How to Housebreak a Rescue Dog
Bringing a new rescue dog home is an exciting moment, watching the new member of the family run around eagerly investigating his new home, and then the dog stops, lifts a leg, and start to eliminate or go “potty” on a chair. That’s when a new owner might ask, “Can a rescue dog be housebroken like puppy?” Well, according to Cousineau, “Housebreaking a rescue dog or a dog from a shelter is the same process as for a puppy or a dog re-homed from one home to another” (Cousineau). Housebreaking is a process of determining a dog’s routine and setting a schedule, confinement, and positive reinforcement. First, figure out the dog's routine and cues to help determine when he will have the need to eliminate. Pay attention to how long after eating or drinking, upon waking up, playtime, and being overly excited that the dog will have the need to go potty. Watch for behaviors or "cues" that suggest that the dog needs to go, for example, walking in a circle, sniffing around, or scratching at the door. Take the dog outside on a regular schedule according to his routine and every two hours in the beginning, as well as whenever he displays one of his cues. If the owner maintains the schedule, the dog will start to adjust and start holding it until the scheduled break. Consistent feeding and watering schedules are important during the housebreaking process. According to Appelbaum, dogs should be fed at fixed times and given no more than 10 to 15 minutes to eat, and water should be given at scheduled times and when taking the dog to eliminate (109). The reason that feeding and watering schedules are important is that it makes it extremely difficult to predict when the dog will need to go potty when the owner allows free feeding: leaving food available for the dog to eat all the time (Appelbaum 109). Do not permit any food or water at least two hours before bedtime and take the dog, as late as...
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