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Housetraining a puppy can be a challenge, but what about an adult dog? No matter what the age of your canine companion, there are ways to housetrain an adult dog and help improve their potty habits.
An adult dog may need housetraining for many reasons. If the dog has been adopted, it may never have been housetrained previously, or it may have spent a long period in a kennel or shelter and lost its housetraining habits. Dogs that have always lived outdoors may not have been formally housetrained, or older dogs may need refresher training as they develop health conditions that make previous housetraining less suitable. If you move to a new home, your dog may need help shifting its housetraining routine to a new location, or a dog that suffers from anxiety or other behavioral complications might need housetraining reminders.
Whatever the reason, it is always possible to housetrain an older dog. While some dogs may need just basic reminders about the proper potty time, other dogs may need several weeks of diligent training to establish a comfortable routine.
Housetraining an adult dog isn’t altogether different from housetraining a puppy. While an older dog may be more set in its ways, it also has a larger bladder and better muscle control to hold its elimination until the proper time. To help your adult dog be successful with housetraining…
Even adult dogs will occasionally have bathroom accidents. If these accidents are frequent or become a sudden problem, consult your veterinarian, because it could be a sign of health problems, a change in dietary needs, anxiety, or other concerns. These issues will need to be resolved before the dog can be effectively housetrained.
When an accident happens, clean it up quickly, and take any rags or paper towels to the designated potty spot to help encourage your dog to use the proper space. Then use an enzymatic cleaner, vinegar, or ammonia to remove scent markers and odor from the accident area that might encourage the dog to reuse the same spot.
If you happen to catch your dog while eliminating in an improper area, clap your hands loudly or use a sharp “STOP!” command to interrupt the potty if possible, then immediately take your dog to its potty spot. If it finishes the deed in the correct area, offer the appropriate praise. Do not, however, punish your dog for an accident, as the dog will not understand and any harsh behavior, including chasing, yelling, or rubbing its nose in the mess, will only create fear and anxiety, which can lead to even worse bathroom habits.
Always be patient with your dog while housetraining, whether the dog is a young puppy, a mature adult, or an aging senior. Gentle but firm guidance can help your dog develop the best potty habits, and soon it will adapt to housetraining with ease.