Dear Miss Behavin’: I adopted a dog, Pepper, last week who was supposedly potty trained. That appears not to be the case as she has had daily accidents since bringing her home. Were we tricked?

There are lots of possible explanations for Pepper’s recent accidents, so let’s start at the beginning. Shelters can’t make guarantees on how a dog will behave once adopted. It’s not uncommon for shy, reserved dogs to blossom into outgoing social butterflies once adopted, and it’s not uncommon for potty trained dogs to have accidents during their first few weeks at home.

It’s very likely that Pepper was indeed potty trained at the shelter or in her former home. However, that doesn’t mean that she will automatically know the rules at your house. Create a routine during those first weeks and stick with it. Feed and walk Pepper at the same time each day. This will not only help you know when Pepper needs to go outside, but will help her know what to expect from her day, which can be reassuring to a dog in unfamiliar surroundings.

If you can, buy a bag of the food that she was eating at the shelter. This will help avoid an upset tummy early on. Dogs can have diarrhea as a result of stress or a sudden change in diet, and this can cause them to have accidents inside. If you are changing her food, slowly ease her into her new diet by mixing a small amount into her current food daily and slowly adjusting the ratios.

If Pepper’s accidents persist and you aren’t sure why, there could be a medical cause. Have her seen by your veterinarian to rule anything out. If given a clean bill of health and she’s still having accidents, contact a professional dog trainer to give advice tailored to you and Pepper.

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