House Training a Pup or Rescue Dog

Following on from Emma’s entry yesterday, this guide comes from the SPA at Carcassonne. Thankyou girls xx

Toilet training is all about creating good habits. Young pups have very small bladders and very little bladder control so they need to be in the right place when nature calls and rescue dogs may simply never have been taught that outside is for toileting so need to be treated as pups.

To toilet train successfully in as short a time as possible you must take your puppy/ dog to the garden:

When they wake

After eating

After taking a drink

Before, during and after a period of activity

When you come in

Before you go out

Before bedtime

And every twenty to thirty minutes in between unless they are asleep. During periods of activity change that to every ten to twenty minutes.

Take the pup or dogs outside and stay with your pup, don’t nag or distract him just stroll about and once he has done what he needs to tell them him he is a clever boy.

If you have to take him back in and he hasn’t done anything outside then either confine him to his crate, sit him on your lap or tuck him under your arm (small breeds only) as you go about your chores and try again in five minutes.

It is imperative that you do this, especially if you have started off with newspaper down or puppy pads because your puppy may prefer to wee indoors and he could simply be waiting to be taken back in. Give him zero opportunity to go wrong.

Here are a few common mistakes during toilet training:-

– Using newspaper or puppy training pads. Whilst it may help the clearing up process it can be very confusing for the pup that is taught or permitted to toilet in the house to make the transition to going outside and will often result in a pup that when playing in the garden will simply hold on until they are back indoors because that is where the toilet is.

– Leaving the door open. This does nothing to teach the pup to toilet outside and reprimands for toileting in the house will result in a dog that believes you disapprove of what he did not where he did it and is damaging to your relationship with your pup.

– Giving treats for toileting in the garden, again the dog is being rewarded for what he did not where he did it. Whilst this is not going to be as big a problem as the reprimand, the clever dog will learn to do lots of little wees and never fully empty their bladder. The insecure dog may wee indoors to appease you if you get cross about something else because they know that this is something that pleases you and gets rewarded.

– Expecting your pup to tell you when he needs to go out. Once a pup understands that outside is where the toilet is then he may start to let you know he needs out. However if you are not there to ask or you fail to notice him asking then the house training will break down. Far better to have a dog go out to the toilet on your schedule once they are house trained.

– Giving your pup an ensuite in his crate. Do not encourage your pup to toilet in his crate by putting puppy pads in there. If you have to leave puppy for a while and he is going to need to go then best to have the crate inside a larger pen or blocked off area and leave the crate door open so that he can get away from his bed to toilet.

During the night young pups will need to go to the toilet once or twice in the night for anything from a few days to a few weeks, don’t despair this doesn’t last long!

If your pup is sleeping in a crate in the bedroom with you, then they will wake and should let you know they need to go out. Carry pup to the garden to toilet or quickly walk an older dog and then straight back to bed again. If you choose not to have his crate in the bedroom make sure you can hear him or you will have to clean up in the morning! Don’t feel guilty about having a crate in the bedroom, Leaving a pup or dog to cry in a crate downstairs alone is teaching the puppy to associate the crate and night time with being distressed. Should you wish you can move his crate further away as the pup gets older and can hold on all night.

The good news is that this stage doesn’t last long and as very few pups like toileting where they sleep, the crate will encourage him to wait. Before long you will have a pup that understands that outside is for toileting and will happily run to the door to do out!

Toilet training


What to expect when you adopt or foster an oldie

Fifteen tips to help you adopt an old dog – thanks to Emma Lee for the words

Many people say that there is a lot of information out there about adopting a puppy, but very little about adopting an oldie. Much of what is written about puppies still stands for an old dog, especially an older dog who has been at a refuge for a long time. However, older dogs are often much easier adoptions than puppies, simply because so many of them know the rules already. Plus, they often don’t have the nervous energy of a younger dog. That’s not to say they aren’t set in their ways or escape artists! But you certainly can teach an old dog new tricks, and you may find these tips help you integrate your older dog much more easily.


