Guest Author - Debra Kelly
There's a definite learning curve that exists when bringing home a new puppy, even for those who have had dogs before. For the first few weeks -- even months -- the new puppy is learning about his surroundings, meeting your friends and family, getting accustomed to your routine. In response, you're also learning the behaviors and cues of this slowly developing new personality, and it can be a difficult thing to recognize the behaviors of a puppy who is still learning himself.
Housetraining is a phase that all dogs have to go through. Learning to make it outside to eliminate is one of the key points of training that will make living with your new furry friend much easier. Housetraining can take weeks or months, depending on the dog and their need for constant reinforcement. But what if the accidents in the house aren't from a lack of training, but from a medical condition?
A puppy is still learning the cues that his body is giving him when he needs to eliminate, and an illness can make this as troublesome for him as it is for you. Changing puppy's diet can result in gastrointestinal distress that may make it tough for him to alert you to the impending event with enough time before it happens.
If this continues, there may also be other factors at work. Even if you got the dog from someone you consider a reputable breeder, he may have been exposed to something before you brought him home. Worms are a common culprit, and a urinary tract infection can make housetraining difficult and irregular. A trip to the veterinarian is especially warranted if the puppy's movements are inconsistent and look unhealthy.
Housetraining may be delayed by uncovering some form of illness, but getting the puppy healthy and back on schedule can usually be done fairly quickly -- like children, their little bodies can heal fast. It may take a little longer than desired, but the important thing to remember is that it's not his fault. All he knows is that it's possible this is normal, and his body is supposed to be acting this way. Once he starts feeling better, it'll make housetraining easier.
A sick puppy needs even more attention than a healthy one; be sure to pay close attention to behavioral cues. Remember that a puppy's small bladder can't hold as much as an adult dog's, and an illness can make it even more difficult. For those who can, hourly trips outside can help housetrain even an ill puppy. With frequent opportunities to do things right and praise when he does do well, a rocky start to housetraining doesn't have to mean the end of a beautiful friendship.