How to Train Your Older Dog to Use an Indoor Potty

Medium
1-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

You and your dog have been together for many years. She is getting older now, and slowing down a little. She has her good days and her bad days, but she still enjoys all the things she’s always enjoyed. She just does those things a little bit slower these days. You may have noticed that it is harder and harder for your older dog to get down the steps at the front door, or she may not be able to hold it while you are at work or overnight. Perhaps your older dog has mobility issues, and getting her in and out to go potty is becoming difficult for you. It may be that your older dog’s arthritis acts up in the cold, and you hate making her go out into the cold to go potty.

There are many reasons why you may want to teach your older dog to use an indoor potty. If your dog has always been very well house-trained, it may be challenging for her to learn to go inside. If your dog is the 'do or die' type who will wait three days to go potty if it’s raining or snowing, you may have a challenge on your hands. All dogs can re-adjust their understanding of “outside” to include a potty area that you designate inside, it may just take some creativity and a good deal of perseverance on your part.

Defining Tasks

Training your older dog to use an indoor potty has two distinct training components. First, you must teach your dog what designated area you intend for her to think of as outside. Second, you must help your dog overcome her anxiety of peeing under a roof, which has always been discouraged previously.

You can rely on the trust you’ve built with your older dog to teach her a new way of perceiving her environment. While dogs have an intuitive understanding of a den, a place where they sleep and should not poop or pee, the concept of extending this to an entire house and even onto porches is entirely human. Just as it is a human concept to go potty outside, you can teach your older dog the intuitive concept of going potty in a designated place inside.

Getting Started

You may have to try a variety of potty surfaces before you arrive at one that works for you and your dog. Be willing to be creative, and try to think about things as your dog would. Does your dog always pee on the same potted plant? Maybe bringing that pot in could help your dog understand the principle of bringing outside behavior inside. It is a good idea to designate an area that you can expect to have some accidents with. Line floors and lower walls with plastic until your dog gets a feel for exactly where she should be going potty.

Make sure your designated potty place is sufficiently far from where your dog sleeps to make sure she does not see this area as part of her den. Another room is best, but if this is not possible the other side of the room should be sufficient

The Bring the Outside In Method

Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Bring in the outside
Bring in a plot of sod, some potted plants, and anything else your dog likes to pee on. Put them in an area well covered with plastic.
Step
2
Go potty
When your dog asks to go out, lead her to the inside space and tell her to go potty. If she asks to go to the door again, reaffirm that she should go on the grass inside.
Step
3
Reward and clean
When your dog goes potty on the inside grass, reward her enthusiastically and clean it up quickly.
Step
4
Transition to pee pad
Lay a pee pad on top of the grass inside and encourage your dog to use it. Reward when she does.
Step
5
Pee pad alone
Replace the outside area with a pee pad. If your dog is resistant to the pee pad, try artificial turf over a pee pad.
Recommend training method?

The Potty Pad Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Bring the pad outside
Start by bringing the pee pad outside with your dog. When she goes to pee or poo, put the pad under her and reward her for going.
Step
2
Pad first
Lay the pad down somewhere your dog likes to go and encourage her to use it. If she refuses, bring it to where she wants to go and reward her for going on it. Keep practicing until she is willing to go to the pad to go potty.
Step
3
Pad right outside
Lay the pad just outside, not in a desirable pee area, and encourage your dog to use it. Reward her enthusiastically when she does.
Step
4
Pad inside
Put the pad inside and encourage your dog to use it exactly as you would if it were outside. If you usually leash your dog to go potty, leash her now.
Step
5
Establish routine
Transition to only using the pad inside. Make sure to change the pad as soon as it is dirtied.
Recommend training method?

The Just the Pad Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Lay a pee pad in front of the door
Make sure you don’t have any guests coming over, and lay the pad in front of the door where you dog asks to go out.
Step
2
Go potty there
When your dog goes to the door to ask to go out, tell her to go potty right there. She may whine and paw at the door, but be encouraging for her to go there.
Step
3
Reward enthusiastically
Reward your dog enthusiastically when she goes and promptly clean it up.
Step
4
Practice
Practice laying down the pad when your dog asks to go out and rewarding her for going.
Step
5
Move the pad
When your dog is comfortably going on the pad, move it to your desired location and encourage your dog to use it there. Reward enthusiastically.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Pilot
AnimalBreed object
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Pilot
AnimalBreed object
2 Years

