Retraining an Adult Dog: Housebreaking

Retraining an Adult Dog: Housebreaking

In this series, we are discussing tips for retraining an adult dog. One common problem that new dog owners face after adopting an adult pet is housebreaking issues.


Sometimes dogs simply need a refresher course after spending time on the streets or in a stressful kennel. Other times, skills must be re-taught entirely. Listed here are a few points to keep in mind to ensure retraining goes smoothly.  

Rule Out a Medical Problem
When an otherwise housebroken adult dog displays potty-training issues, the first step is to rule out a medical problem. For both male and female dogs a urinary tract infection may be to blame, while a male dog may be experiencing prostate problems.  A veterinarian can help identify any medical issues that are causing the frustration.  

Understand Potential Causes
If no medical issue is to blame, the next step is to look at the problem from your dog’s point of view. Is there a pattern to when your dog inappropriately soils the house? If the behavior only occurs when you are away from home, the problem might be separation anxiety, which is common for dogs that have spent time in animal shelters. If your dog is always using the exact the area of the house each day, the problem may be caused by inadequate cleaning supplies (described in greater detail below).

Use the Proper Tools
Oftentimes the problem can simply be solved with an enzymatic cleaning solution. Dog urine contains certain proteins that serve as a “calling card” to your dog’s nose, signaling an appropriate area for elimination. Even if your dog is fully housebroken, improperly removing these proteins will keep your dog coming back to the location. Look for a cleaning spray that is specifically made for eliminating compounds found in urine.

Be Consistent
When retraining an adult dog, the most important component is consistency. Until your dog is fully house trained, you should keep an eye on your pet at all times and watch for signs that he or she needs to go outside. These signs include circling, pawing at the ground, and whining or crying. When you cannot watch your dog, use a crate to discourage your pet from eliminating indoors. Always remember to use plenty of positive praise to encourage proper behavior!

Retraining an adult dog does not have to be difficult. Important considerations include identifying the cause of the problem, addressing it appropriately, using the proper tools, and being consistent.

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Please note: all dogs should be treated as individuals. The Actijoy™ blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. In the case of emergency, always seek qualified healthcare from a local veterinarian or emergency facility. Actijoy™ blogs are not designed to treat, diagnose, or prescribe medication for your pet.

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