Can You House Train an Older Dog

How to house train an older dog

Dear Hindy,

My wife and I have been reading such sad stories about old dogs who are left in shelters, and don’t usually find a home. We’d like to adopt a senior, but some friends are telling us we’re crazy, mainly because they can’t be house trained. What do you think? Thank you, Richard and June

Can You House Train an Older Dog

Dear Richard and June,

Well, as someone who adopts senior and special needs dogs, I have to say you’re amazing for considering giving one a home, and your friends are misinformed.

It’s entirely possible the senior dog you adopt had spent most of her life in a home, and was house trained. Even if that isn’t the case, they can be taught just like a dog of any age.

Having a schedule of when she goes for walks will go a long way towards that. In a shelter they may not have gotten out often enough, so would pee when they had to. That’s exactly what happened to my old dog Red. The first day I brought her home she peed in her bed. She had a few accidents, but she learned very quickly she was getting out often enough so she could wait.

Here are a few tips

  • Feed and walk on a schedule (don’t leave food out all day for her to graze), but don’t worry you don’t have to stick to it to the second
  • Typically you want to take him or her out first thing in the morning, after breakfast, after dinner, a few times throughout the day and before bed. This will be often enough to reduce the chance of an accident
  • You don’t want to just let her loose in the backyard because you want to make sure she pees, and that she learns where to do it
  • Until she’s gotten the hang of house training, don’t leave her unsupervised

Good luck.




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Hindy Pearson
I am a dog trainer and behaviour consultant, specialising in working with first time dog owners. Whether you're thinking of getting a dog and aren't sure if it's the right time, or you've been sharing your life with one for awhile but there are issues you can't resolve, I am here for you. No matter where in the world you live I can help.

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