Older dog potty training

Posted by: Kathy  /  Category: How to care for your Shih-Tzu puppy

Potty Training for Older Dogs


There are some dogs that were never potty trained or never had any housetraining while they were puppies. This could be because they were always outside dogs or lived with owners that simply couldn’t manage to housetrain their pet. One of the most common reasons for older dogs ending up in shelters and at the pound is because the owners simply didn’t have the time, energy or skills to housebreak their dog.

The good news is that you can teach old dog new tricks, and even senior dogs that have not been housebroken can learn to ask to go outside to relieve themselves. Many of the techniques used with older dogs are very different than working with puppies.This is largely due to the fact that older dogs need to be correctively trained to go outside. This means, in fact, that they must un- learn their previous behavior of relieving themselves in the house.




When planning to potty train or housetrain an older dog, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. If you know the previous owners of the dog, you may be able to find some of the necessary information, but if you got the dog from a rescue shelter the pet’s background may or may not be know. An older dog may have several conditions that cause them to urinate in the house that are not related to potty training issues. If your older dog is urinating in the house frequently, no matter what type of housebreaking program you are using, the dog should be taken to a vet as soon as possible.

Some of the conditions that can cause lack of bladder control in older dogs are:

Kidney stones, infections, or genetic conditions or diseases

Bladder infections or diseases including bladder stones

Improper pH levels in the urine

Hormonal imbalances

Female dogs may have issues with bladder problems after having puppies

Male dogs may have prostate problems

Incontinence that is age related

Most of these conditions can be cured with antibiotic treatments or other specialized treatment that you’re veterinary can provide. It is unfair and damaging to the dog to punish them for accidents that are simply beyond their control. Having the vet examine your dog is usually the first step in determining if the bladder control issue is a medical condition or a behavior. If the dog urinates in the house frequently only when you are not home, but does not seem to have the same troubles when you are home, it is more likely to be behavior that is driven by anxiety or fear of abandonment. As dogs mature and become senior dogs it is likely that they will experience some level of incontinence, as they begin to lose control of the bladder and sometimes even the bowels. There are special dog diapers and pads available for senior dogs with incontinence problems.

For those mature dogs that simply have not been housetrained, there are several different options available for owners. The first is simply to be sure to take the dog outside every two to three hours, especially when it is first brought to the house. This will prevent most accidents inside, and will allow the dog to understand where and when you want it to relieve itself. Remember that an older dog may have been punished for urinating or defecating in front of people, whether inside or outside. This may make it hard for the mature dog to relieve itself in your presence. Try having the dog go outside in the yard with you, off a leash, until it is comfortable with you being present when it toilets. Give lots of praise and maybe play for a bit outside, but only after the dog has gone to the bathroom.

Litter training or paper training will often work for smaller breeds of dogs, but again, if the dog has been punished for relieving themselves in the house they may be very uncomfortable doing this until they have built a relationship of trust with you. Take things slowly, and provide lots of praise when the dog goes outside. Respond as soon as the dog indicates there is a need to go out. Don’t play with the dog, simply take them to the designated area and wait about five minutes. If the dog does not relieve themselves return to the house with no comments, treats or play. Repeat the process until the dog does toilet, then give lots of praise and attention. Soon the mature dog will understand what you want and that going outside is rewarding for them.


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