Some breeds are harder to housebreak

Throughout my 25+ years as an obedience instructor and behavioral consultant, I consistently receive more housebreaking calls about certain breeds than others.

Problematic breeds include, in no particular order:

• Yorkshire Terrier

• Cocker Spaniel

• Chinese Crested

• Italian Greyhound

• Silky Terrier

You'll notice a preponderance of smaller dogs on the list. Generally, toy breeds and terriers are the most difficult to housebreak. Hounds are often problematic, as well.

Toy dogs are especially dominant on the list because owners often buy them "to spoil rotten" and so they are reluctant to crate them. ("The little darling would be so unhappy!")

The problem is, a toy dog finds it so easy to sneak behind a chair or under the coffee table, and it takes only a few seconds for the deed to be done. The result can be hard to see and often goes undiscovered for weeks, if it ever is discovered. By then the bad habit is entrenched.

However, even when carefully crate-trained, toy breeds often take longer -sometimes MUCH longer -- than larger dogs.

It may have something to do with their internal organs being smaller or less developed than larger dogs. Miniature dogs are not natural creatures. Shrinking their structure may also affect them internally. Witness the notorious problems toy dogs have with their teeth, which often don't fit properly inside their tiny mouth.

Whatever the reason, expect more problems with tiny dogs. Be extra-stingy about allowing them their freedom in the house -- some toys are not ready until twelve or fourteen months old!

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