How to Paper Train a Senior Dog

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Senior dogs can experience bowel and bladder incontinence as they age. Training them to go on paper or in an indoor bathroom can create convenience for them as well as ease of cleanup for you.

Get a Vet Checkup

Elderly and senior dogs need to have regular veterinary checkups to ensure health problems are caught and addressed early. For example, you may find your older dog urinating in inappropriate spots and think his bladder has given out, when in fact, he may just be suffering from an easily treatable bladder infection. Monitor what's going on with your older dog's health so you and your vet can create a plan of action for making that your pet’s golden years pleasant ones.

Warning

  • Some older dogs who start having accidents in the house are suffering from arthritis, which makes it difficult to get around.

Introduce Papers Outside

If your dog is mobile and primarily is going to the bathroom outside, start to introduce papers in his usual elimination spot. When you take your dog out to go to the bathroom, lead him to the papers and give your usual command, such as, “outside,” or, “potty.” When he uses the paper, reward him with a treat and praise. If possible, leave the paper in place for day or two so he can return to the same place and recognize his scent, as well as start to associate elimination with the paper.

Tip

  • You can use newspaper or buy commercially produced absorbent doggy pads from a pet supply store.

Warning

  • If your dog has trouble making the journey outside to eliminate, skip the outside transitional step and move right to inside training.

Start Moving the Paper

Gradually move the training papers closer to the door so your dog becomes accustomed to finding and using them. Eventually move them inside to a spot where you want them to remain. Choose the spot carefully, ideally in an out-of-the-way area such as a laundry room or a space with a tile or linoleum floor. Once the indoor bathroom is established, take your dog to this place each time he needs to eliminate just as you would have taken him outside to do his business. Continue to reward successful indoor bathroom habits with treats until behavior is established.

Tip

  • If your senior dog is having accidents while you're away, confine him in his bathroom area when you're gone.

Elderly Dog Considerations

Keep in mind that one of the reasons elderly dogs sometimes have a problem eliminating outside is because they have mobility issues that make this travel painful. Take that into consideration when establishing your inside bathroom spot. If your dog has to travel to the far reaches of your house or go up and down stairs, he may continue to have accidents, so keep the papers in a relatively centralized area that your pup can easily access.

Warning

  • An elderly dog who is eliminating in the wrong places should never be physically punished or reprimanded. The action is likely involuntary and is due to her age.

Tip

  • Commercially produced indoor bathrooms can be another viable option for indoor house training.

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