How to Transition an Older Dog to Piddle Patch

There are situations where retraining an older dog to use an indoor dog toilet becomes necessary. For example, if the dog experiences a decline in mobility due to age or health issues, using an indoor toilet can provide a practical and accessible solution for their elimination needs.

Additionally, changes in living situations, such as moving to an apartment without easy access to outdoor areas, may require retraining the dog to use an indoor toilet as a convenient alternative.

Retraining an older dog to use a dog toilet indoors can present some challenges though.

In this guide, we will discuss some of the challenges you might experience while retraining an older dog to use an indoor dog toilet solution, and then we will offer guidance on how to overcome these challenges.

If you’re experiencing issues with mobility or ill-health, take a look at some of our tips and tricks. 

Reasons why an older dog may be difficult to retrain

  1. Established habits: Older dogs often have well-established toilet habits and may be accustomed to going outside or using a different type of indoor bathroom option, such as puppy pads or litter boxes. Breaking these ingrained habits can take time and patience.
  2. Familiarity with outdoor elimination: Dogs instinctively prefer eliminating in outdoor environments due to natural stimuli like scents and textures. Retraining an older dog to switch to an indoor dog toilet may require them to overcome their strong preference for going to the toilet outdoors. Using a soil-free, real grass dog toilet can help with this challenge, but you should expect to need to provide additional training and support to your dog in making the transition.
  3. Fear or aversion to the dog toilet: Some dogs may be hesitant or fearful of using a new dog toilet. They may be unsure about the surface, texture, or the confined space of where the dog toilet is kept, leading to reluctance or avoidance.
  4. Previous potty training methods: If you previously trained your dog to eliminate in a different way, such as using puppy pads or a litter box, transitioning them to a fresh grass dog toilet may require unlearning their previous training and adapting to the new method. Check out our training guide {} on how to transition a dog from puppy pee pads to a fresh grass Piddle Patch.
  5. Health issues: Older dogs may have underlying health conditions that affect their toileting habits. It’s important to rule out any medical issues that could contribute to accidents or reluctance to use a dog toilet. Consult with your veterinarian if you suspect any health concerns.
  6. Reinforcement of incorrect behaviour: In the process of retraining, accidents may occur, and if not handled properly, they can reinforce the dog’s belief that eliminating indoors is acceptable, or prevent your dog from learning their new routine if they fear your reaction. Consistent management and proper clean-up of accidents are essential to avoid reinforcing the wrong behaviour

Have you recently adopted a rescue dog? Take a look at our guide on How to Housetrain a Rescue Dog.

Our guide on how to retrain an older dog to use an indoor dog toilet

Training an adult dog to use a real grass dog toilet inside your apartment or on the balcony can be a helpful solution for many of these issues, especially if you don’t have immediate access to outdoor areas.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with the training process:

  1. Introduce the dog toilet: Place your real grass dog toilet in a designated spot inside of your home or on the balcony. Allow your dog to explore and sniff it to get familiar with the new area.
  2. Establish a routine: Dogs thrive on routines, so it’s important to establish a consistent schedule for potty breaks. Take your dog to the dog toilet at regular intervals throughout the day, such as after meals, waking up, or before bedtime.
  3. Use a command phrase or word: If you’ve already taught your dog to recognise a command word or phrase, such as “go pee” or “do your business”, then this can be a big help in your dog’s transition. Using this command can help to communicate your expectations to your dog and show them that you want them to relieve themselves in a particular place or at a certain time. If you haven’t already taught your dog a command word or phrase, then this would be a good time to start working it into their routine. Aside from using it during their transition, it can be helpful in other situations such as before boarding a train or staying in a new location.
  4. Reminders of past training: If your dog was house-trained using puppy pee pads, these may be helpful during your dog’s transition to a fresh grass dog toilet, as they function as a visual cue that you want them to toilet within a designated place within the home. This should only be considered if your dog was previously toilet trained using puppy pee pads and if they have shown reluctance to potty inside of the house. You can find out more about how to use these during a transition to a fresh grass dog toilet by checking out our guide on how to transition from puppy pads to a real grass dog toilet.
  5. Reward-based training: When your dog successfully uses their real grass dog toilet, reward them with verbal praise, treats, or affection. Positive reinforcement will reinforce the behaviour and encourage them to repeat it.
  6. Redirect accidents: If your dog starts to eliminate in an inappropriate area, gently interrupt them by using a verbal cue like “Oops!”. If possible, redirect them or pick them up and place them on their dog toilet to finish in the correct location. You can then reward them when they finish eliminating in the correct spot.
  7. Clean up accidents properly: Accidents may happen during the training process. It’s crucial to clean up accidents promptly and thoroughly, using an enzymatic cleaner specifically designed for pet urine. This helps eliminate any lingering odours that might attract your dog back to the same spot.
  8. Patience and consistency: Training an adult dog to change their toilet routine takes time and consistency. Be patient and persistent, ensuring that you stick to the routine and continue providing positive reinforcement for the desired behaviour.

Looking to get started with Piddle Patch? Try our Piddle Patch Starter Pack. It contains everything your pup will need to get going with their Piddle Patch.

Remember, every dog is unique, and the training process may vary. Some dogs may adapt quickly, while others might take longer. It’s crucial to remain patient, consistent, and adaptable in your training approach.

If you encounter challenges or your dog doesn’t seem to be making progress, consider consulting a professional dog trainer or behaviourist who can provide tailored advice based on your dog’s specific needs and circumstances. They can help you develop a customised training plan and offer solutions to overcome any hurdles you encounter along the way.

Looking for some more top tips and tricks? Take a look at our Training Tips Hub, here you’ll find some more expert guides to help you and your pooch!