Housebreaking An Older Dog

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There are countless reasons why a dog might pass the puppy stage without ever being housebroken. Maybe your older dog is a newly adopted stray, or perhaps he lived solely in the outdoors for the first stages of his life. Either way, housebreaking an older dog is possible. With a little patience, consistency, and these great tips from dog trainer, Kathy Santo and Good Housekeeping, you’ll have your older dog doing his deed outdoors in no time at all.

It’s time for Housebreaking 101. First, while he is in training, your dog should never be unsupervised in the house. If you can’t keep your eyes on him, then confine him to either a crate or small area so he can’t run off and use your home as his personal Port-o-let. If you take the dog outside and you’re sure he has to “go” but he doesn’t, bring him back inside and confine him for 20 minutes before taking him out for another try. This way, he won’t get into the habit of holding it until he gets inside.

If you find that he has pooped in the house, don’t reprimand him! Clean the spot well and don’t let him out of your sight. This won’t last forever, but you have to help him earn a perfect track record before he’s trustworthy alone in the house.

Another important issue is the dog food. Often housebreaking issues can be quickly resolved by using a better food that doesn’t require you to feed oversized portions. Check with your vet for brand suggestion and serving amounts.

Read the text in its entirety here. Do you have any experience with housebreaking an older dog? Share your stories and thoughts with us below!

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When I adopted my shepherd mix, Molly, from a local shelter 12 years ago, I had no idea the impact she would have on my life. Through Molly, I've learned to be more patient, experienced unconditional love, been alerted to the mailman and every squirrel within a block radius of the house, and ingested enough fur to build 3 or 4 more dogs! When I lost Molly to cancer just a few months ago, I adopted Olive, a 13 week old Golden Retriever. Together, we smile at least a hundred times a day!


  1. Some people leave food out all day, which means the dog will have to relieve itself at ‘whatever’ time.

    Feed your dog consistently during the day at a specific time, this will help with the dog needing to relieve itself.