So you have decided to bring home a dog instead of a puppy, or you are contemplating it. That's a good idea as long as you are confident that you'll be able to train him. After all, the task of housebreaking an older dog is a lot more tedious compared to that of housebreaking a puppy.
When you bring home a dog, you should keep in mind that the dog understands nothing and may be a nervous wreak, unsure of his new surroundings. Many times these dogs are not house trained and thus, you have to start from the basics.
Before you begin, you need to understand one thing―the task of housebreaking an adult dog is all about patience. You need to keep your cool at all times. It is not the dog's fault as he was never taught to relieve himself at a specific place. Remember, a dog is bound by habit and once he learns to follow a habit, it becomes a bit difficult to change it. However, an older dog―in spite of his age―can be trained to eliminate outside the house or a designated area within the house.
How to Housebreak an Adult Dog?
You should keep in mind that it will take a while to housebreak a dog that was never given potty training as a puppy. You will have to start from the scratch and start the training as soon as you get home. The first thing to do when you get him home, is to take him to the yard or a designated area. The dog will be keen on exploring and sniffing around, but you will have to keep him on the leash. Wait in the same area patiently and allow him to relieve himself. Once he is done, appreciate him; this will send across the message that what he did was right and acceptable.
You will have to follow this routine on a regular basis. Make sure you take him to the designated place after every hour when you are home. You should establish a routine and take him out the minute he gets up in the morning, after he has his meals, and just before going to sleep at night. You should match his housebreaking pattern with your schedule and make it a point to stick to it.
Additionally, you should look out for signs that tell you your dog needs to relieve himself. You should take these signs seriously, and take him out every time you have a hunch. This should be followed strictly, especially during the initial phase of housebreaking training. When you are leaving the house or cannot supervise him for some time, you should confine the dog in an area like a crate (dogs do not like to soil the area they sleep in) or the bathroom.
Never give the dog an opportunity to eliminate in the house. You should supervise the dog at all times. You can keep the dog on a leash that is about 6 foot long or hold him in an area surrounded by baby gates. The dog should understand that he is not supposed to defecate in the house. If you have kept the dog confined in an area for several hours, take him to the designated area the minute you let him out. Repeat the appreciating part once the dog is done.
Accidents During Housebreaking
Almost all dogs have an accident in the house at some point or the other. You need to accept it as a part of adjustment in the new house. If the dog has an accident after several weeks of training, it goes to show that you may have not followed the entire process properly. When you find your dog relieving himself in the house, do something to startle him―like make a noise or clap loudly. But remember, you should not be scaring him. Then take him immediately to the bathroom or the designated area, and allow him to relieve himself there.
If you find a soiled area, it is too late to reprimand the dog. All you can do is clean the area. There is no point in lecturing the dog or punishing him for it. He will not be able to understand why you are angry. It will only make him feel scared of you. Even if you punish the dog a second later, he will not understand it. Never resort to physical punishment; it is known to backfire in the long run. You should clean the area thoroughly and eliminate any smell of urine. Dogs have the tendency of urinating in places smelling of urine.
Remember that to housebreak an adult dog you need to be consistent. You should never break the schedule even after you have successfully trained the dog. Always shower him with praises and give him treats when he does what is expected of him. Remember to take your dog on long walks to burn off excess energy; a bored dog is more likely to defecate inside the house instead of going out. You need to be patient throughout the training period and help your dog in a gentle and firm way.