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Any thoughts? Won't poop on property--insists on neighbors' yards or dogpark
  • Hi! Our Shiba has socialized well for the most part and is in general very sweet and well-behaved. He responds well to voice commands and is a good pack member. However, he has one odd behavior, he must be walked or taken to the dog park to go to the bathroom, refuses to go on his own property, however he defines it.

    When we got him we were living in an apartment where we had to walk him (down the stairs and around the neighborhood w/no backyard) to do his business. He was actually potty-trained in a single day (@8 weeks old). After the initial stress of arriving at a new home, he instinctually he didn't want to soil his living territory, we think. After two bitter winters of walks and early morning dog park runs, we decided to move into a house with a backyard, thinking, maybe if there was a fence (like at the dog park), we wouldn't have to go 6 blocks+ for him to poop. Instead he came to love the backyard as his outdoor paradise, even when his dog friends would poop in it, he would insist on a walk to go (pee or poo). Furthermore, his territory was ever expanding, sometimes he would need to travel a half-mile or more before finding an appropriate spot. Fast forward to now. He is 4 years old. We are living in a rural area with 6.4 acres. We are surrounded by dead-end roads and farmland, so traffic isn't an issue. We have about .5 acres of fenced in area and the rest is open forest/prairie mix (long grasses are his favorite to run in). For the first week of living here, we would open the fence and he would go on the back 6, returning on voice command. However, after the first week, he decided that the 6 acre property area is all his territory, and insists on going further out. We put a radio tracker on him and have tracked him going 500 to 1000 km, into our neighbors' yards and farms. This is not okay (he could be shot!) obviously, so he is back to on-leash only. And we are back to lengthy walks or trips to the nearest dog park.

    I'm not complaining about the exercise we get (a side perk), but with needing to get on the road early AM for work, we are concerned about him not going in the short window we have with him, and then him being uncomfortable for extended periods. Does anyone else have this problem with their Shiba? Are there any kinds of training course-corrections we can do?

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Post edited by Kenshin_Family at 2016-06-10 09:46:37
  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 3495
    The routine you had with your Shiba when you lived in the apartments should be the same routine when you moved in the house. Shouldn't be any different because of the yard. It is common for Shibas to consider their yard as their home and not go to the bathroom in it.

    Yes, you will have to walk your Shiba to get him to use the bathroom. This is how he exercises and get stimulated, new smells and encounters. Also this is how you keep track and make sure your Shiba has gone #1 and #2 and if there are any irregularities.

    You've woke up early before in your apartment to accommodate your Shiba, you can do the same now that you've moved into the house. I've woken up at 5 am to walk my Shiba when I have to be out the door at 6.
  • Okay, wow. He gets lots of exercise, is fit and we are diligent about where/how often he goes to the bathroom and inspecting his poop/pee to make sure he is in good health. Our concern is the fact that his "yard" has expanded to something like .5 to 1km around our house. We don't want his bathroom needs to be contingent on special trips and super long walks. This is a behavior pattern we have reinforced we recognize-- but how to now encourage him it's okay to go closer to home?
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1269
    I don't think that's abnormal behavior for a shiba at all. Mine is only nearly 7 months but he won't poop in our yard either haha. I walk him at least twice a day regardless, so it's not a problem that he uses those opportunities to poop.

    I don't think it's a problem that he won't poop in his domain. Shibas are quirky lol. Just give him the opportunity by giving him a morning and evening walk as normal, which it sounds like you're doing. I'd just be business as usual. On special trips, my dog is still going to be walked multiple times a day, so it doesn't really seem like a concern to me unless the idea was to leave him outside and not walk him every day. I don't mean that like rudely or something. I just mean I don't see a reason why pooping on a walk as opposed to in yard is inappropriate or undesirable behavior.
    Post edited by Lilikoi at 2016-06-10 15:02:47
  • I think the OP is concerned that they have to keep walking further and further before the dog will poop.

    I found this

    Which is basically saying that first you condition the dog to poop on cue while you are out for your normal length walks for a few weeks until the cue very reliably leads to pooping. Then you slowly start to cue him to poop ever so slightly closer and closer to your house.

    The important part here would be that he has to be REALLY excited by the treats you give him for pooping so that when you give him his cue he's like "alright let's do this! woohoo!"
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1269
    Oh good luck with that @JodiThibault... Sorry, but don't expect to teach your dog that. It just goes against their instincts.

    Your shiba sound perfectly normal.
    Being a primitive breed Shibas are particular with cleanliness. It is neither practical for health reasons to crap near your den, or for safety reasons as other animals can smell and find you easier.

    So most Shibas I know are very particular with where their toilets are, they want to feel safe, a bit secluded, grassy areas, some bushes and certainly no distractions...

    I am glad you stopped letting him go out on his own, it sounds like a recipe for disaster. My guess is he enjoyed his freedom and started exploring further and further away.
  • NikkitineNikkitine
    Posts: 776
    While it's tough, it isn't impossible to get a Shiba to poop on cue. Tali is particularl and will not go near our house, but once she is around the corner, she will poop/pee on cue very quickly at any of the houses as long as there is grass.
  • I was only trying to offer a suggestion as the OP asked if anyone had any thoughts on the subject. My own dog does go on cue but she is a husky so that is not relevant here.

    I don't know as much about Shiba's as many others here so of course I would defer to experienced people. I just think if the OP is really frustrated and wanting to try something then there is no harm in trying to (kindly) put the act on cue. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, no big deal.
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1269
    Ozzy will "go potty" on command, but there's no differentiating between pee/poop haha. So usually he'll just pee cus he can't just force a poop when he doesn't need to.

