To poo indoors once seemed the natural thing for the twelve-year-old Tibetan Terrier.
Tipsy was a breeding bitch who had lived in kennels for the first five years of her life. It took them a year to house-train her, but that was now six years ago.
Why poo indoors now?
Over the past four months things have taken a downward turn with Tipsy defecating indoors regularly. Possibly a couple of times a week.
There are questions to be asked. What was it about four months ago that could have triggered this? They have had her thoroughly checked by the vet and it doesn’t seem to be a health issue.
Around four months ago the gentleman had a fall. This would have been very alarming to Tipsy. In August they had a scary car journey in a storm with high winds and when they arrived in the house, Tipsy emptied her bowels everywhere. In November, the first November in their new house, Tipsy was so terrified by fireworks that she messed all over the floor.
There may well have been other things over the past three or four months that have also unsettled the now more highly-sensitised dog.
Other questions include where does she usually do it, and when does she usually do it?
Apart from those couple of occasions when she has panicked and she had no control at all, it’s alone and out of sight, usually in one of the bedrooms.
They believe it happens during the evening.
The lady has scolded her. Scolding is such a natural thing for a person to do – how is the dog to know she shouldn’t toilet in the house after all? However, scolding is likely to make the dog even more anxious. It may even make her furtive and go somewhere she may not be discovered.
The poo itself isn’t really the problem.
It probably seems like the problem to them, of course! It will be a symptom.
We need to determine the underlying cause and deal with that instead. Tipsy is feeling unsettled and unsafe, in my opinion. So – we need to work on her confidence.
Because both her humans have mobility problems, Tipsy is seldom taken out or walked now. She lives in the ‘bubble’ of her own house and garden, a very sheltered life, largely isolated from the outside world.
She is never left alone and she gets agitated when they aren’t both together with her.
I suggest they enrich her life a bit by exposing her to more of the outside world in a gradual fashion. Taken slowly it should acclimatise her a bit. The lady can sit on a chair by her garden gate with Tipsy on a longish lead and let her take in the sights and sounds – and sniff. Fortunately she just loves other dogs and would greet passing dogs with polite enthusiasm.
They themselves suggested a dog walker a couple of times a week. If she can handle being taken away, it could be a great idea.
What goes in comes out.
They also need to work on the toileting itself. The impact of what she eats is very important. What goes in – comes out! What she actually eats can affect her mood.
Not only is this relevant to her pooing, but so is the time of day that she eats. Currently Tipsy has one big meal early evening. She tends to poo indoors late evening. This routine should change if some of the digestion is going on a lot earlier.
When and what she eats is unlikely to cure the problem alone, but, together with dealing with Tipsy’s emotions, it could be part of the solution.
Is it she now for some reason is more reluctant to go out when it’s dark? Maybe she needs to be accompanied. We are covering all angles I can think of.
Finally – management of the environment – the easy bit!
The couple sit in the living room all evening, so why not keep the door to the rest of the house closed, shutting off the area where she might poo indoors? If there is an element of habit to it, that should break it.
Nick Coffer who hosts the 3 Counties Radio phone-in programme I do monthly would smile. He says the topics always get around to either poo or humping!
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Tipsy and because neither dog nor situation will ever be exactly the same. Listening to ‘other people’, finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important, particularly where fear is concerned. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Help page)