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How to potty train an older dog

Updated on June 16, 2009

The notion that dogs can’t learn new tricks is just that…a notion. Reality though is a lot different from this idea. Dogs are intelligent creatures. True, puppies are a lot easier to train. These animals are even capable of learning tricks. Older dogs are set in their ways but they are still capable of learning new habits. The need to potty train an older dog is one of the concerns of prospective dog owners. This is one of the reasons why a lot of older dogs remain in shelters. Potty training older dogs is quite difficult but it is not impossible.

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The new habit

It would be a lot easier to train an older dog to adapt a new habit rather than to “unlearn” a bad one. The trick in potty training an older dog is to teach the dog a new good habit that will replace the undesirable routine it has learned and practiced for a long time.

The Potty Spot

Start the training by designating a spot that will be the toilet of the dog. It can be in the backyard or in a corner of the lawn.

A Routine Schedule

Unlike older dogs that need to go at regular times, puppies need to pee more often given that they do not have control of their bladder. This fact is a pro factor in potty training an older dog. You just have to take the dogs to the potty spot first thing in the morning, before they sleep at night and about 30 to 45 minutes after they had a meal. Of course you also have to take note of the signs that the dog is about to eliminate. Apart from behaving in an antsy manner, the dog will whine, sniff the ground and walk in circles. This will be your cue to immediately take the dog to the potty spot.


As mentioned, older dogs are set in their ways. Compared to puppies, older dogs have shorter attention span. Potty training an older dog needs a lot of patience. You need to repeat the process of taking the dog to the potty spot before it would go there on its own.

A dog’s scenting ability

Naturally you will clean the potty spot. But take note of a dog’s behavior of being drawn to the place where it has eliminated last. The spot will naturally have its distinct smell. So when you clean the dog’s toilet it would be better to leave a little bit of the dog’s excrement to serve as an enticement for the dog to potty in the same place again.

Older Dog Potty Training

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