How to house train a full-grown dog?

Posted by f-kaloyanni
Jul 17, 2013
My boyfriend recently adopted a German Shepherd mix, about 2 years old. The dog was secluded in a backyard and has no experience whotsoever of the outer world. As an outcome, she does not relieve herself in the walk and waits eagerly to return home to do it. We have a designated place for that in the garden, but, since she has never lived indoors, she cannot differentiate between garden and house. More often than not, after a full hour of walking, we end up with a mess in the middle of our living room. What can be done?
Posted by Preethi KOP
Jul 18, 2013
Hi there,

Thank you for your message!

So glad to hear that you have adopted a dog with a history like that. It certainly will be challenging to get her used to life indoors, but once you do, it will be most rewarding! Dog's like her are much more than 'ole faithful friends'.

You will have to treat her like a puppy to house train her. Be watchful at all times and train her to understand your language. You need to use consistent phrases during this training process- 'no', 'outside', 'go pee', 'that's a good girl' are common one's used. A lot of people start with using a crate for this training. If she has to hold in her urine (while in her crate) till she just 'has' to go, you could take her out immediately at this point and get her used to peeing outside. Lots of praise/a treat when she does will help reinforce the habit.

Make sure all spots in the house where the dog might have relieved herself have been cleaned in the right manner to tell her keen sense of smell and doggy instincts that the house is not a bathroom. You could try strong smelling cleaners/pet odour removers/vinegar to do this. If you do catch her in the act, a stern 'NO' will help her learn but if you come home to a mess, there is no point in chiding her for it and she will not be able to correlate the scolding with what she did 'x' amount of time ago.

I hope this helps you. All the best to you and your new four legged friend.

Kind regards,
Posted by jack-jacobs
Aug 16, 2013
That is the same thing I am going through. We got a Keeshond/Heeler mix, male, from a shelter. He was clearly an outside dog. I was wondering if he was housebroken and I found out really quick! He is not. He immediately walked over to the TV stand and proceeded to urinate profusely marking his territory. I let him in two days ago and he promptly (I mean as soon as I let him in) defecated on the carpet and in the kitchen. He is four. We do have a crate but have never crate trained before. I am assuming that I should bring him in and put him in the crate and let him out regularly and intervals?
Posted by Preethi KOP
Aug 18, 2013
Hi Jack,

Thanks for writing in. Yes, what you are going through is a very common problem with rescue dogs. It is so unfortunate that they weren't trained properly when younger.

I am a firm believer that no dog is too old to train. Just make sure you treat the premises to eliminate odors from past accidents. A bacterial enzyme odor eliminator product is usually your best bet on spots that have dried before being treated. The enzyme product will need to soak in deeply and be kept active long enough to do the job. It may also need to be repeated. Until the odor is removed, it can draw the dog’s instincts irresistibly back to use the spot again. For fresh spots, white vinegar works wonders if used immediately. Start with getting your dog inside for a few minutes, under full supervision at all times. If he does start having an accident, say 'NO', take him outside (leaving a lead rope on is useful) and praise him when he does the right thing. Do not yell at him for a mistake, it may just end up scaring him. Just lead him out firmly with a calm and assertive manner. It may be helpful to take him for a short walk before this exercise. Slowly increase the frequency of him being indoors. This exercise, if done regularly and consistently should work wonders in no time. Yes, crate training will help him get used to your schedule. It will also help you monitor his water intake and urinating frequency to help you train him better.Like I have said many times before, patience and perseverance will achieve anything you wish for.

Good luck to you and your pet. Keep us posted on his progress!

Kind regards,