03. Housebreaking an Older Dog

posted Aug 16, 2011, 11:27 AM by Alder Brittanys   [ updated Oct 17, 2011, 8:08 AM ]
    An older dog who has not been housebroken can pose quite a challenge.  That said, with diligence on your part, it can be done. 
The challenge comes because an older dog is able to hold it longer than a puppy, making it harder for you to know when it needs to go out.  Also, an older dog is used to going whenever it feels the urge.  Finally, a dog that has been raised in a kennel is more used to the smell and may not be as bothered by a messy crate. 
    Here's how to housebreak an older dog:  For first month the dog is with you, she cannot be loose in your house.  Ever.  She needs to be either in her crate or attached to you by a leash.  Literally attached to you.  Tie the leash to your belt when you're doing chores around the house or even watching TV.  The leash does a lot more than just housebreaking.  When you start with a puppy, the puppy comes at an age where she is pre-programmed to want to bond with you.  This isn't as natural for an older dog so the leash forces her to bond with you and to focus on your body language.  If she's not paying attention, she gets tugged or stepped on.  At the same time, it forces you to learn her body language and behavior so you don't get tripped.
     If she gets in your way, put her in her crate.  Do not let her run loose in the house.  Ever.  An adult dog can hold it for 12 hours and there's no amount of being vigilant that will keep her from peeing in the house if she's not connected to you.
    The first week you'll be tripping all over each other but after that it becomes a very good bonding experience for both of you.  You missed out on the puppy bonding time so it's going to take some extra effort for her to learn to trust you.  Being tied to you for a month will help a lot.  Don't stop after three weeks when you think she's got it or she'll go right back to her old behavior.  One month is the minimum and don't be surprised if it takes two.
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