Ask The Swag Gal – February 16, 2011

Today’s Ask TSGal comes from a new dog owner in seek of some house training help…

Hi TSGal,

I adopted a 5-year-old miniature dachshund, who had never been house broken. I tried using a crate to train him, but he’d still wet his bedding. I thought he might be scared inside the crate, so I gated him off inside my kitchen. This seemed to work fine. It’s now been one and a half years since I’ve had him. He does not have any accidents, but I cannot leave him alone for longer than three hours. Oddly, he can hold his bladder all night, but not during the day. How long do you think it will take to completely house train him? Will I ever be able to trust him to roam unsupervised in the rest of the house? Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.



Dear Codance,
I love the fact that you adopted a 5-yr-old pup! A lot of adult dogs are left in shelters, unwanted, and I always smile when I hear about someone bringing one of these dogs to a good, loving home.
When adopting a dog as an adult, training it is typically much more difficult, as you usually don’t know it’s previous training history. You must remember to be patient – if the dog is having accidents at 6 years old, it probably was not trained as a puppy, so it simply doesn’t know any better. Crate training is usually successful, because dogs tend not to go where they sleep. However, in your case, I can understand your skepticism, as I’m sure your little pup was already a nervous wreck when you brought him home.
Now that you’ve had him for over a year, you should have learned some of his behaviors. Although dogs obviously cannot speak, an owner can still understand the wants and needs of their dog through it’s expressions and behavior. If you’re saying that the dog can make it through the night, but may have an accident if left alone for three hours, it could be separation anxiety that is causing him to go.
I would suggest keeping him gated off as you’ve been doing, until he seems to be completely comfortable in that area, and is not having any more accidents. Then, you can start expanding his boundaries a bit.
Do not forget to reward him for good behaviors. Whenever he goes outside to do his business, give him a treat immediately after – commending his actions. He’ll start to learn that he only gets a treat if he goes potty outside.
Make sure you are giving him attention and affection. He most likely has trust issues, as he was probably bumped around from different homes as a puppy. Once he can trust you, he will be more inclined to listen to you.
I wish you the best of luck with your newest family edition. I truly believe that dogs are a man’s best friend!
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