Transitioning your Older Dog to Piddle Patch

23rd May 2023

The old adage goes, ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, but sometimes you really need to! Whether your dog is experiencing incontinence issues, you’ve rehomed a rescue, or your personal circumstances have changed, you may need a little help with toilet troubles. Follow our Older Dog Training Guide to learn why an adult dog might need a Piddle Patch, how you can best train them to use their Piddle Patch, and some expert training tips and tricks. 

Looking for some tips and tricks on how to get your puppy toilet trained? Take a look at our Expert Guide on How to Toilet Train a Puppy Fast.

Why might an older dog need a Piddle Patch?

There are a variety of reasons why an older dog may benefit from a Piddle Patch, from a change of housing circumstances, to medical reasons. Let’s take a look at the 4 most common reasons your dog may need a fresh grass dog toilet here: 

Change of Circumstances

Whether you’ve moved into an apartment, relocated to the city, or decided to downsize, if you’ve had a change in housing circumstance then a Piddle Patch may be useful for you and your pooch. Having a garden makes life easier when you’re a dog owner, but if for whatever reason you don’t have easy access to grass, you may need some other dog toilet options. Having a Piddle Patch in your apartment, or on your balcony, is like having your own piece of the park at home. To your adult dog, the feel and scent of real grass is an indicator of where they should be doing their business. If you’re short on space, especially outdoor space, then a Piddle Patch could be really handy. 


If you have rehomed a dog from a rescue centre, friend or family member, it could take some time for your dog to get used to their new environment. When you rehome a dog, they may be nervous or uncertain of their environment. Creating a comfortable, quiet toilet environment can help them relax enough to go potty instead of holding it in. If your dog is a rescue dog, or especially nervous, you may want to do this in combination with exposure therapy led by a trained dog trainer. Providing your recently rehomed pooch with a real grass dog toilet may be a great way to settle them into their new environment. 

Human Sickness

If you have fallen ill, or if you aren’t as mobile, it may be difficult to get your dog outside as much as you would like. Whilst professional dog walkers, family members or friends may be able to help you out by ensuring your dog gets sufficient exercise during the day, they won’t necessarily be able to take your dog to relieve themselves every time that nature calls. Having a Piddle Patch at home means your dog has a toilet at the ready, any time they need it, day or night. Whilst Piddle Patches are not a substitute for walking and exercise, they certainly help when provide a reliable toilet area when one is needed.

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence can be a common problem with older dogs. It can often be caused when the urethral muscles become less strong, causing leakage to become a more common problem. We recommend that you take your dog to be checked out if this is a new problem that is developing, so that you can ensure this is the cause of the incontinence. Having a Piddle Patch is a great option for your older dog to use if they should struggle with bladder issues, as it helps to make a toilet area more easily accessible to them. If you’d like some more detailed information on incontinence, written by our Piddle Patch vet, check out our helpful Guide on Urinary Incontinence.

Transitioning your Older Dog to Piddle Patch

So, you’ve rehomed a dog, or you’ve had a change in circumstances, and now you’re left with that age-old question…. Can you really teach an old dog new tricks?

The answer is a loud, resounding YES! In fact, some studies have shown that older dogs can surpass their younger counterparts when it comes to logic and reasoning tasks, due to their longer attention span and their calmer nature.

So why do older dogs take on average twice as long to learn a change in routine?

The short answer is that change can be difficult. Some older dogs, just like people, can be resistant to change. But fear not! Dogs are naturally predisposed to learning, and they are eager to please. I mean who doesn’t want to hear that they are a good boy?! Let’s have a look at how we might train an older dog in different circumstances:

Change of Circumstances

  • Acclimatise: if you have moved from a property with a garden to an apartment, the change in surroundings and routine can be a little confusing for your dog. Give them time and support to adjust to their new environment.
  • Prioritise: while getting settled into your new home, prioritise teaching your dog where their new toilet spot is. Whether your Piddle Patch is on your balcony, or in your apartment, encourage them to go wee on their real grass dog toilet.
  • Strategise: having a couple of tricks up your sleeve to encourage your dog will definitely help. For example, showering them with praise and treats after they successfully use the patch, will teach them that using the patch as a toilet is the right thing to do.
  • Devise: having a command word on hand to go potty is essential. If your dog does not already have a command word that they recognise for going potty, now is a good time to work with them to teach them one. This will make future transitions easier. 


