Housebreaking Your Senior Dog
4 Important Tips
Housebreaking Your Senior Dog – 4 Important Tips
You have just adopted a new senior dog into your home. You are a little worried though; after all, old
dogs can not learn new tricks, right? Wrong, especially when it comes to house training. Just because your
new senior dog may not have been previously house trained does not mean she can not be now. In fact, some
senior dog owners experience less ‘accidents’ while training a senior dog than a puppy. Keep the
following four tips in mind when teaching your old dog a new trick.
1. House Training Is Not Really a New Trick
My dad always says, you do not teach an animal a new trick, you find something she does naturally and
then put a command to it. The same is true about house breaking. Your senior dog already understands how
to go to the bathroom. You are not trying to teach her to do something knew like, how to roll over, or
how to catch. She and every other senior dog, understand how to go to the bathroom. Now all you have to
do is train your senior dog to go to the bathroom on command.
2. Your House
Your house is a new environment for your senior dog. While you probably do not perceive it as scary, she
most likely does. New smells, new food, new water: new people. . . this can be a lot for a senior dog to
take in. Adjusting to your house, as loving and welcoming as it is, can take time. That is alright. It is
very important to give your senior dog the time she needs to fully comprehend her new situation. One way
to help speed up your new senior dog’s acclimation to your house is to crate her.
Crating does a variety of good things for your dog. To begin, dogs naturally make a den when then sleep.
They want somewhere safe and protected to relax. It may seem cruel to make your dog sleep and stay in a
crate, but most dogs do not see such an arrangement as cruel. In fact, most dogs prefer sleeping in a
crate to sleeping out of one, especially when they arrive somewhere new. The crate makes them feel safe.
It cuts down on the stress of a new environment. Once your senior dog learns that her crate is her safe
spot, she will start to view the rest of your house as a ‘safe spot’ as well.
4. Crating and Housebreaking
Not only does crating your dog help alleviate the stress she feels upon being brought to a new place, but
crating also helps housebreak your dog. As mentioned, a crate mimics the den a dog would make in the
wild. Wild dogs do not go to the bathroom in their dens. To prevent your senior dog from going to the
bathroom in your house, you should keep her in her crate when she is not outside. This may seem
counter intuitive, after all, you did not get your senior dog to sit in a crate all day, but keeping her
crated all day is only temporary.
Senior dogs, unless they are incontinent, are usually able to hold their bladders longer than a puppy. As
a result you can keep your senior dog in a crate for three to four hours, and then bring her outside to
use the bathroom. Once outside, your senior dog may have trouble using the bathroom while on a leash.
If you want her to learn to go while leashed, you may have to spend extra time walking with her, or keep
her in the crate longer, until she really needs to go. When your dog goes to the bathroom, give her
praise! Make sure she understands that she is doing what you want. Training a dog preventively, i.e.
encouraging her when she does something good, rather than disciplining her when she is has an accident,
is a far more effective way to housebreak your dog. If your dog goes to the bathroom in your house,
rather than out-side, and you yell at her for it, she will not understand. YOU need to be the one to get
her outside before an accident happens. Preventing accidents and providing positive encouragement are
much more effective ways of house breaking your dog than reacting to accidents.
Once your dog goes to the bathroom and you praise her, give her a hour or so of time outside the crate.
Let her sit with you in the house as a reward for going to the bathroom. After the hour or so is up, put
her back into the crate for several more hours. Repeat the cycle. If for some reason your senior dog does
not go to the bathroom when taken outside, put her back into the crate without giving her free time. She
probably will not like this, but it will help her learn that when she is told go to the bathroom, that is
what she needs to do.
Keeping these four tips in mind will help the new senior dog owner effectively housebreak their new dog.