Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018
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Dr. Gary Thompson

Behavioral, medical issues could cause dog's training lapses

Q: Dear Dr. Thompson: Several months ago my son got a 2-year-old dachshund and the previous owner said the dog was housebroken and would bark to go outside. He has had problems with his house training ever since coming home. We thought at first he was having problems getting adjusted but this has gone on too long. We can leave him for several hours gated in the kitchen and he won't go at all during that time. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

A: From what you are describing, it sounds like a behavioral concern but there are a couple of conditions that should be investigated by your veterinarian to make sure there is not a physical reason for the issues he is having.

Male dogs do not commonly get urinary tract infections and when they do they can be very frustrating and difficult to clear. If he is an intact male, the infection can ascend into the prostate gland and be very difficult, if not impossible to clear. Many times the only symptom people will notice are urinary accidents in what was an otherwise well house trained dog.

His breed is also prone to bladder stones and there may be microscopic amounts of blood that would be an indication to take an X-ray or ultrasound his bladder to determine if a stone has formed. Bladder stones in male dogs can lead to an emergency situation where they cannot pass the stone through the urethra and a potentially life-threatening obstruction can develop.

Your veterinarian can examine him and run a couple of tests on his urine to rule out a physical cause for the house training problems.

Once it has been established this is a behavioral concern, you will essentially have to start over with his house training. Many people assume when they bring an older dog into their home that was house trained with his original family that it will translate to the new surroundings. However, it is important to remember the basis for house training in dogs is an instinct not to soil in their "home" territory. Once they venture out of that territory all bets are off.

It sounds as if he has learned that the kitchen area you gate him in has been determined to be his home turf. Many times people experience a setback in training puppies and some dogs when they have confined them to one area of the home. They do well which leads people to allow the dog access to the rest of the house and he starts eliminating in these areas. In the dog's world he is venturing outside of his home turf.

You have to keep a close eye when he is allowed access to new areas and keep him on a feeding schedule. As he gradually learns that your son's new home is his, the house training should improve.

If it continues to be a problem call your veterinarian's office to get a recommendation of a trainer or behaviorist who may be able to help him before your son gets too frustrated. There are good house training tips at which has a searchable database of medical and behavior conditions.

Questions for Dr. Gary Thompson can be emailed to or mailed to The Blade, Attn. Ask the Vet, 541 North Superior St., Toledo, OH 43660. Dr. Thompson regrets that he cannot answer individual letters.

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