house. Just not yet for going outside.
We are adopting a free access policy. When the good times to go do her business are (early morning, afternoon when Barb goes to the gym, or late evening before the final sleep) we leave the door open, and we ignore her. She is beginning to go outside on her own, and instead of cowering and hiding on the side of the house, she is exploring the grass, the rose beds, and the decomposed granite “landing zones”. She is even playing a little outside, doing some zoomies.
Going slow here is important, so we are not pushing it, but when she does her business outdoors, we use treats and effusive praise. Slowly but surely, she is getting there. Again – baby steps.
Walking on a leash
This we haven’t begun yet. Sadly, she is a bit old to begin serious leash work, and we will need to progress cautiously. I will be measuring her and getting a fitted harness, as I am 99.99999% certain that a slip or even a Martingale collar will be a disaster, at least to start.
However, she really needs to go on long walks to help burn off her energy. And boy does she have a lot of energy.