Piglet was adopted from an animal shelter by his new, loving owners. He was estimated to be a little under a year when they acquired him. Although he was a wonderful little dog in many respects, after several months at his new Creedmoor home he was still not completely housebroken. He would have accidents on a daily basis, which was causing quite a lot of stress.
His owners contacted us, and we quickly went about conducting a history and evaluation on him. Unfortunately, because he was a rescue dog there were a lot of unknowns about his previous history. He had been picked up as a stray in rural Creedmoor, rather than being surrendered by a previous owners. There was no way of knowing how long he had been running loose outside.
Although he was already a year and a half old, when it came to housebreaking we treated him as though he were a puppy and all of the lessons were new (and they probably were). We established a strict feeding/resting/playing/pottying schedule for him, as well as introduced him to a dog crate. A dog crate is a very important tool for housebreaking, although like all tools it can be used or misused. We introduced the crate slowly, making sure to keep it a positive experience for Piglet. His owners were instructed on which times he should go in the crate, and which times he should come back out. We also taught his owners the correct way to interact with Piglet throughout this whole process so that the training would be as seamless as possible.
Occasionally, for some dogs we like to use a tethering system for housebreaking. This means that the dog is leashed to his owner so that he cannot sneak away and go to the bathroom out-of-sight. However in this case, we decided against the tethering system because he also suffered from some separation anxiety symptoms and we did not want to exasperate that condition. For his own good, Piglet needed to learn that he would still be safe even if his owner wasn't always in view. Instead, we employed a combination of crate-work with his owners in another room, along with calm supervised time in the house with his owners watching. He was never allowed to wander away unsupervised, especially if the chances of him pottying in the house was especially high. Because of the strict schedule we had drafted up in the beginning, we always knew which times had a higher likelihood of him going to the bathroom in the house.
We also began to teach him that whenever he went to the bathroom outside (in a particular area that his owners chose), life would get very good! We utilized a lot of praise and encouragement for pottying outside, so that it soon became clear to him what we wanted him to do. After all, Piglet's problem had nothing to do with him being a stubborn dog, he simply had no idea what we wanted from him! In time, once he understood the concepts of where (and where not) to go to the bathroom, he became a housetrained dog. Good boy, Piglet!