Skip to Content

Housetraining Your Chihuahua

I Love My Chi may earn a small commission for purchases made after clicking links on this page.  Learn More

Share this post!

Housetraining your Chihuahua

Those who decide to share their homes with Chihuahuas can frequently find that these furry friends are difficult to house train. However, Chis aren’t that tough to train when proper procedures are used.

Although they are capable of learning quickly and easily, these little dogs have a stubborn streak that can make training difficult if you use an overly harsh approach or are not consistent.


Should You Use Puppy Pads?

There are several other considerations particular to this breed that should be kept in mind during the house-training process.

Highly motivated and willing to please, Chis don’t respond well to scolding or punishment. By the same token, you do need to use a different tone of voice when working with your Chihuahua puppy or dog on house-training or other serious matters.

Using your “play voice” will simply confuse the dog, so speak clearly and directly, but don’t yell or growl.

Some Particular Challenges of House-training Chis

There are several other reasons why house-training a Chihuahua is frequently difficult:

  • The small size of Chihuahuas can make them difficult to house train. They can easily slip off to do their business without being noticed, unlike larger breeds.
  • Chihuahuas were developed as a breed in a part of the world (Mexico) with a warm climate. They don’t care much for outdoor conditions that involve rain, cold, wind, or snow.
  • Chis evolved as household pets rather than as outdoor dogs.
  • Their small bodies may need to undergo the process of elimination more often than those of their larger counterparts, so make certain that you provide your puppy or dog with the opportunity to relieve themselves often.
  • Although they may not always show it, small dogs feel vulnerable when faced with the great outdoors. If your neighborhood is a typical one where children are playing, dogs are barking, and traffic is going by, your Chi may not feel comfortable going out into that world.

Designate a Potty Area

Instead of training your Chi to go potty in the yard, you can consider setting up an indoor area that he or she can use as an elimination station.

When I worked at PetSmart, I asked the trainers what the best way to potty train them was, and they gave me some good ideas. You may already know these, but here goes:

First clean the area where she pees or poops really well with an enzyme type cleaner that will take away as much scent as possible. You can find these type of cleaners at pet stores, or Amazon. White vinegar will also work.

And the next time you clean the area before you put the cleaning product on it, use a paper towel to pick up the poop or wipe up the pee. Save that paper towel.

Take the paper towel out with you and lay it where you want her to go potty at. Usually, once they smell the paper towel with their own poop on it, they will want to go in that area.

Other than saying, “It’s time to go potty,” don’t talk to her or distract her when she goes out until after she does her business. After she does, then you can play with her.

potty training Chihuahua

Reward Your Pup

Praise them big time and even give a small treat reward if your dog is food motivated after they do their business in the proper spot. When you give positive reinforcement through attention and offer treats and praise, you will find that your Chihuahua will respond more positively.

The puppy will soon see how beneficial it is to do as they are told, which means they are that much more likely to continue the behavior moving forward.

Alternative Potty Methods

You can also use litter boxes. Litter boxes for toy breeds have become increasingly popular in recent years, and you can also buy pee pads at pet supply stores that can be used the same way that you would use a newspaper for potty training a puppy.

Some of these pads are even treated with pheromones to help indicate that they’re approved potty spots. This is a great option if you live in an apartment or a cold climate.

Proper Supervision

Keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t sneak off and do their business when you aren’t watching. And when you can’t be with them, while they are being trained, be sure to keep them in a closed-off room that isn’t carpeted like a kitchen or bathroom or a playpen or even a crate. Put a potty pad in the room with them just in case.

Patience and consistency are key to housetraining any puppy, and if you’re consistent, firm-but-not-frightening, and provide your puppy with an appropriate potty area, your Chihuahua puppy will be house trained in no time.

During the housetraining process, there will be some accidents, so be prepared for these. Always clean the area well with a mild detergent and water and use an enzyme spray.

Have all of these essentials handy to keep the process moving forward quickly and effectively. You shouldn’t punish your Chihuahua for these mistakes while housetraining because it can hinder their learning process.

Set a Schedule

Have regular times to take her out like first thing in the morning, after she eats, anytime you have been away and before bed. Always use the same word for it, such as “go potty” and use that word when you take her out.

If you notice any signs that your dog needs to “go potty” or if the dog suddenly disappears to the other room (usually because they don’t want you to see them), follow them and put her outside before he has a chance to do it on the floor.

Depending on the age of your puppy, you want to take them to the designated potty area you have set up frequently throughout the day.

  • For a pup that is two months old, take them out every 2 hours
  • For a pup that is three months old, take them out every 3 hours
  • For a pup that is four months old, take them out every 4 hours
  • For a pup that is five months old, take them out every 5 hours

You also want to take your chihuahua out at other specific times during the day based on their meal schedule and other actions.

For example, take them out right away in the morning when they wake up, 20 minutes before you leave the house for the day, 20 minutes after mealtime, and any time the puppy wakes up from a long nap. Finally, let your Chi puppy out at least 20 minutes before bedtime.

Maintain this schedule, and you will find that housetraining your Chihuahua will be much easier. If you see your pup, make the potty motion indoors before you have the chance to let them out, then clap your hands to distract them and take them out as soon as possible.

How Long Will It Take?

