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Cockerspaniel
30th July 2006, 02:11 PM
I had spent seven weeks or so trying to toilet-train my doggies, following advice given on this board and in various books and on-line material, to no avail. The toilet-training just wasn't working. They still peed and pood on the kitchen floor many times a day. As I'm back teaching in a month, I was worried that, at this rate, they wouldn't be toilet-trained by the time I went back to school. The hygiene implications of two untrained dogs in a house are... Considerable.

So, a few days ago, in desperation, I decided to give them a salary increase. The food treats that I gave them (Coachies) to lure them into their crates, teach them to sit down, teach them to come when called, teach them to give the paw and to roll over were clearly not working as far as toilet-training was concerned, even if they were proving very successful for everything else.

So I went out and bought several packets of good-quality cooked chicken.

First night, business was as usual. Business was slow. Second night, on their first outing, I thought I noticed an improvement in the cocker. Second night, on their second outing, both cavalier and cocker did a number one and a number two each while frantically eyeing the packet of chicken I was prominently displaying - within FIVE minutes!! I chalked it down to a possible fluke. Third night, first outing, both dogs frantically sniffed, circled and squatted while keeping their eyes glued to the chicken. Success! Third night, second outing, cavalier (who, at night time, normally does, at most, one pee and possibly one poo), did three wees and one poo - within four minutes! The last two times that she dropped the hind legs, only a drop or two came out! She was trying as hard as she could! She would probably have continued dropping her hind-legs indefinitely (in order go get more chicken) had I not put her inside the house to focus on the cocker, who, in turn, did two wees and one poo - within six or seven minutes!

It's hilarious to see the circus they put on, and the fake performances thrown in with the real ones, in a desperate endeavour to get some more chicken! Talk about a complete reversal of a situation!

Today, after four nights of the new increased reward regime, the dogs have grasped the idea: all I have to do is brandish the chicken, utter the command word, and they scurry around the garden in the most undignified of haste, frantically sniffing, circling and squatting and exceeding each other in an effort to do multiple "businesses" in rapid succession!

I don't think my cocker can be considered special needs any more - she just needed a change of tack. The cavalier, who hates wet grass, now has NO problems doing her business on wet grass, as she considers the reward outweighs the effort involved! The chicken costs me about 4 euros a day - I err on the side of over-generosity, and will gradually reduce the rewards involved.

My prediction is that they will be completely toilet-trained before I go back to school.

Charleen
30th July 2006, 02:28 PM
It sounds like you have a success on your hands, but I wonder what will happen to their performances when you try to wean them off the chicken? :lol:

Jen
30th July 2006, 02:42 PM
Nice job!! We had one puppy in class once that wouldn't work for anything, but the owner finally found smoked salmon worked!! :lol: :lol:

Sally
30th July 2006, 03:24 PM
That's great! Wishing you continued success. :D

If we're rushing to go somewhere and want Pixie to get her business done quickly we get out a treat and leave it on the hall table. It's amazing how a little motivation can get her to hurry up. :wggle:

Cathy Moon
30th July 2006, 04:53 PM
:) This is a great example of why positive reinforcement / rewards based training is really the best way to go.

The relationship between you and your pups has improved immensely because they know what you want and you know what they want. You learned from them and they learned from you. Its a two way street, and a win-win situation now!

I would continue to treat them for awhile, then afterwards randomly treat them (especially when the grass is wet) to keep the good behavior coming. :flwr:

Cockerspaniel
30th July 2006, 07:59 PM
Went out for the afternoon. Came back. Cavalier did three wees and one poo - in less than two minutes!

This is getting ridiculous!

Nicki
30th July 2006, 08:20 PM
Oh that's fabulous, made my day!!!

I think it shows that dogs are aware of the value of rewards...and higher value ones are worth working harder for.

SO pleased it's going well - sounds like you will have two lovely clean pups in the next week or so!

Cockerspaniel
31st July 2006, 02:36 PM
The Ecstasy: Fifth night, first outing:
Cocker did one wee, while cavalier did 3 wees - in TWO minutes. Brought them back in at that point. Note that grass is very wet.

....second outing:
Cocker did one wee and one poo, while cavalier did 3 wees and one poo, again in about 2-3 minutes. Brought them back in at that point.

The Agony: this morning, came back into the kitchen an hour after I had last let them out for business. Looked at floor. All clear save for one poo. (Note that patio door had been left open). A vast improvement. Pottered around kitchen. Turned around to find cocker was.... Eating The Poo! I repeat, EATING THE POO. I said "No!" in a loud voice. She continued ingesting... I repeated "NO!" in an annoyed tone of voice. She tried to sneak another piece. "Amach!" I said ("out!"), shoved her out the door and closed door after her. She is still outside.

Dear God....WHAT am I rearing?!!

(Maybe I need to leave the dog-food around all day instead of taking it up 20 minutes after I've put it out???)

Cathy T
31st July 2006, 03:31 PM
Too funny! How quickly they catch on. Shelby is my performer. I'll tell her "go potty" and even if she doesn't need to she'll squat. Then I praise her and Jake immediately goes to wherever she was and goes on top of where she was. Gotta be the man you know!

WoodHaven
31st July 2006, 03:44 PM
Postive reinforcement almost always works, but (like you found) you must find the token that is "worth" the effort. This not only works for puppies, it works for kids and husbands too--lol.

Karlin
31st July 2006, 04:42 PM
High value treats really do get results. :) Glad you had this breakthrough! You just have to set the treat bar high sometimes. :lol:

Poo eating is one of those unwanted but common traits... best preventation is to get it up right away so they don;t get tempted. Some pups seem to grow out of this too. I have cat poo eaters; dog poo doesn;t interest them at all. And Jaspar used to love the litter box but now never eats it. So this isn't necessarily a permanent problem. :xfngr:

PS DON'T free feed. With breeds like cockers and cavaliers you'll have very obese dogs. Poo eating isn;t connected to hunger; some dogs just like it. rarely it is linked to not enough protein in the food but some dogs just like poo. You can google it and find lots of advice/info. But best approach is to have it be your duty not to make it available by getting it up. It can be very hard to train a dog not to eat it. As they get older you can work on the 'leave it' command though.

Karlin
31st July 2006, 04:45 PM
This not only works for puppies, it works for kids and husbands too--lol.

:lol: :lol:

yes and makes it easy to teach old dogs new tricks too. :)