I moved from a small town to a big city and my dog pees when I take him down the stairs to go outside almost eveytime. Sometimes it’s only 4 hours after the last time he has gone outside. I can’t take him down the elevator because he pees in it too. He is fine going up the elevator. I just don’t know what to do. Before we moved he was completely potty trained. He sat by the door when he wanted to go out and wouldn’t come inside until his did both of his businesses. He pees almost every time but it seems like he also pees every time a man passes us in our building. I thought he would just get use to all the new and he was doing better but has regressed this week. He has a grass pad but doesn’t seem interested in peeing on it.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
674 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tateum, It sounds like he might be submissive peeing due to anxiety or excitement from the new environment. He might also be marking from smelling other dogs in the area, or simply confused about being outside and thinking he should pee right away. First, purchase a belly band, which is a sling type piece of fabric that you can put an adsorbent pad in to catch urine. This will stop him from distributing his scent on the elevator and stairs (and also mean less to clean up). Have him wear this on the trip outside until he get to where he should pee. Pay careful attention to his body language and look up videos of canine body language if you're unsure. Does he seem confident or submissive, nervous, or excited when on the stairs? If confident, he is probably marking due to other dogs' scent. If so the belly band will make his marking unsuccessful (being successful at marking rewards the marking and encourages it further) and when he does go to lift his leg, clap loudly two times and then encourage him to quickly keep following you outside. Do not sound angry, simply surprise him before he can mark, then give him a treat after he pees outside where he should when you tell him to "Go Potty". If he seems nervous, fearful, or excited on the stairs, the peeing is probably submissive, especially if he squats instead of leg lifts if he normally leg lifts to pee. In that case don't clap when he does it but instead the belly band should catch the urine while you work on the following. Spend time with him simply hanging out in that area, training, playing, relaxing and having a fun but also peaceful time. Reward him while he is calm and happy when new people pass by before he has a chance to pee or act scared. The goal in this case is to build his confidence in that area and help him get used to being there so that he is not worried about it during trips outside. Once you get outside paste the building, take off the belly band and tell him "Go Potty" to encourage him to pee there. If he goes potty there, give him three small treats im a row to reinforce that he should pee in that spot. If he is simply confused about where to pee then the belly band, clapping and rewards for peeing in the correct location can be followed. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Pilot's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Bubu
AnimalBreed object
15 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bubu
AnimalBreed object
15 Years

Bubu is house-trained but is recently having accidents, we’re guessing because she’s almost 16 years old. She’s also having to go more frequently and is now starting to whine at 4:30/5am to pee, so we’re desperate to teach her to potty indoors ASAP. We’ve been unsuccessful with the fake grass and the pee pad... are there any tips and tricks we could try??

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question. You are right, it is most likely an age-related issue. Have you taken her to the vet to rule out a urinary tract infection or bladder issue? If it is something like that, then medication will clear up the infection and she'll go back to normal. I will give links to some pee pad and litter box training for tips that may help. These methods have helped others: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy and https://wagwalking.com/training/use-a-litter-box-1. Try buying a spray from the pet supply store that you can spray on the pee pad or litter box; it has an aroma that encourages dogs to pee in that spot. As well, when cleaning Bubu's accidents, be sure to use an enzymatic spray. This is the only thing that will remove the odor completely. Otherwise, her keen nose will still smell the pee and she may repeat the action. But, firstly, get a vet checkup just in case. All the best!

Add a comment to Bubu's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Thoe
AnimalBreed object
1 Year
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Thoe
AnimalBreed object
1 Year

I want to train my dog to pee inside washroom due to lockdown situation (covid 19). He also suffers from UTI and is on Medication. I need this to be done ASAP.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
674 Dog owners recommended

Hello Neha, Check out the exercise pen method from the article linked below. Instead of using a litter box like the method mentions, I suggest using a disposable real grass pad to more closely mimic being outside. Set up the exercise pen in an area without carpet or rugs under it. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pad brands - also can be purchased on Amazon: www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com www.porchpotty.com Between now and when you begin, whenever pup goes potty outside, tell pup to "Go Potty", then reward with a treat when they go - to teach that new command. While they are in the exercise pen, tell them to "Go potty" and give treats after they go if they go potty on the grass pad. If you have a balcony or patio, try doing this method out there first if they struggle with pottying on the pad while inside - to get them used to the concept of the grass pad still but make them feel like they are more outside. Once the are doing well on the balcony or patio consistently, move the exercise pen inside and continue. You can also purchase a potty encouraging spray that you can spray on the grass pad right before you take them potty there - to help the process along as much as possible. If you aren't having luck with the above methods (which is generally the quicker route - to jump straight into the exercise pen method inside, you can also place the grass pad outside near a grassy area but on concrete and walk pup over the grass pad slowly for several minutes (circling around), encouraging pup to sniff and "Go Potty". Give treats when pup goes potty on the grass pad while its outside also, then when pup is used to going potty on the pad while outside, move the pad inside and continue giving treats for going potty on it after you bring it inside. Pup will probably hold it for a long time the first couple of days. Once they go potty on the grass pad a couple of times and are rewarded for doing so, they should begin going on the pads more easily gradually. If you place a bed on the other end of the exercise pen (away from the grass pad), use a non-absorbent bed like www.primopads.com or a cot type bed, or cover their normal beds with something waterproof to discourage peeing there instead of the grass. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

