Are Small Dogs Harder to Housebreak? What to Expect

Bringing a new furry friend into your home can be an exciting experience, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the most common questions that prospective dog owners ask is, “Are small dogs harder to housebreak?” 

This query has fueled numerous debates and myths in the world of canine companionship. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the truth behind this question and provide you with practical tips and insights to help you successfully housebreak your small dog.

Understanding the Perception

Small dogs have earned a reputation for being notoriously difficult to housebreak. But is this perception rooted in reality, or is it merely a misconception? Let’s explore the factors that contribute to this notion.

Size Matters, But Not How You Think

The size of a dog can indeed influence the housebreaking process, but not necessarily in the way you might assume. 

Smaller dogs often have smaller bladders and higher metabolic rates, meaning they need to eliminate waste more frequently than their larger counterparts. 

However, this doesn’t necessarily make them harder to housebreak. It simply means they require more frequent bathroom breaks.

Temperament and Stubbornness

Another aspect to consider is the temperament of small dog breeds. Some small breeds are notorious for being stubborn or independent, which can make the training process more challenging. 

However, this varies widely from one dog to another, and generalizations should be taken with a grain of salt.

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The Housebreaking Process

Now that we’ve addressed the perception, let’s dive into the practical aspects of housebreaking your small dog.

Start Early and Be Consistent

One of the key principles of housebreaking any dog, regardless of size, is to start early. The younger your puppy, the more malleable their habits. Consistency is also paramount – establish a routine for feeding, bathroom breaks, and playtime.

Crate Training

Crate training can be a game-changer in housebreaking small dogs. The confined space encourages them to hold their bladder and bowels until they’re taken outside. Be sure to introduce the crate gradually, making it a comfortable and safe space for your pup.

Small Dogs vs. Large Dogs: The Training Differences

To answer the question of whether small dogs are harder to housebreak, we need to compare their training needs to those of larger breeds.

More Frequent Breaks

As mentioned earlier, small dogs typically have smaller bladders and higher metabolic rates, necessitating more frequent bathroom breaks. However, this doesn’t make them inherently harder to train; it just requires greater vigilance on the owner’s part.

Less Room for Error

Small dogs may be less forgiving of inconsistency in training. Their accidents are more noticeable due to their size, which can make it seem like they’re harder to housebreak. However, this merely underscores the importance of consistency and patience in training.

Tips for Successful Housebreaking

Now, let’s explore some actionable tips to ensure a smooth housebreaking process with your small dog.

Positive Reinforcement

Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, to reward your dog for eliminating in the designated outdoor area. Small dogs respond well to positive feedback.

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Frequent Potty Breaks

Since small dogs have smaller bladders, take them outside more frequently. Pay attention to their cues and signals that indicate they need to go.

Clean Up Accidents Promptly

Accidents happen, especially during the early stages of training. When they do occur, clean up the mess promptly and thoroughly to eliminate odors that may attract your dog back to the same spot.

The Role of Patience and Persistence

Regardless of your dog’s size, patience and persistence are your greatest allies in the housebreaking journey.

Understand the Learning Curve

Every dog is unique, and the time it takes to housebreak them can vary. Be prepared for setbacks and don’t get discouraged.

Seek Professional Help if Necessary

If you find that housebreaking your small dog is exceptionally challenging, consider enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer. They can provide personalized guidance and solutions tailored to your dog’s specific needs.


In conclusion, the question of whether small dogs are harder to housebreak isn’t a matter of inherent difficulty but rather a nuanced combination of factors, including size, temperament, and training. 

By following the tips and principles outlined in this article and remaining patient and persistent, you can successfully housebreak your small dog. 

Remember that the key to effective training, regardless of the dog’s size, lies in consistency, positive reinforcement, and a deep understanding of your furry friend’s needs.