Potty Training Puppy Without Crate: How To Train Your Older Dog



Have you ever been around a friend’s dog and discovered that the dog was totally trustworthy inside the house? Your friend never has to be concerned about items getting chewed up, mishaps during potty training, or food theft. When you inquire as to how she did it, your friend extols the virtues of crate training. Because your dog is older and utterly terrified of the crate due to prior experiences or lack of exposure, you leave the conversation feeling dejected. You feel you will always have to deal with your dog’s bad house manners because you are unable to train him in the crate. If your older dog is a recent rescue that has never lived inside a house before, you might feel this way more than usual.

What if there were alternative ways to teach your older dog all the things you would typically train them in a crate? What if your dog could develop the same level of dependability in your home as your friend’s dog? Your older dog might even develop the trustworthiness to be left alone at some point. How nice would that be?

There are frequently multiple approaches to teaching a skill to dogs. Knowing some of the alternatives can be very helpful because not every method works for every dog. Even when using a crate is not an option, you can teach your dog to be trustworthy in your home by employing a different method.

Task Definition

It is genuinely enjoyable to have a polite dog in your home. The rewards for your effort are great, even though it can take a long time and a lot of work to complete. It is simpler to appreciate your dog’s presence in your home and to involve him in family activities when he will calmly occupy himself with toys, sleep soundly throughout the day, and let you know when he needs to use the bathroom outside. A well-behaved dog is not only more relaxing but also more enjoyable because you can bring him along when you travel or visit friends, and because you do not have to worry about him chewing on your electrical plugs or ingesting something sharp.

When training your older dog, keep in mind that it might take some time for him to break old habits. If this is the case, you will need to be even more consistent with your training. The more you can break bad habits and reinforce good ones, the faster the training will progress. Additionally, bear in mind that an older dog might require bathroom breaks outside much more frequently than a young adult dog would. Your dog’s ability to hold his bladder for extended periods of time may diminish as he gets older, so potty training will only be successful if he is given plenty of opportunities to do so and is not made to fail by being required to hold it for longer than he can.

Selecting a method that your dog can be successful at is crucial. If your dog has a lot of energy or is constantly getting into things he shouldn’t, you might need to use a method that starts with more confinement. The “leash” method or the “exercise pen” method can give him the crystal-clear limits he needs. Using the “treat” method may help the training process go more quickly if your dog is generally calm and enjoys spending time with you. If you are not always at home, even though your dog might be fine using any of the methods, you might want to combine them so that he is kept in his room when you are not there and attached to you or rewarded for sticking by your side when you are.

Due to the fact that you are teaching your dog several behaviors at once, training may take up to six months or longer. This could happen in as little as one month if your dog is more mellow and responds well to potty training. Depending on your particular dog, it will vary greatly.

Getting Going

You will need your dog’s daily kibble, measured out into Zip-lock bags small enough to fit in your pocket or another convenient location, to get started with all of the methods. If your dog needs additional encouragement, you will also need to add a food topping, such as chicken bits or freeze-dried liver powder, to the kibble bags for flavor and scent. This kibble can be stuffed into chew toys and used for training. For your dog to chew on and play with, you’ll need a variety of entertaining toys, such as Kongs and other hollow chew toys that have been filled with kibble and dog puzzle toys that have been similarly filled.

You might consider giving your dog a bed as well. If you’re using the “leash” or “treat” methods, you can put the bed in the spot where you frequently stop and sit. If you’re employing the “Exercise Pen” method, you should place the bed inside of his enclosed room. If your dog chews on the bed, you will need to buy a more chew-proof bed, like a foam mat that is covered in nylon or vinyl, or a cot-style bed.

If you’re using the “leash” method, you’ll also need a leash that can be attached to you and is between six and eight feet long. The leash should have enough slack to allow your dog to lie down while you’re standing. If you’re using the “Exercise Pen” method, you’ll also need an area that can be closed off with a baby gate, like a hallway or a small room like a bathroom, or an exercise pen. If you want to train for those, you will also require a toilet area made up of puppy pee pads or a litter box, or if you want to train your dog to eliminate himself outside, you will need a method for him to alert you when he needs to. When used in conjunction with training, a hanging bell is effective for this.

