View Full Version : training older dogs
29th December 2010, 11:15 PM
Hi everyone. I haven't posted here in over a year but was wondering could I now ask for some advice? My mum has just 'adopted' 2 two year old cavaliers (brothers) from friends of hers who are emmigrating to Australia. They are absolutely adorable and have lovely little natures and they do get on so well with each other. There is however, one problem....they are not properly housetrained. The family they came from had them in a puppy playpen in their living room and when they werent in this they were outside.I get the impression that they were very busy people, and while they didn't mistreat the dogs, I don't really think they had anytime in their busy lives to properly train the dogs. They are with my mum now and she has them in the playpen and they do not have accidents whilst in it but when she lets them out and around the house they are peeing in the house. I guess I am just looking for any hints/tips/advice. My mum is letting them outside for the toilet regularly and giving the loads of praise and a treat as soon as they go outside. Is it possible to house train two year old dogs or have they passed the age where they can be house broken?
29th December 2010, 11:41 PM
It is very possible to housetrain adult dogs - I've successfully done this with many rescues. I actually think it is easier when dogs are older as they have more control and are usually more eager to please. Are these boys altered?
You must start at the very beginning (as Julie Andrews would say...) and train as you would a puppy. It will be harder as there are two of them. Since they don't pee in their pen, they have the understanding; they just need to apply this to the rest of the house. They must never be allowed to pee in the house or it will take longer to stop the behavior. They must only be let out of the pen if there is DIRECT supervision so that they can be interrupted and taken outside if they start to pee. Would be easier to let them out of the pen one at a time. One method is "tethering" - where the dog is placed on a light lead that is attached to the owner's belt - so the dog must go everywhere that the person goes. If the dog starts to pee, interrupt with a loud sound to get their attention (AAACCKKK or a firm NO) and take dog immediately outside (even if dog leaves a trail of pee!). Don't punish, just interrupt the behavior. When dog pees outside, lavish praise. I use a "potty command" word when taking dog outside (usually "go pee") so my dogs learn to pee on command. Go to same spot outside and no playing around until the dog pees. The dogs must NEVER be outside of the pen until they are reliably trained, which may take some time. It will be difficult but well worth it to have well trained companions. I've even housetrained mill dogs that would not stay clean in a crate or a pen - that is much harder than training dogs that will keep a pen or crate clean.
29th December 2010, 11:47 PM
Thankyou for the advice and encouragement Pat. The dogs have both been neutered when they were around 13 months old. They do mark their territory and the vet has told my mum this is because they were neutered at a slightly older age. My mum is determined to get them trained as she desperately wants them to be 'normal' dogs that can be part of family life and I believe she is ready for the work she will have to do. So...to sum up what you are saying is...to only let them out of the play pen when they are being watched very closely at all times.
30th December 2010, 12:23 AM
I've had plenty of dogs that were neutered at an older age - they can be trained. My current 8 year old was used at stud and was neutered at age 4. He is 100% reliable and never marks territory, even when he is outside. (Outside, he just pees one long pee and doesn't even mark when we go on walks or visit new places.)
If I had this situation, I'd purchase two lightweight leads. I'd start by tethering one dog to my belt and walking around the house (just waiting for an indication of the dog wanting to mark so I could interrupt the behavior and rush outside) and then doing things like washing the dishes, cleaning up the kitchen with a dog tethered to me. Have the lead long enough so the dog can sit or lie down while mum is doing the dishes, etc. Then take dog outside and give potty command word, and praise, praise. Then switch dogs - the one that has been tethered goes into pen and the other one gets attached to mum. Then maybe if mum is going to sit down and watch TV for awhile, tether both dogs to her so they both get some time out in the house. When mum is busy, both dogs go back into pen. (This is not cruel and it will not be forever.) Then as they start to do better, get some baby gates and start one off free range in the kitchen with mum watching. Gate doorway so dog must stay in one room. Then have both dogs gated with mum in one room while she watches. As they are more successful, mum could leave them gated in the kitchen alone for a short time. Keep checking to make sure they are clean in one room. Very slowly add more free space - maybe gate off kitchen and family room depending on layout of the house. Gate off any rooms that aren't used much - guest room, dining room, parlor, etc. so they can't sneak off and pee. The key is to not ever give them a chance to make a mistake. If they make a mistake, they were given too much freedom.
It's time-consuming work, but it will be a wonderful bonding experience and both dogs will gain tremendous self-confidence. And the end result should be well trained dogs that will be wonderful companions for many years.
30th December 2010, 12:34 AM
Thanks Pat. My mums house is very old and not open plan at all but separate rooms with doors. I am wondering could she instead of using gates just close the door whilst in the room watching the dogs. I was thinking she could start off in the kitchen...so she would be in there with them with the door closed and watching them at all times and if she moves rooms they move with her and once again she closes the door after moving rooms?
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