I adopted Bruce by accident. Eight months prior to his arrival at our place, I had met him  when he came in to the vet clinic where I was working. He had been very lucky, selected at the pound for rescue from a huge number of less fortunate, unwanted dogs. He had been dropped off for a health check prior to being placed in foster care and I had simply seen him waiting patiently in his cage out the back while I went about my business.

You can imagine why he caught my eye… he was Scrappy Coco’s twin! He wagged his tail furiously as soon as he saw me. It could have been love at first sight but adopting Bruce at that time was impossible. We had three dogs including an 11 week old Panda Bear large breed puppy and I was getting ready to move 700km up the coast from Rockhampton to Townsville and get married.

Eight months later Bruce was still up for adoption. I made a call. Nope, no-one had shown any interest in the scruffy little man. His foster carer was no longer able to care for him so a new foster home was being sought. Bruce was not at risk of being euthanased but his next option was long-term boarding at a kennel… or my place. A few weeks later the rescue network found a ride for Bruce from Rockhampton to Townsville and we were the proud owners of Bruce Buzman Kawaja.

Since the day he arrived, his loyalty has been unquestionable. He is extremely protective of me when we are home alone. He sits at the gate and waits for me when I go out. If I go to work when the rest of the family is at home he still sits anbuzmand waits for me. He won’t eat until I get home. He would sit on my lap or at my feet for his whole life if he could. What a lucky human I am… it really was love at first sight.

I had always been nervous about adopting adult animals and never really considered it an option until I realised the benefit of seeing a dog’s adult personality prior to adoption. Rather than take a chance on a puppy where genetic components of personality are not always clear at the common puppy-acquiring age of 6-12 weeks, I loved being able to see essentially what Scrappy and Bruce were like with their full adult personalities.

Before entering their rescue program, neither dogs were trained. In both cases, however, their beautiful, gentle personalities were obvious and their potential as excellent pets was clear. Their general disposition and body language reflected the openness and friendliness that I felt they met my basic criteria for a pet… and we just “clicked”.

The house training was interesting and much easier than I expected. There were four things we needed to house-train the little rogues:

  • Vigilance
  • Consistency
  • Patience
  • Bio-enzymatic urine stain and odour remover

When house-training an adult female dog, you can usually relax for a little while after she has emptied her bladder. Although a small number of behaviourally dominant females will display urine-marking behaviour, an adult female usually only empties their bladder for the stated purpose. Once a female dog works out where toileting is allowed and where it is not, they are not driven by a behavioural need to urinate. House-training Scrappy Coco involved taking her outside regularly, praising her for going in the right place and interrupting her if she squatted inside the house and whisking her outside to finish.

Male dogs, especially those that have been entire as adults, will mark any new territory by urinating on anything and everything that is remotely vertical. Bruce had been entire for several years and wanted to mark absolutely everything. The couch, the fridge, table legs… you get the picture. The pattern of behaviour is innate once learned and male dogs simply do not learn that marking is not allowed, they only learn marking is not allowed on a particular object.

I established that Bruce was able to be placed in a small crate overnight and would not soil his bed. We gave him plenty of outdoor time before coming inside and we used a crate for him when I could not watch him 100% of the time. In the first week I spent large amounts of time following him around, allowing him to explore but intervening every time he lined up to mark something inside. We didn’t have many accidents due to sheer vigilance but any urine spots were treated with a bio-enzymatic urine removal spray or liquid to ensure the area did not remain attractive for a repeat offence.

bruce-and-scrappyAdult dogs are fast learners. If you are consistent, they can be house-trained very quickly. Both Scrappy Coco and Bruce were trained within a week but maintaining vigilance and keeping accidents to a minimum was the key. The same principles apply for training puppies except because of their age, vigilance is required for longer so you also need extra patience. Most puppies are not mentally mature enough to be fully house-trained until at least 6 months of age. I will discuss this and more about puppies next month when we meet Panda Bear!