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Healthy Dogs

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House Training Adult Dogs

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Treatment for House Soiling Due to a Surface Preference

A dog will usually prefer to eliminate on whatever surface she used as a six- to ten-week-old puppy. For most dogs, this will be normal outdoor terrain, such as grass or dirt. City dogs might be equally or more comfortable going on pavement. Dogs who grew up in less typical environments, like laboratories, kennels and shelters with indoor runs, might be highly resistant to eliminating on grass or dirt.

In addition to following the instructions for house training, you can combine your dog’s preferred elimination surface with your desired surface. For instance, if your dog prefers to eliminate on concrete and you want her to go on grass instead, place a temporary slab of concrete in the area where you want to teach her to go. After a day or two, scatter a thin covering of grass clippings on the concrete. Make sure she will still go on the concrete. (If she won’t, you might need to use less grass at first.) Over the course of several days, gradually increase the amount of grass covering the concrete. Once the concrete is well covered and your dog is still eliminating on it, remove the concrete slab. You can take this general approach with a variety of surface preferences, including paper and carpet.

Treatment for House Soiling Due to Fear of Going Outside

A country dog who moves to an urban environment or a dog who has never been outdoors-say, one who was raised in an indoor kennel or laboratory, or one who was trained to go on paper inside and was never taken outside-can sometimes feel so overwhelmed that she will not eliminate outside. Some dogs will urinate but not defecate, probably because defecating puts a dog in a more vulnerable position.

In addition to our recommendations for general house training, you can try the following suggestions:

  • You might need to let your dog become comfortable outside before you can expect success with house training. Take your dog to a quiet area outdoors and spend time there. Drive to a quiet park or establish an area in your yard for elimination. If you are using your yard, it may help to invite a friend’s dog over to hang out with you (assuming that your dog enjoys that dog’s company). Sometimes the sight and smell of another dog eliminating will prompt a reluctant dog to go. Alternatively, you can try depositing urine from another dog in the area where you’d like your dog to eliminate. The odor alone might prompt your dog to eliminate.
  • If you have a balcony or deck but no yard, put down a plastic tarp and cover it with grass sod. This might just be a short-term step until your dog gets used to her new environment. (To try this option, you must have an enclosed, secure balcony to ensure the safety of your dog.)
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