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Housebreaking The Min Pin

Oh boy. Talk to people about getting toy dogs and one of the first things they'll want to know is if you can housebreak them. A lot of toy dog owners will say no, you really can't completely housebreak them. A tremendous number of toy dogs go through life wearing belly bands or diapers, or going on pee pads in the house, never truly, honestly housebroken.

The Problem

It's simple. They're small. They have fairly small bladders, but I actually don't think that's the issue. Males can be really presistent about wanting to mark territory, but I don't think that's the issue either. The issue is, they are SMALL and your house is BIG. It's just really difficult for a very tiny dog to understand that his no-go territory is all of inside. To a tiny dog your house is a huge piece of real estate, full of many out-of-the way places where they can politely eliminate. So the challenge is to teach the dog that nowhere inside is acceptable.

It's cold, it's rainy, they're too little, and other various excuses...

Yes. They're small. Yes, they're short coated. But yes, they can also go outside to potty in ALL weathers. A big part of housebreaking your Min Pin is realizing it can indeed be done! And yes, they can potty in the rain and the cold. Zipper pottied last year in 2 feet of snow, swimming through the drifts. He pottied on 2" of solid ice, sliding across the yard like a tiny skater. They will NOT die in that short amount of time spent outdoors. Really. Honest. Maybe if you live in Alaska and it's -40F, but in most places in the U.S. your Min Pin can be housebroken. Being smart little critters they might try to convince you it's impossible to let a drop of rain touch their precious heads, but they're still dogs and yes, they can manage in the rain.

The Solution

The solution to completely housebreaking your Min Pin is dedicating the time and energy to do it. It does take longer, sometimes much longer, than housebreaking a large dog! So the biggest limitation to housebreaking your Pin is not him, it's YOU. Because if you want to housebreak your Pin you are going to have to go out with him, each and every time. No matter what the weather. I went out with Zipper for four solid months. In the winter. When I got up. Just before work. When I got home. Once in the evening. Before bed. In the middle of the night. Four months. Now some dogs may housebreak sooner, but some may take a bit longer. In Zipper's case, he was very close to being done when his boy-hormones kicked in and he started marking, which precipitated more work.

When thinking about how difficult and tiring this will be, remember that you are trading a few months of really hard work for a lifetime of a clean house, ability to visit friends houses, not having to clean litter or pee pads, not having to buy and launder panties or belly bands. It's an easy trade-off when you think of it that way!

Find an incentive for your dog. Give him a treat after he eliminates and before he comes in. Verbally praise him highly. Keep potty time as potty time, not play time. On rainy days, WAIT HIM OUT. Take a coat and an umbrella, make sure he needs to go, go out there with him, and WAIT. Take a book if you need to, but be sure to keep an eye on him. I spent many quality hours figuring out constellations. For Zipper, the reward for going potty was getting to come back inside!

If you have a dog door, do NOT use it during this time. This is not a time for your dog to have a choice about going out. He needs to go out with you when you say, and stay out until he's done, then come back in with you.

He goes outside, but he goes inside too!

If it's a Min Pin, you may go through a period when he knows his job outside is to go potty, but he doesn't realize that means he's NOT supposed to go inside. In these cases I do confess I depart slightly from the "never punish them for going" mantra. I did scold Zipper when I found he had marked inside. I showed him the place, pointed to it, and told him that was a BAD thing and a NO-NO. I disagree that dogs don't understand what they did wrong. This was this final step that finally completely cemented my housebreaking training. Important. Do NOT hit the dog, shove the dog's nose in the mess, etc. Simply showing him the area and verbally making your disappointment known is enough! This method can ONLY be used when a very high amount of praise is used when the dog eliminates outdoors!

What if I don't want to go through all this work?

Well you may have some success. Or you may have success with accidents when the weather is bad. Certainly you can choose to use dog litter, puppy pee pads, newspaper, diapers for the girls and belly bands for the boys. There's nothing inherently wrong with any of these methods. But don't feel like you *must* do this because Min Pins cannot be housebroken. It's simply not true.

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