Potty Training Older Dog?


I obtained a Chihuahua female, unfixed, that’s somewhere between 2-4 years old. She came from the pound, though I didn’t get her there directly. Long story short- I believe she was a puppy mill breeder or was just terribly neglected. This dog doesn’t appear to come with ANY previous training or obedience what-so-ever.

So we’re doing the potty training thing. I opted for an adult dog in hopes to avoid this issue, but she’s already here so we’re trying our best. I have a crate for her that she stays in at night. I take her outside first thing in the morning and she usually does her business. During the day I try to keep her on a schedule of 3-4 hours (less and she just stares at me like I’m stupid) and she’s normally pretty good. However, in 3 weeks I see NO sign that she’s improving (holding it until she gets taken outside or "asking’ to go out).

She still goes on the carpet. Many times, it seems, it’s as I’m getting my coat or getting ready to take her outside- always seconds too late. I don’t catch her directly in the act often but catch the scratching of her feet that signals she just did it- and I find the quarter-sized wet spot on the carpet. GRRRR.

If I take her out more often she just doesn’t go. It’s cold outside- she’s skinny- so she hates it outside anyway. I HAVE to go with her and stand there, freeze my own tooshy off, or she’ll just sit and wimper at the door.

I tried tethering her to me, as some people suggested. She’s not leash trained either- and we’ve been gradually working into that- it was just terror for her. She pulls and struggles, then just lays down in defeat. She acts like I’m abusing her- so the tethering thing not so good.

I’ve tried gating her in a single room so I can keep an eye on her. I turned my back for literally less than 10 seconds and she peed.

I don’t use puppy pads because I am afraid to encourage the big dog- who is house broken- to pee on those, too. I’m not sure what to do to make some headway with this little dog.

To the first answer- lots of ideas, but I think you forget she is NOT a puppy. She does have the bladder control- she can go the whole night without troubles in her crate. I DO spend the entire time outside with her- it’s just really really cold right now so NEITHER of us want to be there. And I do praise her every time. I do not spank her for accidents but I try to take her outside right away.

I certainly hope it will take less than a year to get somewhere with her, but it’s good to know that it may eventually come even if it takes awhile. Again- she has good bladder control since she’s very good in her crate. I will try to confine her to a room but it’s rather limited where and how I can do that given the layout of the house (very open floor-plan). Will see how that all goes. Thanks.

Other Dog Kennel Accessories Sites of Interest

4 Responses to “Potty Training Older Dog?”

  1. love my goldens says:

    Chihuahua’s can be extremely stubborn!
    Since she is older, you can take her over to the spot that she messed at, show it to her, and firmly scold her for doing it. Not spank her, but verbally scold her.
    When she does go outside, take a treat with you, and make all over her for going in the right spot. Praise her WHILE she is going, then give her the treat immediately after she is done.
    A few times of this, and she should start to go outside, even if just to dribble, as she will want her treat.
    You also need to have her on a leash to take her outside, and everytime you snap it on her, say the same words, like "go potty, or go outside".
    This way, she will learn that if she needs to go, she needs to walk towards the door, and then you ask her using those words. she’ll get excited if she does want to go.
    Many people can not housebreak a chihuahua, and it is due to them carrying the dog outside instead of walking her out on a leash.
    By carrying them, they do not learn how to ask to go out. A leash solves this problem.
    Here is an article on leash training.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Nicole B says:

    I have a maltese who we took in when he was 1 and a half he was mistrited and came with many traumatic problems. Confine your dog to one place using a coral there she will have to sleep and do her bussiness. You have to take her out to eat and play. Keep her like this for some months when she is doing her pee in the espicific place increase the area of confinement keep on doing this. Maybe she will pick up some tips from your other dog. good luck it took me one year using different methods. Watch her as she may have spinxer and bladder problems especially as she was mistreated. My maltese had a problem with his back and that affected him.

  3. wishnuwelltoo says:

    Holy cow, I wouldn’t use the pee pads. Walmart pharmacy sells a KAZ gel pack heating pad, microwave 2 minutes and put under your jacket. You need to go out with her, use your commands, and praise when she does do good. I would expect it to take several months with a dog this abused, so hang in there. I am sending you some potty tips, use what helps, and keep working on the leash thing. When they act like a puppy, treat them like a puppy. I use a crate* to potty train with, but only for potty training and then I break it down and store it. I put blankets and a small food and water dish in the crate. Dogs don’t potty where they eat and sleep. When they are first little, I only expect them to hold their potty for 4 hours, and then 6 hours, then 8 hours and so on. So when they are first little, I set a timer or alarm clock to wake myself up at night to take them *out. I only allow my puppy in the bedroom* or the living room, only one room at a time. They have to graduate to more space. If I allow them to have full run of the house, it will overwhelm them. I take them out the same door each time. I tie a dinner bell to the door handle. Do not use a jingle bell as they could get their toe caught in it. So when they are little, I ring the bell for them, and then open the door to go *outside to potty. When they get bigger, I take their paw and whack the bell and open the door to go potty. Eventually getting to the place where the puppy will ring the bell and let me know when they need to go potty. Dogs want to please you, so it is your job to let them know what behaviors please you and what doesn’t. So when my puppy goes potty, I give her a treat*, and clap, and make a fuss and praise her. So she learns that going potty outside makes me happy. If she has an accident, make a disgust sound like “tsst” and take her out right away. I never yell* or spank* my puppies. Take them out when they first wake up, after they eat or drink, before nap, finish romping, when their activities change, or when they are sniffing around. Some puppies go pee right away, but may not go poop until 10 minutes later, so wait for the poop. I have a little play time here, because sometimes I think they are done, and they are not. Puppies train at their own pace. While I may have a puppy that hasn’t had an accident in several weeks, I don’t let my guard down. I don’t expect my puppies to be "fully potty trained" until one-year-old. If they have a setback, shake it off, and start over. I only have my puppies in the crate when I am not watching them. When I am sleeping, cooking, ironing, doing chores, basically when I am not watching her. All other times, she is out of the crate practicing being a "big girl." This is the time I train her how to behave in the house. So we are practicing "no barking", ‘no biting", "no jumping", and "don’t eat the furniture." I also have to practice "playing inside" so she doesn’t knock over things. You must keep the puppy in sight when they are little because they don’t know the difference between newspaper and carpet, and you don’t want them sneaking off and getting into trouble. Some puppies can sleep through the night around 3-months-old, but their bladder is grown around 6-months-old.