Prepare yourself beforehand. Make sure you have an area to keep them if you are going to be out. Puppies are not the only dogs who chew, and older dogs can feel very alone if you don’t have other animals. A safe space without anything to be chewed, broken or damaged will not only keep your dog safe, but will keep your possessions safe too. A bed in a dog-proof bathroom can be a great starting place. Bear in mind that crate-training an oldie can be tough, especially if they have been confined in one before or they are fresh out of a refuge. If you intend to crate-train, make sure you have plenty of time to do so and never push it. Kitchens can be a safe option, but they tend to have more things at dog-chewing height even though they are easy to clean if there are accidents. Bathrooms tend to have fewer things to have to move out of the way. Check your outside area is escape-proof. Dogs are surprisingly capable of getting through very small spaces if they want to.


Make sure you have a collar and lead. Collars and leads in refuges are precious commodities and they may not be provided. Also make sure you have some way of transporting the dog safely to your home. A lead attached to a back-seat headrest is a quick solution, though a harness and travel compartment would obviously be preferable. If you are a long way from the refuge, time in some toilet breaks. You may also want to bring someone else with you to keep an eye on them if they aren’t good at car travel. Most older dogs will hop happily into cars, but for some, the only time in their life they will have ever been transported is in arriving at the refuge, and it can be a scary experience for them. An ID tag with your mobile phone number on it is a great idea. Sadly, some dogs escape the moment the car door is opened, or the moment they find a gap in your fence. Paperwork can take a while to update your number and having a collar with a number on it is a simple way to make sure the dog comes back to you as soon as it is picked up.


If you have other dogs, make sure you have read up on successfully integrating a new dog to your family. It isn’t always true that oldies just fit right in. If you have dogs already, they may be interested to see your new visitor and your new visitor may be a little grumpy after their long journey. A careful introduction makes all the difference in setting a tone for good doggie manners. Unfortunately, one time dogs forget their manners is when meeting other dogs. A face-to-face in a narrow entrance hall or corridor is the worst kind of greeting.


Before you pick up your new dog, do a quick check for edible/chewable things in range and anything you wouldn’t want the dog to come into contact with. Old dogs are not going to come into your house and pee everywhere, but prepared is better than trying to chase a dog around who is happily peeing on your sofa. Check you have dog food and a bed, a bowl and toys – old dogs can bond very quickly with you when toys are involved. Though plastic bowls aren’t great for dogs’ hygiene, be aware that metal bowls can be noisy and scary to a timid dog, so metal bowls with a rubber rim are a better option. Also, having a couple of different water bowls will eradicate some of the problems dogs can have with drinking in new places. You may find that your refuge dog is not at all fussy as they have been used to making do with what they have, but many dogs prefer rainwater or fresh water than tap water, so it’s worthwhile having a couple of different options just in case.


Dogs from the refuge, especially those who have been there for a long time, may smell a bit ‘refugey’. Bear in mind the character and confidence of your dog when sizing him up for an immediate bath. Bath time for doggies is not always a happy time. Putting up with the smell for 24 hours will give them a chance to settle and for you to get to know them before you do. If you can, ask a professional to give them a wash and tidy up – they are used to a wide range of dogs and will be able to help you get rid of the last whiffs of refuge odour. Make sure you time in a flea treatment as well. Spot-ons won’t work if washed off and whilst it is a great idea to de-flea before they arrive with you, it can be expensive if you intend to give your new dog a wash the next day.


Pay attention to the first moments in the house. Give your dog a guided tour of doggie areas. You may want to keep them on a lead in the house until you are confident they won’t be tempted to cock a leg. Encourage them to go to the toilet outside in the first few minutes of their arrival. In fact, it’s a lot better to stay outside until they have gone, even if that takes half an hour or so. Be prepared for doggie business that smells more foul than anything you have ever smelt. Dogs in refuges have often been on a varied diet of donated dog food and it can take a few days for stomachs to settle. They may also need a worming tablet.


