Some of you may think “Why would you need to house train an older dog?”. It’s true in most cases that house training is usually done at the puppy stage, and just like children learning is perhaps easier at this early stage. However, there is one big reason why someone might find themselves with an untrained adult dog.
What about rescue dogs?
If you are one of those great people that takes on a rescue dog, you might find he/she has never been house trained or the process has not been carried out properly. First and foremost, dogs don’t house train themselves – well not usually anyway! So the most important thing is to be patient and positive with your dog. Also for an adult dog, you should always have them vet checked to make sure there is no underlying issue around their bodily functions. Alongside this, there are three factors that you need to think about when you start.
For a start there are bound to be accidents, and how you clean up these accidents can make a whole lot of difference! Because these are bodily fluids (or solids – sorry if this is the case!) then there will be proteins present. It’s important to use a biological washing powder or detergent. Without the “bio” part, the proteins won’t be broken down properly, which means even though you clean up and can’t see anything, your dog will still be able to smell it. Remember they have amazing powers of smell! If so, it’s quite possible they have marked that as a toilet spot inside your house and are likely to return to it if they can still find it. Remove the smell and remove the “marked spot”!
Setting a Routine
You must start a routine with your dog, unless you want to make it super hard for yourself, and them! The obvious ones are letting your dog out at the same time in the morning and the same time last thing at night. However, to assist with house training it’s also important to feed your dog at the same time each day and until they are house trained, you should exercise them at the same time also. This will allow patterns to develop, which link eating, toileting and exercise.
You may not be James Bond, or some other super spy, but hopefully you have good observational skills! If you watch your dog, you will start to notice patterns of behavior around their toilet habits. It may be they start sniffing the ground, circling or in some cases become excitable.
When you see this, you should let them out immediately. Supervise your dog while outside, but don’t interact with them – you may distract them from what they are out there to do. If after about 5 minutes they haven’t gone, then take them back inside – but watch them like a hawk! Keep letting them out every 20 minutes or so, letting them stay outdoors for up to 5 minutes, until they have actually gone to the toilet. Give praise, but in a gentle way – don’t go over the top.
My advice, if you get a new dog (and the same applies for a puppy) you really need to be at home initially – especially to get into good house training process. If you are working, take a holiday to coincide with your pet’s arrival – it’s an investment you won’t regret!
If you are out of the house and return to find an accident, please don’t punish your dog. Just clean it up and carry on as if nothing has happened – otherwise your dog will associate your arrival home with a negative experience, which can lead onto more behavioral issues in the longer term, particularly around anxiety issues.
There is a misconception out there that dogs look or act guilty when they have done something wrong – this is not the case. Any appeasement displays, (such as a tail between the legs or a “hang dog” expression) are in response to your own emotion – i.e. disappointment, cross tone etc – not because they think they have done something wrong.
Putting the time in = a long and happy relationship with your dog and their toilet habits!
if you have any thoughts or comments of your own, I would love to hear them. Please leave any feedback or questions below.