Yes. Big dogs are easier to potty train than small dogs!
According to a survey published in Psychology Today big dogs were fully potty trained 95% of the time and small dogs were only fully potty trained 67% of the time.
This is based on an internet survey of 735 dogs. Small dogs were defined as dogs under 20 pounds and large dogs were defined as those over 40 pounds. A house-trained dog was defined as consistently using the outside or a designated potty area with no accidents for the previous two months.
To us, having a success rate of 95% for large dogs versus 67% for small dogs is significant. That means that if you have a small dog you will have a nearly 1 in 3 failure rate for potty training the dog. But a large dog will only have a 1 in 20 failure rate. That is a HUGE difference.
There are several theories as to why big dogs are easier to potty train than small dogs.
- Big dogs have bigger brains. Because big dogs have larger heads than small dogs they also have bigger brains. As a result, the theory is that bigger dogs are smarter than small dogs and that makes them easier to housetrain.
- Big dogs view the whole house as their den. Dogs don’t like to create messes in their dens. Big dogs are more likely to view the entire house (rather than just a room or crate) as their den and are less likely to go in the house.
- Big dogs have bigger bladders. Little dogs have small bladders and have to go potty far more frequently than big dogs do. This makes it harder for them to “hold it.”
- Living environments may be different. This theory says that big dogs are usually brought up in houses with yards, while little dogs live in apartments more often and don’t have as much access to appropriate potty places. We’re not sure how much bearing this has on the difference between housetraining rates for big dogs versus small dogs, but it is an interesting theory.
All of these explanations are likely partially true, and no one knows for sure why big dogs are easier to potty train than little dogs. We only know that when it comes to house training the size of the dog matters.
Sometimes when we bring a new dog into our house they may not be potty trained. Or, when a dog gets old or sick it may lose its ability to hold its urine or feces.
If your big dog is having accidents in the house, it’s likely that it either hasn’t ever been trained or that there is something physically wrong with them that you need to check out.
If not being able to “hold it” is new behavior for your dog, make sure you seek veterinary care. Your dog may be having physical problems due to health conditions that need to be ruled out. Sometimes if you treat the underlying issue the housetraining problems will resolve themselves.
Once you’ve ruled out health conditions you will want to follow the steps below to get your dog fully potty trained. Newly adopted dogs, older dogs, and puppies all respond well to this type of training.
If you have a big dog, whether they are a puppy or an older dog that you’ve adopted, then you should know the basics of potty training to have the highest possible success rate.
Even though it’s easier to housetrain a large dog, you still have to take the time to do it to have a trained animal that will go outside when they need to use the bathroom.
According to the Humane Society, the biggest key to house training your dog is to have a routine that you follow. Dogs, like humans, are creatures of habit and you want your dog to have the best possible habits, so you need to be consistent to get them established.
Here are the basics of housetraining your large dog.
Take your dog out at least every two hours. You should take your dog out when they wake up, after playtime, and after they have a meal.
Choose one spot. During housetraining, you want to take your dog out to the same spot over and over again. Use a leash and lead them to the spot. Use the same word and hand gesture when you want them to go.
Use praise and treats. Every single time your dog goes to the bathroom make sure that you praise them and give them a treat. This must be done immediately when they go pee or poo outside. Make sure they are finished before giving them the treat and don’t wait until they come inside.
Regular feeding times are important. When your dog is on a schedule for feeding it’s far easier to predict when they will need to eliminate. This will make it easier for both you and your large dog.
Don’t leave water out overnight. Pick up your dog’s water dish about 2 1/2 hours before bedtime to help reduce nighttime accidents. You should put the water back down when you all wake up in the morning.
If your dog gets you up at night stay calm and quiet. In the beginning, your dog may wake you up at night to go to the bathroom. If your dog wakes you up, stay calm and quiet so that they know that they should go back to sleep once they go out to go to the bathroom. Under no condition should you yell at or punish your dog for waking you up to potty. This will only result in it choosing to go in the house for fear of waking you up.
Supervise your dog. Keep your dog on a short leash during the potty training process. If they start to sniff, circle, bark or squat then grab the lease and take them outside right away. Make sure that you go to the designated bathroom spot and praise them as soon as they’ve gone to the bathroom.
Don’t use discipline. Do not scold or discipline your dog in any way if it refuses to use the bathroom spot outside. It will not understand why it’s being punished. Just continue to lead it to it and give a treat when it does go
Likewise, do not scold or discipline your dog if it has an accident in the house. It’s almost always afterward when you discover it. By that time your dog will not associate having the accident with being punished and will thus be confused.