Adopting an adult dog is such a wonderful and rewarding decision. So, cheers to you if you are even considering the possibility. Know that when the deed is done, meaning when you have a friend you cannot do without and you have adopted it, you can call yourself a life changer. Because from now on, that’s what you will be doing, changing a dog’s life.
Now, your biggest issue could be that your dog may not know to go potty outside. Understanding the problem will help you resolve it. So, we have a few reasons why this can happen.
- Not being house trained
- Stress in the new household
- Territory marking
- Anxiety when being left alone
- A general bad mood
A dog usually chooses just a few spots in the house to use as a toilet where it will return to if not dealt with. These spots are generally near the exit or entry points of some rooms.
Dogs generally urinate and defecate separately thus you may have different types of surprises. Some will defecate outside and urinate inside the house or the other way around. Other dogs just get the idea that it’s bad going to the toilet in the house only in front of humans because of being scolded for it in their presence.
Puppies which are put in the garden when the owner feels that he wants to go to the loo, often get stressed and focus on getting back to the house where its owner is. That is why some puppies come back to the household and still go to the loo indoors.
These actions suggest they have learned that it’s not okay to go in the presence of humans instead of learning it’s wrong to go potty in the house. These dogs will take some extra patience to refresh their routine with an appropriate one.
It’s not just about setting up a routine to educate your dog, but rather setting up the right routine. Understand your dog in order to train it well.
The crate, your new best friend
A crate is a great way to prevent dogs from going potty when you’re busy and can’t supervise at that particular moment.
Crates are great for teaching dogs bladder and bowel control because they don’t usually soil their sleeping and eating areas. And that comes in handy when you need to concentrate on other things and can’t keep an eye on your buddy. But if your dog isn’t used to staying in a crate, he might get stressed out and toilet inside anyways.
Yes, we know, crates don’t look amazing. You may not be a fan of putting your dog in such a kennel but it could only be a matter of days before you train him well enough to make it sit on its own without problems. Plus, the crate can be quite comfy (not too small to make it distressed – it needs at least space to stand up and turn around – and not too big otherwise it could still use a corner for its needs).
Rules when using a crate
The crate is a friend and yes, you need to see it this way, but you should not take it for granted. There are certain rules you should be aware of.
- Never confine your dog for longer than it can hold. If it is forced to go potty inside the crate because it wasn’t taken out on time, then its training becomes much harder.
- It’s best to keep the crate where you spend most of your time so that your dog won’t be isolated, thus in distress.
- Try not to abuse the crate. Even if you take your dog outside often enough for its needs, that doesn’t mean it will be staying the rest of the time in the crate. It also needs to go out of it even if indoors, for exercise and simply for spending time with you.
The crate is a helpful tool, but at the end of the day, you still need to be in charge of training your dog. Understand your dog and use the crate carefully.
What are the steps in training your dog?
Accidents may occur soon after you bring the dog into your house. It’s really important you clean those areas thoroughly, so it won’t have any similar ideas in the future. Avoid ammonia-based cleaners because their scent resembles that of urine. Use a warm solution of biological washing powder or find a cleaner specifically designed for pet soils. Additionally, you can add a mixture of water and baking soda.
Then rinse again and let it dry.
So, we’ve talked a bit about routine. Of course, that is essential. But so are a few other rules. Let’s take them one by one and get a better understanding of our dog.
1. Keep a consistent schedule.
Take it out first thing in the morning, the last thing before going to bed and as regularly as possible during the day. Go to the same spot every time – help it recognize that area by leaving soiled newspapers or feces from previous times. See the bright side. We know it’s hard to find a smile when you’re on the floor and cleaning after your dog, but it is important to make an effort. Getting angry will not do you any good, because your dog has no clue why you are punishing it.
Punishment in these cases is not an option because dogs won’t get your point anyway. Smiles might help your dog learn faster. And so will praises and treats. Let it run a bit after it’s done the job otherwise it’ll delay its needs just to stay a bit longer outside.