  • Nerves: rehoming a dog, especially a rescue, can be a nerve-racking and challenging experience for your new four-legged friend. Before bringing your new friend home, it’s important to learn as much about their history and background as you can. This information can help you to understand their behaviour and support them in their transition and prepare your environment for success. No two dogs are the same, so understanding situations that might make them nervous or uncomfortable can be helpful so that you can work towards creating a calm and welcoming environment.
  • Understanding:  some rehomed dogs adjust quickly to their new homes, while others require a lot of patience and support. Developing a consistent routine, remaining calm, and praising positive progress, instead of punishing mistakes and accidents, are crucial actions at this time.  Each dog’s needs will vary and if you find that your dog is having a difficult time adjusting, then it may be helpful to speak with a dog behaviourist to help develop a winning strategy to get your dog settled into their new home. 
  • Pick your spot: work out a spot in your home, balcony, or garden which will work for your dog to use as a toilet area. Your dog will be more likely to use their Piddle Patch successfully if they feel comfortable and relaxed. If they seem nervous about their surroundings, consider what you can do to improve the area, such as providing more privacy, or moving large or potentially intimidating items elsewhere. 
  • Patience: with a rehomed dog, patience and consistency in your surroundings and routine is essential. Remember that your dog may be nervous and stressed, and this will impact their ability to learn. The more they are able to trust you and their environment, the more open to learning they will be.

Urinary Incontinence

  • Consult your vet: your first port of call when you see any changes in your dog’s health should always be to check in with your vet. If your dog is showing signs of incontinence, an evaluation will help to identify the cause of the issue and address any potential treatments, such as medicine or surgery.
  • On hand: in the meantime, ensuring you have a Piddle Patch readily available and easily accessible, can help to support your dog if they are struggling to make it outside in time to relieve themselves. Using a real grass dog toilet can be an excellent option for dogs who would otherwise be hesitant to start pottying on puppy pee pads after years of relieving themselves outdoors.
  • Don’t Scold: incontinence isn’t your dog’s fault. The best thing you can do if your dog starts showing signs of incontinence is to provide them with support by way of a medical assessment by a veterinarian, who can identify a suitable treatment plan. If no medical issues are found, then a dog behaviourist may be able to help identify the reason for your dog’s behaviour and to draw up an action plan for the situation. Whatever the cause, patience and support will address the situation much faster than expecting your dog’s behaviour to change after a scolding.

More Older Dog Training Tips

Hopefully our step-by-step guide has helped you and your older dog with getting used to Piddle Patch. If you’re still looking for some more help, have a look at these extra tips and tricks:

To ensure your dog comprehends the correlation between their actions and the rewards, it is crucial to promptly provide all rewards immediately after they successfully perform the desired behaviour. Delaying the rewards may result in your dog failing to associate the treat or praise with the specific action they have taken. By offering instant rewards, you reinforce the behaviour and enhance your dog’s understanding. 

If your dog has an accident, try to stay calm and not react! Getting angry with your dog or telling them off for their mistake can cause an adverse reaction. There is a risk that your dog will become too anxious to relieve themselves in their toilet area and to start toileting in hidden spots around the house instead.

And lastly, remember that you are asking your dog to go against everything they have previously learned, so this is a huge transition for your dog. Consistent training will be key in the process to encourage your dog to change their habits… and lots of persistence,patience, and of course some treats!

Transitioning your Older Dog to Piddle Patch

There are a variety of reasons why an older dog might benefit from a Piddle Patch. These different reasons may require different approaches to help teach your dog how to be successful in their change of routine. Remember that training an older dog can take time. If you need support, please reach out to us, and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have. However, keep in mind that some dogs may also need additional support to adjust to a new life, change or routine.  Trust the process, have plenty of patience, keep a treat or two on hand, and your pooch will be piddling on their patch before you know it. 

For more expert Tips and Tricks, you cantake a look at our Training Tips Hub. Here you will find all the relevant guides you will need for your pooch!