Can a Corgi Become "Un-Housetrained"???

What is going on here?

Ruby the Corgi Pup was doing fine in the house-training department, once we addressed the UTI that she apparently had at the time she arrived here at 8 weeks of age.

Recently, she started peeing on the floor again. So forthwith it was back to the vet: he couldn't find an infection but did see some crystals (which it develops are not out of the ordinary in dogs and may not indicate pathology). But he put her back on Clavamox and the not-very-nutritious Royal Canin S/O diet.

This conveniently developed three days before I had to go in for cancer surgery.

Okay, so we're going along on this routine. We're now about 3/4 of the way through the Clavamox prescription.

Meanwhile, backstory: Cassie, the 7-year-old corgi, occasionally poops in a corner of the family room. This doesn't happen often, and I've assumed it has been because she couldn't get outside when I was running around the city doing errands or teaching. It's a mild annoyance but not a real problem. Cassie has never peed on the floor.

Recently I've been finding more piles AND puddles of pee. The piles have the characteristic smell of Royal Canin S/O (which smells awful!), and I'm now certain that both the puddles and the mounds are coming from Ruby.

Catching her in the act is very difficult -- of late, it's been impossible. She's an accomplished stealth pisser. Yesterday both my son and I evidently were in the room with her when she deposited a puddle and a mound. Neither one of us saw her doing it.

The thing is, she was going outside. This is a new development or relapse. For some weeks, she was doing her thing faithfully outdoors and had learned to go to the door and bark to get me to let her out. Now all of a sudden she seems to have "lost" the housetraining.

This is getting very old. Yesterday I cleaned up three messes, and the cleaning lady found another one. My floors, which are all tile, are SATURATED with that enzyme de-stinker stuff.

On the 27th I have to go back for still more cancer surgery, and what will happen after that remains to be seen. So the "lost housetraining" routine poses a challenge. There's a limit to what I can cope with, and we're right on the verge of it.

Just now she's in her X-pen, which I broke out of storage this morning. She will have to stay locked up or outside every single minute. But IMHO that is hardly optimal. I'm accustomed to having my dogs live in the house with me. Even if I wanted to leave her outdoors, that's not possible because it's 110 degrees out there. She might not survive a day in that kind of heat, and even if she could, obviously that would be abusive. Keeping her locked up every breathing minute seems kind of cruel, too, especially since she's had the run of the house. And of course it's a nuisance to have a dog pen taking up half the square footage of a room that I live in.

I'm afraid I've never heard of a dog that came UN-housetrained. Is this a corgi thing? Anybody else experienced this? If so, what did you do, if anything, to retrain the dog?

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Comment by Vicky Hay on August 14, 2014 at 4:01pm

Thanks, everybody!

I'm beginning to subscribe to readers' insight that disruption and change in routine have a great deal to do with this. Also in exploring MyCorgi.com I've run across posts from others who describe lengthy house-training efforts -- one person said it took a year (!!) to persuade her corgi to take it outside. So we may be looking at a combination of corgi stubbornness + human stress and disruption.

Certainly what passed for our schedule has withered away. My business has come to a standstill, so the number of hours I would normally park in front of the computer is way different. That means the length of time between movings-around is different and the specific times of day that we would normally get up for breaks have changed. So that's got to confuse a pup.

And the stress level has to be high. Though there's no one here for me to vent to, I still have had to hustle, wrestle around, and thrash around to deal with all the hideous bureaucratic BS, find people to do the work I normally do myself here at the ranch, hire them, train them, beat them into submission..., do course prep way early for my fall sections and bribe my business associate to pretend to be me so I can hang onto that income, find new subcontractors to do work I won't be able to do for the S-corp, figure out how to get them engaged in their respective projects without cluing the client that someone else is doing it...and on and on and hideously on. I'm not exactly throwing my whiskey glasses through the windows, but as you can imagine, there have been a few hair-tearing moments.

IMHO part of a dog's survival instinct, as a creature that cohabits with humans, entails some sensitivity to the human's state of mind. My ger-sheps, who communicated back to me better than corgis seem to do, were acutely tuned to my mood and responded to it explicitly and directly. These dogs probably also sense that I'm about to tumble off the tightwire, and that must worry them at some level.

We're at almost 1 p.m. and so far Ruby has not deposited any new gifts (at least none that I've found). We made it through the whole day yesterday without any Floor Raids. When she hasn't been in my direct line of sight, she's been in her crate or in the X-pen. That kind of unrelenting supervision seems to be doing the trick. It may not be training her to elect to go outside, but at least it's cutting down the time spent scrubbing and de-stinking the floors!!

Comment by susan on August 14, 2014 at 1:18pm
First off, best of luck with all your medical issues. It sounds like you are having to deal with a lot of extra concerns.

