So you’ve decided to adopt an older dog instead of a young puppy. Congratulations on the wonderful addition to your family! Keep in mind that your new companion will most likely be stressed at first, as everything is unfamiliar. You and your home are strange to him. He doesn’t know where he is, or where the doors that lead outside are.

photoIf your new pet isn’t toilet trained, then you will have to treat him as you would a young puppy. The first thing you should do upon arriving home is to introduce him to the yard or his potential exercise area and let him relieve himself before you take him inside the house. He will be curious and will want to explore, so be patient and wait for him to eliminate. Praise him when he does to let him know that he did the right thing.

Stress from the adjusting, as well as changes in food and water, can lead to episodes of diarrhea, thus it is a good idea to make sure that he has easy access to his “bathroom” outside during the first few days. Don’t expect him to let you know when he has to go out – he won’t. Take him outside and praise him every time he pees or poops.

Effective housebreaking is based upon preventing accidents instead of disciplining after the deed. If your dog makes a mess because you didn’t take him out when you should have, then it’s your fault, not his!

Since your dog is no longer a puppy, he will have better control of his bladder and bowel. Place him under a consistent elimination schedule and take him outside at particular times, whether he needs to go or not – after waking, after meals, after playing, and before going to bed. Dogs are creatures of habit. The faster you can turn a good behavior into a habit, the faster his progress will be. Make sure you accompany him outside to check if he is really doing what he needs to do.

You might want to consider using the crate training method to housebreak your dog. The best way to teach him to eliminate outside is to prevent him from doing so inside the house in the first place. Keeping your dog crated overnight and for 3-4 hour periods during the day when he is unsupervised will help speed up the training process.

Be prepared for the occasional accident despite your best efforts. In case your dog has one, just treat it matter-of-factly. Don’t punish or yell at your dog. He will not understand why you’re angry, and you will only scare, confuse, or stress him out even more. Put him outside or in another room as you clean up the mess.

Housebreaking your older dog requires patience, understanding, time, and effort on your part. Your dog wants to please you by doing the right thing, so help him adjust to his new home successfully.

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