How to Potty Train an Old Dog?
How to Potty Train an Old Dog? (A Guide by an Expert Trainer)
Potty training is quite important in the world of dog ownership. Some people choose to adopt or buy newborn pups, while others show compassion by getting older dogs. But old dogs also accompany challenges for their owners. One such challenge is house accidents. This raises the question, "How to potty train an old dog?"
Fortunately, it is usually easier and less time-consuming to reinstate excellent toilet habits in adult dogs. There are two main scenarios in which you could seek advice on potty training an older dog.
The first situation occurs when you acquire an adult dog from a shelter or humane society and the dog has never been properly trained. Because of the propensity of soiling in their shelter kennels, many rescue dogs undergo a regression in their habits.
Additionally, the presence of other animals smells and aromas in a new area might elicit marking behaviors.
The second scenario occurs when your dog reaches an advanced age and begins to have difficulty urinating or defecating outside.
We recognize your need for assistance in both circumstances. You might have come here wondering, "How can I teach an older dog not to defecate inside the house?"
From metropolitan apartments to rural homes, the expert advice from dog trainers will help you and your pet succeed at potty training.
Can an older dog still be potty trained?
Absolutely, you can teach an older dog to use the bathroom correctly. Surprisingly, instructing a grown-up dog to do this is sometimes easier than training a young one. This is because older dogs can often hold their pee better, which makes establishing a regular bathroom routine simpler.
However, there are times when an older dog hasn't learned the right way to go potty. Maybe their previous owner didn't teach them, or they didn't have enough chances to go outside.
If, despite your best efforts, an older dog keeps having accidents indoors, you should consider other reasons for this behavior.
There might be underlying medical issues like urinary tract infections or parasites causing the problem. In such cases, it's important to consult a vet to rule out any physical problems.
8 Simple Steps to Potty Train Your Old Dog
The task of potty training an older dog may seem challenging, however, it is entirely possible through patience and consistency. Here are some simple steps you can follow:
1. Establish a Regular Routine
Creating a consistent schedule is crucial for success when teaching an older dog to use the bathroom properly. Set up a solid routine that includes feeding your dog at specific times. After placing the food bowl down, give your dog about 10 to 15 minutes to eat, and then remove the bowl, whether it is empty or not.
Avoid the free-choice feeding approach where food is left out all day. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), maintaining this routine helps keep your dog on track with their housebreaking. Take your dog outside at the same time each day.
Most dogs tend to eliminate shortly after waking up in the morning, after breakfast, a few times during the day, after dinner, and right before bedtime. Consistently taking your dog out at these times reinforces the idea of where they should do their business.
2. Take your dog outside every hour
Make sure to take your dog out for a bathroom break at least once every hour. If your dog has been confined for several hours, like in a crate or a designated area, take him directly to his chosen bathroom spot when you let him out.
Make sure to praise him when he does his business there. This positive reinforcement helps your dog associate the right place to potty and encourages good behavior.
3. Use a Cage
You need to give your dog numerous opportunities for success while reducing the likelihood of mistakes when teaching him good potty habits. As a result, using a dependable dog cage becomes critical.
Dogs do not dirty their sleeping places. So when you are busy with other things you can cage your dog. This way your dog will not pee inside the house. Any time you are not able to supervise your dog, such as when you leave the house or at night, you should cage your dog.
4. Supervise your dog
Make sure to keep a close eye on your dog whenever he's inside your home. A six-foot leash can be attached to him so that you continue to be in contact with him, or you can use a baby gate to keep him within your sight. When he shows signs of needing to go potty, walk him outside to the bathroom area he has designated for himself.
5. Wait for some time
With your pup needing to go to the bathroom often, you might be wondering how long to give them. The AKC suggests waiting for up to five minutes. During this time, it's best to stay quiet and still avoid distracting your dog from their business.
If your dog goes in the right spot, quietly praise them and give them a treat, but make sure to wait until they're done. You don't want to stop them and make them finish later, maybe in the wrong place!
