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Housebreaking Older Dogs

As dogs get older it can be seemingly more difficult to house train them. This is a guide about housebreaking older dogs.
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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 1 found this helpful
November 30, 2009

I have two altered Chihuahua's; one 5 year old male, and a female which we believe to be around 9 years old. They have a very bad potty problem. The male goes outside really well, but the female just marks (pees very little) when she goes outside. They never poop outside, so they pee and poop everywhere in the house.

I tried a lot of different things to stop the problem, but nothing has helped. So we just try to keep anything that we want to keep off of the floors, and we shampoo our carpets much more than a normal family without 2 little dogs. I had adopted them both and have had them for around 6 years now, so I don't want to get rid of them.

We have a 3 year old big dog, who is a male lab mix and is also altered. He just recently started marking over the spots where they pee at, which is a much bigger problem since he pees a whole lot more than they do.

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Also, I have recently found out that I am going to have a baby and I can't have a baby crawling around on the carpet with pee and poop everywhere. I have tried crate training, but they just howl and cry so much that they get sick all over the place. If you lock them outside, they will hold it until they come back in. And I have no luck getting them outside when it's cold or raining, which is often here in the winter.

Any ideas would greatly help. Please, I am at wits end. Also, my husband says if I don't fix the problem I will have to give them up. They have been with me so long and are my babies. Please help!

By Monica from Fort Bragg, Ca

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December 7, 20090 found this helpful
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Dogs have a very strong sense of smell, you need to remove all traces of the messes with an oxy cleaner-or they will continue to go there. Then, get a black light and check for anything you missed, it will glow in the light.

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Start taking them out on a regular basis, every hour if possible. If not, every 3-4 hours is ideal. They need to understand they should go outside and if there are any traces of the mess they will continue to go and they need to be on a schedule.

It will help a lot. Trust me, I know! Pee pads confuse them.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 31, 2011

We are considering purchasing an 18-month old male Cocker Spaniel. He has been used as a show dog, so he has not been housebroken. The breeder said to just train him the same as a puppy, but I am concerned about buying him if he is not housebroken at his age. He seems to demand a lot of attention, too. We are trying him out for the weekend and need to make a decision. Is it just better to buy a puppy and train it from a young age?

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By Linda S.

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August 1, 20110 found this helpful
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I got a one-year-old Weimer from a shelter; she was not treated very well at her previous home and was really quite skittish and not house-broken. With just a week or two (and not constant!), we were able to train her with lots of love and attention. She followed us around quite a bit at first, but then got used to being by herself in a room while we were in another room. It's really up to you if you feel the connection" with your potential little guy - things will work out if you have the time to devote to working with him. Good luck!

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August 9, 20110 found this helpful

How do I housebreak an older Min Pin?

By Cristina from Napa, CA

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August 11, 20110 found this helpful

Hello Cristina,
I am over in Petaluma. Please take your new fur-baby to the veterinarian for an exam. Ask your Vet about anything. Please write down all your questions before your appointment. so you don't forget anything. House training an older dog can be a challenge but it can be done with a lot of patience and love. Good luck

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November 30, 20090 found this helpful

I have a 1 year old Shitzu I'm trying to train. She has been in her crate all day, and been taken outside every 45 minutes. She has not been to the potty since this morning. I'm very concerned that she has not gone yet. Please help.

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By sanailei from NJ

Answers:

Housebreaking Older Dogs

To begin with; take her out of the cage. Crate training does not mean to keep her in the cage all day. Let her out, but keep a close eye on her. Only put her in the cage at bedtime, and when you go out. Otherwise have the cage in the living room (or whatever room you spend most of your day in) with the cage door open. Don't ever use the cage as punishment. It is more to protect the house when you aren't awake or home to do it yourself.

But she has to be able to be with you. Not just in your sight, but with you. You have to keep a close eye on her. Let her roam the house and satisfy her curiosity about the new home, but follow her and talk to her the whole time. Then make her stay in the room where you are. And watch her closely. If she goes to the door, whether she says anything or not, take her out.

Don't just take her out every 45 minutes. That's fine for puppies, but she's an adult. Watch, and whenever she eats or drinks, take her out immediately after. And when she wakes up from a nap, take her out. Otherwise once every 2 hours would be enough. Take her out after eating, drinking and sleeping.

She's not going to do anything in the cage because that is where she is sleeping. But if you keep the cage open and available to her, then she won't look at it as punishment when you put her in there at night and when you go out. (08/21/2009)

By Cricketnc

Housebreaking Older Dogs

Is there no one home during the day? Is that why she is in a crate all day? She should be out of the crate when people are home, and not locked up. As far as going to the bathroom, she needs to be able to eat and drink enough to do her business. Hope this helps. (08/26/2009)

By S Singer

Housebreaking Older Dogs

I agree with other posters that this pup shouldn't be in the crate all day long. First, the dog will generally "hold it in" when in there, and secondly, if the dog is spending most of its time in there, it isn't getting enough exercise to be able to urinate and defecate efficiently. Not to mention not being socialized by being crated up for that length of time. Having the dog in there that long isn't good for it physically, emotionally, or socially. It will lead to behavioral problems as well as physical ones.

That said, Shitzus are historically tough to house train, but if you catch the dog fifteen to twenty minutes after eating, drinking or a good, active play session (preferably outdoors), you should be able to see some improvement. Also, don't "free-feed", make the dog's mealtimes short and regular.

