How to potty train older dog

puppy elimnating
how to potty train older dog

Most of the time when you think of toilet training a dog you think of training a young puppy. And usually when a puppy is toilet trained this is not a problem that will repeat itself. However if you have an older dog coming from a rescue shelter then maybe this is needed.

This dog might never have been properly trained or maybe it was kept outside all the time and therefore has never been housetrained. In this post I will give you a few tips on how to potty train an older dog and also what to do if your dog is potty trained but the issue of eliminating inside is  behavorial or a medical issue.

This problem could also occur for other reasons than lack of proper training. There might be a medical problem and in in this case a veterinarian should be consulted. It might also be a behavorial issue and in that case another approach needs to be applied.

Scheduled feeding

Feed your dog every day at the same time and take away to bowl between meals. This will help as the dog would need to go to the toilet at the same time every day.

Scedule the elimination times and go to the same area
Even an adult dog who is fully trained should be let out for toileting at least four times a day so when you train your dog you should give him/her plenty of time for his/her business. Another thing that could help is to go to the same area to eliminate every time. When a dog recognises his own smell it will encourge him

Make sure to reward good behavior
Rewarding good behavior is a key stone to dog training. When he does his business outside, make sure to reward him with caresses, treats and playing. Important to reward the dog right away after eliminating so that he will associate the reward with what he just did.

guilty looking dog
How to Potty Train Older Dog

Startle to get their attention but don’t scare them
If you catch them in the act of eliminating (not 2 minutes after) then make some noise (clapping the hands for example) and then bring her outside. After finishing eliminating outside praise her or give her a little treat.

Avoid yelling, scaring or punishing your dog for eliminating inside. This is not going to work. What it will do is that your dog will propably be scared of you and then hide when they need to eliminate.

This is also the reason why you can only startle your dog when you catch them in the act of eliminating inside. If it does not happen while they are doing it they will not make the connection.

Observe them carefully
Dogs are all different and some dogs will make it really clear when they need to go. They will stand in front of the door, yelping or scratching the door. By paying attention to your dog’s behavior you can see when they need to go.

Clean, clean and clean
Even if you are very careful and observant there will be accidents. To prevent them from repeating themselves, you need to clean soiled areas of your home very carefully. Dogs tend to go where they have gone before and therefore it is important to get the smell of the floor. Remember that dogs have a much stronger sense of smell than we have and therefore extra cleaning is necessary.

Behavorial Issues

If you have an older dog who is eliminating inside and it is not a training issue then it can be a behavorial issue. This could for example be the case if your dog was properly toilet training as puppy but starts eliminating inside when it has grown older.

For example, if your dog is eliminating inside your home only when you are gone, then it could be a case of separation anxiety. Eliminating or urinating inside is are two symptoms of separation anxiety, others could be destructive chewing or execissive barking.

How to become the Packleader

The cause of a dog only eliminating (or urinating) when it is left alone could be the following. If it is not made very clear that you are the packleader of your dog then your dog will assume that he is the packleader. The role of the packleader is to protect and control the pack. Here is a link to my post on how to become the packleader

If you leave your dog alone at home, it will become anxious as it does not see you and can’t therefore protect you. It will assume that you are lost and maybe in danger. If a puppy in the pack gets lost, the only way it can find its way home is by its smell. It will follow the smell of the other dogs to find its way back to the pack. What the older dogs will do is to make sure that there is strong, fresh smell for the puppy follow. Thus, eliminating or urinating will create a strong smell that the puppy can follow and find its way home.

So, this what your dog does, it eliminates and urinates at home so you can follow the smell and find your way home. Now this might seem far fetched but we have to remember that dogs are very closely related wolfs and this is a natural behavior to them. They will go by their instincts and do what they are programmed to do.

So in this case, establishing yourself as the packleader would be the way to solve this problem. If your dog sees you as the packleader the responsibility of protecting the pack will fall on you and the dog will no longer be worried when you are gone.  This is one example of why a properly potty trained dog suddenly can start toiletting inside. If you need more assistance on this issue, I suggest you take a look at the Online Dog Trainer. Here is a link to the Online Dog Trainer, where you can sign up for a free course on Potty Training

Medical issues

puppy with messNow if your dog has been properly trained and you have established yourself as the packleader, then the problem might be medical. In this case a veterinarian needs to be consulted.

I hope you found this post on how to potty train an older dog useful. As always leave comments and questions below and I will answer them as soon as I can.



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