Housebreaking an Adult Dog

Correctly housebreaking your adult dog can prevent accidents.
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Bringing an adult dog into a new environment and placing him on a new schedule can be stressful and result in soiling. Starting the housebreaking routine from scratch can help your furry pal get used to his new routine and minimize cleanup. With consistency, patience and understanding, you can have a fully housebroken adult dog in no time.


Supervising your adult dog is essential during the housebreaking process. Keep him in the room with you so he can never leave your sight. Look for signs, such as barking, scratching at the door, and restless sniffing or circling, which can all indicate he needs to relieve himself. Then immediately take him to a designated potty area and say, "Go potty" to cue him to do his business. When he does, treats and praise are in order.


During times you can't watch your pet companion, confinement is essential to prevent accidents. Place your dog in a crate or use a baby gate to barricade him in a small room, such as the bathroom or kitchen. The confinement area becomes your dog's den, where he feels safe and can rest. Keep the area small so he won't want to go potty in it. If it's too large, he'll eliminate on one end and sleep on the other. Walk your dog before and after confining him so he can relieve himself.


Part of housebreaking an adult dog is correctly dealing with accidents. If you catch him having an accident, make a loud noise to stop him, and take him to his potty area to finish relieving himself. If you find an accident on the floor, clean it with a cleanser that's meant for pet stains so you fully eliminate the smell and your dog won't feel the urge to soil the same area again. Avoid scolding or punishing your dog after finding an accident, because he won't understand why you're angry at him and might end up fearing you.


Create a schedule for your dog so he gets to go outside, eat, play and sleep at set times and gets used to the routine. If your adult dog suddenly starts soiling the house or if housebreaking methods don't seem to work, take him to a veterinarian to rule out medical conditions, such as a seizure disorder, urinary tract infection or parasite infection, that might trigger his behavior. Other possible reasons for house soiling can include incontinence due to old age, separation anxiety, territorial marking and fears and phobias.