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Small dog in purse carrier

Potty training your purse pooch

As a dog trainer, I have found that smaller dogs can be harder to house train. Not due to them being vastly different dogs, but because we often give little dogs a bit of a pass. Their elimination is much smaller and much easier to pick up. If they go in the house once or twice, it’s not a big sacrifice. 

However, we all want our dogs to be housebroken and well trained, especially our little ones that we take everywhere. There is nothing more embarrassing than having your dog go to the bathroom indoors, while you are out and about.

Here are some basic tips for housebreaking the tiniest of adult dogs:

  • Assume your dog cannot go more than 4 hours without a break. Even if your pup sleeps through the night, being awake makes a huge difference when holding it. Try to take your dog outside every 4 hours consistently.
  • Go out on a schedule. Set an alarm on your phone to do this every four hours. Even if your dog doesn’t go, he or she will get the hang of it.
  • Make sure your pup eats and drinks on a schedule. If you can control when the food goes in, you can control when it comes out. I would time meal times about 30 minutes before a scheduled potty break. Every dog is different, so tailor the time to your dog’s own needs. You can do the same for water, too.
  • If you see your dog going in the house, make a loud noise (to distract them, not scare them) and run them outside as quickly as you can. Even if they don’t have any waste left, they start to understand that there is a location issue, and they will start to eliminate more outside.
  • If your pup does go in the house, but you didn’t see it, just clean it up and ignore it. Your dog doesn’t remember that he or she went in the house and punishing the dog can only lead to confusion and possible regression of the behavior.
  • Reward, reward, reward when your pup does go outside. Whether you have treats or are using verbal congratulations, make it a party! Remember that it’s easy to scare your pup when you’re yelling or petting him when he’s outside, so make sure your dog finds your praise rewarding and not overwhelming. 

Now its time to practice. Soon enough, you will be able to carry your purse pooch all around town without fear of an accident! 

If you’re still having trouble, or if you dog is incredibly fearful of the outdoors, call a Certified Professional Dog Trainer in your area to help.


Jaime Migdal, CPDT KA, is the founder and CEO of Fetchfind, a talent recruitment and services organization dedicated to the pet industry.

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