While little dog breeds can be more temperamental and high-strung than their larger counterparts, their diminutive size provides an advantage during house-training. Tethering a dog to your side or quickly urging him to an appropriate elimination area is easier and more efficient when he weighs 5 pounds rather than 75.
Get on a Schedule
Housebreaking is just as much about training yourself as it is about training your dog. Get into a regular routine of taking your dog to his appropriate elimination spot. Potty training generally begins to be effective after 6 weeks of age -- no eariler. You can expect your pup to "hold it" for about one hour per month of age, plus one hour -- so an 8-week-old pup should go out for potty breaks, at minimum, every two to three hours or within 10 or 15 minutes of eating, drinking or chewing. It's tempting to pick up a tiny dog and take him outside when it's time to go potty, but it's better to train the dog to go under his own volition when you command. A common strategy for training is to use a key word, such as, "Outside,” regularly. Use a leash, and go out the same door every time to encourage good outside bathroom habits.
Tether Your Pup
While it's tough to attach a big dog to your side via leash all afternoon as a way to watch for potty indicators, it's much easier to take this approach with a small dog. If your pup is sneaking off to do his business in an inappropriate location or has regular accidents, keep his leash on him when you're at home and tie the leash to your belt or wrist. Keeping your dog under constant supervision will help you recognize signs that it's time to "go." Take your pup to his designated spot, praise him for going to the bathroom and reward him with a treat.
Make Bathroom Places Safe
Individual dogs of smaller breeds can be intimidated by the great outdoors, so make sure your designated outdoor bathroom area feels like a safe place so your puppy will be comfortable doing his business without fear. If possible, avoid high-traffic areas, thick woods, tall grasses or areas that larger animals frequent. If your small dog gets frightened when it's bathroom time, it can inhibit your housebreaking efforts. Opt for a secluded, and perhaps even fenced, area for your pup to do his business in solitude.
Clean Up Accidents
Little dogs have little accidents, sometimes so small that you won't even notice them until the smell starts to accumulate. Keep an eye out for accidents, and clean them thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner to remove all traces of odor and prevent remarking. Invest in a black-light pee detector, and use it regularly during the housebreaking process to ensure accidents don't go unnoticed and untreated.
Indoor Potty Options
You can successfully housebreak some small breeds to pee pads or an indoor potty, which can be especially beneficial if you live in an apartment or condo, or if you're housebound. Follow the same outdoor housebreaking guidelines using a designated spot in your home, preferably in a low-traffic area that's out of the way, like a bathroom or a laundry room -- a room without carpet serves best.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.