How to Potty Train An Older Dog To Keep Your Floors Pee Free

By Roxi & Huck •  Updated: 12/23/20 •  5 min read

Wondering how to potty train an older dog? Most untrained adult dogs are rescue dogs and if you have adopted an older rescue dog, congratulations are in order!

Adult rescues can bring so much joy to your family, and they come with the bonus of being easier to housetrain. With a steady routine and plenty of positive reinforcement, house training an adult dog without a crate can be a breeze.

The key to dog potty training an older dog is routine. Once a strict routine is established and kept, adult dogs can learn quickly.

How To Potty Train An Older Dog

how to potty train an older dog - bulldog by a bucket and mopLetting your dog out as soon as it wakes up, after every meal, before bed, and a few more times throughout the day will help prevent any accidents from occurring. This is the most direct method on how to potty train an older dog.

After feeding your new pet, be sure to take it out within 15 minutes; for best results, allow your dog 20 minutes to eat its meal before picking up and removing its bowl. Free feeding can lead to a stall in house training, as it’s harder to monitor.

Potty Train Older Dogs

Another essential step in quickly housetraining an adult dog is an established reward system. After your new pet relieves themselves, be sure to praise them and give them treats.

Positive reinforcement will help your dog understand this is what you want them to do. Using the same word every time you let them out, also known as a cue word, can help your pet associate that word with what you want them to do.

Never punish a dog for having an accident in the house. Punishment doesn’t teach your new pet not to go into the house. Instead, it teaches them to hide their accidents from you, or worse, become afraid of going in front of you. Punishment can undo all the housetraining your pet has completed so far. Patience is the key on how to potty train an older dog. It takes time for them to learn their new normal.

How To Housebreak An Older Dog Fast

To help your older dog learn as quickly as possible, you should be aware of the signs that they need to go: sniffing, pacing, whining, and leaving the room. If your dog shows any of these behaviors, take them out immediately and reward them for telling you.

Being able to anticipate your dog’s needs will help prevent accidents. Over time your dog will learn to tell you when they have to go. While you are housetraining your new pet, they shouldn’t be allowed to roam the house freely. Try to keep them near you at all times to supervise them and watch for indicators that they need to go outside.

How To House Train An Adult Dog

If you adopted your dog from a shelter or rescue, they might need time to adjust to relieving themselves on the grass. Animals can develop a surface preference for elimination if they’ve only been given one option most of their lives. They may also need time to adjust to going in front of someone and be very nervous with you there.

dog covering face with paw as trying to house train an older dog
Provide your adult rescue dog plenty of time to sniff around and relax while they are outside with you is the best way how to house train a rescue dog. Taking them to the same place they have relieved themselves before can also help. It reinforces the idea that THIS is where we go potty.

If they don’t go while they are outside, putting them in a crate for a time is an option. A crate is a training tool with many uses, including on how to potty train an older dog. If your dog doesn’t relieve themselves, you can put them in their crate for 15-20 minutes before taking them out to try again.

What is the best enzyme cleaner for dog urine?

If your adult rescue dog does have an accident inside, it is essential to clean it up as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Using a spray or cleaner specifically designed for pet messes with an enzymatic cleanser helps eliminate the smell. An enzyme cleaner is an important product to have in your toolbox of how to potty train an older dog.

Using the wrong cleaner could leave trace amounts behind, confusing your dog into thinking this is a place where elimination is expected. Ammonia-based cleaners can also confuse your dog as urine contains ammonia. If your dog is consistently relieving themselves in the same area of your home, block off access to that area until housetraining is complete and deep clean the area with an appropriate cleaner.

How To House Train A Dog

While house training an adult dog is generally easier than training a puppy, it still requires time and effort on your part. Routine, patience and positive reinforcement are imperative to helping your new dog learn where and when you want them to go. This is how to potty train an older dog.


Roxi & Huck

Hello, we're Roxi and Huck. Our passion lies in researching and understanding the compatibility between various dog breeds, both purebred and mixed, and the lifestyles and housing situations of potential owners. We work alongside Mom and Dad to uncover insights that facilitate ideal matches between dogs and their human companions.