How to Successfully Potty Train an Adult Dog

Last weeks Petriotics blog covered how to teach your puppy to do their business outside but there are also many pet dogs reaching adulthood having not been fully house-trained. Reasons can be that simply no one ever bothered to train them, that the dog lived outdoors or that the dog got used to a specific surface due to being confined in one place, for example a crate/kennel.

Luckily, in most cases, house-training an adult dog is quite simple and new habits can be taught quickly. However, it does require time and patience, and if you want your dog to do well you need to make sure you are dedicated.

There is no big difference in potty training a puppy and an adult dog. However, for many people it is hard to understand that a dog that only has accidents a few times a week or only in one location is not fully housebroken. Your dog might not have understood something and might be confused on where it is okay and not okay to go potty.

We collected some tips on what to pay attention to when house training an adult dog:

1. Be extra clear

Clarify every location they are allowed to go. Cherish them right after they do it in the correct spot (e.g. treats, happy voice, petting) and interrupt them and direct them to the correct spot when you catch them in the act. When they finish there, praise them. If they don’t just go inside and clean the mess and hope for more luck next time.

2. Make sure to establish a routine

Feed your dog twice a day, in the morning and at night, and make sure to take them out soon after. Your adult dog can hold it longer than a puppy but in the beginning go outside a lot anyways. You will want as many opportunities as possible to reward your dog for doing it outside (use a high-value treat or cooked chicken right after it occurs).

3. Supervise

Until your dog is fully house broken you should supervise them as much as possible. Don’t let them roam around freely in the house until they understood where to go and where not to go. Leash them to your belt while you do your chores and If you can’t watch them restrain them in a play-pen or a crate. Watch them attentively and learn their individual pre-potty signs to be able to react fast.

4. Clean well

Use good, throughout cleaning products to remove urine odors. If you don’t, they will likely have accidents at the same spot again and again.

5. Don’t get angry

It’s important not to punish your dog for any ‘accidents’ discovered too late. You may feel angry or frustrated, but dogs are unable to associate your feelings of annoyance with something that happened in the past or when you were not there, so it won’t teach them anything if you yell. They might get so confused and scared of you that they start looking for hidden spots to relief themselves indoors.

Still having trouble?

If you have continuing troubles house training your adult dog, there could be other reasons for their behavior:

  • illness
  • stress and tension in the household
  • anxiety about being left alone
  • territory marking

If you believe your dog could suffer from a medical condition making him relief himself inside, consult your veterinarian. For one of the others, it is recommended to speak with a positive dog trainer/ behaviorist. If you need recommendations, don’t hesitate to ask us.

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