Professional Dog Trainer and Behavioral Specialist, Doggy Dan, has a free, step-by-step tutorial on how to potty train an adult dog. Other than making sure an older dog isn’t having some sort of medical issue that’s making potty training more difficult, potty training an adult dog is the same as potty training any dog or puppy.
3 Steps to Potty Train an Adult Dog
In the tutorial, Doggy Dan discusses 3 super effective steps for potty training an adult dog.
1. Set Your Dog Up for Success. Set up a small area for your dog to hang out, especially when they’re unsupervised. If your dog tends to “go off somewhere” to go potty, try setting up a small, fenced-in area in your main living space to ensure the dog can’t sneak off. Or if they tend to pee on the carpet, confine them to an area such as the kitchen where there’s no carpet.
Taking preventative measures is a great way to help your dog while discouraging them from peeing or pooping in inappropriate areas.
2. Keep a Consistent Routine. If your dog is struggling with potty training, you simply can’t let them go 6+ hours without being taken outside. You have to keep a consistent routine until they’re consistently only toileting outdoors. It may seem extreme, but you should start by treating your adult dog like a puppy – take them out every two hours. Once they’re outside, give them praise when they go potty. As the potty training improves, you can begin to lengthen the time between trips outside.
You should take the dog outside first thing in the morning (yes, before your coffee or shower!) And I hate to break it to you, but most dog owners simply cannot sleep late. Especially if your dog is older, has a medical issue, or is struggling with potty training.
I had a miniature Dachshund who was my built-in alarm clock. She’d wake up the same time every day – all year long – all week long – and I had to get up and take her outside. If I didn’t, she’d stroll down to the dining room and pee on the carpet! When you gotta, go, you gotta go!
You should take the dog outside right before you go to bed. This will help set them up for overnight success.
3. Reward Your Dog When They Go Potty in the Right Place! Dogs are very “cause and effect.” Reinforcing appropriate behavior repeatedly will quickly teach the dog that they will receive a reward (praise or a treat) if they do certain things. Small treats can do wonders to encourage good behavior.
What if These Steps Don’t Work?
If you’ve followed these steps and your adult is still having difficulty with potty training, I can make a few suggestions.
Consider a Medical Issue. First, take the dog to the vet to make sure they aren’t having a medical issue such as a UTI or bladder infection. Older dogs are more prone to this than younger dogs. These can create an urgent need to urinate over and over again. Your vet can easily diagnose this sort of problem with a simple urine test.
Remember the Dog is Aging. And remember that dogs, just like people, often have difficulties holding their bladder as they get older or can even become incontinent. Be patient and compassionate and realize that as your dog ages, he’s going to have to be let out more often.
You might also consider confining the dog to an area that does not have carpet and provide pee pads.
I had a (different) miniature Dachshund who became incontinent. I had her in doggy diapers for the last several months of her life.
Consider Stress and Anxiety. Potty training can be difficult if a dog has had any sort of harsh treatment in the past. If your dog is a shelter or rescue dog, this could very well be the case. Even if there was no past abuse, just trying to get used to being in a new home can be extremely stressful for dogs.
Be patient and extra kind to your dog. If you feel your dog is struggling with stress or anxiety, you might try Doggy Dan’s dog training program called, The Dog Calming Code. It’s specifically to help dogs calm down and relax. You can read more about it here.
Potty Training Made Easy
You might like to sign up for a free video-training series from Doggy Dan called, Potty Training Made Easy. It focuses on potty training a puppy, but the principals remain the same for adult dogs. I think it will help!
Who is Doggy Dan?
Doggy Dan is a Professional Dog Trainer and Behavioral Specialist, and the creator of the dog training website, TheOnlineDogTrainer.com. The site has more than 300 videos where you get to see Doggy Dan working with dogs and their owners. He offers a $1 three-day trial to the website and a monthly membership for $37. It’s been my #1 recommendation for dog training for more than seven years because it is effective and affordable. You can read my full review here.
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