Many adult rescue dogs come with imperfect housetraining skills–or none at all–and even dogs who were potty trained in their previous homes will need a refresher course if they didn’t get regular walks at the shelter. The good news is it’s fairly easy to teach an old dog this new trick. In fact, adult dogs are easier and faster to housetrain than puppies, especially if you use a crate.
The key to rock-solid potty training is to start the day your dog comes home. If you stick closely to the following routine, you should be able to housetrain an adult dog within a week, or less.
Take Time Off To Housetrain Your Dog Properly
When you first bring home your adult dog, they will need to go out for midday bathroom breaks. If you have work, school, or other obligations that prevent you from being able to take your dog for a midday potty break, hire a dog walker. The first week or so is crucial in setting a new routine for your dog, and you want to avoid as many preventable indoor accidents as possible. If hiring a dog walker is not in your budget, ask a friend or neighbor to let out your dog in exchange for another service or favor.
Start Using A Crate The Day You Bring Him Home
Crate training is the easiest way to teach a dog bladder and bowel control because dogs don’t like to soil their sleeping and eating areas.
The crate should be big enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down in comfortably, but no bigger. If it’s too spacious, your dog may feel like he can eliminate in one corner and still keep his living space clean. Keep the crate in a high-traffic part of the house, so your dog won’t feel isolated.
Also make sure to give your dog lots of time outside the crate for exercise, training, and just hanging out and bonding with you. If you keep him in his crate too long, he’ll feel trapped and frustrated.
If you’re among those people who don’t like putting their dogs in a crate, keep in mind that with adult dogs you won’t have to use it very long–maybe as few as three days–before he’s safely housetrained.
How To Streamline Your Housetraining
When you are using a crate to teach your adult dog not to eliminate inside the house, follow these basic guidelines to insure your dog doesn’t suffer from anxiety or eliminate in the crate anyway. These additional steps will also guarantee that your dog is understanding what you want–for them to eliminate outside–and that they will stick to it.
- Never confine your dog for longer than she can hold it. If he’s ever forced to go inside his crate because you didn’t let him out in time, you’ve made housetraining much, much harder.
- Use the same “elimination station” each time. Dogs develop a preference for pooping and peeing in the same spots. Make it easier on yourself by choosing, right from the start, the place close by where you want her to go.
- Don’t distract your dog with games and chit-chat; just stand still and let her circle and sniff. As soon as your puppy begins to go, give her a command, such as, “Go pee or poop” or “Do your business.” Before long, your dog will eliminate on cue–a handy skill when you’re traveling or don’t want to spend your walks carrying a bag of poop.
- Shower him with praise when he does a good job. Make sure the treats and praise come right after he finishes eliminating, and make the praise enthusiastic and the food treat top-notch. You want to make it crystal clear that eliminating outside is a great thing. Don’t wait to get back to the house to give him the treat; he won’t connect the reward with what prompted it.
- Don’t punish your dog for accidents you haven’t seen. Clean up thoroughly so he’s not drawn back to the same place by the smell of residual poop or urine. If you catch your dog having an accident, startle him midstream with a shout or clap and then quickly hustle him outside to finish the job. Praise him when he’s done so he learns that eliminating outside isn’t just allowed, it’s generously rewarded.
Give Your Dog At Least Six Bathroom Breaks Daily
You won’t always have to give your dog as many opportunities to use the bathroom, but until you have finished housetraining, you need to give your dog as many opportunities as possible to eliminate outside. Aim to take out your dog the first thing in the morning, before you leave for the day, twice during the day, once after dinner, and one more time before going to bed. Once you know he’s got it, you can move him to four bathroom breaks a day, the standard for adult dogs.
Also, take your dog for a walk or give him some playtime as a bonus reward. If he always comes straight back inside after eliminating, he’ll learn to hold it to prolong his time outdoors.
What Cleaning Products To Use In Case Your Dog Has An Accident
There will inevitably be an accident here or there while housetraining, no matter how closely you stick to a training routine. In the instance your dog has an accident inside, stick to these rules when picking out a cleaning product.
- Use a cleaning product that contains live bacteria or enzymes that break down the mess, rather than masking it with another fragrance.
- Stay away from ammonia-based cleaners; they’ll smell like urine to your dog, and he’ll want to pee again on the same spot.
- Leave some soiled towels in your dog’s “elimination station.” The scent reinforces for your dog that this is the potty area.