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Effects of preadoption counseling for owners on house-training success among dogs acquired from shelters

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  • 1 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210
  • | 2 Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210
  • | 3 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210
  • | 4 Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Abstract

Objective—To determine the effect of preadoption counseling for owners on house-training success among dogs acquired from shelters.

Design—Prospective study.

Sample Population—113 dog owners.

Procedures—Participants were randomly assigned to a treatment (n = 54) or a control (59) group. Dog owners in the treatment group received counseling (5 minutes' duration) regarding house-training. Owners in the control group did not receive counseling, but all other adoption procedures were otherwise identical to those applied to the treatment group. All participants were contacted by telephone 1 month after adoption of a dog for assessment of house-training status and related issues by use of a standardized survey method; data were compared between groups.

Results—Most shelter dogs were considered successfully house-trained by their owners 1 month after adoption. Furthermore, dogs were considered house-trained by significantly more owners who received preadoption counseling than control group owners (98.1% vs 86.4%). Owners who received counseling used verbal punishment on their dogs during house-training less frequently and applied enzymatic cleaners to urine- or feces-soiled areas more frequently than owners in the control group.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results have suggested that brief preadoption counseling for owners enhances successful house-training of dogs adopted from shelters. Counseling owners at the time of pet acquisition may thus have beneficial effects in the prevention of inappropriate elimination behaviors. Veterinarians and animal care staff should be encouraged to devote time to counsel new pet owners on successful house-training, as well as other healthcare and behavioral needs.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the effect of preadoption counseling for owners on house-training success among dogs acquired from shelters.

Design—Prospective study.

Sample Population—113 dog owners.

Procedures—Participants were randomly assigned to a treatment (n = 54) or a control (59) group. Dog owners in the treatment group received counseling (5 minutes' duration) regarding house-training. Owners in the control group did not receive counseling, but all other adoption procedures were otherwise identical to those applied to the treatment group. All participants were contacted by telephone 1 month after adoption of a dog for assessment of house-training status and related issues by use of a standardized survey method; data were compared between groups.

Results—Most shelter dogs were considered successfully house-trained by their owners 1 month after adoption. Furthermore, dogs were considered house-trained by significantly more owners who received preadoption counseling than control group owners (98.1% vs 86.4%). Owners who received counseling used verbal punishment on their dogs during house-training less frequently and applied enzymatic cleaners to urine- or feces-soiled areas more frequently than owners in the control group.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results have suggested that brief preadoption counseling for owners enhances successful house-training of dogs adopted from shelters. Counseling owners at the time of pet acquisition may thus have beneficial effects in the prevention of inappropriate elimination behaviors. Veterinarians and animal care staff should be encouraged to devote time to counsel new pet owners on successful house-training, as well as other healthcare and behavioral needs.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Herron's present address is the Ryan Veterinary Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

The authors thank Dr. Diane Ott for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Herron.