So, if you follow all these tips and tricks, you are probably wondering how long the house-training process will take to achieve. Well, the answer to this question varies greatly and is dependent on the house-training process. However, most Chihuahua pups can be house-trained in three to four weeks.

Allow their bladder and bowel muscles some time to mature and strengthen. They should be good to go around six months of age. After this length of time, it should be okay to leave the Chihuahua at home while you are away during the day. The more time you allow, the more strength they develop.

Indoor Training vs. Outdoor Training

Indoor training is often the choice for those with Chihuahuas because they are much smaller dogs. It is also a good choice for those who don’t have an area outside that they can designate as a potty area.

However, many Chihuahuas will train much faster when given the opportunity to do so outside. Either way, you choose to go, always make sure to have a designated spot, either indoors or outdoors.

What If My Chihuahua Starts Marking?

Marking is definitely frustrating as a dog owner. This occurs when the dog urinates when brought back inside after being taken out to do so. Marking is a behavioral issue and also marks that the bladder was not fully emptied. It is a light spray of urine the dog uses to mark their territory in the home.

To stop marking, use an enzyme cleaner to thoroughly clean the area. This also gets rid of any scent the dog may use later. You also need to teach your pup some basic commands. If your dog has a favorite marking area, leave some of their favorite toys or their bed in that spot to deter them.

Having your dog spayed or neutered is another great way to reduce the marking behavior significantly. It is also a responsible behavior to have as Chihuahua owners.

So, as you commence with Chihuahua training, make sure you have patience and time to dedicate to the process. A puppy pad is a good item to have around the home and can help your Chihuahua dog considerably as they potty train.

Maranda's Chihuahua Story
Chi Sings While His Momma Plays
Chi Sings While His Momma Plays


Sunday 13th of September 2020

Help! My family and I have our first Chi. She’s positively adorable, and brilliant, and that’s the problem. When we started the potty training process we opted for indoor pads - our yard, while fenced, has gaps underneath so bunnies can come through and drink at our fountain, and it’s be to easy for Pixie to get out as a result. Plus as we live in the high desert our temps can be a bit extreme. We'd been having a lot of success. She quickly figured out where her pad was, and to pee there, but she still would rather poo about 6-10 inches from the pad. She’s food driven, so we started giving treats, but we found she was drinking excessive amounts of water, and constantly going pee, so she’d get treats. So we started only treating when she'd poo, and just praise for pee. She’s now over 3 months and she still occasionally pees in the dog bed/play area, and this morning she actually, for the first time ever, peed on my father! This is her morning nap lap, and she’s never had an accident before. Today she didn’t even seem to make the attempt. Unfortunately I heard the situation second hand, so I’ve no idea if something triggered the behavior, or what. Regardless, how can I get my girl to understand you pee /and/ poo on the pad, not the floor, and that accidents on people are not ok. Just as an FYI - Pixie is current on her vaccines, and when last seen by the vet was found to be in good health.


Tuesday 15th of September 2020

This sounds gross but pick the poo up and put it on the pad, for a little awhile so the smell of it is there. That will usually attract them to go on or very near the same spot. If she is suddenly peeing in places she didn't before, you may need to try the treat incentive again. Just don't give the treat every time. And you may need to keep her very close to you and watch for signs that she needs to potty, and then set her on the pad just to get it across that is where she needs to "go".


Sunday 23rd of August 2020

I have 2 chi cross teacup schnausers that are four and a half months. One has started asking to go out but the other is still going next to the pee pad not on. Both go outside but end up distracted by play and seem to forget about going pottie even after half an hour outside.


Sunday 23rd of August 2020

When one wants to go outside, I'd hold the other chi until the first one potties, then pick him up and put the other one down near where the first one peed. Usually they want to go near or on the same place other dogs have gone. When they both have done their business, then let them play together outside for a little while (that can be their reward).

Thursday 14th of May 2020

I trained my two chihuahuas to be taken outside and to go to cat litter inside when they were really young.


Sunday 19th of July 2020

@Cathy, Yes out little chi used to eat the cat poop in the litter box. Had a hard time training him to stop. It took several weeks, but by using a firm voice to tell him no, it finally worked.


Thursday 14th of May 2020

And the cat litter doesn't bother their paws at all? Do you have cats too and if so, do your chis try to eat their poop?

Dixie Greschuk

Saturday 9th of May 2020

OHMYGOODNESS.......once again your three sweet fur babies look so beautiful. I love them so much, their expressions are priceless. Also loved the two chis of the day, beautiful white babies. They remind me of my Sam and Irene (both passed away 4 years ago. They were both solid white.


Wednesday 13th of May 2020

They were so pretty Dixie! I love when they are all white. Or all black too.

Dixie Greschuk

Saturday 9th of May 2020

Yes, Cathy, I know how it feels to have to wait in the car now. As I had mentioned before about my 18 year old Maine Coon beauty had to be put down. I went to the Small Animal Emergency Clinic (didn't want to go to vet cause that has been a happy place and this was not a happy time) I took her in her soft carrying case inside and told them what I needed and they gave me a clip board with the info paper on it and then had to wait in the car with her until they came out for the clip board, then had to wait longer again in the car for a room to be available and they came out to my car again and then we could go inside. I forgot a mask but they gave me one and I had to wear that while inside. It is a very crazy time that Americans have not had before.


Wednesday 13th of May 2020

I'm so sorry you lost your kitty Dixie!