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“Older Dog” Housetraining

The key to making a great start with a new adult dog is that you have a plan of action prior to bringing the dog home. With most dogs, the process takes only a day or two. If the dog is previously totally un-trained you will need to follow most of the instructions for puppies, but the process will proceed far more quickly and bladder control development is not as necessary.

  • When you first bring him home, keep him on leash with you in the house until he has relieved outdoors. Stay outside with him and praise lavishly, give a treat as he's going.
  • Immediately after he has relieved himself outdoors, bring him in and walk through the whole house with him. Don't let him roam too far from you. If it's a male dog, WATCH OUT! If you see him sniffing the sides of a sofa or the corner of a wall or doorjamb, interrupt this with a sharp AHH AHH or a couple of hand claps, and get him outdoors. If your dog is male and attempts to hike his leg to mark, you must keep a VERY sharp eye on him for the first few days or he will do it on every vertical surface. What's great is that if you prevent these instances from occurring right from the start, they usually "get it" right away and don't attempt it anymore. A couple of satisfying markings in the house, though, will keep him doing it for ages. Be attentive!
  • For the first few days, don't allow him free access to the whole house. Keep him where you can see him, get him outdoors often and praise for doing it out there.
  • If you catch him in the act of having an accident, a sharp AHH AHH and immediately taking him outdoors to finish, followed by praise for doing so, should help him understand. Remember, if you didn't see it happening, forget about it. No good punishing after the fact. Watch him more closely.
  • Keep him confined when you can't watch him until your "gut instinct" tells you it's absolutely safe to let him have more freedom. Give him this freedom gradually and watch carefully to make sure he's not going to a back bedroom to do his thing.

IMPORTANT NOTES ON HEALTH: If you are not getting anywhere with house-training, your dog or puppy seems to be urinating or defecating to an unusual degree, or your previously reliably trained dog is having unexplainable accidents, please consult your veterinarian. Dogs and puppies can suffer from various common illnesses that affect their ability to control urination and defecation.

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