Housebreaking an Older Puppy

golden-retrieverOne of the most frustrating situations for pet owners is one in which their adult dog still uses the inside of the house for a toilet. As a general rule, adult dogs that live in the home should be well trained in the appropriate behavior that you expect it to engage in – including the evacuation of its waste. Housebreaking an older puppy is really no more difficult than housebreaking a younger puppy, though there are a number of things that you will want to check prior to beginning the dog’s training all over again.

The first thing that you should do is have your dog seen by a veterinarian. There are a number of medical conditions that may be causing your adult dog’s improper bathroom activities, and your veterinarian is the most qualified person to diagnose any potential problems. Where there is a medical condition causing the activity, you will likely be given medication or treatment options to help your dog regain control over its soiling activity.

In some cases, however, there may be no readily identifiable medical problem that should prevent you from housebreaking your older puppy. In those situations, you may want to give some thought to changes that may have occurred in the dog’s routine – anything that may be causing regressive behavior. Often times, a minor change in your work schedule or overall routine can be traumatic for your pet – especially when the animal is closely bonded to you. A dog who is used to your company, but who suddenly finds that it is seeing you fewer and fewer hours each day, may become agitated or nervous, and can even develop severe anxiety. Any of these emotional responses could lead to improper evacuations.

Of course, knowing the source of your dog’s problem is only the beginning. You still have to face the challenge of housebreaking an older puppy, a process that many pet owners find somehow more exasperating than training young puppies. The fact is that these owners expected that by the time their puppies were a certain age, the need for additional housetraining would have been long behind them.

Nevertheless, the best approach to housebreaking an older puppy is to adopt the same methodology that you used when it was younger. While you can choose from among a variety of housetraining methods, experience with older dogs seems to indicate that crate training is the most effective strategy. In fact, many older puppies that are re-trained using a crate find themselves housebroken within two to three weeks.

While it can be frustrating, and even annoying, to end up housebreaking an older puppy months after you thought that the lesson should have been learned, there is at least one consolation that you should keep in mind. Older dogs can generally “hold it” for far greater periods of time than puppies. That means fewer trips outside with your puppy, and fewer potential accidents within the home. And if you can ignore the fact that the accidents that may happen will tend to be bigger messes than when the puppy was young, that consolation should help to ease any frustration you feel with the idea of housebreaking an older puppy.


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