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Hi all,
My 8.5 month old boxer puppy Rocket is giving us headaches. Rocket is not housebroken: he's been doing number 1 and number 2 in the house and it's driving me bonkers. We also have an 8 year old boxer/american staffordshire mix, Max. Max has been housebroken since we got him from the pet rescue at ~10 months old. We had our other issues with Max, but he only had messes in our house when he was left inside the house too long, which is like 2-3x in the past 6 years. Rocket is not yet fixed, he's still a puppy and hasn't started marking territory yet, although he is 58.5 lbs. He's mentally a big puppy.

A little about Rocket:
He is crate trained, he doesn't mess in his crate, and he sleeps overnight in it. When we first got him back in October at 9 weeks old, I setup an attached wire playpen fence to the crate, to give him a little space to get around, and if need be, pee. He didn't eliminate at all while inside his crate/fence setup, so we thought hey--this guy is trained!

Current bathroom business process: Basically, I just take either dog outside to a fenced area of our backyard, where they can do their thing. They are offleash, free to smell and roam, etc, but I monitor Rocket so he doesn't play there. I've tried to teach him it is the ONLY place to eliminate. When Rocket goes outside I use the phrase "go pee", and he if he does either one, he gets a "good boy! good Rocket, good pee!"; Rocket gets praise and a pet. Max goes out there as he needs to, and he's pretty much self-sufficient. We leave Max without supervision, close the door, and he scratches at the door when he wants to be let back in. I don't let both of them out there at the same time, as I don't want Rocket to think it is playtime with Max, and then they play and end up stepping on the poop or whatever, and track it into the house.

At 4-5 months, I got rid of the playpen fence attached to the crate, and basically we kept up with a loose schedule for Rocket:
  • 6am-7am morning pass at the dog run outside to eliminate.
  • morning feeding time 7-8am,
  • loose/free time about the house with Max, with some monitoring,
  • crate time when he is unmonitored
  • trips outside to the dog run to eliminate every hour or so
  • dinner feeding time 7-8pm
  • last pass to dog run to eliminate
  • crate for overnight
It has been 8 months and the best he did was 3 weeks, almost 4 weeks without messing up. And that was in January-February--I was about ready to believe he was housebroken. But he wasn't.

This past week, he's pooped 2x and peed 3x in the house. I thought I had a handle on him, and on his training--but it's really frustrating, and I sometimes want to give up. I don't want to give this puppy up, but dang...!

Here's what I'm doing to fix it, but any help or tips from you guys would be great!
1. Water: We've had a petsafe water fountain for Max, because our old Max never drank out of stainless steel bowls. Matter of fact, Max rarely drank out of any bowl in our house, but Max would drink the rain water off the ground. And get subsequently sick due to whatever is on the ground... :( Rocket, however, LOVES to drink water, and he could put away a pint of water in 2 minutes of constant lapping. He just loves drinking water. So I'm putting away the water fountain, and its time to put out 1 bowl of water for Rocket and Max. Just to manage how much water Rocket takes in.
2. Crate time: Rocket is now on crate time only, no more free roaming about the house like he used to. Max and Rocket love to play like boxers, jumping and growling, and I miss watching them have fun on their own. But now, it's just too much freedom, and I feel the need to regulate and monitor Rocket's out-of-crate time. Rocket cries and whines when he's confined, and sees Max walking about the house.
3. Rocket's temperament/obedience: he is already reasonably trained and obedient, can sit/lay down/stay on command; he can walk well enough on a leash, without pulling.
4. NILIF? I'm reading up on NILIF training, and trying to find a good mix of how to get him properly housebroken. I'm going to try the tethering approach--where Rocket is tied to me wherever he goes inside the house, or outside. Let off the leash and out of crate for playtime rewards. But I'm still figuring it out. We need an intervention, badly. Is it too late to change?

If you got this far, THANK YOU FOR READING!
 

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I would say taking away his unlimited supply of drinking water was a good start. Also the keeping him tethered to you is probably a good idea too for now.

I'm guessing there are no underlying issues, he has been checked out by a vet?

My boxer took the longest of any dog I ever owned with the house training, just pee though. Don't know if its a breed thing or what.

I know with my guy I would take him out leashed in the morning and he wasn't going back inside until he did both. He also seemed to go poop naturally in the afternoon with any type of exercise. Then right before bed I would take him out and same thing as the morning, we didn't come in until he did both. Also would take him out multiple times during the day to just pee. It was a bit easier for me as I work from home.

Have you noticed if he poops in the house after playing with Max? Or your not sure when he goes? The poop in the house might be from excitement from playing or something. The pee just might have been from his unlimited supply of water. I would try to get him on a schedule going outside and he doesn't come in till he is done. I'm not sure about other posters boxers on here, but my guy goes poop morning, afternoon and night. Almost the exact same time every day.

If he is food motivated you can "randomly" give him a treat for going outside with praise. Kind of start from scratch with that.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I would say taking away his unlimited supply of drinking water was a good start. Also the keeping him tethered to you is probably a good idea too for now.

I'm guessing there are no underlying issues, he has been checked out by a vet?

My boxer took the longest of any dog I ever owned with the house training, just pee though. Don't know if its a breed thing or what.

I know with my guy I would take him out leashed in the morning and he wasn't going back inside until he did both. He also seemed to go poop naturally in the afternoon with any type of exercise. Then right before bed I would take him out and same thing as the morning, we didn't come in until he did both. Also would take him out multiple times during the day to just pee. It was a bit easier for me as I work from home.

Have you noticed if he poops in the house after playing with Max? Or your not sure when he goes? The poop in the house might be from excitement from playing or something. The pee just might have been from his unlimited supply of water. I would try to get him on a schedule going outside and he doesn't come in till he is done. I'm not sure about other posters boxers on here, but my guy goes poop morning, afternoon and night. Almost the exact same time every day.

