Senior dogs may have outlived their ages, but most of them are still young at heart. Unlike younger dogs, their bodies are more tired and may have accumulated health problems from since they were a puppy.
Our beloved senior companions may have arthritis or other similar joint problems that could make them have difficulty in enjoying their daily lives as dogs. Some hidden health conditions could also add to the interference in doing daily activities such as feeding, walking to the park, and even bathroom routine.
If your senior dog was used to outdoor potty training but is too old and tired to proceed with it, indoor potty training could be more beneficial for your elder dog. Most of these elder dogs prefer to keep it quiet and low key when doing their business, thus selecting a certain area inside your house with less disturbance is more recommended.
Although simple builds of such areas could involve the use of newspaper sheets or commercialized potty pads in the area, the more viable option to reduce messiness is by using a litter box. This could be similar to a cat litter box by using a shallow storage bin made of plastic materials.
If you only have a deep bin, you may adjust it by cutting a doorway big enough for your senior dog. Below are some tips to improve the benefits that your dog may gain using indoor potty training.
1. Lining up your dog’s litter box or litter area
Making your dog’s litter box to a more complex one could somehow be more rewarding than letting it become just a simple one. You have endless options with whatever you like to add in your senior dog’s litter area. It could be paper sheets, potty pads, perlite mixture, and even artificial grass.
It is also recommended that you use materials that are easy to clean or can be disposed easily. The components of the materials should also be non-toxic so as to remain safe for your dog since even senior dogs love to chew on almost anything. If anything else, you can guide your dog whenever he comes to go potty just to make sure about his safety.
2. Know what your dog likes
Some dogs develop their own personal preferences on areas where they want to go potty. Some dogs would prefer going to a secluded area, a grassy field, or even the stale concrete sidewalk. Determining what your senior dog’s potty preferences are will give you ideas on how to improve his situation when potty training indoors.
This knowledge comes handy especially when you have already established a special area for your dog inside. If you are potty training him to a litter box or patty pad, you may convert the area into something that is quite similar to his liking.
This is very likely to work especially if his preferred area is for example, a tile. You can put a slab of tile in your senior dog’s litter box to entice him to go potty in his assigned place. This will make him understand that the area is supposed to be for going potty since he would recognize the tile inside it.
3. Exploiting their sense of smell
Some dogs would prefer doing their business in an area that they already recognize using their sense of smell. Some pungent areas are even favorites of wandering dogs in the streets.
Why? This is because of the presence of chemicals in the residual odors of their urine called pheromones. They help in marking territories and of course, determining where should they go poop and pee.
In order to apply this when you are potty training your senior dog, you are going to need to have some of his urine. If you don’t have his urine, you may also mop up some of his fluids using paper towels whenever he goes.
Then, you put those wet paper towels in the indoor potty area that you have previously prepared. This will aid some of the smell to stick in the area and will help him recognize that the area is for going potty.
4. Encourage your senior dog
Some dogs, especially seniors, may need encouragement in what they do in order to associate them with a positive behavior. Some senior dogs that recognize commands and cues that enable him to potty will certainly help.
Phrases such as “go potty” and “hurry pee” could work even if they are senior dogs. If you don’t have set phrases and cues when he was still a puppy, then you should start now.
Every time that he feels like relieving himself whether outside or inside the house, you have to say your selected cue. Be consistent and do not change phrase cues so as to make your dog easily understand these.
Also, rewarding will reinforce the behavior. Every time you say the cue and he goes potty, you may give him a reward in the form of a delicious treat or a head and tummy rub. As long as he recognizes the action as a good behavior, the training will be fine.
In time, your dog will recognize that when you say the phrase, it is time for him to go to his special area. This will be established using constant repetition with your actions.
By following the steps above, you will easily make your senior dog’s life more comfortable especially when going potty. This is not just rewarding for your dog, but also for you as a dog owner. Less mess will be made and the fact that you can help in maintaining the health of your senior dog is already a good benefit.
If you feel like you are lacking in training for your senior dog, then perhaps you should start now. The earlier the training starts, the better. This is because more training foundation will be built up and planted into his mind. This will increase the chances for easier learning to other behavioral training regimen.