There are plenty of helpful guides out there on how to potty train your puppy. But what if you adopt an adult dog from a shelter? The dog may or may not be potty trained. The following are some tips to help set your adult dog up for success.
1. Don’t assume the dog is potty trained.
When it comes to potty training, treat your adult dog like a puppy until you know she is potty trained. Even if the previous owner or foster owner says the dog is housebroken, that doesn’t necessarily mean the dog will know what to do in your home.
2. Take the dog outside every hour.
Be on the safe side and take the dog outside for a potty break every hour that you are home. Of course, make sure your new dog has a collar and pet ID tags on right away just in case she gets loose.
3. Keep the dog in your sight when you are home.
For the first couple days, keep your dog on a leash even while you are in the house. This will prevent the dog from wandering off and going to the bathroom in a room where you can’t see her. At the very least, keep the dog in the same room as you with the door closed or a dog gate up.
4. Keep the dog confined when you can’t supervise.
Obviously you can’t supervise the dog every single minute, so when you are busy or not home, make sure to keep the dog in a kennel (crate) or a small room. This will decrease the likelihood that the dog will have an accident. I prefer using a kennel, but if the dog is afraid of being confined, a bathroom or bedroom or laundry room could also work well. A dog will also be less likely to cause damage by chewing your property if she is left in a smaller area vs. the whole house.
5. Be patient.
The dog will probably have an accident or two. No big deal. Don’t scold the dog. Just be better at taking her outside sooner the next time.
6. Keep the dog on a consistent routine.
If you feed your dog at the same times every day, you will have a better idea of when she needs to go to the bathroom. On the other hand, if you leave food out all the time, the dog will be eating at different times and it will be more difficult to determine when she needs to head outside. Make it easier on yourself and the dog by feeding her at the same times, walking her at the same times and putting her in her kennel at the same times every day.
7. Reward the good behavior.
Make sure to reward your dog when she goes to the bathroom outside. Give her dog treats or praise immediately. Don’t wait until after you’ve returned to the house. It will also help your dog understand what you want her to do if you take her outside to the same area every time for potty breaks.
How about the rest of you? What are your potty training tips for dogs?