Successfully potty training your small puppy depends on consistency, commitment and understanding. Small breeds like Yorkies and Bichon Frises, those under 6 weeks old and orphaned puppies have significantly smaller bladders and digestive tracts than larger puppies. This means more frequent trips outside for both you and your little one. Don't fret. With a consistent routine and a bit of dedication, she'll be potty trained right along with the big boys.
One of the most important keys to potty training a small puppy is a consistent feeding schedule. Feeding your puppy the same food at the same time each day expedites the process. Even with a strict feeding schedule, a full belly still puts pressure on your small puppy's already tiny bladder and intestines. This can create urgency or even a bathroom emergency, as small puppies lack the muscle tone and control of their larger counterparts. Prevent accidents by taking her outside as soon as she's finished eating.
It's common for small puppies to urinate upwards of 20 times a day. Anticipate her needs by taking her outside immediately after drinking. At night, it's important to limit your puppy's access to water starting two hours before bed, but be prepared to take her outside if she wakes during the night. Staying in tune with cues such as whimpering, barking or scratching in the middle of the night prevents many accidents.
As a rule, puppies can hold their bladder one hour for every month of age. With small-breed puppies, this equation is cut in half. If your Maltese puppy is 2 months old, she should go outside every hour. Puppies respond well to verbal communication and cues. Consistently using phrases such as "let's go outside" or "do you want to go outside" when taking your puppy outside to use the bathroom will help her connect going outside with urinating and defecating.
Orphaned puppies need a little more help when it comes to potty training. They require patience, understanding and increased verbal communication. Though an orphaned puppy may be similar in size to other puppies her age, she grew up without the stimulation that comes from a mother and littermates. You may have to fill in for the mother's licking of the genitals, which encourages elimination, by wiping the puppy's areas with a damp cotton swab or rag soaked in warm water. The puppy should eliminate almost immediately.
By Christina Stephens
About the Author
Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.