The need to house train an older dog is not as rare as you might expect and it can become necessary for a variety of different reasons. You might have, for instance, owned your dog for many years without any problems at all until your pet has been unable to toilet in its normal manner due to a prolonged illness and then, when he/she has recovered, the new habit has stuck.
On the other hand, and perhaps more probably, you might have acquired an older dog from a rescue organization and either no one has taken the time to train him/her or the dog is used to being kept outside in a kennel. These are just a few examples, but there could be other reasons why your dog has not been trained to toilet correctly. The thing to remember though is that it is not the dog’s fault and losing your temper with it is not going to help.
The first thing to do is to take note of what is happening.
Is your dog doing its business all around your home here, there and everywhere and without a care in the world, or has it chosen a particular place to use as a toilet?
If it has chosen a particular area, once you have cleaned up the mess, it might be worth moving his/her bed to the area and putting it on top of it. Dogs do not like to soil their sleeping place and so doing this might prove to be an effective deterrent.
What time is your dog creating a mess? Is it always at a certain time(s)?
If your dog appears to have a specific time when he/she creates a mess it is probably used to toileting at that time and has perhaps been trained to go then. If this is the case try to be around at that time and as soon as the dog seems to be ready for business take it outside to do that business and then praise him/her for being such a good boy/girl and perhaps give him/her a small treat as a reward. Stick to your guns, be patient and keep doing this, your dog will learn in the end. If your pet’s chosen toilet time is not convenient for you gradually take him/her outside a little earlier or latter each time until he/she gets used to going at a time that is better for you. But be patient. It might take a little while, but it will be worth it in the end.
If the dog seems to be impossible to train — especially if it is an old dog that seems to have acquired bad new tricks — it might be a good idea to get him/her checked over by a vet, just to be sure that a medical condition is not causing the problem.
Please remember though, that even when your dog has learned that outside is the place for its business and that a certain time is your preferred time to take to do that business, a dog is a dog and not a machine. Its internal workings are not clockwork and they don’t run like clockwork. At times they might run a little fast or slow and your pet may need to go a little earlier or later, so be aware of the signs. If your dog is getting restless and distracted, or has maybe started to sniff or scratch at the door, then that could be a sign that he/she has urgent business to take care of and needs to go outside and get to work on it.
The key words to remember when training your dog are patience and kindness. The first one you keep for yourself and the second one you give to the dog.