Even the first dogs aren't always on their best behavior

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Even the first dogs aren’t always on their best behavior.

The Obama family’s pooches, Sunny and Bo, have free reign at the White House — leading one to claim part of the iconic, palatial home as his personal potty, the first couple said while sitting down with PEOPLE editor in chief Jess Cagle and White House correspondent Sandra Sobieraj Westfall as part of this week’s cover story.

As President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama answer submitted questions from kids, POTUS reveals to young Jonathan that Sunny, their younger Portuguese water dog, tries his patience.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia and Sasha
From left: Malia, Barack, Michelle and Sasha Obama at the White House
| Credit: Pete Souza/The White House via Getty

“So Sunny is a wonderful dog,” he explains. “But there have been times where she just decided that the area near the Lincoln Bedroom and my office – at the other end of the hall from her crate – is included in being outside when it comes to pooping, which is not true. It’s still the inside. She didn’t always understand that.”

Sunny is also wise to the fact that her owners don’t always approve of her antics, the president says.


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“She knows that she’s doing something wrong because she’ll run and sneak [past me],” he says. “Sometimes I’ll be in my office, and I’m doing my work and I’ll see this like scurrying – and I got to get up and run before she does her thing, because if I’m too late then there’s a little gift that she leaves.”

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The first lady stuck up for the first 4-year-old pooch, insisting that “she hasn’t done that in a while. She’s gotten much better.”

The president, meanwhile, seemed less than convinced — and a bit scarred by the experience.

“Terrible,” he declares with a sly smile. “It’s disgusting.”