Tips on How to Potty Train an Older Dog

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dog with toilet paper learning how to potty train an older dog

It is easy to learn how to potty train an older dog. And, it is easy to put into practice. It simply takes a little time and patience. Here is our list of potty-training tips for how to house train an older dog.

Potty Training Dogs in Their Golden Years is Possible

To effectively potty train an adult dog, it’s back to the basics:

  1. Establish a solid schedule. Feed meals at the same times each day.
  2. When you take your rescue dog out the door for a potty break, clip on the leash so that you can gently guide them to where you would like them to do their ablutions.
  3. If you cannot be near your dog, it is best to confine them for that short time. For example, a dog crate, or a small room behind a baby gate.

The average adult dog only requires four potty breaks in a day. However, when you are potty training your dog, you will need to go outside more frequently. Our potty-training schedule suggestion: first thing in the morning, again after breakfast, twice during the day, once after dinner, and lastly, once before bedtime.

Your greatest asset when potty training any dog, pup or senior, is vigilance. Make sure that your dog is always within sight. So that you can respond to possible cues for needing the bathroom in good time.

As with all dog training, positive reinforcement is the most efficient way to train your dog. Reward your dog for good behavior. Treats, a walk, a game of fetch, whatever it may be. Make sure that they know that they have done the right thing!

3 Reasons Older Dogs Need a Dog Potty Training Refresher Course

Have you recently had the good fortune to adopt a rescue dog? You will soon learn how incredibly rewarding this can be. But, in the meantime, there might be some stumbling blocks to overcome. You might need to know how to potty train an older dog. But, why would a senior dog even need to be potty trained? Here are a few possibilities:

  1. No one bothered training the dog before.
  2. Your new furry friend might never have lived indoors.
  3. Or, they might have developed bad habits because they lived in a very confined space. For example, a laboratory or a kennel.

dachshund who needs to learn how to house train a dog

How Long Does It Take to Potty Train a Dog?

This depends on the individual dog and situation. Some dogs may have been potty trained before. Therefore, they simply require a refresher course. Other dogs might never have been potty trained. In this case, you will need to start from scratch. As if training a puppy.

Older dogs have better bladder control. Subsequently, it should take less time to potty train an older dog. Even if that dog has never been potty trained before. If you diligently keep track of your dog’s habits, and, if you meticulously follow the steps laid out, you should be able to potty train a senior dog in a week or two.

How to House Train a Dog with Anxiety

Pets who were once reliably house-trained might seem to lose their training. This could be as a result of a new addition to the household. Or, it could be due to the permanent departure of a favorite family member. Perhaps your dog has developed separation anxiety. In these cases, the dog might go potty on beds, furniture, and clothing that smells strongly of that person or the new pet.

Firstly, take your dog to the veterinarian to eliminate any medical causes for your dog’s house soiling. Secondly, try to deal with the conflicts that the dog is having with the new arrival. Try to encourage positive interactions between them. 

Does your dog urinate on clothing, beds, or other furniture? Try to change the stimuli of those objects by placing treats around them. In other words, the treats will change these objects to signal food rather than dog peeing. Thoroughly clean all urine-marked areas with an enzymatic cleaner. This will hopefully minimize the odors that attract your dog there come potty time.

How to Potty Train an Older Dog with Incontinence

Incontinence is a medical condition in which an adult dog “leaks” urine. There are several possible causes for this problem:

  • Weak sphincter.
  • Diabetes or kidney disease.
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI).
  • Spay-surgery induced hormone-imbalances.
  • Cushing’s disease, neurological issues, or abnormalities of the genitalia.

Check-in with your veterinarian before trying to resolve the house soiling difficulties.

dalmatian on toilet showing learning how to potty train a puppy

If your pet has incontinence, you might not be able to potty train them 100 %. However, there are steps that you can take to minimize the mess and discomfort for both you and your canine.

If you have a male dog, you can purchase a “belly band”, AKA male dog wrap, for him. This will allow him to urinate without soiling the house. There are also various dog diaper options available online. Do indoor potty training with your older dog. In other words, teach them to potty on an indoor potty if they can’t make it out the door in time. For example, a pee pad or in a litter box. Another idea is to install a dog door so that your old-timer can access the outdoors whenever they need to.

Housebreaking a Dog Who’s Never Lived Inside

Wondering how to potty train an older dog that has never lived inside? One of the most efficient ways to deal with this situation is to try crate training. Confine your canine to a crate for short intervals when you are not able to watch for signs of imminent bowel emptying. In this way, you will limit house-soiling and help to recondition them to only go potty outside.

How to Potty Train Your Dog to Go Potty in the “Potty” Spot

It can be very handy to teach your dog to go potty in the same area each time. It makes cleaning up a whole lot easier. You won’t spend hours going on a treasure hunt for your hound’s poop! At the same time, it is also very convenient to train a puppy to go potty with a cue.

When you take your dog out the door for potty time, use the same spot each time. Try and do this from day 1. Clip the leash on and walk with your dog to the ‘potty area’. Stand still and let your pooch circle and sniff. Some dogs will take longer than others before they are ready to relieve themselves. You will get to know your new dog quickly enough. If they need more time, maybe work in a 5 -10-minute play session before you try for potty time.

As soon as your pet starts relieving themselves in the allotted area, use a cue such as “potty time”, or “go pee”. Very soon, your doggo will not only know where to potty each time, they will also learn to respond to a cue to go potty.

Potty Training a Dog with Behavioral Issues

Wondering how to potty train an older dog with behavioral issues? The same do’s and don’ts apply as above. It is important to find the root cause of those behavioral issues. It is best to consult with a certified dog trainer to help you overcome the behavioral issues. Also, consult your veterinarian to make sure that there is no medical cause for their house soiling.

doberman with toilet paper wondering how to house train a puppy

How to House Train an Older Dog Who Hates the Outdoors

Does your dog mess inside when the weather becomes a bit miserable? Whatever you do, don’t rub your dog’s nose in their excrement. This could result in them becoming fearful about doing their business.

Perhaps your dog’s life was spent solely indoors, and they are not used to being outside at all. In this case, you will have to help your dog become used to being outside before you can expect potty training success. Enlist the help of a friend’s dog. Seeing and smelling another dog urinate in their new territory might prompt a dog to do the same.

Common Questions About How to Potty Train an Older Dog

What kind of schedule should you follow to potty train a puppy or older dog?

Is potty training an older dog the same as for a young puppy?

How long does it take to train puppies vs older dogs?

Can you crate train an older dog?

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