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Hi! I have a 10 year old male Chihuahua who was previously well-trained. However, my parents brought him down to live with me at my apartment and he has since lost all the training he previously had. He goes to the bathroom inside, doesn't obey any commands, and often barks anxiously. The reason he left my parents place is because they generally neglected him and he would stay in a small room by himself for most of the day. Now, he mostly stays in my room because my housemate has a cat and they are not used to each other yet. My current thoughts are sending him back to live with my parents, or paying for a behaviorist. Does anyone have any tips for moving forward?
 

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Dogs don't generalise well, so 'don't toilet in this house' won't always translate to 'don't toilet in that house'.

That said, at 10 years old, I'd be surprised he doesn't have toilet training nailed.

First thing to do is get a sample to the vet to find out whether it's a medical issue rather than a behavioural one. If that's ruled out, back to basics - take him out regularly and when he toilets outside, immediately reward him. It has to be immediate to be clear that it's for toileting and not for anything else and it has to be generous to make it worth his while to hold his toilet until he is outside.

For the anxious barking, what's he barking at? And how long has he been with you?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Dogs don't generalise well, so 'don't toilet in this house' won't always translate to 'don't toilet in that house'.

That said, at 10 years old, I'd be surprised he doesn't have toilet training nailed.

First thing to do is get a sample to the vet to find out whether it's a medical issue rather than a behavioural one. If that's ruled out, back to basics - take him out regularly and when he toilets outside, immediately reward him. It has to be immediate to be clear that it's for toileting and not for anything else and it has to be generous to make it worth his while to hold his toilet until he is outside.

For the anxious barking, what's he barking at? And how long has he been with you?
Hi Joanne !!! Thank you so much this is already so helpful. Usually he barks at myself or the door if he knows that the cat is somewhere on the other side (even if the cat is not close to our room). He's been with me for about 2 weeks now. He's showing some other signs of anxiety, for example, biting my hand when trying to put a leash on him (usually he's excited about walks), or biting a toy and not moving for several minutes.
 

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I'll tag @LMMB who has recently introduced a cat to her dogs - one of them is coincidentally a chi.

I'm wondering if some of the anxiety is from not meeting the cat already - knowing something is there but not being able to see it. You know what your own imagination is like, the monster you can't see is the scariest.

But 2 weeks is still early days.

Are you scent swapping and do you have baby gates?
 

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I'll tag @LMMB who has recently introduced a cat to her dogs - one of them is coincidentally a chi.

I'm wondering if some of the anxiety is from not meeting the cat already - knowing something is there but not being able to see it. You know what your own imagination is like, the monster you can't see is the scariest.

But 2 weeks is still early days.

Are you scent swapping and do you have baby gates?
We are scent swapping a towel; the cat seems to be unbothered but my dog is the one who is more reactive. and we just ordered a baby gate today so hopefully that helps!

thank you for tagging someone else as well! how long do you think we should wait until we seek more professional help>
 

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I'd hold off on that for now. There are a lot of knowledgeable people here who may have advice, and being an international forum some will be doing other things depending on their time of day.

Once you have some tips, you need to give yourself time to put them in place, maybe with some fine tuning.

They also say it takes about 3 days for a dog to decompress in a new house, 3 weeks to learn the household habits and 3 months to properly fit in. I think you might find it takes longer as you have the extra complication of the cat. But once they meet you will hopefully see some progress.
 

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How old is the cat and is it used to dogs?

In lieu of a baby gate, you can open the door just a crack, so that the dog and cat can see each other, but neither can get to each other - if a paw or a leg can get through the opening of the door, it’s too wide (difficult when the dog is a chi because their legs are matchstick thin).

Also feed the dog and cat at the same time, on opposite sides of the door. This is a lot easier when you have two people and can coordinate your efforts. I didn’t have that luxury.

Next step, once you get the baby gate, is to put the dog on a houseline, and reward him for acknowledging the cat, but being calm around it. If he stares, barks or growls, you’re too close. Lead the dog away with a “Let’s go”, praise, treat and end the session;

I used this video for advice;

Always end the session on a positive note, for both the dog and the cat so that they associate each other with “good things”. Make sure the cat has vertical space by which to escape the dog (not that difficult with a chi :p ) and soon you could be enjoying scenes like th

Dog Dog breed Carnivore Fawn Ear


Brown Couch Furniture Dog Comfort


Dog Comfort Carnivore Felidae Floor


Furniture Couch White Comfort Living room


:)
 
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