Dogs acquired from an animal shelter, rescue organization or private party can provide you with years of enjoyable companionship, but any new dog can present some initial challenges. Be prepared for Fido to experience some behavior problems, such as temporary anxieties or relapses in house-training, after you bring him home.
Your adopted dog may have previous house-training, or he may never have been taught the rules of living in a house or apartment. Regardless of training history, all shelter dogs endure a certain amount of stress from being displaced, from being around barking dogs, and from experiences they may have had in the street. Even a previously well-trained dog may revert to inappropriate soiling when he arrives in the new home.
Start at the Beginning
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For the first few weeks, proceed as though Fido isn't house-trained, and take necessary precautions to prevent accidents. Limit the dog's access to your home until he or she is reliable. Use a crate, baby gate or leash to confine Fido when you can't supervise his actions. If he was once house-trained, the re-training process should progress quickly; some dogs catch on after just a few days of instruction.
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"House-training your dog or puppy requires far more than a few stacks of old newspapers — it calls for vigilance, patience, plenty of commitment and above all, consistency," says the Humane Society of the United States on its website. House-training is best when the dog owner helps the dog be successful. The owner watches the dog and looks for signs that needs to go out, such as sniffing and circling. Take Fido outside and reward him for good behavior when he performs the task. HSUS provides instructions for accomplishing house-training goals on its website.
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House-training should go smoothly if you follow a solid plan. New dog owners should invest in a dog training class, which is likely to cover house-training topics. However, physical or emotional issues can cause elimination problems. Check with your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist if you encounter prolonged training problems. Although house-training can be frustrating and unpleasant, never take your frustrations out on Fido, or you could make the problem much worse. Kathy Salzberg stress the importance of remaining calm on NetPlaces.com. "Never scream angrily at your dog or hit it with your hand or a newspaper if it has an accident. Rubbing its nose in it doesn't work either. The dog will become afraid and confused, and it will learn to distrust you as well," she says in an article about house-training problems.
Connie Jankowski began writing in 1987. She has published articles in "Dog Fancy" and "The Orange County Register," among others. Areas of expertise include education, health care and pets. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh.