A cat going into a sandbox

Following the adoption of a new pet, a “honeymoon period” commences. Pet owners are understandably smitten with their new addition and forgive certain transgressions, like waking up at dawn, climbing on the furniture or leaving a puddle or pile behind. 

It takes time for newbies to learn and conform to the rules of the household, and in some cases the process of house training a new pet can be painstaking. Take heart. Getting your pet to understand when and where they can relieve themselves is an investment with sizable returns. 

Joys of Cat Ownership?

Cats are usually quite adept at figuring out their litter boxes. They might have an accident or two along the way, but if spraying continues with more frequency or intensity, it may time for veterinary intervention. In other words, barring certain health or behavioral issues, housetraining a cat of any age is relatively easy.

Dogs Will Be Dogs

Adopting an adult or senior dog is an excellent endeavor. However, just because they are grown doesn’t mean they won’t slip up in the house occasionally. The bottom line is that animals need to be trained with positive reinforcement. Never scold or punish your pet when they have accidents in the house as that only serves to reinforce the behavior, and no pet owner wants to continually pick up messes inside the house.

Consistency Is Key

Your strategy for housetraining a new pet largely depends on your pet. Some animals are more receptive to the initial introduction than others. It’s important to note that all animals want to please their people, so once they are praised for a job done right they are more likely to repeat the same behavior.

Baby Steps

If possible, watch your new pet very closely and limit how much time they have to explore the house on their own. Dogs are pretty obvious about needing to go by sniffing around, moving in circles and perhaps even anxiously looking around for a place to relieve themselves. Once you are clued into what they do immediately before they urinate or defecate you’ll be able to take them outside right away.

Puppy Pads

Alternatively, place puppy pads on the floor to facilitate a nice and easy clean up for you. You may have to pick them up and put them directly on the pad. Offer loads of praise after they go where you want them to.

The Great Outdoors

Once they demonstrate success with pads they can be led outside when they indicate they have to go. Start by slowly moving the pads closer to the doorway in case they don’t make it. After they perceive the outside as their bathroom you can begin removing pads, although they may need them if/when you leave, or during severe weather.

Always use the same command, such as “go potty” and offer treats and praise when they complete the task. Over time, reduce treats.

The Great Crate

Crate training dovetails nicely with house training a new pet. Provide a comfortable crate for them to stand up, turn around and sleep inside of, but not large enough for them to also use as a bathroom. In other words, they won’t want to soil their bedding. Remember, new pets should have the opportunity to relieve themselves every 2-4 hours.

House Training a New Pet

Housetraining a new pet may present certain challenges, but it is a great opportunity to get to know your pet. This may be the first thing they learn from you, but definitely not the last. 

If you’re new to the art of pet ownership, please let us know. Androscoggin Animal Hospital is always here to help!