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How To Potty Train an Older Dog

dog potty training
dog walking around


Potty training an older dog is definitely possible, even if they have never been trained before. Whether you’ve adopted an adult or senior dog, the methods can be just as effective as with puppies. Crate training can be particularly useful, providing a safe and calming space for your dog.

Tips for Potty Training an Older Dog

  1. Check for Medical Issues

  • Accidents could be due to underlying medical conditions. Before assuming it's a behavioral issue, take your dog to the vet for a complete examination.

  1. Establish a Routine

  • Consistency is key. Set regular times for meals, potty breaks, and walks. Ensure all household members follow the same routine.

  1. Positive Reinforcement

  • Reward your dog for going potty outside. Never punish for accidents. Use treats and praise to reinforce good behavior.

  1. Watch for Signs

  • Pay attention to signs that your dog needs to go out, such as barking, scratching at the door, sniffing, circling, or acting restless.

  1. Leash Walks

  • Take your dog for leash walks to go potty rather than just letting them out in the yard. This provides stimulation and helps them associate outdoor potty time with rewards.

Using a Crate for Potty Training

Crate training is effective for older dogs when you’re away or unable to supervise them.

Steps for Crate Training

  1. Choose the Right Crate

  • The crate should allow your dog to stand, lie down, and turn around comfortably. Cover the top and sides to create a “cave-like” feel.

  1. Location

  • Place the crate in a low-traffic area free of loud noises. Some dogs prefer their safe space near their humans, such as in the corner of the living room.

  1. Comfort

  • Make the crate inviting with a comfortable mat or blanket, and include chew toys and treats that are only available in the crate.

  1. Introduction

  • Gradually introduce your dog to the crate. Never force or drag them in. Use special treats to encourage them to enter and stay relaxed.

  1. Routine

  • Use the crate for short periods when you’re away. Establish a routine for mealtimes, potty breaks, and crate time.

Dealing with Accidents

  • If your dog has an accident, only correct them if you catch them in the act. Swiftly take them outside and use a command like “go potty.” If you didn’t see the accident happen, clean it up without scolding your dog.

Timeframe for Potty Training

  • The time it takes to potty train an older dog varies. It can take a few weeks to a few months, depending on the dog’s previous habits and how consistent you are with training.


Potty training an older dog is achievable with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. By using crate training and establishing a routine, you can help your older dog learn where and when to go potty, ensuring a happy and stress-free environment for both of you.

For more tips and advice on dog training, visit


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