All of the methods will require patience, consistency, time, and awareness. You must pay close attention for the training to be as effective as possible. When he needs to use the bathroom, watch for opportunities to take him. Keep an eye out for opportunities to reward good behavior, such as settling down quietly. Watch for opportunities to teach him what to do and what not to do. Last but not least, remember to just enjoy your dog’s company throughout this process.

The leash method

STEP 1: Put on a leash.

Give your dog a treat and then demonstrate the six-foot leash to him. When your dog is happy-go-lucky, attach the leash to him while giving him another treat, and then let him drool over it until he is at ease. You can skip this step if your dog is accustomed to using a leash.

STEP 2: Affix yourself

When your dog is at ease wearing the leash, fasten the handle end to your own body, being careful to leave enough slack for your dog to lie down next to you while you are still standing.

STEP 3: Excite the audience

As long as your dog is attached to you, give him appropriate things to engage in when you are not moving, such as chewing on a chew toy that contains food or figuring out a dog puzzle toy. By giving him appropriate entertainment, you are preventing boredom, keeping his mental health, and teaching him what appropriate activities are in the future when he is bored.

STEP 4: Pay attention

You will be able to watch over your dog and keep him out of trouble if he is attached to you. Remember to listen to him. Watch an eye out for signs that he needs to use the bathroom. Watch for opportunities to praise and reward him. Keep an eye out for opportunities to correct undesirable behavior and show what he ought to be doing in its place. Keep an eye out for signs of boredom or restlessness that show he needs mental or physical stimulation and exercise, like a walk or some obedience training.


Find opportunities to reward good behavior while he is nearby. Praise him if he is chewing on a suitable toy. Offer him a treat if he has been lying still at your feet for fifteen minutes. If he indicates that he needs to go potty, offer him a treat and lots of praise as soon as he finishes urinating outside.

STEP 6: Teach the rules

Seek out opportunities to make it clear to him what is wrong and what he should do instead. Tell him “no,” but also give him a suitable toy and praise him when he chews it. Instead, if he starts to chew on the table leg where you are sitting, Don’t keep your dog in secret about the house rules. He will never understand how you would like him to behave indoors if no one ever clarifies what is and is not acceptable.

STEP 7: Increase freedom.

Gradually increase your dog’s freedom by letting him go off-leash for brief periods of time while you are paying close attention to him when he begins to show signs that he is ready for more freedom. You can gradually give him more time off-leash inside your home if he follows the house rules, only chews on his own toys, lets you know when he needs to go outside, and behaves calmly indoors. Reattach the leash and give him more time to practice his manners if he doesn’t keep up his good behavior. Try removing the leash once more if he has not experienced any problems for a few weeks.

The Workout Pen method

Step 1: Construct a dog room.

Start a dog room for your dog first. Use a small room or an exercise pen that is the right size for this. Remove anything from this area that your dog might destroy, eliminate himself with, or be tempted to urinate on, like a bathroom mat. Baby gates can be used to block off doorways in a small room or hallway while still allowing your dog to interact with people. Give your dog a secure sleeping area. If either of those things worries your dog, eliminate something that he can’t destroy and won’t want to pee on. A lot of pet work manufacturers offer raised cot beds without stuffing or foam pads covered in nylon or vinyl that are effective. If you’re litter box training, pee pad training, or teaching him to go potty outside, make sure he has a suitable toilet area and a way to signal when he needs to go. It’s possible to use a hanging bell. Last but not least, give him stimulating toys like puzzle toys for dogs, hollow chew toys, and Kongs filled with kibble.

Step 2: Squeeze

Place your dog in his enclosed area whenever you can’t watch and train him closely. He will have the chance to learn how to behave appropriately indoors by having the right toys, a place to rest, and a way to alert you whenever he needs to go potty. He can learn to hold his composure, only chew on his toys, and control his bladder. While he is learning good habits, you can stop him from developing bad habits that are difficult to break.

Step 3: Teach kids how to use the restroom.

If you’ve decided to train your dog to relieve himself outside, then teach him to let you know when he needs to. You can train him to ring the bell whenever he needs to go outside if you decide to use the bell jingle as an alert. Work on teaching him how to use puppy pads or a litter box if that is what you decide to train him to do.