2. Avoid distracting it
When you are going out for potty, then that is what you should be doing. No games, no chit-chats. You may be confusing your furry friend instead of training it.
If it wants to come back inside straight away, walk slowly towards the potty area, encouraging it to sniff around. Stay with your dog as long as it needs to finish its business and then shower it with praise. Make it crystal clear that it’s super important it does that then and there.
If nothing happens within 5 minutes, go back to the house – meanwhile keeping a close eye on your dog– then do it again in 20-30 minutes. This process will take most of your time but it is very important to keep your dog clean in the house. Taking time off work might be a good idea.
3. Watch its behavior
You shouldn’t leave your dog unattended at all, especially during the first days of its training. Keep it in view at all times, not allowing it to roam around freely. In case of accidents, you will have trouble deodorizing the area.
Try and look for suggestive body language instead. This will let you know when it needs to go out – intense sniffing, going in circles, being restless, barking, crying or even going to a room where it has marked before. This be the case, take it out immediately, to the established spot.
Also, pay attention to the period after your dog has eaten, woken up, after playtime or other forms of excitement.
4. When going out
Pick the same potty spot every time. This helps you and the dog by developing a preference for that certain area and the dog will associate it with going to the loo. Also, the scent will help too. Thus, if you find a puddle or a mess inside, it might be a good idea to take the mess outside to that particular area. The scent reinforces that it has come to the right spot and the reason for it.
You can also start using a command such as go loo, do your business, or something you choose so it can start developing an understanding of it. This way, when you’re away with your dog, it’ll be easier to make it understand why you are taking it out for a stroll.
5. During night time
If you’re lucky enough, your rescue will sleep like a baby at night. Unfortunately, some still need to go during the night time, just like humans. The best thing you could do is move its crate near or in your bedroom. This way, you’ll hear when it’s winning or moving around. Just follow the same daytime routine and take it outside calmly.
Don’t get too excited to take it out just because things are going the way you wanted to, because you don’t want it to make a habit out of waking you up in the middle of the night for a stroll in the garden.
Should you wake up to unpleasant surprises despite leaving the crate nearby, try using an alarm clock in the first couple of nights in order to experience the night time toileting hours. Don’t worry, this is just temporary.
6. Auch, incontinence…
Be careful not to mistake bad habits with a health issue. If your dog keeps soiling the house or even wets the crate despite your efforts and time invested in its training, your dog may be incontinent! This be the case, make sure you see the vet ASAP and contact the rescue center to see what can be done.
7. “He looks guilty!”
Not seldom do we hear this statement. Some dog owners actually think that their dogs are able to relate their previous actions with our present attitude. It’s, sadly, false.
This is actually called appeasement behavior and it means that dogs sense our disappointment or anger and this is their response: they feel threatened (without knowing why), and tend to diffuse the tension. If you have been doing this so far, it’s not too late. Start by greeting it normally, in a happy manner when coming home, regardless of what you find. You’ll know what to do afterward.
8. Setting the scene
You need to be dedicated to making this work smoothly. This may take some time, 1 week to 2-3 weeks. During this whole process, your rescue dog learns that praises and treats come only after toileting outside thus they will get into the habit of doing so. Continue with this method even after it has learned what to do, just to make sure you’ve totally changed its mindset.
After 2 weeks of this routine, you can reduce the number of toileting breaks from 6 to 4. But it may have different hours in mind. So you still need to stay alert for those signs we talked about, just until you settle the right schedule for it.
Steps, steps, steps, there are so many of them. But in the end, you are changing the mindset of an adult dog. It’s not supposed to be easy. It is, however, doable.
Potty training is just another lesson you need to teach your dog. Many more will come. Take your time, respect your routine and do so with a smile on your face.
Remember that your dog is trying. It is doing the best it can. But for your dog, this is a completely new reality. Would it be easy for you to settle in a completely new world? We’re guessing not…
Woof, Woof, People!