Can You Train An Old Dog? 6 Practical Tips For Potty Training

can you train an old dog

If you don’t want your senior dog to relieve himself anywhere he pleases, it’s essential to train him for proper bathroom habits.

Like puppies, adult dogs can learn bathroom habits. You can potty train an older dog to prevent your pet friend from relieving anywhere in your home.

However, house training your puppy is quite different from an older dog. It can be a lot of work at first, but it’s worthwhile.

Here are vet-approved tips to effectively house-train an older dog:

Can You Train An Old Dog?

Establish Potty Breaks

This is the first step when it comes to house training older dogs. Before you start training, it’s crucial that you determine the right potty area and breaks.

However, you want to focus on what your recently adopted dog will do outside its potty break. You want to ensure your older dog only goes to poop when you say so to avoid accidents or building bad habits.

There are many ways to achieve this feat. One is actively watching the dog at all times. This can be stressful and not very effective. Accidents tend to happen, even under strict supervision.

Another great idea is keeping older dogs in confinement space. Outside potty break time, keep your senior dog in a crate or small room or use a leash to ensure no accidents. This is the most effective way to stop senior dogs from doing their business indoors.

Crate training makes it easier to monitor and speed up the whole process.

Take Periodic Toilet Breaks

The next step of the potty training program involves taking the older dog out to empty its bowel. You also want to take out and use the leash during this stage to keep the adult dog within your preferred toileting area. This can be a pee pad or a grass spot in your garden.

It’s recommended as it helps stop the adult dog from chasing squirrels and ensures it goes number 2 in the right place.

It’s crucial that you take your older dog out for bathroom breaks every hour, provided you’re awake. Unlike a puppy, you don’t have to worry about potty breaks while sleeping.

Be Patient

During the potty training sessions, you have to exercise patience with your adult dog. It might take a few minutes before your adopted older dog finally does business. As the dog trainer, it’s crucial that you remain as silent and still as possible. You want to avoid being the source of distraction to the dog.

In addition, positive reinforcements teach an old dog to keep up the good job. However, you only want to offer treats to your older dog when they poop or pee in the right place.

Sometimes, older dogs won’t pee or poop within 5 minutes. If you can’t wait extra minutes, return the dog to the crate.

Positive reinforcement

After the potty training sessions, you don’t want to rush the adult dog back into its confinement. This might send the wrong message to the older dog.

Instead, engaging adult dogs after each successful potty training session in their favourite game or activity for a couple of minutes is advised. For example, your dog might want to run free in the yard or play fetch with you. Also, you can use treats as positive reinforcement.

Doing so will teach adopted pets that doing their business outdoors and in your preferred area comes with a lot of fun and good stuff.

Repeat the routine

House training requires patience and consistency, considering it takes weeks for older dogs to be potty trained. Remember that senior dogs with medical problems are more likely to have poor control over their poop and pee. So, it might take up to a month for your senior pet to be properly potty trained.

To ensure this routine doesn’t become too tiring, it’s best to create a housetraining chart. This includes marking where and when past accidents occurred. This allows you to understand their potty schedule.

Ignore accidents

While it sounds counterintuitive, the accident will happen. And punishing your dog for mistakes that happened in the house will only make your pet more secretive about his poops and pees.

Once you notice an accident in your house, ignore the older dog and clean up the mess. It’s important to use aspecial enzymatic cleanerto eliminate your pup’s potty smells. Else, that would remain his usual spot for toilet breaks.

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

Yes. It’s a common misconception that an old dog can’t learn new tricks. While older dogs may take longer to learn new things, they can still learn and adapt.

How can training help older dogs with medical problems?

Training can be beneficial for older ones with medical issues. It can help them learn more basic commands to assist in managing their conditions, such as going outside for bathroom routines or following specific routines to accommodate their health needs.

Can I still potty train an older dog?

Yes, it’s possible to potty train an older dog. Unlike puppies, older furry friend are slow to learn. However, training an older dog is not so different from training a puppy. In some cases, older dog (from a well trained home) might give a sign or verbal cues of when they need to go outside to do their business.

Why is training an older dog more challenging?

Whether a puppy or an aged dog, getting your pet to understand their bathroom routine can be challenging. Senior pets can still mess up your house despite having better control over their bladder. Plus, most dogs from shelter homes usually have no bathroom schedule, making potty training an older dog undeniably difficult.


An essential aspect of owning a pet involves training your pup to stick to the bathroom breaks. While training an older dog might seem impossible, it’s simple and manageable. Except if something is medically wrong with the pup or older dog, it takes only a couple of weeks to train your pet to do their business in your designated area. Also, you should remember that using treats when training helps your dog adapt to the routine in no time.

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