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

ribbon-method-3
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

ribbon-method-1
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

ribbon-method-2
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?
author-img

Written by Coral Drake

Published: 01/11/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Choco
Yorkipoo
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Choco
Yorkipoo
2 Years

I have a dog that’s very well trained to go pee outside.. however he stopped using the pee pad indoors and I work a long day and night soon therefore I’m trying to retrain choco to use the pee pad again… what can I do!? That will be effective to retrain the doggo???

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Steve, To avoid the potential confusion of pup thinking it's okay to go potty on fabric surfaces like carpet and rugs with pee pads, I would actually use an exercise pen and disposable real grass pad, now that pup is trained to potty outside. I would set up the exercise pen in one area of your home that can be closed off when you don't want pup going in there to go potty, so pup is only associating one room of your home with pottying inside, such as a mudroom, bathroom, or guest bedroom without carpet or rugs. Follow the Exercise Pen method from the article I have linked below, using a grass pad instead of pee pad or litter box ideally. Instead of working pup up to having freedom in your entire home, I would have pup stay in the room where the grass pad is kept with the door going out closed once you get to the point where the exercise pen can be removed too. Doing this helps pup differentiate between holding it until taken outside when in the rest of the home, and going potty on the grass pad while in that room with the pad. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Disposable real grass pad brands - the grass pads are more expensive than a single pee pad, but each one is intended to be used for a couple of weeks before replacing, bagging any poop on it. If you decide to invest more into the grass pad, the porchpotty one has a cleaning option in some models. I recommend making sure you like the grass pad option using the less expensive freshpatch or doggielawn options first though, before purchasing the more expensive porchpotty setup. www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com www.porchpotty.com Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Choco's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Milo
Morkie (Maltese Yorkie)
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Milo
Morkie (Maltese Yorkie)
2 Years

I got Milo when he was about 9 months old and he wasn't potty trained.. Thank fully I was able to potty train him and he's house broken and will only go when he goes for his walk twice per day. However living in NYC where we have harsh weather conditions I will like for him to be able to go indoors when going for a walk is not ideal. at the moment he has no accidents in the house and he will hold till he is taken outside. how can I teach him to go indoors ?

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

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with your dog to use a potty pad. 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 Milo's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Gio
toy poodle
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Gio
toy poodle
1 Year

I cant teach him how to do his business in my desired area

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

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with your dog to use a potty pad. 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 Gio's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Bronson
french bulldog/boston terrier
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bronson
french bulldog/boston terrier
4 Years

Bronson is approximately 4 years old, I adopted him when he was approximately 2 years old. He’s been house trained and has only ever peed outside aside from a few accidents here and there. Recently I moved to a top floor in a high rise building in a major city. Since I live so far up and work long hours, I’m trying to re-train him to go potty inside. I recently purchased a pooch pad that offers a turf area and reusable/cleanable mat. However he doesn’t not seem motivated to do his business there or anywhere inside our apartment.
We have a very small balcony that Ive tried to place the pooch pad on to transition him from being outside to inside but he is too scared to go out in the balcony.
Every time he has to go, he sits close to the front door of the apartment, and I walk him over to his pooch pad (located in a bathroom area), but he simply just sits and stares at the pad and me.
Any tips/training instructions are very appreciated!

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

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with your dog to use a potty pad. 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 Bronson's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
frida
Maltese Shih Tzu
9 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
frida
Maltese Shih Tzu
9 Years

trying to train to pee indoors.she has not peed yet today. it is confusing to her. how long do i wait, to make her hold it in order to work on training her? concerned about bladder infection occuring. do i let her sleep . brought her to the pad 3 different session times,......

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

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with your dog to use a potty pad. 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 frida's experience

Was this experience helpful?

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