It doesn’t matter if your older dog is a rescue, adopted stray or simply grew up with bad bathroom habits. It’s quite simple to toilet train an adult dog. All it needs is for you to maintain consistency and have patience.

Toilet train an adult dog: Step 1
Toilet train an adult dog - Choosing a spot

Setup a designated toilet area outside your house, on your terrace or on a particular patch on your lawn. Choose your spot carefully and take your dog there regularly so that your dog knows that this is the place to go.

Toilet train an adult dog: Step 2
Toilet train an adult dog - Developing habit

Fix a routine by taking your dog out to do his business early morning and before bed. Its important to maintain this routine every single day. Remember to schedule walks and bathroom visits at least two or three times every day. The dog might take some time to sniff around before he can go, so remember to stay out long enough.

In the initial stages of toilet training, your dog may not do anything when you take him out. However, he might feel the need to go after a meal. If this is the case, take him out after a meal as well.

Toilet train an adult dog: Step 3
Toilet train an adult dog - Signalling

Monitor your dog closely for the first two weeks. Most older dogs will be show clear signs of needing to relieve themselves. They might whine, sniff around, circle an area or display signs of urgency such as standing near the door. When you notice this, take him out immediately.

Toilet train an adult dog: Step 4
Toilet train an adult dog - Scared dog

Avoid scolding and punishment when he breaks potty-training rules. Instead, when you catch your dog in the act, make a noise to startle him. Try clapping or saying something like ‘Oh no!’. It’s important to do this only during the act as doing it later will confuse the dog.

Toilet train an adult dog: Step 5
Toilet train an adult dog - Sniffing for spot

Dogs identify their toilet areas by smell so make sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect any soiling in the wrong area with a special urine cleaner and a poop scooper that will remove the odour.

Toilet train an adult dog: Step 6 
Toilet train an adult dog - Rewarding with food

Positive reinforcement is your best bet when you want to house train adult dogs. Say ‘good boy’ or give him a treat every time he goes to the right place. You can also make it a habit to use a particular word every time your dog relieves himself like ‘go potty’ or ‘potty time’.

Things to look out for when training older dogs:
Toilet train an adult dog - On a walk

Maintain the above cycle for about three weeks and your adult dog should be completely house trained. However, if potty training is still unsuccessful, take these issues into consideration:

  1. Age: Your older dog might not have bladder control or might find it difficult to move around to get outside. Have a designated, easily accessible space for your dog to relieve himself.
  2. Medical issues: Just like humans, when your dog has an upset stomach or faces a related medical issue, he will need to urinate or defecate more often. Consult your vet and work out a system for him.
  3. Behavioural issues: Over-excitement and separation anxiety can also cause your adult dog to urinate inside the house. Also, urine marking is a natural behaviour in younger dogs. Avoid punishing your dog and work on treating the underlying issues instead.