Potty Training a Rescue Dog

by Heidi

Hi all.. we have a five-month which we have named Peggy. Only had her for only two weeks. Rescued her from dogs home. We are trying to potty train her as I’m sure you can imagine it been very tricky as she has been used to just doing it when and where she wants... our vet has suggested a crate which we now have... 3 nights of her barking the entire time and pooing everywhere in it... can anyone give us any further advise... do we keep going and hope she will stop messing. She is stressed. Many thanks

Hi, Janice Here from Small Dog Place

Congratulations on your new family member, and many thanks for adopting a rescue dog in need of a good home.

Potty training a small dog is one of the hardest tasks most of us undertake when we decide to get a little dog. Compared to the larger breeds or even some of the medium size dog breeds, small dogs not only seem to take longer but have more setbacks with pottying than their larger cousins.

Your dog is also disadvantaged because she has not had a consistent upbringing so may not have had the opportunity to learn better habits. The good news is she is still very young and can pick up good habits easier than an older or senior dog.

The excitement and love you feel for your new dog are now mixed with the frustration and annoyance of having to deal with a problem that sometimes feels insurmountable. I know, because I've done it before. Sometimes these conflicting feelings of love and happiness mixed with anger and helplessness can be overwhelming. But wait... there are things you can do.

Confinement is very important when potty training any dog, and crates usually work well. The philosophy behind crate training is that the crate serves two purposes. One is confinement, so the dog does not potty wherever she chooses. The second purpose is to provide a special place where she feels secure, a place to rest, sleep, or munch on a tasty treat in a stress-free place of her own. The other premise behind crate training is that dogs naturally will not eliminate in their den (crate).

Once a dog has begun peeing or pooing in their crate, the crate is no longer an effective method of housetraining. There is, however, a few things you can do.

Don't throw the crate away, yet. It can still serve as a haven, but you will need to add a bit more space for her to eliminate especially when you are not there. X-pens or dog enclosures allow a bit more room where you can add a crate or bed, pee pads, even toys, and food dishes. Dogs don't need food and water during the night when they should be sleeping.

This is a solution for you during the times when you are not with her or at night while at sleep.

The second part of training involves getting her back on a schedule where she knows when and where she needs to pee and poo.

The best way to begin is to choose where you want her to eliminate and introduce her to the area. Plan on taking her to that location numerous times a day. (after meals, first thing in the morning, after naps, after playtime, any time you notice she is looking anxious and needs to go out, last time before bed) Have plenty of great treats on hand to give her each time she does what you want her to do. The treats will likely need to be continued for quite a while until you feel she has finally "got the idea." Eventually, you'll want to wean her off of the treats, but in her case, I wouldn't do that too hastily. Add plenty of praise and enthusiasm when she does what she is supposed to do.

Assume this is going to be a process and don't expect overnight success.

In the meantime, get a good enzyme cleaner that will eliminate the odors in your house where she has gone. Here's a little hint: Dogs will always end up wanting to pee where they smell the odor of either their own or others' urine. Eliminate the scent using the enzyme cleaners. Dogs also will try to find other places to poo so don't give too much freedom. Scented potty pads work well if you want to potty train her to use them indoors rather than training to go outdoors.

It is my personal opinion that dogs are more adaptable and able to travel and if they have had experience using both pads and going outside. Going on outings and including your dog in normal family activities is also much easier if your dog feels comfortable eliminating in other places.

I hope this helps. I am encouraging others to jump in here and add their experiences about what worked and didn't. Good luck, Heidi

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