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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My problem is the exact opposite of most, I WANT my dog to know it's ok to go inside the house. I'm gone all day for work, there isn't anyone to let my aging dog out, neighbors are not an option, I can't afford off-site day care or the cost of having someone come by and let him out. Before I get a barrage of "if you can't afford a dog why have one" please understand that I'm in debt from the medical bills my dog has incurred his entire life and was hit with an unexpected layoff which resulted in my having to take a job further away just to keep us in our house. So far, he has not had any accidents but I fear it's only a matter of time and my horror at him peeing or defecating in the house is secondary to my concern that he'll keep trying to hold it all day and then feel guilty when he has an accident. Is there any way to retrain a dog who's gone outside to potty since he was a pup to instead go inside when he needs to? Either on pads or in a diaper? I hate the thought of him trying to hold it only to have an accident and think he did something wrong : ( Has anyone else encountered this and found a solution? He's a big dog so I'm not even sure if doggy diapers are an option but still how to teach him it's ok?

I added a profile picture but now it's confusing me with "coopersmom" who is a different poster, hmmmmmm.
 

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First of all, no blame for you here. Life happens, I've been there. I think it's wonderful you're keeping an old pet and are so concerned for his comfort.

I don't know that dogs really will hold it until they hurt themselves, to be honest. Maybe someone else could chime in here, but every time I left Muggsy alone for an entire day, I'd come back to pee on the floor. (Which I expected. I'd pee on the floor eventually, too.) So maybe you could just confine Cooper to a room with easily cleaned floors with a nice nest of blankets or a doggy bed to lay on and his water bowl and just clean up what's there when you get back.

I imagine you could reverse potty train, given enough time and effort, but keep in mind, if you do retrain him to pee on puppy pads inside, that's what it's going to be, all the time. So, even when you're home, expect it to happen. I would also expect the reverse potty training to be difficult. You absolutely can train an old dog new tricks, but undoing a lifetime of habit is difficult at best.

Also, I like pictures of old dogs, if you'd like to share with us. I think a nice grey muzzle is distinguished.
 

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When he pees outside, sop up some pee on a paper towel, and smear on a pee pad where you want him to go. Or use a friend's dog's pee, to make it smell more interesting, so he'll want to cover it with his pee.

Are you able to install a doggie door to a fenced yard? You can get them pretty cheap on ebay/CL.
Or do a doggie door to a kennel with a "roof", right outside the doggie door, so he can get out but not get into any trouble?
 

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Is he going in the house now? If not, I'd wait till it became a problem, then adjust things if needed. My old dogs would go to the basement to pee, in one case it just meant putting the gate up and making sure he had a walk before and after. In another case, I just kept a bucket and some bleach handy and if she went I'd rinse it off - it was right by the drain in the basement anyhow!

What you could do is put a kid's wading pool in the basement or something like that with shavings or something, it would be more likely to have him use that than paper at his age.
 

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Try putting real sod inside - inside a litter box or something - this may help him make that association, and when he needs to pee (i.e. after you take him out of the crate in the morning), take him to that spot, and reward him heavily for going on it. Wipe some pee from outside on the grass as well, but once he pees on it once, you no longer really need to do this as the sod will retain the smell.

Grass it easier than pee pads :)
 

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I agree with Bordermom, I might wait until it became a problem. I know most well-trained dogs really want to do the right thing, but I don't think they'd hold pee way past the point of pain. Our 14 year old ACD mix his home alone for about 8 hours, four days a week. She can still go that long 95% of the time, but if she HAS to go before we get home, she does. She goes in certain places, of her choosing...pee goes by the front door, poop goes in the basement. I put one of those LL Bean "water hog" door mats by the front door, in her favored spot. They soak up all the pee and I can just take it outside and hose it off. Easy. Poop is easy to clean up anyway, especially off a concrete floor. I just make sure to never scold her about a mess and clean it up with no comment or fuss.

I might wait until the dog has an accident and then put your pads or whatever you choose to use in the place the dog chose.

My mother's old dog used to go in the shower if he had to go, he figured that one out himself, makes for easy cleanup!
 
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