Is Your Dog Regressing in Potty Training? How to Potty Train an Adult Dog | Pupford
August 29th, 2023
Filed under Training
If you look for resources on , you’ll probably find that at least 90% of it is geared toward puppies. And while younger dogs make up the majority of the potty-training population, there are plenty of reasons why an adult dog would need to be potty trained too.
Whatever the reason, rest assured that it’s totally possible to potty train an adult dog – and today we’re going to teach you the best way.
We’ll take a look into:
- Reasons why adult dogs may need potty training
- Tips and tools for successfully potty training an adult dog
- More potty training goodness
WHY ADULT DOGS MAY NEED POTTY TRAINING
We’re sharing this to help normalize the situation and let pup parents know that it’s okay to ask for help, no matter the circumstances. Also, it may help you know when to look more carefully for signs that your dog may have a regression.
Here are some situations:
- The dog was never potty trained due to their living situation or environment, and now you are bringing the dog into your home and would like to potty train them.
- There was a medical issue such as a urinary tract infection or bladder issue that caused frequent accidents, so a regression happened.
- You moved houses with your dog and now they are confused as to where they should go for potty.
- Your dog experienced a like the loss of a family member and the stress has caused a regression.
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, but if you find yourself in any of the above situations, just know you’re not alone – and we can help!
TIPS FOR POTTY TRAINING AN ADULT DOG OR A DOG GOING THROUGH REGRESSION
Whether your adult dog has never been potty trained or is going through a regression, the steps you’ll want to follow are generally the same.
And if you have ever potty trained a puppy, good news – the experience isn’t too different, and some people even claim that the training process moves more quickly with adults (of course, that depends on the individual dog!).
1. GET THE RIGHT TOOLS
For successful potty training, you’ll need a few key things:
- High-value training treats
- Potty pads, but be sure to take time to !
- Alllllll the poop bags
- Black light and enzymatic cleaner for finding and cleaning up accidents
2. ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
Take them to their designated potty area first thing in the morning, a few minutes after meals, and at regular intervals throughout the day. Be sure to keep an eye on them so you can reward them as soon as they do their business – yes this means you have to go out with them in the cold and rain!
3. LEAVE PLENTY OF TIME PER POTTY TRIP
It can be really frustrating to sit there and wait for what feels like forever for your dog to relieve themselves – especially in bad weather or when you need to leave the house shortly for work.
Give them time to sniff around, exercise, or even play a little bit before you call it quits on your potty trip. Adult dogs typically don't go as frequently as puppies too, so they may need more time.
4. IF THEY DON'T GO DURING A POTTY TRIP, KEEP THEM CLOSE BY OR IN A CRATE
Let’s say you wait, and wait, and wait… and your dog shows absolutely no interest in going potty. It might mean they don’t have to go, but it also could mean they still haven’t totally made the connection that they were supposed to go potty then.
So when you bring them back in, you want to make sure you are not giving them too much freedom, in case it’s the latter.
You can keep them on a leash or put them in their crate until it’s time for the next part of their routine. is a great tool to use alongside potty training, especially if your dog is already comfortable in their crate.
5. LEARN THE SIGNS THAT YOUR DOG HAS TO GO
When we think of potty training signals, we typically think of barking or scratching at the door. But if your dog isn’t trained yet, how would they know that door = potty?
Potty signals will differ from dog to dog, but look for other like pacing, walking in circles, whining, or generally being unsettled. That could be their way of saying “I have to go potty! Help! What should I do?!” which can set them up for a win!
6. TRY DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS
If you’re potty training a dog who has never been trained, they may initially be uncomfortable going on grass, or dirt, or whatever the case may be.
Try a few different parts of your yard, or a walk down the block, to see what your dog is comfortable with. Once you’ve gotten consistent success there, you can gradually get your dog used to the preferred surface instead.
7. GET TO THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE REGRESSION
This is for all the pup parents whose dogs are going through a regression for one reason or another. While revisiting potty training will certainly help the situation, we suggest taking it one step further.
But in other cases there could be underlying physical or mental health issues at play, so it’s best to consult your veterinarian and/or certified dog trainer to help figure out the root cause.
Remember, your dog wants to do the right thing when it comes to potty training – they just need a little help from you to figure out what that is. Our biggest piece of advice when potty training an adult dog is to have patience and understand that this change doesn’t happen overnight.
Do you have any other tips or advice for anyone potty training an adult dog? Share them in the comments!