But if your dog doesn't go, bring them back inside and put them in their crate for 10 minutes before trying again. Don't let them wander inside if they haven't gone outside yet!
6. good behavior:
As I mentioned above, it is important not to rush your dog back to its confined area after he has urinated or pooped. Doing so could create a negative connection in your pet's mind, making them believe that taking care of business promptly isn't beneficial for them.
Instead, experts suggest observing what your dog enjoys the most and granting them approximately 10 minutes of their preferred activity after each successful bathroom break.
For instance, your dog might relish running freely in the yard, going for longer walks, playing fetch, or receiving belly rubs on the couch. The goal is to teach your dog that rewards await those who don't keep you waiting in the designated bathroom area.
7. Limited Indoor Supervised Playtime Afterward
Once your dog has completed their bathroom break and you both come back inside, allow them a supervised indoor break of approximately 15 minutes before reintroducing them to their designated area.
This will help prevent them from linking their outdoor bathroom time to immediate confinement in a crate or behind a gate.
8. Be patient
Educating an older dog to use the toilet may take longer than training a puppy, but being consistent and patient is key.
How long does it typically take to potty train an older dog?
The time it takes to teach an older dog how to use the bathroom can vary. It depends on how old the dog is if they had any training before, and how regularly you train them. Experts say that most older dogs can learn within two weeks.
But sometimes, it might take them three to six months to get good at it. Remember, every dog is different, so there's no strict schedule for when an older dog should be fully trained.
6 Common Mistakes to Avoid when Potty Training an Older Dog
When it comes to helping an older dog learn where to go potty, there are some common mistakes you should avoid. Let's take a look at them:
- Not using a doggy crate: Using a crate can be a good way to help your older dog learn where to go potty. It keeps them in a small space between bathroom breaks and reduces the chances of accidents indoors.
- Not teaching a "Go Potty" command: It is important to teach your dog a simple command like "Go Potty" so they know when it's time to do their business. This makes the potty training process easier for them.
- Not keeping an eye on them: Supervision is crucial when potty training an older dog. If you leave them alone for a long time without guidance or a chance to go outside, they can get confused and frustrated.
- Punishing your dog for accidents: Punishing your dog when they have accidents doesn't help with potty training. It can hurt them physically and emotionally and make them less likely to want to go outside.
- Not understanding how long they can hold it: It is important to know how long your dog can hold their pee and adjust bathroom breaks accordingly. Older dogs might need more frequent trips outside because their bladders aren't as strong.
- Giving up too soon: Potty training an older dog can take time and patience. It is important to stick with it and not give up too quickly.
How to Handle Dog House Accidents?
Sometimes, accidents happen, and when they do, it's important to stay calm, even if your favorite rug gets wet. Dog experts from AKC suggest that you should avoid scolding or punishing your dog because they might not understand why you are upset.
They might think you're angry just because they went potty where you could see them, which can make them afraid to go in front of you. They might miss the message that you're upset about them going inside instead of outside.
This could lead to a dog that hides when they need to go but is hesitant to go outside on a leash. Instead, experts recommend calmly guiding your dog to the right spot to do their business and giving them praise and treats when they do it there.
Afterward, clean up the mess with a special cleaner to get rid of the smell, which dogs associate with a restroom. It's also a good idea to check for any old accidents you might have missed using a blacklight or by sniffing around on your hands and knees.
With the right approach, potty training an older dog is doable. This process involves establishing a consistent routine, using a crate for containment when necessary, and providing ample supervision.
The key is patience and positive reinforcement, with praise and rewards for successful outdoor bathroom breaks. It's important to avoid common mistakes such as not using a crate, failing to teach a "Go Potty" command, inadequate supervision, punishing accidents, misjudging your dog's holding capacity, or giving up too quickly.
While older dogs may take some time to adapt, they often possess better bladder control, making the training process smoother. Remember that each dog is unique, and the time it takes to fully potty train them may vary.
Stay calm and avoid scolding during accidents. Guide your dog to the correct spot and offer praise instead. By following these steps and being patient, you can help your older dog establish excellent toilet habits and enjoy a clean and harmonious living environment together.