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Introducing Lynn and Riley


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Hi. My name is Lynn and I have an appox. 7month old female cairn named Riley. I sort of got her in a weak moment ( I am sure there are more of you out there, she was a poor homeless pup) but love her dearly from the day she entered my life. She shares her home with my husband Neal and our 2 "big" dog mixes Eli (shep/retriver) and Raven(lab/rottweiler). Both me and my husband are dog lovers but Riley is beyond both are dog training skills. She won't listen half the time. She's like bipolar. A sweet baby one minute a little devil the next. I guess our biggest issue is housesoiling. She just doesn't get it. I need suggestions and fast. She goes outside half the time but then will take a poop in certain parts of the house. Its so frustrating. She even poops in her crate. I figure it must be too big??? Its a small crate. Also, any good books that anyone can recommend please do so. I love this little dog but she definately is in world of her own.

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Welcome to the forum! Sounds like you have a typical Cairn puppy. They are hard when they are young but will be well worth it soon. I would suggest some obediance training. This really helped with Savannah.

As far as potty training, Savannah was 9 months old before she became reliable. Make sure that you are consistant and taking your girl out often. PRAISE lavishly whenever she goes outside. Treats also help. Is it possible that your crate is too large? She should only have enough room to stand up and turn around.

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made.

-M. Acklam

Savannah's Dogster Page

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Congratulations on your new family member, and welcome to the forum! It will be a world of help to you in situations like the one you just described!

I just laughed when I read your post because it is EXACTLY how we describe Barney at our house!!! He is now 4 months old and my husband called him bipolar from day one! One minute he's calm and sweet and the next minute he is a little devil! :devil: I have posted several topics on this forum in my frustration with Barney's behavior, and everyone assures me it is just typical of a Cairn puppy! You are also in a similar situation as we are, where you are used to big dog behavior and are being totally thrown for a loop with the terrier attitude! I was beside myself at first, but have now learned to pick up on all of Barney's crazy ways!

As far as the potty in the cage, I have always read that it should be no bigger than an area for them to turn around. We bought one of the Life Stages crates from PetSmart that has a divider in it so you can adjust it to your growing dog. You may want to take her out to go potty, then put her in the crate for an hour or so for a short rest, then take her out immediately for potty. Do this a few times during the day and she will learn that potty is outside, not in her bed, and she will learn that the crate is for quiet time. Most dogs will not soil their bed, so make sure she has understood that her crate is her special place and not her potty. Our breeder told us to keep water and food in Barney's crate, but I personally think that makes the housebreaking process very hard. When you are controling what they eat and drink, you know they are getting what they should get, AND you know approximately when to let them out. The book I have says to let them out every hour, during a play session, 10 minutes after water and 25 minutes after food. Now this is for a young puppy and Riley is a bit older, but it would still be a great schedule to get her trained.

Accidents...Barney is staying dry from 10 pm - 6:30 am now. He knows potty is outside, but sometimes we get busy and forget to let him out for a while during the day, and he pees in the kitchen. He has only had 2 poop accidents in the kitchen since we got him and one was when we JUST got him home, so I don't count that one!

Here is a link to a CD that I bought, which has 6 pdf books on it that were very helpful for me! The author, Charles Heflin, has been a dog trainer for over 30 years, so I figured he knew his stuff. And he caters the CD's to the breed, which helps too.


You will see her personality emerge right before your eyes, and don't worry, she'll get the hang of the potty thing. I have found that Cairns are SOOOOO smart. I take Barney for walks in the morning and potty him before we leave. He usually poops twice before we go, but once I started out to walk before he pooped the second time. GET THIS

All creatures great and small, the Lord God, He made them all!

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You have gotten some great advice, and I don't have any more to add, but just wanted to welcome you to Cairn Talk! :)

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The advice on the size of the crate has already been given. With Mojo it really helped to get some baby gates and gate off the areas that he was having accidents. We basically gated it off so he was just in our living room area and in our sights at all times. They don't like doing it in front of you so they sneak away. We have just been able to take the gates down after about 3 months.

We have also "bell" trained Mojo to avoid having him bark or scratch at our door when he wants to go out. It's really easy to teach since cairn's are so darn smart. You just get a couple large bells at the craft store and tie them on a string hanging at paw level from your door knob. Then every time you take the puppy out you ring the bell and act a little exited, pretty soon they pick up the idea and ring it when they need to go out. Mojo will ring the bell and then sit and wait for me by the door until I am ready to take him out. He actually rings it different if he is seriously needing to go or if he is just faking it to go out and play.

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Hi Lynn,

I remember years ago when I had a German Shepherd decided I wanted a cute, scruffy little terrier. Within weeks of bringing Moxie (the terrier) home I just knew it was a horrible mistake. Moxie would crawl on my lap to be petted one minute and was totally adorable. Then next minute she acted like some possessed evil little creature on speed. I sat down one day and cried out of frustration. She died three years ago next month at nearly 13 years of age. Even now as I think of her there are tears in my eyes. I miss her so much. That little devil grew to be the doggie love of my life. She brought me more joy in some of the worst points of my life than I though possible. She was alway very cheeky, very smart and there was not a day that went by that she didn't make me smile.

Your two dogs come from very trainable genetic backgrounds - their ancestors were bred specifically to work at the command of humans. Terriers were bred to be useful to humans by flushing out and killing vermin - without human intervention. They are absolutely as smart as Rotties, or Labs or German Shepherds - but they are wired differently. The good news is that they really do want to please you and they eventually do become reliably housetrained - it just takes longer.

The key is patience and consistency. Go back to square one on housetraining. Never leave her alone - you cannot allow her to have mistakes. Treat her as if she is seven weeks old, not seven months, when it comes to housetraining. It will work.


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