    *I use a CRATE to train with. It is the method I prefer, compared to other methods I have tried. I noticed that if they are in the crate, while I am doing chores, they are o.k., because the crate allows them to see me and be re-assured. The crate can also be a comfort when stored in the basement for dogs who live in areas where thunderstorms and tornados are an issue. . However, use the method that works best for you…..a laundry basket, a cardboard box, a woof-woof house, x-pen, child gates, whatever works for you.
    *OUTSIDE, pee pad, litter box, whichever method you are using. When the puppy is first little, keep the pee pad, litter box near the food and water dish, so the puppy can eat and drink, and then go potty. You can move it away as they get older. The pee pad has a scent that smells and initiates potty. Sometimes a pee pad makes a sound that scares some puppies, so you might want to use a litter box if that happens. The pee pad allows a puppy to walk around, but a litter box keeps the puppy in one place.
    *BEDROOMS, I use the bedroom and living room for training, because it works for me. Choose rooms that work for you, but watch for rooms that are damp, or drafty. While my puppies sleep in the bedroom during training, once they are trained, I let them sleep where they want to. They don’t have to sleep in the bedroom forever.
    *TREATS. While I use treats for training, you don’t have to. I like Charlee Bears for training (a little cracker for a little mouth,) I use them for training, but once they are trained, I cut back on them.
    *SOME PUPPIES will go potty in the same spot each time. Some puppies have to be told to go potty. A command like "go out" for pee, or "go finish" for poop, might work for you, keep saying “go finish” until the puppy poops. This is a good thing to train if you travel with your dogs. By using commands, the puppy won’t get confused when you are visiting someone, on vacation with you, or when you get to a new home. The command will tell them what you want them to do in an unfamiliar place. You might also want to use a leash method, so the puppy doesn’t sneak off, or for strange places.
    *YELLING. It is not a good idea to "yell" or "spank" your puppy and then take them outside when they have an accident. They may get confused and think that going outside is punishment. While you want to correct them, if you are extreme, they may not want to go outside again. Shake it off, and resume your schedule. You have to keep it real. Puppies train at their own pace, but a puppy can only hold their potty for a few hours. A guide would be 1 hour for each month of age, plus 1 hour, so a three-month-old puppy should only be expected to hold their potty for 4 hours at most.
    SOURCE: These tips, tricks, and ideas were contributed from many brilliant minds. Thanks for your help!

  4. me says:

    I had the same problem with a smaller dog. She was older and about 8-10 pounds. She was not abused, but had been a street dog and was very distrustful of humans especially males besides me. I find the last post was almost exactly as I did. Keep her in a confined space or right next to you in an area she can’t get away from you. It seems she is hiding her peeing from you from what you have said since you say you never really see her go. She knows she shouldn’t be going inside. Keep her close to you or in a confined area for a while. Truly praising the dog is SO IMPORTANT and SO IS THE TREAT. Praise her a ridiculous, crazy, nutso, embarassing amount while she is going or/and after she goes and immediately, immediately give her the treat afterwords so she associates that with the treat. Another trick i learned from my vet was feeding. My vet recommended that I only feed my dog once and if that was not enough but twice a day. Keep the food out for an hour two at the most and remove it. After about a week or two she will see that she needs to eat and drink right away. I do of course bring out the water after a walk or intense play session. By doing this you will be able to better predict when she needs to go. I was told that even though small dogs will get bladder "control" they have extremely small bladders and must go frequently until a little older, and I know your dog is older, but this may take a while. But the crazy praise and treat, regulating eating, and as said above leash and not picking up your dog help tons. I’m sure you are leash training, but something I found helped me was to put a few loose treats in my pocket and have the leash wrapped as short as possible constantly saying the same phrase like "with me" and rewarding AND praising the dog when they pay attention to me and stay with me. I also highly recommend crate training. I was also told by a dog behavorialist that it it sometimes good to put the dog in a crate even when you aren’t going anywhere in the same room. Crate training works wonders when you are potter training and is extremely important. I am very careful about this with little dogs, but I also resist furiously any attempt for the dog to pull me off course or get away from me. I don’t jerk (small neck bones on little dogs can be injured), but I do a quick half pull to let them know who they are with, this is not as necessary if you keep them close on a short leash. I’d love to hear how this turns out for you, I hope we all helped.