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|Housetraining an Adult Dog|
Much like pregnancy, housetraining either is or isn't. There is no "mostly housetrained." Unless there are extenuating circumstances, if your grown dog has accidents, she isn't housetrained. But here's the good news: Most dogs are naturally clean, so there's an excellent chance you'll be able to train her.
First, let's explore some extenuating circumstances that affect housetraining. Clear these up, and you can generally avoid a habitual problem.
Common Impediments to Housetraining
When a housetrained dog suddenly isn't housetrained, the first thought is it's a behavior issue. It usually isn't. More often than not, there's an underlying health issue. Start with a veterinary examination, including stool and urine check, but don't stop there. Subtle physical issues can affect housetraining. Enlist your veterinarian's help in exploring possible root causes. Some physical impediments to housetraining include intestinal parasites, bladder, kidney or other infection, thyroid, pancreas or other organ dysfunction just to name a few.
How long is your dog cooped up?
This seems almost too obvious to mention - but leaving a dog too long without relief isn't fair to the dog. If your dog just can't hold it as long as you're requiring him to, don't blame the dog. Arrange for a pet sitter or other reliable person to take your dog out, or use doggie daycare.
Dogs are creatures of habit that need time to acclimate to changes in their schedule. Once she's adjusted, things should be fine. To help her adjustment, arrange for someone to take her out on her previous schedule, gradually shifting in 15 or 30-minute increments to the new one.
Changes in diet can cause digestive upset. You don't have to switch dog foods for your dog to experience a diet change. Dog food manufacturers often adjust recipes from one batch to another. If you've just opened a new bag of food, that may be what's going on. The good news is that once acclimated to the change, your dog will probably be OK.
Some commercial dog foods cause dogs to drink a lot of water. And many foods contain excess non-digestible fillers that increase stool volume. Both increased water intake and stool volume can create urgency. The fact is sometimes a dog just plain can't hold it.
Dogs form associations between the environment and behavior. A dog on grass gets used to the feel, smell and other properties of the turf - all of which trigger her "go" button. If that's what she's used to, and she is taken to a city where there's nothing but concrete, those environmental cues are missing. She may hold back until she's on a surface that more closely resembles grass - perhaps Grandma's oriental.
Similar to environment, dogs get accustomed to eliminating in a specific context. If the framework changes, so does the dog's housetraining. Here's a common example: The dog has a fenced yard where she eliminates off-leash with no one watching. That's her framework - free and alone.
Household stress & other reasons
Stress - both good and bad - can affect your dog and his housetraining. Just a few of the things that may temporarily interrupt housetraining are moving house, marriage, the birth of a baby, divorce, illness or the death of a loved one.
Newly adopted dogs -
You've just adopted a dog. The rescue organization or previous owner told you she is fully housetrained - but she's not! You think you've been lied to, but you probably weren't. Most likely, she just needs to adjust - to a new diet, a new environment, a different context - all or many of the above issues. Be patient and understanding. She's going through changes, and so are you. The difference is, you know what's going on. She doesn't have a clue.
Ten Steps to Housetraining
Now that you know what can stand in your way, here are 10 aspects to housetraining the adult dog.
Clean the spot with a non-ammonia cleaner (ammonia is one of the elements in urine, so the smell will draw your dog back to that spot). Then make the commitment to watch him more closely next time.If you've tried this program and it isn't working, or if you have a dog that relieves himself in the crate, seek professional help from a trainer or behaviorist. Click here for information on our telephone, email and in-person behavioral consultations.
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