Are Small Dogs Harder to Housetrain? (Video)

Whether big or small, all dogs should be fully housetrained by adulthood to live a harmonious and happy life with their owners. But what if a dog’s size is a major contributing factor to the success rate of housetraining? In this episode, we will be discussing big dogs versus little dogs and whether or not size has any effect on housetraining. 

Fact or Fiction?

It is said that small dogs are more difficult to housetrain than large dogs. But is there any truth to that statement? 

Previously, no supporting research existed to back the claim that smaller dogs were more difficult to housetrain. This lack of evidence left many in the dog community wondering if people were simply picking on pint-sized pooches. More recently, research has caught up to what dog people have known for a long time: the larger the dog, the easier to housetrain. New research shines a light on the topic and brings the discussion to the forefront, supporting the claim that dog size can greatly determine housetraining success. 

New Research and Studies

A group of researchers at the Veterinary Services of Hanover, Behavior Department, in Mechanicsville, Virginia, surveyed hundreds of pet owners. They received over 900 completed questionnaire results from the study. The survey consisted of twenty questions about a dog's physical characteristics, health conditions that may affect housetraining and formal obedience training. The most crucial question was whether or not the dogs were fully housetrained. Researchers defined a "fully housetrained" dog as one that used the bathroom in designated areas consistently for at least two consecutive months before the survey. The results were then divided and sorted by dog size. 

Small dogs included those that weighed under twenty pounds. Dogs over forty pounds were considered large. Results for middle-sized dogs between twenty-one pounds and thirty-nine pounds were excluded from the research, leaving a total number of 735 survey case results. And the results were surprising! 

Owners reported that an astonishing 95% of large dogs were fully housetrained! However, when it came to the small dogs, only 67% were considered fully housetrained, meaning that roughly 1/3 of the small dogs were not fully housetrained! According to researchers and dog experts, this difference is significant.

Smaller Dog Dilemma

House accidents are the third most common reason that dogs are given up to animal shelters. Therefore, the difference between large and small breeds warrants further discussion, given the statistics. The expert-recommended housetraining methods and techniques are the same for all dogs, regardless of age, size, or sex. So why do smaller dogs have more trouble being housetrained?

One theory is that smaller dogs have faster metabolisms and need more frequent bathroom breaks. Another theory is that their "accidents" aren't always as noticeable as larger dogs’. Minor accidents may often go unnoticed, resulting in missed training opportunities which build over time to form bad habits.

We’re Here to Help!

If you have a small breed, don’t be discouraged about training! Housetraining mishaps don’t affect every small dog. As stated in the survey results, 67% of small dogs were considered fully housetrained. That’s good news for small dog owners! 

Different factors can affect the results of housetraining for any dog, regardless of size and age. If you’re dealing with housetraining issues with your dog, there is hope. 

Continental Kennel Club has worked to ensure that resources are available to the public and free of charge through our blog articles and online resources. We also offer in-depth housetraining advice free to all CKC members through our Ages & Stages Puppy Training program. These resources are expertly-curated and outline how to housetrain any puppy or dog successfully. This vital approach to education can significantly reduce the strain on dog/owner relationships and save thousands of pets from animal shelters. We want all dogs to receive an equal opportunity at a happy home life, free of frequent house training accidents and headaches. 

Do you have a housetraining success story or question? Let us know in the comments. For more information on housetraining, check out our blog and articles like: “Starting Puppies Off on the Right Paw” or get CKC's Ages & Stages puppy training video series which is only available when you register a dog with us. Don't forget to check out some of the other "Talkin' Dogs" videos on our channel.

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