How to Potty Train an Adult Who Starts Having Accidents in the House

By: David Codr

Published Date: February 5, 2017

Luna (right) is a two-year-old Maltese who lives in Marina del Day with a Chihuahua mix named Abby. Their guardian set up a dog behavior training session with me because Luna has accidents in the home so she needs some potty training help. She also licks a lot and doesn’t always listen to her guardian.

I was only expecting to work with Luna when we booked the session so I was caught off guard at first when the guardian mentioned that Abby had moved in. Fortunately working with the unexpected is something I’m used to as a dog behaviorist, lol.

Although Abby was growling to communicate she disagreed with my arrival, she caught the scent of a few of the previous dogs I had recently worked with on my boots and came over to give me a sniff which was great. Scent is how dogs should meet, but often fearful dogs don’t get to engage their nose as they should as they are too offset by the person’s presence.

Of course as soon as Abby got a sufficient sniff, she backed away and went back to growing, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. Progress is progress.

I sat down with Luna’s guardian and because Abby’s guardian was getting ready for work, I started out by addressing Luna’s potty training needs.

Connecting the command word with the action and reward is the trio of steps needed to properly potty train a puppy or do some remedial potty training for an adult. Many people introduce the command word in a similar fashion as Luna’s guardian did and this can make potty training much more difficult than it needs to be. Easy potty training makes everyone happy.

If the guardian uses the potty training tips and potty training secrets outlined in the above video, Luna should be able to pick up on the new command word and stop having accidents in the house.

Once a dog has learned the potty command word, some people like to train their dog to ring a bell to let them know they need to go outside to potty. I spent the next few minutes explaining how to do train the dog to ring a bell when it needs to go potty.

It will take a week or two to fully potty train Luna. Once that is the case, teaching her to ring the bell should be a snap.

We finished up the session discussing how Luna’s guardian can more effectively communicate with her, pet her with a purpose and rules that will help the dog develop respect for the human as the authority figure.


  • Get into a habit of petting Luna with a purpose.
  • Use passive training to reinforce desired behaviors and actions like laying down, sitting and coming.
  • Only pet Luna when she is calm and within 3 seconds of doing anything the guardian wants to reward.
  • Introduce rules and boundaries and consistently enforce them within 3 seconds to help Luna learn what is and is not allowed.
  • Use Escalating Consequences to disagree with unwanted actions or behaviors.
  • Use treats to train the dogs to use the dog bed.
  • Practice leashing up Luna a few times a day, stopping any time she starts to get over excited.
  • Make sure Luna does not pull on the leash in front of the guardian.
  • Feed the dogs after the human eats something first.
  • Look for ways to delay gratification to help Luna develop more self control.
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This post was written by: David Codr

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