No bad dogs..
Only badly trained dogs. I know this. I know the blame rests squarely in my lap. My Beagle, Izzy, is nearly 5 years old and is not housebroken. She's semi-housebroken. She understands going outside. Or maybe not, actually. Maybe she just thinks she can go anyplace the need takes her? That's probably more accurate. Izzy is incredibly stubborn and every little thing she's learned (which is woefully little) has come from massive amounts of time and patience. Her's and mine.
A quick background : My 12 year old lab had to be put down, she had cancer in her belly. She had been a severely abused dog that I adopted from a rescue center. My heart was broken knowing that she spent her last days like she spent her first.. in pain. I did not want another dog. I was not ready for another dog.
Then only 6 weeks later a coworker asked me if I knew anyone who wanted a dog. In the course of the conversation he mentioned.. just as an aside even.. like it wasn't even important.. that the 13 month old beagle was kept crated for up to 23 hours a day. Every day. When I reacted badly to that he had excuses.. work, school, her misbehavior, her jumping on the 5 year old and scaring him.. the list went on. But it all boiled down to a dog being kept locked up day in and day out because she was an inconvenience and he blamed her for that. By the end of the evening I had her here with me. Out of the crate.
While I waited for the coworker to drop her off I got online and did some speed reading about the breed. I grew up with dogs of all different types. Big dogs, little dogs. I already knew that each breed comes with their own set of rules, so to speak. She could not help the situation she'd been forced into and I knew it would take a lot of hard work and dedication to bring this stubborn, bad mannered little lady around to a civilized way of thinking. When I wasn't directly working with her on things ranging from not trying to steal food (twice she even tried to grab food directly from my teenage son's mouth!), to not jumping all over every human that walked in my door, I was reading about beagles specifically and about various methods of training in general. Though I've never had to use more than simple positive reinforcement on any dog before, Izzy has proven without a doubt to be much more stubborn than any dog I've lived with in the past. (Did I mention that this dog is stubborn?)
Over the past 4 years I've tried pretty much every method I've read about that did not include hitting or punishing her for doing her business in the house. I did not try them all jumbled up, of course. I spent time.. months usually.. trying one way before I gave up and tried another. The most effective for us was leashing her in the house. And that worked. I did not allow her to roam the house at all. Wherever I went in the house, she came with. Every hour I took her out for 10 or 15 minutes. Always to the same area. I praised and praised and praised when she did well. Eventually I let her off the leash for short periods. That worked for a little bit but as soon as I eliminated the leash completely, she went right back to going when and where the urge took her. I started over again. She seemed like she had it. I did NOT take her off the leash but let the leash go, giving her free range of the room I was in only ( I was afraid to let her have the whole house in case she got the loose leash caught on something and hurt herself). The moment she could get where she was not in my direct line of sight, on the floor she went.
I know that crating can be a very effective tool in training a stubborn dog. But she's terrified of her crate. (Understandably). The crate he had her in was too big for her (Which really was probably a blessing for her at the time) so I replaced it with a smaller crate. I tried everything I could think to help her not be afraid of it. I even gave her my own blanket to sleep on but just the sight of it would get her to turn and head the other way. I tried to coax her into it using treats, stuffed toys.. I even kept it sitting right next to me for about a month thinking she might get used to the sight of it and not hate it. But nothing worked. Also, since she was locked in one for almost the full day she was forced to dirty it while she was in it. I could smell it on the hateful one he brought when he dropped her off. I'm not sure that getting her to actually go into a crate would solve the problem. I sure don't want her sleeping in her own filth if she thinks it's okay to go where sleeps.. or sleep where she goes.
I spent several hours reading posts on this forum and so many of you seem to have spent a great deal of time with dogs like Izzy. I KNOW there is an answer out there for getting over this one last hump. She and I would both be happier beings if I wasn't constantly stressed about the mess and the smell. I know I'm missing some vital detail that's preventing her from doing what I want. She's a good dog. An extremely loving dog. She loves attention, she lives for treats, she LOVES to make me happy. I don't understand what I'm doing wrong here. I'm completely at my wits end. I even briefly considered finding her a new home, thinking maybe someone else has what it takes to fix this. But in the end I know I can't do it. I was raised on the belief that pets are permanent. You don't take in an animal on a whim and throw it away later. I realize now that even taking her in was probably not the kindest thing I could have done for her. I knew before she stepped foot in my house that she would be a struggle that I wasn't fully prepared to face, not so soon after losing my Sassy. But at the time it really felt like I had no options. I did not know anyone who would or could take her in. I couldn't bare to see her go to the pound. And God knows there was no way on earth I was letting her live in that crate for one more day.
I apologize for such a lengthy post. As I typed I tried to think of questions I would ask if the situation were not my own, and answered them as well as I could. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I would be happy to hear even the most obvious answers. Since I'm clearly missing something here with this little girl, it could just as well be a simple solution as a difficult one.
Oh.. yes, she's been to the vet, she's had cultures and tests and a full physical. He's a vet that I trust, always very thorough and he does not believe it's a physical problem.
Again, Thank you.