I need help.
The first two weeks Leia’s housebreaking was proceeding fairly normally for an 8-10 week old puppy.
And then her E coli UTI infection threw a monkey wrench into the housebreaking process. The infection was so severe that it affected both urination and defecation. She started toileting in her crate, no matter how frequently I took her out.
Obviously, with a crate being instrumental in successful housebreaking, I could not use it to reinforce that Leia should toilet outdoors. I was taking her out every half hour, and she toileted faithfully, but she also continued to soil in her crate. One morning I had her out, she toileted, and I brought her in and crated her. Two minutes later she pooped again in the crate!
Now that Leia is on antibiotics for the UTI infection, she has improved greatly. She is able to hold her pee and poop longer, and the crate is staying clean for longer stretches of time. This week she kept her crate clean for 5 days, and then bingo! — she relapsed. Each relapse seems to trigger the whole negative cycle all over again.
I have been giving Leia additional free time in the family room and kitchen, the only two rooms she’s allowed to frequent at this point. She is learning how to chill out when she is at liberty. She’s showing herself to be a very sweet, companionable puppy; she will follow me and lie near me if I’m reading or working at my kitchen table. I quickly discovered that Leia IS alerting visually, and repeatedly goes to the door when she needs to toilet. I was surprised and pleased.
So, here’s the challenge: If I do not let her out immediately, she will eliminate right by the door. Obviously, this means constant visual monitoring, and I live in a split level house. So, if I’m in my kitchen and she goes down to the family room, I need to follow her to maintain visual observation. If I don’t see her leave the kitchen, and she has a minute or two unsupervised, it’s enough time for her to go to the door and eliminate if I don’t appear quickly enough to let her out.
I am also still getting up once during the night to toilet her; often, she will both pee and poop at this time. We’re up to a 5 1/2 hour stretch, and I hope she will soon be able to hold through the night. She’s 16 weeks old, and most 16 week old puppies no longer need to be toileted in the middle of the night.
Now, I believe the root of the problem is that I’m hearing impaired. I often do not wear my hearing aid in the house because I’m very sensitive to the earmold. So, if Leia barks or whines, I do not hear her. Even when I do wear my hearing aid, I will not hear her if she vocalizes unless I am right beside her.
I have investigated assistive devices for the deaf trying to find something that would be helpful. Visual monitors have not worked because I constantly need to watch the monitor and carry it everywhere I go. I also don’t hear Leia through the monitor. And obviously visual monitors don’t work while I’m sleeping. So, no matter what I’ve tried so far, I’ve not been able to successfully address the challenges in confirming Leia’s housebreaking.
At this point, in desperation, I’ve kind of adopted the attitude that I just need to do the best I can and that eventually Leia will mature to the point where she can wait to eliminate and will totally understand the housebreaking concept.
The constant visual monitoring is exhausting. It brings back memories of when I was caregiver to my mother, and she was confined to her bedroom upstairs. I was running up and down 2 flights of stairs to visually observe her. I tried both a baby monitor and a vibratory monitor. Neither solved the problem.
I didn’t run into this difficulty when I housebroke Hannah or Heidi. Hannah was challenging to housebreak, partly due to my inexperience as a new dog owner; I allowed her too much unsupervised time too soon. Heidi housebroke in 5 days with only 3 accidents.
Dog savvy owners and trainers/behaviorists: I welcome your thoughts and suggestions!