We have exactly the same concern! We are experiencing Covid symptoms and need to retrain our 5-year-old mixed terrier to potty indoors instead. Hope a Wag expert can help soon!

Add a comment to Thoe's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Jack
AnimalBreed object
9 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Jack
AnimalBreed object
9 Years

Senior just adopted but is deaf and partially blind.he pees a lot daily so need to teach him to pee indoors in a container or whatever

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
93 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with him to use a potty pad. These are available at any pet store and are usually a good route to go for indoor potty training. Choose Your Spot Pick a space in your house where you want your dog to go. Obviously, you’ll want this spot to be a low-traffic area. Make sure this spot is easily accessible to your dog, and make sure the floor surface is linoleum or tile, as opposed to carpet. If your dog “misses,” it will be easier to clean up. If the only spot you can put the pee pad is a carpet, you might consider getting a small tarp to put underneath the puppy pee pad to guard against spillage. Choose a spot that is outside of your “smell zone.” An important tip to remember is to make sure not to let your dog decide the spot he likes. Not only might he pick an area you won’t like, but he’ll learn that he is in charge – not you – which can cause a host of problems down the line. Monitor Your Dog When you are potty training your dog, full-time monitoring is an absolute necessity. It’s impossible to correct bad behaviors if you don’t see them happen. Dogs have very short memories. It is important to catch your dog in the act. If your dog goes on the floor, and you try to correct him hours after the fact, he will be confused and upset, not knowing what he did wrong. This can hinder training and your relationship with your dog. Puppies, in particular, must be watched constantly. They have less control over their bowels and will go when they have to go. If you miss these moments, you lose precious training opportunities. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to be with your dog 24 hours a day, but try to spend more time at home during the weeks you are potty training – it will pay off in the long run. Learn Your Dog’s Schedule Dogs, for the most part, are predictable. They will go to the bathroom at predictable times. You should be able to learn when your dog has to go based on timing as much as on his signals. Take some time to study your dog’s bathroom habits. You’ll learn the amount of time after he eats or drinks that he has to go, and you’ll get in rhythm with his daily bathroom schedule. This will help you reduce accidents and speed up the potty training process. Studying your dog’s habits can also help you identify his bathroom “triggers” – like having to go after a certain amount of playtime. Once you learn your dog’s schedule, use it to your advantage in potty training. Bring him to the pee pad a few minutes before he normally goes, and encourage him. This will help him get used to going in the right spot, and help you establish repetition in your training. Choose a Command Word Dogs have keen senses – they respond to sight, smell, and sound. When you begin pee pad training, choose a command word and use it every time you take your dog to the pad. Just about any word will work. The tone of your voice is more important than the actual word. Try phrases like “go on” or “go potty” in a slightly elevated, encouraging tone. Make sure to repeat this same command, in the same tone, every time you take your dog to the pee pad. Avoid Punishment When your dog has an accident, it’s just that – an accident. When you punish your dog during potty training, he will become confused and scared. He doesn’t know what he’s done wrong, and can’t understand why the person he loves most is mad at him. Most importantly, it will not help his potty training. Positive Reinforcement Both human and dog behavior is largely based on incentives. Dogs’ incentives are very simple – they want to eat when they are hungry, play when they are excited, and sleep when they are tired. But the most important thing your dog wants in life is to please you. Use this to your advantage. Whenever your dog goes on his potty training pad, shower him with lots of praise. If he sees that he gets praise for doing his business on the pad, he will be incentivized to keep going on the pad – and he’ll be excited to do it! Potty training – whether it’s a pee pad or going outside – will take time, but if you do it right, can take less time. Many dogs are potty trained in less than two weeks. Just remember that you and your dog are partners. Do everything you can to help him learn the proper etiquette, and you will enjoy a long, quality relationship together. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in.

Add a comment to Jack's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd