How to Potty Train an Older Dog? Everything You Need to Know

Potty training isn’t just for puppies! Adult dogs might need a refresher on potty training for various reasons, including 

  1. No one ever bothered to train him 
  2. They might have never learned that they’re only supposed to go potty outside
  3. You may have rescued an adult dog, where he’s not housetrained 

Many adult dogs adopted from animal shelters may or may not have been house trained in their previous homes. However, if they aren’t house-trained, they may not have received enough opportunities to eliminate outside. Consequently, they may have been discharged in their kennel areas. This leads to weakened housetraining habits. The reasons for this may be that they were never trained or never lived indoors. The good news is that it is easy to potty train older dogs. Adult dogs are usually faster and easier to house train than puppies, primarily if you use a crate. So, if you have an adult dog who isn’t potty trained, don’t worry—there’s hope!

How Long Will It Take to Potty Train your Older Dog?   

Potty training an older dog will take longer than expected. However, consistency and properly scheduled training can help your adult dog to grasp the concept quicker. 

What Are The Tools Needed for Potty Training an Older Dog?

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How To Know Your Dog Needs A Potty Break? 

If you see your dog pacing, whining, circling, sniffing purposefully, or leaving the room, then it means he needs a potty break. Not every dog will bark or scratch at the door to inform you that they need a break. 

Your dog may have difficulty adjusting to relieving himself on grass or dirt because he might have never operated on a surface other than concrete. However, most dogs will usually go to places where other dogs have already relieved themself.  

Be extra patient with your dog as he wants to do the right thing, and he needs a little help from you to accomplish his task.  

An adult dog’s capability to “hold it” for several hours is what makes this training easier than it is for a pup. However, this doesn’t mean that you should force him to relieve himself. Instead, give him plenty of chances to learn by frequently taking him outside to where you want him to urinate. Reward with treats and praise when he does so successfully.  

Adult Dog Potty-Training Routine:

Establish a solid routine, including feeding meals at the exact time daily. Pick up the dish 10-15 minutes after putting it down, whether empty or not. Do not offer the free-choice feeding method in which food is left down to help keep his system on a schedule. Use a leash while going out. Trainers often hear about dogs relieving themselves indoors after being outside. This can seem very frustrating but understand that your dog is not trying to annoy you. Instead, you probably didn’t stay out long enough for him to set himself up to clear his system. Dogs sometimes need a short time to sniff their surroundings, exercise and check things out before relieving themselves. The more chances your dog has to do his business outside, the faster he will learn.  

Take your dog outside after breakfast, after dinner, and a few times during the day and before bedtime. If he doesn’t go, bring him back inside and put him immediately in his crate for 10 minutes before trying again. Do not let him relieve indoors if he has not eliminated outside!  

Steps to Potty Train an Older Dog: 

  1. Get a medical test done for underlying conditions

Your dog might be making accidents indoors due to underlying medical conditions. Hence, it is essential to get a thorough medical check-up done before potty training your older dog. 

  1. Take your dog to outside potty breaks at least once every hour  

Stand with your dog in a suitable potty area. Act dull so that you don’t distract your dog from pottying, and wait five minutes to see if they relieve themselves. Praise and give a treat as soon as they do.  

If the dog does not relieve himself within five minutes, put your dog back into the crate for 10-15 minutes and then take them outside again. Repeat this process until the dog potties out.  

  1. Stay outdoors for some playtime after pottying 

After the dog relieves himself, stay outdoors and play with your canine for a while. If you go back indoors right away after he relieves, your dog will determine that pottying puts an end to the outdoor fun time. So, they might hold it longer to stay outside longer. Spend at least 10-15 minutes outdoors after your dog relieves. This makes him understand that pottying soon earns extra fun time out.  

  1. Provide short supervised playtime after you go indoors 

After your dog potties and goes back indoors, give him up to 15 minutes of supervised time indoors before restoring him to his confined space or crate. This assures him to do his business outside without being immediately gated or crated afterward.  

  1. Try to repeat these steps throughout the day 

Take your pet out once every hour when you are back home and offer them praise and treats. Then, engage them in extra outdoor playtime for pottying, followed by limited supervised time indoors before getting crated.  

As it is a frequent break-giving process, it’s best to start training your dog over the weekend, or when you know, you’ll stay home for a few days. When you’re not around, you can put your dog into the crate or confined area for up to 3-4 hours during the training process.  Hire a dog walker or ask any of your family members/friends to let them out for a potty break when you’ll be away for longer than that. Ensure the people dealing with your dog are aware of and understand your house training routine.  

The more strictly you follow this cycle, and the more often you can take your dog out, the faster your dog will learn. Some dogs learn in a couple of days, while others take weeks or even months. Patience is the key to achieving this trick.  

  1. Track their potty patterns 

Create a potty-training chart or use a notepad to track when and where your dog potties so you can learn their patterns. This data will help you understand which times of day your dog most likely needs to go on a potty break and when they probably don’t need it.  


Crate Training the dog will make the potty-training process easy and quick. Also, it avoids accidents happening indoors. In case of any house accidents, use an enzyme cleaner to get rid of the odor. 

Do’s and Don’ts of Potty Training an Older Dog


  • Give 6 toilet breaks daily.
  • Take your dog for a walk and playtime.
  • Use enzymes with live bacteria.


  • Don’t confine your dog more than they can hold their waste.
  • Don’t be inconsistent with training.
  • Don’t distract your dog by games and talks.
  • Don’t punish your dog. 


Having an adult dog who isn’t housetrained is disappointing, but most older dogs can be potty trained within a few weeks. If you keep track of your dog’s bathroom habits, you’ll also be able to reduce to just a few potty breaks a day quickly. For quick results, start with frequent potty breaks, take proper notes, and ensure that every time your dog potties outside, he is rewarded with praise, treats, fun and love! 

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