Whether you are housebreaking a 3-year-old dog or a puppy, the basic steps are the same. What differs with an adult dog is his previous learned behavior. Your doggie may have lived outside and never been trained, or may have moved to new surroundings. The key is patience.
Introduce your 3-year-old to a crate. The crate will teach your dog bowel and bladder control and give him a safe haven. Place the crate in a room where there is activity, such as the family room. Prop the door open. Place a washable pad in the crate in case he has accidents. Add some chew toys to entertain him when he spends time in the crate.
Lead your pooch to the crate. Speak with a happy voice as you toss a treat to the edge of the crate. Once he eats the treat, toss another treat inside the crate. Continue to do this until he is going completely into the crate. This activity helps him adjust to the crate.
Place his food dish beside the crate. When he is comfortable eating beside the crate, move the food dish inside the crate. Continue to move the dish farther into the crate with each feeding. Once he is completely inside the crate, close the door. Open the door once he is done eating.
Close the door for longer periods after each feeding. Eventually your canine will feel comfortable in the crate. It is now time for house training.
Set a feeding and potty schedule. An adult dog should be fed no more than twice a day and at the same time each day. Take him out to potty after he eats. He should go out first thing in the morning, after play and just before bedtime, as well. Include potty time every two to three hours until your dog has learned bladder and bowel control. The rest of the time, keep him in his crate or in a blocked-off area where you can observe him.
Offer a consistent phrase to signal that it's time to potty. Put him on a leash, take him out the same door and lead him to the same area. Speak the same phrase to remind him to potty. Give him plenty of time to potty. Sometimes he will relief himself in a few minutes and other times may take 15 or more minutes.
Praise him when he potties with the same phrase and give him lots of love. Your 3-year-old needs to learn what you expect from him. Praising him helps him understand what he needs to do for his reward.
Remove all food and water two to three hours before bedtime. Take him out just before bed and then place him in his crate. He may whine during the night. If he continues to whine, take him out to potty and put him back in his crate. Do not play with him. He will soon learn nighttime is sleep time.
- Find the underlying reason why your 3-year-old is not housebroken. Dogs potty in a house if they are stressed, not trained, get excited, are marking their territory or have a medical issue such as an urinary tract infection.
- If you work, find someone to take your pooch outside for potty time.
- Don't leave your pooch in his crate for long periods.
- Don't punish your dog by putting him in his crate. His crate is his security den. Always associate pleasant experiences with his den.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.