If he is food motivated you can "randomly" give him a treat for going outside with praise. Kind of start from scratch with that.
The unlimited supply of water is a good first step. I went out and bought a harness and long lead/tether, where I can tether him close to me wherever I'm at.

As far as his poops--he does do them after playing with Max, or around that time. I'm positive it's because all the exercise gets his body going, I'm sure. The problem is, it takes him 15 seconds to poop/pee, and then he and Max are back at it again. Thankfully they both avoid the poopy/pee area when they start playing again, but still...

Today's the first day he's on crate + leash full time, no free-roaming. He's a little nervous and whiny, but he's not cranky so far. I've taken him outside 4-5x to poop and pee, starting since this morning. So far, he only peed. I keep at him to poop, but he just looks at me funny and then wants to go inside the house. I'm wondering if he's afraid to show me he is pooping, when he's on leash. Normally he just walks about and sniffs around the dog run, has full freedom to poop where he likes. But now, I'm trying to be closer proximity. Anyway, I'll keep trying this out. Whatever it takes to get him to stop messing up inside the house :(.
 

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The unlimited supply of water is a good first step. I went out and bought a harness and long lead/tether, where I can tether him close to me wherever I'm at.

As far as his poops--he does do them after playing with Max, or around that time. I'm positive it's because all the exercise gets his body going, I'm sure. The problem is, it takes him 15 seconds to poop/pee, and then he and Max are back at it again. Thankfully they both avoid the poopy/pee area when they start playing again, but still...

Today's the first day he's on crate + leash full time, no free-roaming. He's a little nervous and whiny, but he's not cranky so far. I've taken him outside 4-5x to poop and pee, starting since this morning. So far, he only peed. I keep at him to poop, but he just looks at me funny and then wants to go inside the house. I'm wondering if he's afraid to show me he is pooping, when he's on leash. Normally he just walks about and sniffs around the dog run, has full freedom to poop where he likes. But now, I'm trying to be closer proximity. Anyway, I'll keep trying this out. Whatever it takes to get him to stop messing up inside the house :(.
 

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What are you feeding him?

In my experience better quality food not only equals better nutrition but also less poop.

One of my dogs best friends at the dog park was a German Shepard who would poop 3-4 times in a one hour walk. Turns out the dog was getting fed a pretty cheap food from the supermaket because her owner thought she couldn't afford the premium dog foods. I finally convinced her that the premium food would actually cost the same because she would be feeding much less. In the end her dog was doing much better and would only poop once during the walk.

Whatever the reason, obviously your dog is not fully housetrained so YOU need to keep an eye on him and learn to read his signals. Dogs will start to sniff around for a spot to eliminate and you need to recognize this signal and take him out to a proper relief area immediately. Also be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect any spots in the house where he has eliminated so he doesn't pick up the scent and think "hey here is my spot".
 

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Discussion Starter #6
He’s eating Royal Canin boxer puppy food. Pretty premium. I would like to feed him cheaper food, but Royal Canin Boxer has kept both our boys healthy. He’s not pooping 3-4x in an hour or have diarrhea. His droppings look healthy and at most is 2x a day, morning/noon and afternoon/evening.

I do my best to keep an eye on him. He doesn’t give the obvious signals that my other dog does.

Thing is he is always smelling around our house when he is roaming free. Smelling for food, smelling under the table, smelling Max, smelling my daughters shoes.

I’m doing my best to not let him feel left out when Max is walking around free and he’s tethered.

For now, the indoor tether/leash seems to be working. He did poop and pee when on leash today, which is new. And he’s not chewing his leash when he’s tethered around the house. Or fighting the change, in general. So far so good.
 

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Happy to update,
I think my 8 month puppy is now potty trained (was actually 7 months old l in my original post, I’m just bad at math).


This is after 6 weeks of tethering everywhere, leashed potty breaks, and crate time.
I mean, he is potty trained in front of me—meaning he lets me know he’s gotta go when he’s in front of me.
Real test is this weekend, will let him have a little more freedom, free run of the house. If he doesn’t have any more accidents, fantastic!
 

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Awesome!

Love the picture. Thats either the look of "Are we going outside yet?" or "Can I have some of whatever you are eating?"
 

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More free time is good but I would not leave him unsupervised or its likely to start all over again. I think you are doing well reading when he has to go out. Boxers seem to have to poop a lot! Especially when they are younger so he just may need more time. Sounds like he is getting the right idea its mostly being consistent.
 

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More free time is good but I would not leave him unsupervised or its likely to start all over again. I think you are doing well reading when he has to go out. Boxers seem to have to poop a lot! Especially when they are younger so he just may need more time. Sounds like he is getting the right idea its mostly being consistent.
Yeah, you hit the nail on the head...

Less than 24 hrs later, he left a huge puddle of pee in our living room... luckily it is hardwood, but still. Basically gave him run of the house, no supervision—we were putting up last of our rain gutters. My daughter wanted to play with him but she doesn’t watch him like a hawk like I do.


Well... at least it wasn’t poop. Lol. 8 months tho... frustrating... I hope he doesn’t do this much longer. He definitely enjoys free time out from his crate. But I donno how much longer I can take.... well, I’ll keep at it. But man, i guess I was super lucky my first dog was so well behaved and potty trained off the bat!!!
 

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Some dogs just take longer and unfortunately it just takes one slip up you have to start over again. Try rewarding him with a treat and tell him a good boy when he goes out for you. You may need to get a special pet sanitizing spray to remove the odors from where he has previously gone potty in the house. But the key here is to do it the same all the time dogs love consistency they get very confused if the signals change a s to what's good and bad. You will get there just don't give up!
 
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