Please help w/chihuahua

Posted by ramatzke7
Jan 1, 2008
I have a 7 year old female chi-she weighs 4 lbs. We adopted her from a family when she was 3 years. The previous family had a little girl who would drop her..unintentionally hurt her. She will go outside-but won't tell me when she needs to go. But she has a tinkling problem. If you try to pick her up she will tinkle a little bit. Which gets on the carpet and the furniture...So we put her in diapers. Which works for the tinkling, but she won't tell me when she needs to go out, so there are many times when she pees or poos in her diaper and it leaks all over the floor. We've done this for several years-and honestly I'm tired of cleaning up pee spots on the carpet. So I've been trying to re-housetrain her to just go on paper, which is working well, but we still have the tinkling issue. I'm at a loss as to what to do. Please help!
Posted by Todd
Jan 1, 2008
Hi there
Thank you for your question.

Urination problems can often have a medical cause eg mispositioned bladders or hormonal issues as well as a number of other possibilities. So i would recommend that you have a consult with your vet over the issue. They may be able to shed some more light on the underlying cause of the problem and may be even able to help reduce or stop it happening.

As for her background of traumatic incidents there is a possibility that this problem is a fear or nervous problem. Picking her up may stress her so that she does leak. Is she otherwise a normal dog? Does she cower away from people she doesn't know? Hide behind things? Get startled by noises? These are all signs of a nervous dog and will help explain the urination problem.
Rehouse training her is a great idea as often toileting problems are based on improper or loss of training. So i usually recommend following the training steps in SitStayFetch before delving any further into the problem.

How well is she socialised? You may want to consider introducing her to other people in a quiet, relaxed setting with lots of treats and an escape route in case she gets too scared.

In general i don't find the paper training method as useful as some other methods, but if it works for you then stick with it. If you are having problems with it here is what i recommend. Take her to her toilet spot as often as possible, at least every hour (to begin with, as she gets better you can make this longer), as well as first thing in the morning, last thing at night, before and after play and feeding. Every time she goes out give her the same command and wait until she has toileted then praise her. The better and more happy she feels about the process the more likely she is to tell you when she needs to go.

As for her not telling you when she needs to go. Your dog will tell you when she needs to go, but the signs may be very subtle. From things such as pacing, vocalising or following you around. Watch carefully and you may pick up on the signs. As soon as you notice something that may be a sign you should take her straight outside to her spot or to wherever you want her to toilet and give her the command to go toilet.

If all else fails then there is one method that can work but is generally what i recommend last. It is the bell method and requires a lot of training and patience to work.

First of all, find yourself a bell to permanently hang beside the door that will be easily accessible to your dog, and that she will be able to ring loudly enough for you to hear.

Show the dog how to pull or ring the bell by Target Training. Target Training, in this scenario, is when you reward her as it progressively gets closer to the target (ringing the bell). She will soon learn that ringing the bell will bring a positive reward.

For Target Training you should use a food treat and practice for about ten minutes a day using the following method:

*Show her the bell and say "Bell", then ring it (this command will be handy later on) and then open the door and go outside. (Every time you can, ring the bell yourself before you open the door, for example when you go out to work or for a walk with her).

*Go back to the door and the bell and stand with your dog. If it is possible to do so, restrict the area with the dog inside around the door and just watch her (if you have a pen or barricade or some sort this will be helpful with keeping the dog near your target).

*Say "Bell" and when your dog sniffs the bell, or even accidentally moves it/touches it, treat her. Continue to watch your dog, but only treat her for focusing on the bell. If you are having limited success with getting your dog to voluntarily sniff the bell you may wish to smear a small amount of dog food on the bell! It is a good idea to try this technique before your dogs mealtime as your dog is likely to be more responsive to the food reward.

*Fairly soon (and if your dog is hungry enough!) she will understand that if it is close enough to the bell it receives a reward.

*At that point, only reward the dog for the more enthusiastic approaches to the bell, so that if your dog moves the bell or rings it then reward her. (Remember to continue to give the command "Bell" every time).

*Having done that for a while begin to only reward the dog for properly ringing the bell. (This should be done over a few days practice).

* Now you have taught her how to ring the bell. You can now start to train your dog so that it will gain the treat for ringing the bell, only once you have opened the door. So stand inside with your dog, but have someone on the outside of the door, ready to open the door and reward the dog when they hear the bell ring.

*As soon as the bell rings, the other person shall open the door and encourage the dog outside with the treat. Practice this exercise for a further 10 minutes a day.

* Whenever she is inside, and wants out, ignore her for scratching at the door and give the command "Bell". If you have been consistent with this, and done enough training, your dog should understand to ring the bell, at which point you can let your dog outside and praise him.

Make sure you have fully accomplished one part of this progression before you move on to the next part. You can use this method to train your dog to ring a bell when it wants to come inside as well.

All the best and happy training!

Kind Regards
Todd Field