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Is it possible to teach an old dog new tricks?


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#1 mo2

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 11:47 AM

Our lab is 4 years old. Ok, so not OLD, but not a puppy anymore (although he thinks he is!). When we move to a new home, we probably will not have the nice fenced-in yard that we do now. He is a car chaser, and rather than risk losing him, I would like to move him indoors. Plus, he suffered heat stroke last summer, and the vet told us that once a dog has heat stroke, it is extremely easy for it to recur. I would just feel better all around if he were inside with us. Is it possible to housebreak him at this point? Any tips? He has not been neutered, and is constantly marking his territory.


Sigh. I feel the need to explain the heat stroke so you guys don't think I did something dumb like leave him in a vehicle or let him run out of water. It was fireworks. Our neighborhood has a big 4th of July block party, and last year was much bigger than it ever has been before. Our dog gets worked up and barks at fireworks. It hasn't been a problem before, but last year the fireworks lasted for about an hour. He got too worked up and overheated. Of course we didn't hear him barking because the fireworks were too loud. After the show I went in the backyard, and could only hear him panting. He wouldn't come when I called. Found him in a dark corner of the yard and spent the next 2 hours running water over him, putting alcohol on his paws, and feeding him corn syrup. Checked his temp at one point (rectally, with a digital thermometer) and it was 110, which my vet says is not possible. She says he would have been dead if his temp was that high. I responded with, "Yeah, well, he pretty much was." We also found out after the fact that some dumb kid (not one of our neighborhood kids, but a guest of someone's) had shot a bottle rocket at our dog. Probably didn't help his poor nerves. :glare: Needless to say, this year on the 4th, he will be going to grandma's.

OK, that's enough about my dog. I got off topic a little bit. I came here for housebreaking help, remember?

#2 NHDeb

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 11:55 AM

I would suggest reading up on crate training and follow the instructions for a new puppy and move along as he progresses.
I have friends who adopted an ex-racing greyhound and house-trained him, I think he was 4-5 at the time.

Poor puppy! Poor Mom! That must have been an awful experience for you with the heat-stroke!
As for the marking territory thing... does he do that in the house too? Do you plan to have him neutered? That may help... our older female hound has marking issues but only outdoors - never in the house. She always has to "trump" where the younger dog pees in the yard. It's pretty funny but wouldn't be if she was doing it on my rugs!:001_smile:

#3 mo2

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 12:03 PM

Well, dh is against neutering. I think it's a guy thing. But we don't let him run around impregnating female dogs, so at least we're responsible about it.

Every time he comes in the house, he pees on the same ottoman. I don't know why.

#4 Chris in VA

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 12:05 PM

So, are you saying he's been an outside dog, living in your yard with a doghouse, and now you want him to live inside?
I think you should immediately get him neutered, and then get him a crate, as the previous poster said. You'll have to reteach him his position in the family, by doing things such as feeding him after you've eaten, going thru doorways after you, etc. He will need to have plenty of walks to get rid of energy, too--since he's probably been active in the yard, it may surprise you how much exercise he really needs. All that teaching will be hard, but it will make housebreaking easier, too. Most dogs will not soil their living quarters. You will have to teach him that the house is his house. Show him a special place in the yard where you want him to go, and consistently take him there. Use a special word as a prompt,too--our Golden goes potty "on command," which is quite convenient--we don't have to spend an hour while he searches for the right spot. Our yard isn't fenced, either, so he has quite a choice--but usually goes out of the yard into the woods, because he doesn't want to soil close to the house.
Anyway, yes, you can teach your dog. He'll probably be quite happy to be with you, too.