    If he started only wanting to poop further and further from home, I would just continue taking my normal walks. Sometimes he doesn't go on every single walk, but I don't extend the walk and just keep walking until he poops. But I also have the freedom to take him on walks throughout the day as needed. His needs are very easy to read, so I know exactly when he needs to poop and can take care of it. If it seems like a constipation issue, I might try a little bit of organic pumpkin with a meal.

    The only other shiba I've met where I live goes to the dog park every day because he won't poop anywhere else lol. But they just let him in the park and don't pick up after him...
  • Thanks everyone for your comments. I didn't mean to get defensive there-- this is also part commiseration. In the range of Shiba discrete pooping behaviors, I think he is definitely more on the extreme. We love that he is more instinctual and feral, in most every other aspect. Some human conventions are hard to harmonize with his instincts and this seems to be one of them.

    I had to think a bit--Are we just lazy, not wanting a 5am or earlier 1-2 mile walk to start our day? I don't think that's the case, but your comments made me question, what are our motivations for wanting to encourage him to poop closer to home? The first motivation is definitely winter time, where we get -10 F overnights and early mornings. We have the gear and have done daily hardcore cold dog park runs with coffee, parka, mitten, full face mask, etc. He is fine in this weather so long as he doesn't get salt or ice in his paws. But it is not an easy thing, would be a bit nicer in the afternoon after the sun has been out a while.

    But there is another motivation, too. I think this is sometimes discouraged among Shiba owners, but nonetheless, one thing since he was a pup that we have worked on is training him to be responsive off leash. We started on leash, training his chase instinct--when he sees a rabbit or squirrel or bird he waits (sits) for our command to chase. We figured, as they were bred for hunting, this is trainable. Then we did off leash at the beach, and then from the car to the house, etc. He comes when called. Yes. And he's good with it. Furthermore, he stays in range, maybe 50 meters or so of us at all times--except when wanting to poop. Then he runs in the opposite direction towards neighbors houses and fields. If we could get him in closer (if he could choose a discrete private place, of which there are many, in our grass lands and woods), then we would feel fine with him off leash when we are working in the barn, foraging on the land, gardening, etc. which is all a part of the unfenced area. As it is now, we have to make sure he has pooped before hand, and then hope he doesn't have to go again during the daytime.

    Potty--we trained him to pee with this command, but he will only do it at favorite pee spots (typically where other dogs have peed). Home depot and pet store parking lot bushes, for example, are favorites for him. May try a new command for pooping and see what happens.

    It's interesting that this comes very strongly through as a breed trait.

    Post edited by Kenshin_Family at 2016-06-12 12:01:17
    Posts: 1507
    I'm wondering if you would take a sample of his poo and placed it in your fenced off area or his territory. It might make him more likely to make it one of his poop spots. Or, anthropomorphiclly speaking, he might think, "I don't remember going here but I guess it's cool."
  • dougfoodougfoo
    Posts: 41
    I like INU RYUU idea - try making a dirty corner in your yard.

    Not that I have any expertise, but assuming you leave your dog in the .5 acre fenced area while you are gone, why not just let her be until she is forced to find a place in there to poo ? He will eventually right?

    Maybe you created a bad habit by expanding her walks each time.. she learned if she holds her poo, she will get to explore more and more (from Dunbar). I also debate this when she doesn't poo at the ideal times - ie, on cue (which I hardly believe is possible biologically.. I can't do it, why would a dog be able to)..

    You have a unique situation w/ a 1.5 football field sized yard. Quite different from most of us I imagine and I refute that you should do the same routine as you did w/ an Apt... does that make sense? Situation is different, shouldn't you do something different? But very interesting either way - Best of luck.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8584
    @dougfoo - No one should EVER leave their Shiba unattended outside, especially while they are not at home.

    Also, forcing a dog to potty in an area that he or she sees as their "home" is just asking for trouble. Not only is it mentally anguishing for the dog, but it can completely undo any all potty training.

    Yes, you SHOULD continue to take a dog out on walks, even if you have a yard. Walks are great mental stimulation as well as physical exercise. Plus, it allows the dog to eliminate outside of its home area, which in this case is good for the dog's mental health.

    What you are quoting from Dunbar does not exactly apply in this situation. It is talking about turning around to go home directly after the dog eliminates. In that situation, the dog learns that as soon as he or she potties, the walk is done. Therefore, they put it off as long as possible to extend the walk. If you continue to walk after the potty break, the dog never learns that association and will potty when he or she feels the need to regardless of "where" in the walk you happen to be.

    @Kenshin_Family - You have gotten a lot of really great advice. I also have "picky poopers" but what has worked for me to get them to go within my time period for a walk (this is especially important on lunch break walks) is to do a "no nonsense" walk. You will need to do this when you have time to be with the dog most of the day. Take the dog out on a set circular route when you know he has to potty. Walk that circular route (I would say at least two miles since you said he likes to go at least a mile from the house) and give potty prompts (if you have used those since he was a puppy). If he goes, SHOWER him with praise, treats, belly rubs, whatever gets him motivated. If he does not go, into the house he goes, no praise/treats/belly rubs/etc. If he does not go, try again in a couple of hours. Eventually he will figure out that he needs to go when he is on this particular route. This will help curb his need to explore for a potty spot. He may also end up having preferred poop places on the route (both of mine do).

    As far as wanting him off leash, if he does not have good recall when he has to potty, then he does not get the privilege of being off leash. End of story. His safety and well being (and that of the other animals and people in your neighbourhood) is more important than him being off leash when you are working in the barn. Plus, it sounds like you have more than enough fenced in area for him to run and play around in. There is no need for him to be off leash in an unsecured area.
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    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
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