Dogs provide many emotional benefits: companionship, affection and sometimes, an element of security. However, there is a practical side to having a dog in your life. Pets need care, and that includes taking care of toilet duties. Having a dog who is difficult to housebreak can make for a trying experience, for you and your dog. If your pup is one of the tough ones, hang in there because virtually any dog can be housebroken.
Which Are the Hardest Dogs to Housebreak?
The tiniest dogs can be the toughest guys when it comes to housebreaking. Animal behaviorist Martha Norwalk notes this challenge likely stems from the fact toy and miniature dogs were bred for their small size and coat finishes, and certain behavioral characteristics, such as denning, were less important for these companion dogs. As a result, dogs such as the Chihuahua and the Yorkshire terrier don't worry so much about keeping their den tidy. Instead of viewing the home as a den -- a safe refuge in the larger world-- the home is their world, making it easy for these little guys to find a hidden place to take care of business. Using a crate during the housebreaking process will help these little fellows understand that there's a world outside of the house, and the house really is a den to be kept clean.
The mind of the terrier is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, these intelligent dogs tend to learn quickly making them fun companions, however, they can be crafty. Breeds such as the Jack Russell and Norfolk terrier have a bit of a stubborn streak to go along with their quick minds, making positive, consistent potty training imperative. It's important to be firm with a terrier so he understands that though he wants to challenge you, you're the boss and he needs to follow your orders. If a terrier is the dog for you, don't allow him to run free outside, even if your yard is fenced. He's prone to digging and being destructive. Instead, give him regular toilet breaks, paired with praise and rewards for a job well done.
Willful Sight Hounds
As their name implies, sight hounds catch prey by chasing what they see. These dogs tend to be quick on their feet, making some breeds, such as the greyhound, popular for racing. Hounds were bred to work on their own, which means they have an independent streak -- housebreaking can be a trying experience with some sight hounds, such as the Afghan hound. Training this breed is most successful when it starts before he's fully grown. Instruction time should be fun, short and include food rewards. Remember to keep it positive because this guy doesn't respond well to stern corrections.
Single-Minded Scent Hounds
Sight hounds follow their eyes and scent hounds follow their noses, often into important jobs, such as sniffing out survivors in search and rescue operations and helping security officials in airports and other public spaces. These dogs can be single-minded when they pick up the scent of something, often becoming distracted from the business at hand to follow whatever smells appealing. As well, like the other hounds, they've been bred to act independently -- and act independently they sometimes do when it comes to toileting. The dachshund is an affectionate dog, making him popular with families, but he has a reputation as being difficult to housebreak.
Dr. Karen Becker of HealthyPets.com notes that though it may be challenging, you can housebreak just about any dog. Though it's easier to teach a puppy to learn good habits than an older dog to break poor ones, age does not matter when it comes to house-training. Dr. Becker states consistency, positive reinforcement and patience are the keys to successful house-training at any age. No matter what breed of dog you choose, most of your dog's house-training success rests on you. Dr. Becker notes four principles for housebreaking: Don't leave a dog who isn't housebroken alone, feed him on schedule, reward good behavior and don't punish mistakes. If you're having trouble with your dog, discuss the situation with your vet, who may be able to recommend a trainer.