Half housebroken: the joy of potty training dogs

Half housebroken: the joy of potty training dogs

Potty training dogs – especially small dogs – isn’t much fun. You think your dog is trained to go on her pee pads. But suddenly she’s also going all over the house. Why!!!! Because potty training dogs is really hard.

You’ve picked one method only – great!

The good news is, it sounds like you’re already using one training method only – the pee pads. That’s great because nothing confuses a dog more than two different potty methods: going inside on papers some of the time and then outside other times.

“Am I hard to potty train?”

Morkie adult morkies

Morkies and Potty Training

Like their Yorkie and Maltese parents, Morkies are smart, loving and appealing. But, they CAN be stubborn and hard to housetrain. They don’t respond well to typical ‘no no no!’ kind of training. Not that you’re beating her with a newspaper; no yelling, no hitting, no violence at all of course.  Yorkies, Morkies, and Maltese don’t respond well to strong discipline.  But at the same time, the #1 thing Morkies want to do, is to make you happy.

You must establish a leader-follower relationship. Your Morkie would probably love to be the alpha, (it’s the Yorkie side) but on the other hand, she doesn’t know what to do as the alpha dog or leader.

Luckily, there’s a more powerful force you can leverage: more than anything your Morkie craves your attention.  And that attention can be good or bad, it’s all attention.

First, some Quick Tips

  • use the right cleaner on mistakes and get them right away. A cleaner based on enzymes works best because it really removes the smell. Ammonia-based cleaners, on the other hand, can actually encourage your Morkie to go again, since they can smell like pee.
  • when you’re out, or too busy at home to keep a close eye on her, seclude her in her kennel cage or in her own ‘mini-room.’ A mini room is a small area such as a bathroom, where your dog has a bed, water and food and pee pads that are a couple of feet away from everything else. The room shouldn’t be too big, just big enough to hold what she needs.
  • try and keep an eye on her as she wanders through the house until she is consistently trained.
  • and of course, encourage her to use her pee pads upon waking in the morning; before and after a nap; after eating or drinking.

What’s a mini room?

A small space that you’ve dedicated to your Morkie.

It includes a bed, maybe her small kennel cage, toys, food and fresh water and puppy pads.

your dog's mini room

Negative and positive reinforcement and how it works

Now the core of the problem… you can solve the problem AND leverage your Morkie’s desire to please you, with positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement.

It took me a while to get my head around exactly what this means, but here it is in a nutshell:

  • positive reinforcement is ADDING something your dog wants
  • negative reinforcement is TAKING AWAY something your dog wants

What you want to change: she uses pee pads but has mistakes all over the house too.

The problem: unless you catch her in the act, there’s not a lot of point in ‘correcting’ her later. She won’t know what you’re talking about, and will be confused and stressed at your displeasure.

When your Morkie does the right thing

When you see your Morkie going on her pads, give her effusive praise and even a treat. Let her know how happy you are, with a phrase like “good potty on pee pad” in a funny, sing-song kind of voice.

This is POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT because you’ve ADDED what your dog wants: your love and approval, plus a treat.

good go potty. good

Your Magic Phrase

Your magic phrase: always use some cue word or phrase like go potty, go outside or do your business when it is time for her to go to the bathroom.

Whatever you choose as your phrase, make sure you and everyone in the family uses the same phrase or word, all the time.
When she goes on her pads, praise her with the same phrase (adding good) up front, in a sing-song voice.

Now, you can also use negative reinforcement. How?

Ideally, you can catch her in the act of going in the wrong place… but don’t worry if you can’t.

Approach the pee/poop mistake (she’ll likely follow you) and frown, sigh and look unhappy. But don’t shout. Don’t use her name. In fact, don’t even look at her. Clean the mess up fast, then leave the room and completely ignore her.

Now you’re TAKING AWAY something she WANTS – your love and approval.

Keep ignoring her completely. Ideally, move away from where she is and go into another room. After 5 minutes or so, resume your normal behavior with your dog and give her attention again.

Here’s how it works if you were correcting excessive barking:


Never shout or yell at your dog for making a mistake – it will just cause her to run and hide to go pee or poo. That makes everything more frustrating all ’round.

Cleaning up messes

About the cleaner you’ll use when accidents happen, and they will happen — don’t use anything with an ammonia base. It smells too much like pee and could encourage your Morkie to go again!

Instead, go for an enzyme-based cleaner, such as “Skout’s Honor” which you can get at amazon.com

A cleaner that has an enzyme in it will do the best job of removing the odors. (Because enzymes are living organisms, choose and store your products carefully. You don’t want to let them freeze or get too hot or sit around in storage too long, which could kill the enzymes and make the product much less effective.)

“Skout’s Honor” has products for every situation, such as their SKOUT’S HONOR Professional Strength Urine Destroyer Carpet Pad Penetrator. There’s even a patio cleaner and cleaners for safe use on indoor flooring.

skouts honor enzyme cleaner

available at amazon

The 4 mistakes dog owners make

1.  They call their dog over and then berate him, yell at him or try to ‘correct’ what he’s done wrong. Next time, do you think the dog will obey and come to you?

2. You’re “with your dog” but you’re not with your dog. Someone’s trying to text you; you’re worried about work or you’ve had some bad news about your health. 

3. When you set aside some time and attention for your Morkie then give her that time and attention 100%. More quality and less quantity does the trick every time.

4. To make your dog understand what you want, you approach it another way. You try something else. All that does is confuse and stress your dog. Get your tactics lined up and stick with them. Consistency and patience WILL pay off.

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