As for Ruby,the stealth pisser (hee hee), she might just need to have a bit of reminder. She has a lot of freedom for a young pup, plus she started out with the UTI issues. Now she should be just about into her teenage period so might be testing the boundaries again. Putting her back in confinement will probably remind her what the rules are.
Comment by Chris Payerl on August 14, 2014 at 9:11am
Sophie has, for the last couple of years, reverted to leaving "gifts" (liquid and solid), for a day or two when we both go back to work in fall. We call it "protest pooping/peeing" and she gets back on track after a day or two.I think the change in routine just throws her off. Even though meals are pretty much on the same schedule, what happens during the day is very different since she comes with us much more often in the summer and then has to stay at home alone in fall. We keep her gated in the kitchen whenever we are gone due to her seizures; she's a climber and we don't want her to fall off the back of the couch or chairs if she seizes while roaming free. She doesn't seem to mind it; that's the routine and she knows it. Maybe Ruby is picking up on the stress and changes to her routine due to the upsets in your life? You certainly have a lot on your plate and I wish you good luck with all of it.

@Marcie - That is too funny about the Jeopardy song! Sophie knows that when hubby reaches for the remote control at night it's time to go out for last potty and then bedtime supper. She also knows that if I put on shoes and/or lipstick that it means I am going somewhere and she runs to the door to go along. They certainly are smart!
Comment by Vicky Hay on August 13, 2014 at 11:34pm

Hee! Isn't that the truth? Dogs KNOW...and I do think they register music and no doubt Becca could very well associate Jeopardy's opening jingle with time to go out.

Well, the cancer scare surely has been stressful. However, the surgery wasn't anywhere near as horrible as expected. Unfortunately I have to go back for another procedure on the 27th, but Wonder-Surgeon believes it will be pretty minor. Still, it's a challenge to stay calm when medical types keep using the C word every time they speak to you.

The X-pen gambit seems to be working -- we've been up since 5:30 a.m. It's after 8 p.m., and so far we haven't defiled the floor once. At least, not that I've spotted! She was in the pen while I was in the family room, the dining room, or the kitchen. She went outside for a vigorous morning romp with Cassie, frolicking for about an hour or so while I had breakfast on the deck and did the daily yard maintenance chores. Then we repaired to the office, and all three of the natives -- me, Cassie, and the pup -- stayed behind a closed door until lunch time. Then it was back outside for another romp, then into the pen for food, more water as desired, and a nap. Back outside for a third romp; back in for dinner; in and out through the evening to patrol the yard, bark at the neighbors, and search for twigs to chew. Later, back to the office for the evening stretch of editorial work.

She seems not to be busting, so I assume she's not bothered with a UTI. She doesn't seem to be uncomfortable. When she gets up and goes to the office door, we go outdoors, and she doesn't seem to need to go overly frequently.

The medical flap and all the attendant stuff required to prepare for surgery and for a potential period of invalidism have about cleaned out my checking account. I've had to hire a cleaning lady and a pool guy to do the work I temporarily can't handle, and their pay is quite a hit. This has been a very expensive misadventure, not helped by the recurrent vet bills. I can't imagine how i would afford doggy day care or trainers.

Zero piles or puddles today is surely a big improvement over the four we cleaned up yesterday. So it looks like for the nonce, the trick will simply be to keep her confined and watched every minute that she's not outdoors. The crate is still in the bedroom, so when I have to go out, she can go in that. Maybe over time she'll be reminded of her training. Or maybe after the dust settles and the stress level recedes, she'll go back to normal.

Comment by Kristen & Rory on August 13, 2014 at 11:19pm

That IS frustrating! Sending some good vibes and thoughts your way; that's a lot going on at one time. 

I agree with Marcie. I am by no means a corgi expert as my 4 month old is my first, but he is VERY into his schedule. Even at 17 weeks, he still goes out twice before I go to work (first thing in the morning, then breakfast, then play/training, then a good walk), twice at lunch when I come home (same routine, except with a shorter walk), again at dinnertime, and then he goes out only to potty once every hour/hour and a half that I am home, then one more good walk right before bed. When I am not here, he hangs out in the crate. 

It seems excessive and it probably is, but I have heard from multiple people (vet and puppy class instructor included) that when people are home, they need to go more often. He usually will just pee when we go outside each hour, but even if it's a little, it's a little that doesn't end up on the carpet!

Not that this is at all a good time to do this, but perhaps moving her back to a schedule that you dictate will help her (unless you are already doing that, in which case, maybe up the number of times you go out?) Can your son, a family member, a neighbor, etc. help you with Ruby while you recuperate so that you can rest?

I hope everything goes smoothly and that Ruby gets back on track so that she can cheer you on and not stress you out! I've had some bathroom issues with Rory due to giardia and I hear you, it is not fun at all and can be incredibly frustrating and aggravating. Hang in there!

Comment by Marcie on August 13, 2014 at 9:50pm
It sounds like you have had a lot going on. Has Ruby's schedule changed at all? Becca has only ever had accidents when sick, but she is very much on a potty schedule. I try to keep it close to the same even when I am home for summer vacation. School starts in less than two weeks, so back to my work schedule. Exercise helps empty her out as well. I know it is really hot there most of the day, are there dog walkers available? Maybe doggy day care until things level off? Have you contacted any trainers? Sometimes an outside view has insights you don't see yourself. I did a private session when Becca was having some quirks. The trainer saw things I hadn't picked up on.

Becca is way into her schedule though. I swear when the music comes on for jeopardy, she has to go for a walk. Good luck..

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