Has your senior dog been having accidents in your house?
Does she frequently forget to tell you it’s time to go out?
Do you notice accidents at a certain time of day? Or, after a you’ve bene out of the house for a certain amount of time?
As your dog ages, she may develop problems with potty training. There are several reasons this happens:
- A senior dog’s digestive system may not run as efficiently as it did when they were a pup. This leads to an irregular bathroom schedule
- Your dog may have trouble holding it in. Just as with humans, as dogs enter their golden years, they may have more trouble holding it in while you’re away at work
- There can be lag time between your pup’s brain tell her “it’s time to go out” and her ability to get to the door
- Seniors often have to go to the bathroom more frequently than puppies
- Did you rescue your senior pooch? She may have never been potty trained
First, make sure that accidents aren’t happening because of a medical issue. Take your dog to the vet and have them perform a Senior Blood Panel. This will find any issue with their bladder, kidneys, liver, and other essentials.
- Once you’ve established that it’s not a medical problem, figure out if the issue is behavioral.
House Training: Puppy vs Older Dog
First, know that unless there is a medical issue, any dog, regardless of age, can be housebroken.
There are many differences in training a puppy vs an older adult dog
However, with both puppies and seniors, the key is consistency.
How to House Train a Senior Dog, Fast
These rules are meant for senior dogs, but you can apply them to puppies and adults as well.
Be Consistent with Their Meal Times
Aim to feed your senior pup at the same time every day. Remove their bowl between meals. The senior appetite is different than that of a puppy. Your senior may only pick at her food at meal time, then go looking for more later. This leads to inconsistent bathroom habits. By removing the bowl, you are letting them know that they can eat their fill – but, only at dinner time.
Feed your dog at the same time every day and take their bowl away between meals.
This will also help set up a routine of eating, resting, going out. All dogs love routine, but seniors especially thrive on consistency.
Keep a Bathroom Schedule
When training a puppy, you set up a bathroom schedule. It helps teach the pup system when it’s time to go. This goes a long way in preventing accidents because the dog’s system starts to process food on with regularity, eliminating the need for surprise trips to the bathroom.
With seniors, this is even more important. Your senior dog’s system isn’t as efficient as it used to be. Consistency in feeding and bathroom break times helps balance their system.
Senior Rescue Dogs: your rescue may not have even been house trained. If so, don’t fret. This can be an advantage because you are only teaching, and not teaching plus breaking ingrained bad habits.
Puppies should go out four times per day, minimum. Seniors should go 6 or more. They won’t relieve themselves every time, but giving them the opportunity cuts down on accidents, and helps eliminate accident-anxiety.
Be sure to give you senior time to do her business once outside. Rushing your dog will only create more anxiety.
When she does her business outside, make sure you’re right there to reward her with treats, praise, play, or a walk.
Startle, Don’t Scare
If and only if you catch them in the act of eliminating (not 5 minutes later!), clap so that you startle them out of what they’re doing.
Then take them outside and offer them praise and treats after they finish eliminating.
Watch Them Closely
Be sure to keep a close eye on your seniors. They may not be able to tell you it’s time to go in time, and they may also feel shame if they have accidents. The best thing to do is to watch them closely, looking for patterns that let you know it’s time to go outside.
Accidents happen with dogs of all ages, just as they do with humans. Dogs are not machines. When your senior pup has an accident, be sure to clean the area as best as possible to remove the scent which could encourage them to use that spot again.