What Is The KSL Dog Problem?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation that has gone like this between myself and a dog owner on the phone:
Dog Owner: We need help! Our dog is two years old and goes to the bathroom all over the house!
Me: You’ve been putting up with this for two years and you’ve just now decided to find a dog trainer? How have you been living?
Dog Owner: No, no, no. We just got the dog two weeks ago from KSL (or it could be Craigslist, animal rescue, shelter, Humane Society, etc.). I’m furious. They said the dog was housebroken, but he’s not. He goes potty in the house all the time and we don’t know what to do!
Folks, this problem is all too common. I find that many of the dog owners feel like they’ve been cheated or lied to. They think that the previous owners were fibbing when they told them the dog was house trained. In some cases that’s true. It’s not uncommon for irresponsible dog owners to lie about why they are giving up their dog.
Why Does It Happen?
But in many cases, these dog owners weren’t lying. It’s entirely probable that the dog WAS house trained, it’s just that the dog was house trained in a different home.
You see, for many dogs house training isn’t a one-time, ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ type deal. There are a lot of components that go into getting that dog housebroken in the first place.
Think about it, before the dog came to live in the new home it’s likely he or she was accustomed to a certain schedule and a certain way of doing things. The dog got used to where the back door was, when the previous owners got dressed in the morning and took them out, the scents in the yard that were associated with going to the bathroom, the corrections the dog received in the previous house for going potty indoors, etc.
All, or nearly all, of those associations and training are completely gone once the dog goes to a new house. Remove the associations and it’s common for the dog to revert in their training.
The big mistake that many people make is believing that the dog was house trained to understand that you never go to the bathroom indoors. That just isn’t the case for all dogs. For many dogs the act of them being housebroken and going outdoors was really a compilation of numerous other associations.
How Can You Fix It?
As an example, we’ve got two dogs who have been completely house trained for many years. You could leave these dogs alone for hours in the home and come back with no worries.
That being the case, I’ve still taken precautions every time we’ve moved into a different home. My female dog (now 10 years old) is so clean and good that you could put her indoors anywhere and she’d never go to the bathroom unless she was really sick. My male, (eight years old) however,WOULD go to the bathroom in a new home if given the opportunity. It’s not because he’s worse at house training or we did anything different with him. It’s simply his personality is such that he doesn’t automatically recognize a new house as a clean place where you don’t go potty.
Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to put up with him going to the bathroom in the house. In fact, every time we’ve moved we haven’t had a problem with him because I follow a few simple guidelines.
Every time we go to a new house we simply go back a few steps. We supervise him very well for a solid month, when we leave we put him in smaller space (crate or bathroom) and that’s it. Give that a few weeks and now he recognizes the new home as a home and he’s good to go.
You can do the same thing, too. With our clients who find themselves in this position we typically start with a lot of leash training indoors and then move to more advanced obedience which allows us to supervise the dog with no problem. Give that a bit of time and now we’ve got a dog who is completely house trained.