Ours gets her kibble first thing in the morning and just after we've eaten dinner. Give the dog fifteen minutes to eat what you've set down, then take the bowl up and away. This ends any finicky-eater issues that might come up. They learn quickly that when it's time to eat, it's time to eat. And the scheduled mealtimes will help you get a scheduled potty run. (08/26/2009)

By PupperMom

Housebreaking Older Dogs

If the dog hasn't had to go since the morning you should get in touch with the vet. Old dogs can get kidney problems. I sincerely hope everything is alright. (08/26/2009)

By tyytjones

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August 21, 20090 found this helpful

I have three dogs. The one that is just over two years is a male. The one that is just under two years is a female. I also have a another male who is just 8 months, their puppy. The oldest male is completely house broken, the other two are not at all.

They get three walks a day each between 30 minutes and a hour long at the same time every day, and they always go while they are out. They never go in the house while I'm there. But every day while I am at work and every night while I sleep they go in the house.

I understand that the puppy might still be too young to wait that long but, my female is too old to not be house broken. My floor is being destroyed and I am losing my mind. I can not punish them because I never catch them in the act and even if I do they just start going some where else. People tell me what am I doing wrong?

AB from Toronto, Ontario

Answers:

Housebreaking Older Dogs

I would take to vet to make sure they don't have urinary tract infection. Sometimes that is the only way to tell you they are sick. Reward only for good behavior and remove water at night. (03/04/2009)

By Cosy

Housebreaking Older Dogs

The idea of installing a cowbell on the "out door" is intriguing, but you could probably get one cheaper at any farm supply store. When I read the original post, my first thought was "doggie revenge". Dogs, like children, feel abandoned when you leave them for extended periods for any reason including sleep.

Our 18-month-old American Pit didn't potty or worse, she chewed, but the concept is the same. We solved the issue by confining her to one room any time we both leave. Oddly enough, as long as one of us is here, she doesn't manifest the behavior.

Often, all your pets need is a little extra TLC. You might consider spending fifteen extra minutes with your dogs than usual, if you have the time and energy. That might help, if it doesn't solve the problem. Hope I've said something to help. (03/04/2009)

By JustPlainJo

Housebreaking Older Dogs

You could give a job to a neighborhood young person and ask them to walk your dogs in the middle of the day or soon as they get home from school. Arrange for a key, and have them leave the key with you at night if not leaving it with them all week. (03/04/2009)

By kimhis

Housebreaking Older Dogs

I agree with the dog trainer. I raise boxers and sometimes take in foster dogs that have no training. Consistency is always the answer. I'm a firm believer of putting my dogs in their crates when I'm away or sleeping (except my 3 yr old who knows the rules). Crates can be pricey so check your local "Good Will" or "Salvation Army", I have found them there for $15.
Good luck. (03/05/2009)

By boxergirl76

Housebreaking Older Dogs

I recommend OUT for your floors. I have found it at Walmart and Kmart. I takes the smell of urine out of old and new accidents, and will also remove the stains from carpets. My friend had a male cat that was marking in all the corners of her house. She was ready to replace all her carpet. I took a bottle of this over there and one treatment left her house free of the smell. It is not just a cover up, although it has a very pleasant smell, it really does neutralize it. (03/05/2009)

By boxergirl76

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March 3, 20090 found this helpful

Is it possible to housebreak a dog that's older? When they had to have their old dog put to sleep, my frail (can hardly walk any distance) elderly parents, against my wishes, got 2 new dogs (one a puppy!). They have not really gotten either one housebroken due to their (my parents, not the dogs) poor health. My DH and I installed a fence for their yard and a dogie door, but the folks are just not training the dogs well enough. Due to the age and health of my folks, odds are that we'll be needing new homes for these poor little dogs at some point. I'm afraid that no one's going to want them since they're not housebroken. When that day comes, will it be possible at all to housebreak them, or will they be too old to learn?

Lynn from Chico, CA

Answers:

Housebreaking Older Dogs

As a dog trainer, I can assure you that a dog of any age can be housebroken unless it is ill. Crate training is definitely recommended. Just train the dogs to go potty outside just as you would a pup. Use the same door every time you take the dog out. Use the same area for the dog to potty in so it recognizes the smell. When the dog does potty, praise it lavishly and take it inside immediately. Don't allow the dog to play or run around because it will get in a bad habit of playing and not going potty.

Pick up the water bowl at the same time every evening for the last time and take the dog out several times. The rule of thumb is: A dog can hold it's bladder one hour for every month old it is plus one. If the dog has an 'accident' in the house, never, ever scold the dog! If you catch the dog in the 'act', say "NO" firmly or clap your hands. Then scoop him up and take him out to his potty area and let him finish. Scolding and spanking will make the dog fearful of you and the dog will go potty in another area of your house where you can't see him. Also, do NOT rub his nose in urine or feces. This does nothing to help the dog. Just clean it up and move on. You wouldn't yell and beat a baby for pooping in it's diaper so you wouldn't do this to a dog either.

Housebreaking a dog is easier than you think. It's up to you to be consistent and watchful. Look for signs that the dog has to 'go'. It will usually start sniffing the floor, pacing around and acting kind of odd. He's giving you signs that he has to go potty. I taught both of my dogs to ring a bell that hangs from my back door knob when they have to go out. The pup learned it first when she was only a few months old and my three year old German Shepherd learned it after that. It took him a couple of days before he got the idea. but he finally did.

Here's how I taught them: I hung a small cow bell from the door knob. I purchased it at Petsmart in the field training section of the store. I had my dogs sit by the door and watch me. I rang the bell, said, "out" and opened the door. When they approached the door I quickly closed it. I did this several times then walked away. The dogs already knew this door was the one that leads to the back yard, so they would usually stand there and whine to go out. The next time I heard one of them whine to go out, I stood by the door, rang the bell and said, "out". I opened the door and they tried to hurry past, but I shut the door. I rang the bell and said "out" again and walked away. Now I knew they REALLY had to go and not long after, I heard the bell ring. It was the puppy. I praised her and opened the door. They caught on real fast! (08/13/2006)

By Anonymous

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