Try to adopt at a time when you know you have a period of calm in your home, or when you know you will be at home to settle the dog in. Being able to plan your excursions so that you can test your dog when you leave him is great, especially if you can build in progressively longer periods of absence, up to a couple of hours at the end of the first week or so. If you have no time to help them settle, it’s going to be more stressful than if you have time to deal with problems.


The first night is often the toughest. It’s the time when you realise they hate being alone or they are used to sleeping on someone’s bed, or that they like to take a midnight wander and root through your kitchen garbage. Like humans, a tired dog is much more easy, and a good long walk will often mean you can choose where he falls asleep and then sneak off to where you’re sleeping. An enclosed, safe, warm place is the best solution. Spending a couple of hours sleeping on a couch near them will allow you to be alerted if they aren’t settling or if they are having trouble holding on for a toilet excursion. A good long walk will definitely make beddie-byes less troubling.


Know that the first 24 hours are as stressful for the dog as for you. They may fit right in straight away. Many older dogs arrive at a home and their owners say it is as if they have always been there. However, it is a learning curve and patience is essential. Your dog may have pains or aches, may not like his face being touched or his back end. They may find children or other animals just a little too exuberant. Even your gentle neighbour who just wants to pet your new arrival may be just a little too much. It’s all a learning curve. Your dog will often let you know. Less fuss is infinitely preferable to more fuss, no matter how much they deserve it. Stick to rules you intend to keep. If your dog is welcome on your sofa, that’s okay. If they are only allowed up because they are new, it’s better to keep them off the furniture completely. Give them a couple of other places to lie as well and you’ll find they’ll pick one they’re happy with. Be frugal with bedding – you don’t know if your dog is a chewer yet. Let them know what’s okay and what’s not okay and give them plenty of time without fuss.


Routines are essential to doggie happiness. A regular feeding time, a regular walk and understanding your routines will mean the dog quickly fits in. Regular places to sleep, regular rules and regular behaviours are quickly understood. If you don’t want your dog in the kitchen when you’re cooking, start from the moment you go in the kitchen. Don’t forget the doggie training. It builds bonds with your dog. Refuge dogs often have ‘lost’ their original name so calling them Rover when their original name is long forgotten may be completely meaningless to them. However, they may know lots of commands already and it’s worth reinforcing these. If you have adopted your dog during the summer holidays, be mindful that they may find it distressing to find themselves suddenly alone for five hours a day when you return to work. Phase in any changes gradually and always allow more time than you’d think necessary.


One thing pups and oldies have in common is they love treats – so keep an eye out for all the good behaviours your dog does and give them plenty of treats. They might not understand petting and affection, but there’s not a dog alive who doesn’t understand a chicken treat. Bear in mind that stressed or nervous dogs won’t eat, so if they won’t take a treat, leave them alone or put the treat in their reach and walk away. Always give treats in a ‘hand open’ position, like a tray. You’re less likely to have finger nibbles from dogs who may have sight problems or food issues. If you have other dogs, be very careful to follow guidelines about feeding time. Food, beds and toys are the three big areas dogs fight over and the last thing you want is a scrap in the kitchen because someone has forgotten that it’s not okay to eat the food in someone else’s bowl. Keep an eye on your dog’s weight, too, in the first weeks. Some refuge dogs quickly pile on the pounds and an overweight dog, especially an oldie, is more likely to have difficulties moving about.


On walks, don’t be tempted to let your oldie off the lead until you have perfected their recall in a safe environment and then gradually practised this in the real world. Arthritic old limbs suddenly get very limber when a rabbit shoots across the path. Calling Rover will be utterly meaningless to good old Rex who’s forgotten what you’ve been calling him these last two weeks. Although many dogs are abandoned at a refuge, some are escape artists – yes, even the oldies! – and if they have undiagnosed hearing problems, it can worsen the problem.


