Housebreaking an older dog is not impossible. In fact, the best thing you can do for your older dog is take control of their daily routine.
You determine when they will eat and get a drink of water rather than leaving the food and water bowls out all day and night. You plan potty breaks and determine what part of your yard they are to use for elimination. You want to develop a routine that they can count on following every day.
Controlling food and water intake allows you to control when your dog will feel the urge to urinate or defecate to some extent. If you take your dog outside at certain times each day, they will start to expect to use the restroom at those times. They will naturally start to hold off from using the bathroom indoors because they know they will have a chance to go outside at expected times.
If you remember that you are in control, the following housebreaking tips for older dogs will help you successfully train your dog regardless of age.
You may be tempted to try out different training methods to see if they work for your dog, but that approach may confuse your dog. Instead, plan your training technique in advance. This allows you to consistently implement the same routine day after day. Your dog will know what to expect and grow accustomed to the routine. They will know what you expect, and you will enjoy greater results from the time you spend training your dog.
Older dogs don’t always respond to shaming or negative reprimands, and it is never effective to physically strike a dog. Harsh punishments may also negatively affect your relationship with your dog as they may not trust you fully.
Positive reinforcement is a much better approach when housebreaking an older dog. As your dog figures out what you expect from him or her, you will have opportunities to reward them for doing good. When they notify you that they need outside rather than urinating on the floor, you can give them love, tell them they did a good job, and perhaps give them a small treat.
Just don’t overdo the treats because excess food is unhealthy for dogs. Verbal encouragements and time with you are equally good rewards for your dog, especially if it means they get to spend extra time out of their crate because they are mastering the potty training process.
Dogs will naturally avoid urinating or defecating in their beds, which is why crating is such a successful housebreaking method. Purchase a crate that is large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in, but not much larger. Provide comfortable bedding, but don’t add food or water into the crate. You want your dog to feel comfortable in this are, like it’s their personal space.
You can leave your dog in the crate during times that you are unable to watch them in the house. You still need to let them out at scheduled food and bathroom times, taking them outdoors or to the appropriate place in your home to eat. You should also spend time bonding with them and make sure that they get adequate amounts of exercise each day.
If you don’t like the idea of crate training, you can restrict your dog’s access to one room or region of your home and put out paper. You will need to clean up the paper on a regular basis in this case. Thoroughly cleaning up any accidents in your home is important as well.