'There's No Such Thing As a Partially House-Trained Dog' (Don't I Know It)

Patty Khuly, DVM
Updated: May 11, 2015
Published: October 29, 2009
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I’m in trouble. Big trouble. I have this house guest coming this weekend. And this week she just happened to author a PetConnection feature post titled “There’s no such thing as a ‘partially’ house-trained dog.”

It’s a problem why? Because I have a dog who’s not housebroken. There. I’ve said it: “My name is Patty and my dog is not house trained.”

Copping to it in public, however, is not likely to grant me a pass with Gina. I’m a small animal veterinarian, after all. What the heck is wrong with me that I can’t manage to keep my own Slumdog from soiling the floor?

Here’s what she and Dr. Marty Becker have to say:

“The first step in turning an adult dog into a reliable house pet is to embrace a key concept: There’s no such thing as a “partially” house-trained dog. He either is or he isn’t.

Why is realizing this important? Because if you have a dog who is “sometimes” reliable, you have a dog who doesn’t understand what’s required of him, probably because no one taught him properly in the first place. Punishing your pet isn’t fair, and it isn’t the answer: You have to go back to square one and teach him properly. No shortcuts here.”

Yeah, no shortcuts. Don’t I know it.

Problem is, I understand the basic principles altogether too well: crate him when he’s alone, keep a strict schedule, watch like a hawk, offer no opportunities for solitary house roaming, correct only when I catch him in the act, use an enzymatic cleaner to “erase” past mistakes, and praise like crazy when he gets it right.

Problem is, Slumdog defeats me even in the simplest things. Reading a book while he’s attached to you by a leash? He’ll defecate right there... silently... with wafting stench for prima facie evidence. And it always hits me a few seconds post-poo –– too late to correct.

Then there’s the crate thing: Ever met a dog who will happily poop and pee in his crate? Now, this is a dog who never spends more than four hours in his crate. How can it be that he finds the stool as comfortable to lie on as his bedding?

And the schedule thing: Though I’ve condescended to feed him a commercial diet during the training process by way of reducing his stool volume, Slumdog’s stool still comes fast, furious, and wholly unfettered by the mundane trappings of any sort of schedule. It’s like he’s taken a cue from my goats: A pellet here, a pellet there. Everywhere a pellet, pellet.

On the homemade diet? Forget it. It’s the same, only the stool volume is enhanced and, somehow, it sticks to his coat more. Raw? Tried that, too, though I’ll allow that the few days I tried may not have been enough to establish a pattern. Still, the smell of the resulting small-volume fecal material was so fetid I needed a mask to make it through the crate cleanups.

Things are improving, though. When I take him to work, which I’ll be doing for the next few weeks, I can take him out every hour (or have someone else do it). Everyone is on the lookout for his in-cage squatting behavior. Everyone knows to praise and pet him after a proper elimination.

But no one understands my pain. They all just look at Slumdog like he’s the Forrest Gump of the dog world. Which he may well be.

Here’s hoping my “tile-trained” dog doesn’t embarrass me when Gina comes to visit.

I’m trying, Gina; really I am.

Image: MCarper / Shutterstock