Anyone that has ever had a dog will tell you, eventually, something is going to go wrong. Fluffy is going to piddle on the floor. Tank is going to chew up a favored possession. Pipsqueak is going to bark so much you think your head is going to explode.
If you are following the rules of housetraining success that we’ve outlined for you in the “Welcome Home” series and if you’ve downloaded and read our free ebook, “Bringing Your New Dog Home,” the mistakes should be minimal. In fact, most mistakes can usually be traced back to human error. Who was supposed to be watching Fluffy when she peed all over the living room rug? Was she taken out immediately after playing and getting that big drink of water?
But, if you’re following a housetraining plan and you’re seeing mistakes that don’t make sense, contact your veterinarian. Your dog may have a health related issue like a bladder infection or vaginitis, that may be making housetraining more difficult. Many puppies and adult dogs have easy to cure infections that can resolve housetraining problems quickly.
If you do find a mistake, don’t waste your energy getting upset with your dog. Clean it up with a pet stain remover, review your housetraining plan, and figure out how you can help your dog be more successful next time.
Keep a log of successes and mistakes, which can help you track your dog’s routine and solve potential issues. If your dog is having a mistake every day at 3 pm or every time your teenager is supposed to be supervising, that will help you resolve the problem.
Try to see things from your dog’s point of view. You don’t know the language. You don’t know the rules. You’re probably confused with some of the things your family members do. Learning the rules for living with humans should be an experience that builds your relationship, so that your dog learns that trusting you and listening to you, is always the right choice.
It is important to always be patient and kind. If your dog makes a mistake or does something that you don’t like, it is important to not blame your dog. Reprimanding your puppy by yelling or punishing them physically, often leads to more confusion and does nothing to actually resolve issues. Don’t just say, “NO!” Think about how you can change the situation next time so that your dog is successful or better understands what you want them to do.
If you’re having problems resolving issues or if your dog is showing signs of stress or fear based behaviors, contact your Fear Free veterinarian to consult with you about positive reward based dog training assistance from a professional trainer.
Good luck with your new furry family member and be sure and share your experiences with us here! Dogs truly are man’s best friend and can be a wonderful addition to your family.
This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.