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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

House Training Your Adult Dog

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

House training adult dogs can be a particular challenge. Everyone knows the saying about not teaching old dogs new tricks, but that's not actually true. You can house train an adult dog provided you go about it the right way. Remember, this isn't a puppy you're dealing with, so he may be a little more set in his ways, but with a little patience and persistence you can get your adult dog house trained in no time.

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While house training is normally associated with puppies, it may also be necessary when you adopt an adult dog. In this case, "accidents" may be the result of a medical condition or there might be an underlying behavioral issue. If this is true for your dog, the underlying problem has to be addressed in order to get the accidents to stop.

For all other cases you can focus on some specific tips for house training adult dog that should do the trick. First and foremost is consistency. In order to get a handle on when he has to go out, the first step is to make sure you feed your dog at a certain time every day and don't leave his bowl of food lying around between feedings. This can just encourage extra eating, which leads to extra need to eliminate.

Red merle Australian Shepherd with tongue hanging out.

Jana Behr /

Stay alert to signs your dog needs to go outside. This is true for housetraining an adult dog or puppy.

Consistency is also important when it comes to going out. Take your dog out about four times a day and make sure he has enough time to do his business. It can also help to have him use the same part of the yard every time, as the smell of his own waste will encourage him to go. For this same reason, if he does have an "accident" inside, it is imperative that you clean it up quickly and remove the smell as thoroughly as possible.

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Positive Reinforcement Is Key When House Training An Adult Dog

Positive reinforcement is an important part of any training regimen, as owners of Australian Shepherd's know all too well. A little praise and a treat after your dog exhibits the proper behavior will soon have him drawing the connection and understanding what it is that you want him to do. Once you get this message across, house training adult dog can be a breeze.

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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Equally important is not reacting too harshly if your dog does have an "accident." If you catch him in the act you can clap to startle him, which should temporarily stop him, and then get him outside to finish his business.

If you don't find out about it until after it happens, yelling or scolding will not help, in fact it will only make him scared of you and less likely to let you know when he does need to go.

And that leads to the final important tip for house training adult dog... make sure you pay attention. Most dogs will let you know in some way when they need to go out. Don't ignore or dismiss this behavior because your dog can't hold it in forever and if you don't get him out he'll have no choice but to go inside.

Remember that house training at any age is a joint effort. You need to work with your dog in order to enforce the proper behavior and dissuade from the unwanted behavior. Most dogs, adult or pup, will soon be able to understand and will want to go out of their way to please their master. So don't be discouraged just because your dog is grown up—he can still learn if you work with him! icon

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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