House Training a Shelter Dog

Sometimes when you bring home an adult dog from a pet rescue organization or shelter it needs to be housetrained. Here are some tips to teaching old dog new tricks.  

Make him feel safe and give him a den to retreat to. Making your rescued dog feel emotionally secure by providing him with a den builds your trust bond with him and makes him less anxious. A dog that is calm and feels secure is easier to train than a dog that does not know his place in your home. Providing him with a safe haven may also prevent him from urinating out of fear if he encounters other members of your pet or human family.  

Learn to read his body language. When it comes reading the dog’s body language, circling, sniffing, rising to a standing position and then sitting down again repeatedly and whining are all messages that he needs to go outside.   Don’t ignore these messages. Validate the dog immediately by taking him out to urinate or defecate.  Don’t punish an adult dog by pushing his face in urine or feces. These substances are not offensive to a Stafford so he will have no idea that he is being punished if you do this. He will enjoy the sensation of the smell and associate it with pleasure. He may also associate this with positive attention from you.  

Also note that adopted that have suffered from malnutrition may have small, underdeveloped bladders. These poor dogs may simply not be able to hold their urine.   The only solution to this is to take him out more often.   It is absolutely crucial that you never blame this type of dog for accidents, as he just can’t help it.  If you do intimidate this type of dog the first thing it is going to do is urinate. This is how it shows that it is submissive to you and recognizes your anger. The dog may even begin to urinate unprovoked when it sees you to show you that it recognizes that you are dominant. In this case, the dog has a hard-wired instinct to please you by automatically piddling when it sees you.  Once again, your best course of action is to be patient. Try not to resent the dog for having accidents.

A dog is not a vengeful creature. He simply doesn’t understand where he is supposed to go or why he should hold it.   He has either been badly trained or not at all.   All you can do about this one is keep a lot of paper towels handy in all areas of your home in case it happens again.  The thing to realize is that nearly all shelter dogs have problems like this. If you have nice carpets or don’t like the smell of urine then don’t get a dog from a shelter or a rescue organization. Chances are very likely that the dog will have problems with its training and have to be retrained.   Simply accept that accidents are going to be inevitable with a rescued dog especially if it has had a traumatic time.