I need a little pet help. I hope I've come to the right place. Sorry, this may be longish post.
Can an old dog be retrained and how to do it.
Here's the story. Three lovely pomeranians and their human, Charles, used to live with me. Tequila, female, approx 12 years old, Nikki, male, approx 11 yr old and Fave, female, approx 8. Fave was the runt of Tequila's second and last litter, Nikki was the sire. Nice little Pom family.
Tequila had a previous owner, prior to Charles. When they first came to live with me, Tequila was anti-social because the previous owner's 4-yr-old son was overly rough. (I think abusive, but I can't say for sure.) She had lost a lot of her hair and was just very high-strung. Tequila was afraid to go up or down stairs, hated children and would snap if startled or approached suddenly from behind. I had to tell her I was behind her, if she didn't see me. After several months she calmed down, but was really only ever attached to Charles. She would sit in my lap and allow me to pet her, but only Charles could brush her. She learned how to go up and down stairs, although it was like a toddler, one step at a time. Nikki and Fave, on the other hand, attached themselves to my daughter and me with no problem.
All three dogs were house-trained, but they stayed in the bathroom (with food, water, and bedding) while we humans we out during the day and that's where they slept at night. They are very attached to eachother. They all lived with me for about 5 years.
Then about 18 months ago, Charles bought a house and they all moved out. It was a fixer-upper and the previous owner had several untrained animals (cats & dogs). Charles had to rip up all the flooring, clean & seal the subfloors, and replace all the carpet with laminate and linoleum to rid the house of the animal smells.
Tequila has lost all her training in all the confusion. She refuses to come in from the backyard (safe, fully-fenced) even overnight. She refuses to go into the bathroom if Charles has to leave the house or when its time for bed. (Oh, Charles did retire, so he doesn't have to leave them in the house alone all day.) When we say, "Bathroom, dogs," she takes off downstairs and hides. She has been pooping all over downstairs, which despite her age, I don't believe is an incontinence problem. She has started getting into garbage cans and making messes. She seems less attached to the other two; she goes her own way. Charles tells me she is like this all the time.
I don't live in the new house, so I only see the dogs about once a week. When I go over the other two are all over me and under my feet. She barks and slinks off somewhere. She really barks if Charles hugs me in front of her. For the life of me, she acts jealous. (I realize I am applying a human emotion to her.)
I am worried that she is reverting to some of her anti-social behaviors. We've tried giving treats when they are all in the bathroom, carrying her into the bathroom when we have to leave, leaving her outside if she refuses to come in. I hate to scold her, but Charles does about the pooping and garbage cans. I worry about her abused early years and how to discipline her now without further harming her. She really is a loving dog when she wants to be.
Any dog experts out there? Thanks!!