golden retriever puppy going to the toilet outside

Small Dog Potty Training: Tips & Techniques for Success

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Small dog potty training can be very challenging, especially for a new dog owner. Some folks think that small dogs are easier to train than big dogs, but in reality, small dogs can be more difficult to house train. Nonetheless, by exercising patience, maintaining consistent training, and utilizing appropriate methods, you can effectively toilet-train your small dog.

It is really important to give your small dog lots of pets and praise when they ‘go’ properly to avoid future messy and destructive behaviour.

Keep in mind, when you’re potty training a small and possibly temperamental dog, to always use positive reinforcement. This means you should reward your dog with loads of praise and affection when they do the desired thing you want. Patience and consistency are key because small-breed dogs can be a bit stubborn about learning the difference between good behaviour and bad behaviour. This goes for potty training as well as other training and it will motivate your dog to do what you command. 

Lastly, another important part of small dog potty training is socialization. Introducing your small dog to different people, other animals, and new places from the get-go will help prevent the fear and aggression that may cause ‘accidents’.

Bottom line: You’ll strengthen the bond between you and your small dog by properly house-training him or her, and you will clean up a lot fewer messes!  

Now, with all that said, it is important to consider the characteristics and behaviour of small dogs before proper potty training can begin.

Characteristics of Small Dogs

Small dogs are defined as those weighing less than 22 pounds and standing less than 16 inches tall at the withers as they stand on all fours. Small dogs come in a variety of sizes and breeds and each has its own distinct physical and activity characteristics. 

Some common characteristics of small-breed dogs are:

  • High energy levels
  • Increased behaviour tendencies toward anxiety and aggression
  • Tendency to potty indoors when stressed
  • Tendency to bark excessively
  • Shorter legs than big dogs
  • Weaker bone structures than big dogs
  • Longer lifespan when compared to large dogs 

Small dogs tend to have a higher metabolism and a smaller gut capacity than bigger dog breeds. This means they need to eat more meals than big dogs. Consequently, they potty more often and they are sometimes obese because of overfeeding. Also, their small size can make them more prone to dental problems, so regular teeth cleaning is a must.

Behaviour Patterns

Small dogs may behave differently than larger breeds because they tend to be on guard and reactive because of their size and vulnerability. They can also be more prone to separation anxiety and they usually don’t like being left alone which can result in indoor messes.

Small dog potty training can be frustrating because of their stubborn and sometimes independent nature. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, are effective training aids, but timing consistency is truly key. 

Understanding small dog characteristics and behaviour patterns is important in providing small breed dogs with proper care and house training. Your patience and consistent house training will be highly effective in getting small dogs to be low-maintenance, well-behaved, and sweet companions.

However, before you fully dive into potty training, it’s important to build a solid foundation of training basics.

Positive Reinforcement

As mentioned in our previous articles, positive reinforcement is a training technique that emphasizes rewarding desirable actions instead of penalizing undesirable ones. Positive reinforcement is widely regarded as the most effective and humane way to train dogs of all sizes, including small breeds.

To use positive reinforcement, you’ll need to know what motivates your dog to learn. For many small dogs, treats are a great incentive, but they may not be the best idea for potty training or if the dog is overweight. When your dog performs a desired behaviour, like going potty outside, treat him or her right away with praise and sincere affection.

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Consistency is Key

Consistency is another big part of successful dog potty training. Your small dog needs to learn that certain behaviours are always expected and will always result in you giving positive reinforcement.

Consistency means you need to establish a daily routine for potty training and all other training sessions. Pick a time and stick to it. Pick a place where you can totally focus on your dog, and your dog on you, without any distractions. Always use the same commands and rewards each time you train.  Very Important:  Make sure everyone in your household is on the same page with you.

In addition to potty training sessions, it’s really important to be consistent in your everyday interactions with your small dog. After all, your dog will soon master the potty training period and you’ll train for other things. For example, jumping. If you don’t want your dog to jump on guests, then don’t let him or her jump on you or any other family member. Dogs can’t differentiate what is okay with you is not okay with your guests.

By using positive reinforcement and consistency, you will build a strong training base for your small dog. You’ll really be amazed at how fast your pooch will pick up on ‘good dog behaviour’. Now, let’s focus on….

….Potty (House) Training

House training a small dog can certainly be challenging. But it must be done and with patience and consistency, it can be done effectively.

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Here are five tips to help you:

Establish a Routine

Small dogs need a daily routine to learn.  When it comes to potty training, a routine is really important. Make sure to bring your dog to the assigned bathroom spot at consistent times every day, such as in the morning, after meals, naps, and playtime. This will help your dog learn when it’s time to go so he or she has fewer indoor accidents.

Designate a Potty Area

Choose a specific area outside where you want your dog to go potty. Let them sniff it — let them mark it. Take your dog to that spot every time you go outside for a dog potty break. This will help them associate that area with going potty and reduce the likelihood of accidents elsewhere.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Reward your dog every time they go potty in the designated area outside. Use praise, affection and treats to reinforce good behaviour. This will encourage your dog to continue going in the right spot every time and make potty training a positive experience for you both.

Supervise Your Dog

Keep an eye on your small dog when it is inside the house to prevent accidents. If you are unable to monitor them, it is advisable to restrict them to a compact space such as a crate or playpen. This will help them learn to hold their bladder and reduce accidents.

Be Patient

House training a small dog takes time and patience. Don’t get frustrated if your dog has accidents or takes longer to learn than you expect. Keep a positive attitude and continue with the routine and positive reinforcement. Eventually, your dog will learn and become fully house-trained.

Small Dog Potty Training Takes Consistency

Small dog potty training is all about positive reinforcement and consistency. By following these tips, you can effectively house-train your small dog and enjoy a clean and accident-free home. 

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