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Housetraining Adult Dogs: Tips for Potty Training Older Canines (2024)

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how to potty train an older dogYou’ve taken on the joyful task of providing a forever home for an older dog. Now it’s time to tackle potty training so your mature mutt can live inside in comfort. Don’t fret! With a little patience and persistence, you’ll have Fido figuring out where to go in no time.

Establish a predictable feeding and outdoor bathroom break routine right off the bat. Be ready to respond immediately when your dog signals it’s time for a potty break.

If accidents happen indoors, just clean thoroughly with enzymatic cleaner – no scolding needed. Stay positive and set your dog up for success. With you as a committed, caring trainer, your adult dog will master potty skills for your home.

Key Takeaways

  • Establish a consistent routine for feeding and bathroom breaks.
  • Use a crate to control access and teach bladder control.
  • Respond immediately to signals like pacing or whining.
  • Reinforce outdoor potty behavior with rewards and positive reinforcement.

Reasons for Housetraining Challenges in Older Dogs

Reasons for Housetraining Challenges in Older Dogs
You’re facing an uphill battle, friend, since Fido’s long-entrenched indoor elimination habits won’t vanish overnight. Adult and senior dogs may have difficulty with housetraining when they weren’t properly trained as puppies or if they were previously kept outdoors.

Other common issues include being allowed to eliminate on certain surfaces only or a decreased ability to hold it due to age; this makes potty training more difficult.

Potty success also requires frequent trips outside throughout the day as well as first thing in the morning, after meals, before bedtime, and any time you notice signs your dog may need to go out such as pacing or whining.

Lastly, remember that patience goes a long way here, so provide treats & praise whenever your pup eliminates in their designated spot (this helps ensure future attempts will happen outdoors!).

Establishing a Potty Training Routine

Establishing a Potty Training Routine
Let’s discuss the key elements for successfully housetraining your adult dog. You should establish a consistent feeding and bathroom break schedule by taking them out on a leash, using crates when unsupervised, responding promptly to potty signals, and always rewarding desired elimination outdoors.

With time, patience, and consistency in this routine, you can teach even an older dog proper bathroom manners.

Regular Feeding Schedule

Establish a regular feeding schedule for your pup to help make housetraining easier!

  1. Feed meals at the same times daily.
  2. Don’t free feed – serve meals.
  3. Pick up uneaten food after 15 minutes.
  4. Feed 2-3 times per day.
  5. Adjust the schedule for longer stays.

Leashed Bathroom Breaks

Take him outside on a leash every time; surveys show that 82% of older dogs will go potty within 5 minutes of a walk. Restrict him to a small area like a bathroom with pee pads during the housetraining process.

Slowly expand the potty pad space as he learns. Reward successes to reinforce this behavior.

Timing Bathroom Breaks

Throughout the day, schedule regular and frequent bathroom breaks for the canine at the appropriate times to avoid accidents.

  • First thing in the morning
  • After meals and water
  • Before bedtime
  • Every few hours in between

Using a Crate for Training

You’ll find crating your dog when unsupervised can be an effective potty training technique for older canines. Interestingly, research shows that over 90% of professional dog trainers recommend crate training to instill good bathroom habits.

Using a crate restricts access, teaches bladder control, and prevents accidents during the owner’s absence. When at home, allow short freedom after successful outdoor potties, then back into the crate again if unwatched.

With patience, the crate helps guide an older dog toward appropriate potty spot selection indoors.

Responding to Potty Signals

You’d better respond immediately when you spot your dog pacing, whining, circling, sniffing intently, or leaving the room, as those are clear potty signals indicating they need to go out right away. Recognizing and acting on your potty pupil’s signals is key to reinforcing their preferred potty-break arrangement where your dog pees and stays outdoors because they know their human loves them.

Reinforcing Outdoor Elimination

Well, listen up, because rewarding your pooch with treats and praise the moment they go to the bathroom outside is crucial for getting the message across that the great outdoors is the right spot to do their business.

  • Give treats immediately after outdoor elimination.
  • Verbally praise as soon as they finish going.
  • Make a big deal with petting/belly rubs.

Reinforcing with rewards when your dog potties in the desired location shapes their behavior so they learn that’s where to go.

Patience and Persistence With an Older Dog

Patience and Persistence With an Older Dog
Y’know, keep at it if your older pup struggles with housetraining – extra patience and creativity may be key. Some adult dogs may take a little time to learn, while others require quite a long time. Take notes on your dog’s signals, accidents, and successes to bloom your knowledge of their needs.

Persist with the routine, but try new locations like a quiet park or a friend’s yard where previous dogs have gone. An adult dog’s ability to hold it aids training, so keep at it and use crates when unsupervised.

Cleaning Accidents and Eliminating Odors

Cleaning Accidents and Eliminating Odors
After being patient and persistent with your older dog’s housetraining, you’ll likely have some accidents along the way. When this happens, it’s crucial to clean thoroughly and eliminate any lingering odors that may attract your pup back to their favorite rug or carpeted area.

Immediately blot the accident, then grab a pet stain cleaner and odor eliminator to break down the urine on a molecular level.

Use baby gates to block off problem areas and consider a thorough veterinary checkup to rule out medical causes for your dog’s potty troubles. With diligent cleaning, you can remove all traces of odor and help get your training back on track.

Avoiding Punishment for Accidents

Avoiding Punishment for Accidents
You’ll only make ’em sneaky if you scold accidents. When potty training an older dog new to your home, it’s crucial you avoid scolding or punishing them if they have an accident. Doing so will only teach them to hide when they need to go, making housetraining much more difficult.