Step 4: AWARD

Look for opportunities to reward good conduct. If your dog has been lying peacefully for the past 20 minutes, go give him a treat. Praise him if he decides to use his own toy rather than your sock. If he lets you know when he needs to use the restroom outside, give him a treat and a hearty round of applause after he finishes. When someone knocks on your door, if he doesn’t startle, offer him a treat. By rewarding him for good behavior, you are teaching him how to behave in your home so that he will do so later when he is left alone.

Step 5: Explain the rules to him.

Give him brief periods of freedom in your home when you have time to pay attention to him, away from his enclosed area. Communicate to make sure he understands what is and is not acceptable during these periods. Give him one of his own toys if he begins to chew on your slippers. If he persists, tell him “No” and take off the slippers. Praise him when he begins to chew on his own toy. Keep your rules open to him; otherwise, he won’t know what is and isn’t permitted in your home.

Step 6: Increase freedom gradually.

You can begin to give your dog more freedom inside the house once he is consistently using the bathroom only outside or in his designated toilet area and when he is acting calmly and nicely during his brief periods of supervised freedom. To achieve this, gradually increase the amount of time he is unrestrained inside your house, away from his enclosed area. Continue to gradually extend the time if he performs well. If he destroys or eliminates something in the house, go back to having less free time for a couple of weeks if he succeeds, and then when he is succeeding, try it again. Repeat this until he has earned your trust enough to be allowed outside whenever you are home. This process will take some time. It might take a year for some dogs. Others will finish in a matter of months.

The method of treatment

Step 1: Make the food.

Begin by dividing the day’s supply of dog kibble into small Ziploc bags. If your dog enjoys eating, leave the kibble alone. If your dog needs more encouragement, add a food topper, like freeze-dried liver powder or chunks of chicken. Put the Ziploc bags of food in a convenient place, like your pocket.

Step 2: Reward persistence

Keep your dog by your side. Have your dog perform a “down-stay” beside you whenever you sit or lie down, and then reward him with some food. Reward him once more five minutes after he has remained in the “down” position. Start off by doing this every five to ten minutes, and as he gets better, gradually increase the intervals between rewards until you reach thirty minutes. Bring him back and tell him to “down-stay” if he gets up. Be patient; it will take some time for him to catch on, but he should eventually.

Step 3: Promote adherence to

Call your dog and reward him with some kibble each time you get up to move to a different room or location. Give him another treat every ten minutes if you plan to be moving around the house for longer than ten minutes. Call him back or go get him if he wanders off and demand that he stay with you.

Step 4: Provide toys

Make sure your dog has engaging toys to play with while he’s laying down. Food-filled dog puzzle toys and hollow chew toys are both good alternatives.

Step 5: Instruct him

Look for opportunities to teach the house rules to him. Tell him “No” and offer him one of his own toys if he starts to chew on the table leg. Then, give him praise for doing so. Praise him and offer him a treat if he doesn’t bark when a doorbell rings or a cat jumps out of the window. Show him what is and is not acceptable in your home so that he will know how to behave when he is alone in the future.

Step 6: Bring him to the restroom.

If your dog isn’t yet potty trained, keep a close eye out for signs that he needs to go outside. Circling, sniffing the ground, whining, pawing at you, sneaking away, or barking at you are a few warning signs. Take him outside as soon as he indicates that he needs to relieve himself, and as soon as he does so, reward him with a treat and enthusiastic praise. Before he even asks, give him many chances to relieve himself outside. Many dogs will try to sneak away in order to use the bathroom inside. If your dog tries to slink off and it’s been a while since he last used the restroom, take him outside. Make sure your dog stays with you so that you can recognize the signs that he needs to go.

Step 7: Increase freedom.

You can test your dog to see if he’s ready for freedom when he consistently lets you know when he needs to use the restroom and stops damaging things in your house. Give him brief periods of freedom in your home where he is not required to stay with you as a test. Initially, check on him every five to ten minutes. If he does well, then over the course of a month, extend the intervals between checks by five minutes at a time. Continue doing this until three hours have passed. You can start giving him freedom in the house when you aren’t there for gradually longer and longer periods of time if he behaves normally for three hours. For home alone time, start with five minutes. Revert to keeping him with you for a few more weeks if he destroys something or eliminates inside the house, and then retest him if everything is going well.