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Dog not house trained at one year

Older dogs can learn to be toilet trained. In fact, they're often quicker and easier to train than puppies.
Older dogs can learn to be toilet trained. In fact, they're often quicker and easier to train than puppies. (BestReviews)

What to do if your one-year-old dog isn’t house trained

If you've been attempting to potty train since the puppy stage and your dog isn't house trained at one year, it's natural to be concerned. Don't lose hope, however, since all dogs can succeed at toilet training, barring some with particular health conditions (though this is rare).

You might also be in the situation where you've brought an adult dog home who isn't toilet trained and now you need to start from scratch. Whatever your circumstances, we have some tips and advice that will help you house train your dog before you know it.

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Clean your house thoroughly

It might seem strange to suggest cleaning your house when your problem is with potty training your dog, but we have a legitimate reason. Dogs are habitual creatures and like to go in the same spots much of the time. They don't tend to do this by sight but rather by familiar bathroom smells. When dogs smell their urine or feces ingrained in the floor or soft furnishings, they'll decide that's a reasonable place to relieve themselves and go for it, so getting all smells of doggy urine and feces out of your home can help.

We'd recommend using an enzymatic cleaner, as these contain enzymes that actually eat away at and remove the offending particles, rather than simply disguising the smell like many other cleaning products do.

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Check for underlying health issues in your dog

Both urinary and fecal incontinence in dogs can be caused by a range of health issues. If you've been attempting to toilet train your dog for close to a year with no luck, it's definitely worth having your dog checked out for an underlying illness or ailment, even if they seem well in general. Vets can treat many issues that cause incontinence, which could mean an end to your dog's potty problems.

Stick to a dog toilet training schedule

Once you've ruled out medical issues, it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty of toilet training. The process is all about consistency, so if you stick to it no matter what, it shouldn't take long to toilet train your dog. Try to avoid all accidents when possible because each one reinforces to your dog that it's OK to go indoors.

Adult dogs don't need to relieve themselves as often as puppies, so your schedule will be more relaxed, but you should aim to let your dog out to do their business at least once every four hours during the day. Keep your dog on a leash as you take them into your yard to go potty, and don't let them off to run and play until after they've relieved themselves. Some dogs have too much fun playing and forget that they need to pee or poop. They need to know that toilet time comes first and playtime comes next.

Once they've eliminated, give them a treat, praise them profusely, and let them off the leash to play. If they won't go, take them back inside and try again in 20 to 30 minutes. You should also learn any signs your dog makes when they need to go. This might be circling, sniffing the floor, or making a beeline for a favorite toilet spot. If you notice a sign, take your dog outside right away.

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Use positive reinforcement when toilet training your dog

Your dog isn't toileting inside the house because they're misbehaving; they just don't understand the rules yet. Positive reinforcement is the quickest, most effective way to teach your dog the toilet training rules. All it means is that you praise and reward your dog when they engage in a desired behavior — in this case, peeing or pooping outside.

Most people use verbal praise and high-value treats (a treat your dog really loves but doesn't get too often), but if your dog isn't food motivated, a play session might be a more effective reward, so try throwing a ball or playing a game of tug. Never punish your dog for going in the wrong place. Not only are punishments cruel, but they also don't work because dogs don't understand what they're being punished for. If you catch your dog in the act, you can pick them up or lead them outside without comment to finish up, then praise them if and when they finish going potty in the yard.

Be consistent with dog potty training

The key to toilet training a dog is consistency. You need to take them outside to eliminate regularly, keep them near you to watch for signs they need to go potty, and praise them every single time. A failure to house train is usually due to a lack of consistency, so stick to it, and your dog will soon know that your house isn't a toilet.

Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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