Accidents Happen!

New dog peed on the oriental rug? Pooped in the laundry pile in the kids' room? Guess it's time to find him a new home. Wait a second... is your 3-year old son having potty training relapses? Did your daughter wet the bed until she was 6? You must have shipped them right off to the orphanage then, right?

I am using an overly sarcastic undertone just to drive home how LUDICROUS it is that dogs are returned to breeders, dumped at shelters, or just flat out neglected because of habits that are sometimes out of their control. As the pet parent, your reaction is always within your control. I am not an expert in this, or any other dog behavior topics; I am hoping to prevent just ONE dog from becoming homeless over a bad habit..

As I wrote in my Nature's Miracle post last week, I have been dealing with a myriad of stains and messes. This struggle with housebreaking is all too real with Finn so believe me when I say I can relate. I understand and I sympathize. I have not seen or experienced it on all levels but I feel your burden and your frustration. Just breathe. Take inventory of what is important to you and try a new method to address the challenge. Most importantly, talk with or visit your dog's vet to rule out any medical issues that could be causing incontinence. Once you get the "all clear", try some of these tips: 

  • Correct and redirect with an "outside" command (and take pup outside); DON'T scold
  • Use a bell by the door or develop another method to signal he needs to potty
  • Watch for signs that your pup is about to go (sniffing, circling)
  • Skip the pee pads, they can be confusing to some dogs, especially if your goal is to eliminate all "eliminations" in the house
  • Stick to a schedule - if your pup has to go after every meal, make that a routine time to take him out
  • Feed at consistent times or intervals and remove food bowls after a few minutes and especially when you leave to reduce accidents
  • Record and watch the activities of a normal day; you might learn when and why the mess occurs
  • Praise and reward potty outside and reinforce with a phrase ("good potty outside", for example)
  • Stay calm. Be patient. Breathe. Laugh. And clean ;)

UPDATE! Finn had a HUGE breakthrough this week! On 1/28/15 he whimper-barked while I sat at my desk, opening mail. I found it odd since we had come in from our evening walk no more than 10 minutes earlier but I was certain he was trying to tell me he had to go outside. Mind you, we had snowbanks over my waist and the wind chill was 15 degrees so our first walk was brief. I also knew there was no way that he was asking to go outside for fun. So, any way, the moral of the story is that I listened to his cue, signaled "outside" and, sure enough, he went #1 AND #2! TMI? I don't care -- it was a proud dog mom moment for sure!

Be positive and don't forget to leverage the experts - vets and (positive reinforcement) trainers, as needed! And set realistic expectations. Young pups and elder dogs simply should not be expected to "hold it" for more than a couple of hours, max. Sending good vibes!