Toilet training adult dogs

Toileting inside or in the wrong area can occur at any age. It may be for behavioural reasons, such as anxiety, or for medical reasons like a bladder infection, arthritis, or even Alzheimer’s. Whatever the cause, it's worth talking to your vet, who can advise on behavioural issues and run a urine test to detect any medical reasons.

A dog is never too old to learn to toilet in the right place, but it's possible they have many years of incorrect behaviours to ‘unlearn’ before they will pick up a new routine. You need to retrain exactly as if you're dealing with a puppy. In an older dog, perseverance is the key.

The place you want your dog to use as a toilet should be one location only. This might be inside on a special mat or newspaper, or just outside. If your dog is confined to a different room when you are not home they may need a second toileting spot for these occasions.

There are 4 times when your dog is most likely to need the toilet: upon waking, after a meal, just after playing, or upon being released from confinement (e.g. locked in a room while you were out). So at these times you need to place him on a lead and collar and take him to the spot where you want him to go, and wait. You may need to wait 20-30 minutes. When he does go, reward him immediately with a food treat and lots of praise.

If you're doing all the above and your dog isn't toileting at these times, but rather is still doing it inside, try taking him to the toilet spot every hour. When he goes, again - reward him with praise and a treat. Perseverance and consistency are key, and never punish your dog for toileting in the wrong place - he may learn not to go to the toilet in front you because he'll get punished, and that means he won't toilet in the right spot either! If you catch him in the act in the wrong spot, distract him with a loud clap or similar, and take him to the right spot and reward him if he uses it.

When you're not home, confine your dog to a small area, and if this doesn't give access to the designated toilet spot, then provide some newspaper or similar in one corner of the room as a toilet and place his food, water and bedding in another corner.

Be patient with your best friend. It may take them a while but once they learn that when they go to the toilet outside they receive a reward, the process will become much quicker.

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