Patience is a virtue, so feel especially virtuous as you take the time to housebreak your small or toy breed dog. Although it usually does take longer to potty-train miniature dogs than larger breeds, that doesn't mean it can't be done. Just be prepared for the occasional accident, especially if the weather's inclement.
With patience and consistency, you should be able to reliably housebreak your toy breed dog in 10 to 14 days if you're home most of the time, according to Canada's Guide to Dogs. If you work outside the home, it might take several weeks. If possible, try to arrange vacation time so that you can get your dog off to a good start with housebreaking. That time frame assumes that the dog is at least 14 weeks old. By that age, a dog should have full control over his sphincter.
According to VeterinaryPartner.com, "Housetraining failure is the leading cause of small dogs losing their homes." It adds that little dogs have a higher metabolism than larger dogs, combined with smaller bowels and bladders. That means little dogs just plain have to "go" more often than bigger canines. If your average-size dog requires at least four potty breaks daily, figure on six or more for the tiny guy. It's your responsibility to give your small dog the opportunity to eliminate outside as often as necessary.
Where Do I Go?
One plus with little breeds is that you aren't tied down to simply eliminating outdoors, which is the case with larger dogs. Small dogs without much hair might especially benefit from training on pee pads or a litter box, especially in winter. However, decide early on whether your dog will go outside all the time, or whether he'll have the indoor option. If it's the latter, he must always have access to the litter box or pee pads.
Because your dog is little, he might not be able to navigate outdoors as well as bigger canines can. If there's snow on the ground, shovel a pathway so he can relieve himself comfortably outside. Because inclement weather often causes little dogs to "forget" their housetraining, try to provide a sheltered spot outside that he can use when it's raining. If you can't do that, allow him to go on pee pads or newspapers. Keep your grass mowed short, or permit your pet to eliminate on soil or an impervious surface, so that his privates don't get wet when he pees or poops.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.