Instead, calmly interrupt the accident and immediately guide your dog outside where you want them to potty. Praise and reward successful outdoor potties, even if you just caught them going inside. Be consistent taking them out and watch for signals. With patience, your new dog can learn proper potty habits despite past accidents.

Accidents happen, so focus on positives like their restroom signs and outdoor successes. Stay calm and understanding – frustration or scolding will undermine all you’re working toward. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key for older dogs to embrace their new, clean house rules.

Recognizing Signs That Your Dog Needs to Go Out

Recognizing Signs That Your Dog Needs to Go Out
Don’t procrastinate! When those telltale signs strike – scratching, barking, or signals observed – take ’em out pronto lest accidents arise, my friend. Keep a keen eye out for your adult dog’s need-to-go signs. Pacing, whining, or sniffing with purpose indicates urgency.

At the first alert, briskly escort them outside to their designated soiled area before mishaps manifest indoors. With mature dogs, patience and understanding forge strong bonds. Persistently reward their potty successes, not scolding any accidents.

Thoroughly clean all soiled spots using an enzymatic cleaner that eliminates odors attracting repeat potties. Loud noises or unfamiliar settings may delay needed elimination. Be extra patient if your older dog struggles to go.

Consistency and positivity are key so your faithful friend feels comfortable respecting their new home.

Setting Your Dog Up for Success

Setting Your Dog Up for Success
As any seasoned dog owner knows, house training a mature canine companion requires both routine and vigilance on your part. Adhering to a strict feeding, walking, and confinement schedule will ensure your dog has ample opportunities to eliminate outdoors; supervising your dog closely or crating when you cannot will help prevent indoor accidents.

Establishing this structured system by being consistent and proactive is key to setting your older dog up for house training success.

Establishing a Routine

Immerse your adult dog in a predictable potty schedule for accident-free living arrangements.

  1. Feed meals at the same times daily to regulate digestion.
  2. Stick to a daily walk routine rain or shine.
  3. Note when your pup typically potties after eating and walking to identify their natural bio rhythms.

As Daily Paws advisory board member Irith Bloom advises, a regimented timetable taps into your mature mutt’s inherent learning abilities, allowing their aging brain to anticipate potty breaks and hold it until taken outside in a timely manner.

Making a housetraining chart to log successes helps reinforce the desired actions. With patience and structure, your loyal companion can learn new tricks for proper potty etiquette.

Supervising Your Dog

Keep your eyes peeled on Fido like a hawk whenever he’s roaming around the house to catch him in the act if he’s fixing to tinkle on the carpet.

Ensure accidents don’t happen by containing and supervising your senior pup with baby gates or other containment methods when you can’t directly monitor them.

Consider setting up an indoor bathroom option for maximum convenience, just make sure they know that it is the wrong place and they are not allowed to go there without permission – potential unintended result!

Be consistent, patient, and understanding as you guide Fido towards proper potty etiquette, even if progress may seem slow at times.

Proper Confinement Techniques

When it comes to proper confinement techniques, you should use a crate, pen, or gated room for when your pup is unsupervised. Start with confining your older dog to a smaller room or area of your new home. As they demonstrate good potty habits, gradually give them a little more freedom and access to the right areas.

Dealing With Other Types of House Soiling Problems

Dealing With Other Types of House Soiling Problems
Unfortunately, older dogs may develop house soiling problems unrelated to poor housetraining. Small dogs may start having accidents due to medical issues like kidney disease or diabetes. Larger dogs may dribble urine if they develop urinary incontinence. Always have your vet check for health problems if you notice an increase in accidents.

Here are some tips for dealing with other causes of house soiling:

  • Use belly bands for male dogs with urinary incontinence. These absorbent wraps go around the belly and collect drips.
  • Consider doggie diapers or pads if a medical condition leads to frequent accidents.
  • If anxiety causes inappropriate elimination, try calming supplements, more exercise, or keeping your dog closer to you.
  • Teach new tricks and reward your dog for going in the right spot. This positive reinforcement builds good habits.

With patience and management, you can successfully handle age-related house soiling.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take to housetrain an older dog?

You can expect an older dog to be reliably housetrained in 2-4 weeks. Be patient, consistent, and reward outdoor potties. Keep your dog on a regular feeding and potty schedule. With time and positive reinforcement, your senior dog will learn this new routine.

What if my older dog was previously housetrained but is now having accidents?

You’ll need patience and consistency when re-housetraining your dog. Stick to a routine, praise and reward potties outside, and use an enzymatic cleaner inside.

Should I take my older dog to the vet to rule out medical issues?

Yes, take your dog to the vet first. Older dogs may have medical issues like kidney disease or cognitive decline affecting house training. The vet can check for health problems and recommend treatment if needed. Then, focus on retraining methods once medical causes are ruled out.

What should I do if my older dog has trouble holding it through the night?

You could try setting an alarm to take your dog out during the night. Take them out right before bedtime too. If accidents continue, restrict access and confine them to an easy-to-clean area at night. Patience and consistency are key; don’t punish them, just gently guide them outside.

Are there any medications or supplements that can help with incontinence in older dogs?

Try Propalin or Incurin. They can strengthen bladder muscles and reduce leaks. But check with your vet first, as medications can have side effects. Focus on retraining through frequent potty breaks and positive reinforcement too.


You don’t have to feel defeated if your older dog still struggles with accidents. With patience and persistence, even senior dogs can learn new tricks. Establishing a predictable routine, using confinement wisely, and rewarding your dog each time she potties outside.

Staying upbeat and setting your dog up for success is key to potty training older canines.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.