6. You Can Teach Older Dogs………to Be Housebroken
The number one reason dogs are turned into local shelters, vet clinics or to rescue groups by their owners is because they are “messing in the house”.
Now, why is that? Why are all of these dogs having problems with relieving themselves in the house?
If you ask the owner how they housebroke the dog, you would get a short answer: one that will quickly tell you that the dog either never received any type of training, or the owner had no clue what to do, and the dog was never properly housebroken.
Owners don’t take the time to train the puppy or dog, nor call an expert trainer for help. Some owners are just plain lazy too and let the dog take control of the household. As the owner, they never stood their ground and controlled the situation.
King of the Show or Road
What about retired show dogs? Many of these dogs are used to living in kennels, not inside the house. They’re used to relieving themselves anywhere, anytime. And it’s their territory that they’ve marked as theirs. Retired breeding dogs are the same way. No matter if it’s a male or female, many are not used to living in a house and have never been properly housebroken.
And for those dogs that were strays, but rescued and put into shelters or with rescue groups: they’ve been used to the great outdoors where they could do whatever they wanted, wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted.
And talk about a territory! They could mark everywhere and anywhere as “mine”. So a house…what an interesting territory with curtains, rugs and furniture!
How to Train Your Old Dog New Tricks
If your dog came out of a rescue group, is a retired breeder or show dog, or was not properly housebroken, you can still work with your new pal and get him trained. An older dog has one thing going for him: he knows how to listen and learn. He just needs to “unlearn” the bad habits, and “relearn” the good habits.
With an older dog, you’ll want to bypass the papers on the floor. That’s only for puppies. You want to train him to alert you and go to the door when he needs to go out.
It’s All About Schedules and Cues
Like a puppy, you need to get your dog on a schedule: when he eats, and then when he goes out. And then you need to watch his cues when he needs to go out, and you “invite” him to go out or for a walk.
So, what you need to do is:
- Get your dog on a feeding schedule. And right after he eats, say “let’s go out!” Verbal cues will reinforce your actions! “Let’s go out!”
- “Let’s go for a walk!” Short and to the point. The dog will quickly learn this and before you have all of the words uttered, he’ll be dashing for the door when you’ve said “Let’s go….”
- Like a puppy, when outside or out for a walk, when he urinates or defecates, PRAISE him.
- Good boy! Save the treat for when you’re back in the house.
- A hug will be good for outside.
During the Transition Period
While retraining your dog, make sure you remember to:
- Crate the dog. Give him his own space. That will make him feel safe and comfortable.
- Don’t put food down all day. Restrict food to meal time on a regular schedule.
- But keep fresh water available all the time.
- Put a piddle pad down for accidents only.
- If you’re not going to be home for a while, then put the pad down in the same place every time.
A New Dog Enters the Territory
Sometimes a new dog will come into your household, and upset the dynamics of your “pack” of dogs. You can end up with a “pissing match”: either your new dog, or one of your other dogs start(s) to urinate or defecate in the house to make its territory.
It all boils down to two things:
• They want to control their territory
• And they want to control you and maintain your attention
What to Do When You Have a Territorial War
- Introduce all of the dogs so they know that they are all equals; and that no one is better than the other.
- Spend plenty of quality time with your dogs as you’re training the puppy – or adult dog – so they know that they are not being forgotten (or heaven forbid, being replaced!)
- Give treats to all of your dogs so they all think they’re doing good! Don’t ever give a treat to the puppy in front of the other dogs.
- If there is marking, clean up the spot thoroughly to discourage any more marking.