In the following weeks, make sure your dog has a vet check. If you are lucky enough to adopt a dog from a refuge where they have support in place from 30 Millions d’Amis for old dogs’ vet treatment, the letter usually arrives within the week. Upon presenting this to the vet, your vet will be able to bill the foundation directly for your dog’s treatment. The funding is only available for treatments over 30€ so they may open a tab for you if treatments are less than this. Be aware you will not be able to use this for worming tablets or flea treatments, or for prescriptions to be picked up at a chemist (for betadine, for example) so ask if your vet stocks the medicine and can dispense it. Your vet will discuss with you what things you can and can’t use the funding for. You cannot use the funding for euthanising the animal and although it is a sad thing to have to do, make sure you have the funds available for euthanasia and cremation. Take note of your dog’s weight and make sure you check it again in a month’s time. Your vet will let you know if any weight loss or weight gain is okay.


Be sensitive with new introductions to friends or family who might want to fuss your dog. It’s better to say “he’ll come to you when he’s ready” than it is to coax your dog to socialise when he doesn’t want to. Your guests will understand.


Know that most oldies have been and seen and done it all. Most of this advice will be quite irrelevant as they will tell you where they want to sleep, what they like to eat and when they need a bit of fuss. Without the energy of a pup, most oldies are chilled out and will easily fit in with your rules. Enjoy getting to know them and what they like and dislike. A rustle of a paper bag with a croissant, a pair of wellies, the sight of a lead … all of these things can elicit a joyful response from a dog with a history.

Most oldies do just settle right in, but a bit of guidance and prevention will make a great difference to how quickly that happens. A couple of hours of preparation, a small amount of money for a collar, lead and ID tag with your phone number on it, a calm introduction to your house and your dog will more than likely find his feet in no time at all.

Oldie from the coldy 2

One of the lucky ones

It’s easy to forget that people who work in animal rescue are normal people with normal lives.

This is what will hopefully be a regular monthly slot of some of the extra special animals who have touched the lives of these extra special normal people.

After 3

This is my lovely Hugo, a perfect Phoenix ambassador. We don’t know his history, but he arrived at Phoenix in a dreadful state, with open wounds and absolutely terrified.

He was re-homed but tragically, his owner died, and then he went to be fostered with Sharon, where he was well looked after, but one of many in the kennels. Hugo loved Sharon and Andy, but nobody else stood a chance of getting anywhere near him. This boy was so damaged that his chances of adoption were next to nothing, and it was a huge worry. He was advertised on the website for about a year with no takers

As fate went, I was at Sharon’s one day when a Phoenix adoptee was returned. The trouble is, there was no room at the inn. Having already offered to start to attempt to rehabilitate Hugo, the suggestion was made that I take him home to continue the rehabilitation and to create a space for the returnee. I was worried as I didn’t know how I’d even get him on a lead, and if I let him in the garden, would I ever get him back in? (Pic: Day 1 in his new home. Jane kept a short “grabber” lead on him for that first day in case she had trouble getting him in or out of the house. As it turned out, she had no problem so it was only needed for that first day)

Before 2

Also, my husband, who was working abroad, didn’t know, but that was a matter to worry about later!

I took him home and I took the strategy of completely ignoring him. This might sound cruel to some, but in my opinion, with a terrified dog, you have to go about your business, and they have to know “well, this is it, nobody is even looking at me, so I feel as safe as I can do.” I let him come to me, on his own terms. And bingo, we were best friends within days.

My husband returned and ignored Hugo for 3 weeks, until Hugo slowly came to him.

Needless to say, there was NO WAY I was letting Hugo move on, so I became a “failed foster carer” as it’s known in the trade  and Hugo became a permanent member of our household after a serious discussion. Although he’s now owned by us, we’re happy for him to be a Forever Friend, as he is a classic Phoenix transformation.

Hugo has been with us for 3 years now. It’s only in the last year that he will sit next to us. He used to stand, so he could make a quick getaway if he needed to.

He’s no longer a howling and trembling wreck if people come round. He even approaches some of our friends for a cuddle. We never thought this would happen.

Snow 1

I would take in an abused and scared dog over and over again a million times. We are so proud of our boy.

Jane (Phoenix Publicity and Advertising and Failed Foster Carer).