How to Potty Train an Older, Adult Dog

Cuteness may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Image Credit: franciskocz/iStock/GettyImages

Are you a new dog owner who decided not to opt for a puppy, and now are wondering how to go about housebreaking your new friend?


Video of the Day

A newly adopted, older adult dog may need potty training if he is not already house trained. If the dog is older than seven years, he may need to go more frequently than a younger adult dog. An adult dog goes on average every six to eight hours, while a senior dog might need a bathroom break every four hours. Plan to spend a couple of weeks building the dog's routine to house train him successfully. Here's your guide to how to house train an adult dog.


Step 1

Take note of the dog's usual potty frequency. For the first two days of the training period, watch the dog to determine how often he goes, and make a note of actions that precede a potty trip, like circling, sniffing the ground, or walking toward a spot where they previously had an accident. If he soils in the house, avoid punishing him and do not react in any way.


Step 2

Eliminate the scent of former "accidents" before you start potty training. An enzymatic cleaner will offer your best bet at eliminating traces of lingering odors and can be found online or at pet supply stores near you. For a DIY option to make in a pinch, use baking soda dissolved in soapy water to clean spots where it has soiled previously. Add bleach for use on areas that will not sustain damage. To ensure you cleaned everything, shine a blacklight over the spot. Any remaining urine will shine bright!


Image Credit: Yuki Cheung / EyeEm/EyeEm Premium/GettyImages

Step 3

Start a schedule that matches the dog's habit. Once you have taught the dog to go outdoors every time, you can adjust the schedule to fit your own timetable better.


Step 4

Anticipate the dog's need. Dogs usually go directly on waking, so take him outdoors first thing in the morning even if you have to carry him to prevent an accident on the way. Make it a fun trip, with lots of encouragement and a treat or two.

Step 5

Give the action a name. As the dog squats, say "hurry up" or "business" or whatever word you prefer to name the activity. Your timing should be exact so that the dog begins to associate the word with the action, and give him lots of praise and a treat immediately afterwards to help him understand that he has done well.


Image Credit: MirasWonderland/iStock/GettyImages

Step 6

Deal with accidents by simply cleaning them up. During the training period, any punishment may scare the dog, especially if it has had a troubled past. The fear could result in the dog refusing to potty in front of you, or hiding the evidence in hard-to-get-at places.


Step 7

Put the dog in a crate for periods between potty trips when you do not want him to soil in the house, as dogs seldom soil in the places where they sleep or eat. If you are going out, for example, you could leave the dog in the crate for up to four hours. This will not work for a dog that is unaccustomed to a crate or has unhappily lived in a cage in the past.


Step 8

Stick to the schedule and continue using your name for the activity long after the training period is over. Remember, house training is a process. For long-lasting results, continue using positive reinforcement for going potty in the right spot until your dog does so 100% of the time. After a time the schedule will become routine and the dog will know when he can go potty, and hold it until the appropriate time.

Tips to keep in mind

Remember, never punish your dog for house soiling or any other behavior. If you feel like you need more help with the training process, don't hesitate to call in a qualified trainer. They can help you stick to a schedule and learn more tips about house training your adult dog.


references & resources

Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...