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How to House Train a Chihuahua

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Chihuahua training can be difficult. In this post, learn about the proper procedures for house training a chihuahua, indoor vs outdoor training, alternative methods, and more.

Chihuahua laying on grass. Housetraining your chihuahua text

Housebreaking your chihuahua can be frustrating!

Whether you are a new chihuahua owner or are experienced with the breed, those of us that decide to share our homes with chihuahuas frequently find that learning how to house train a chihuahua can be tough. However, all hope is not lost! Potty training your chihuahua isn’t that hard when proper procedures are used.

The key to success is not using an overly harsh approach when teaching your puppy where you want them to use the bathroom. Also, make sure you are consistent! I can not stress this enough!

Don’t let your little guy or gal fool you! Chihuahuas are capable of learning how to go potty outside or on a puppy pad quickly and easily. Although Chis are small, some have a stubborn streak that can make house training difficult.

If you want to cut back on accidents, consistency is your potty training BFF!

Make sure that your dog understands you and is actually listening to you when the time comes to housebreak. 

How to Get Your Chihuahua to Listen

There are several considerations particular to this breed that should be kept in mind while you are house training chihuahua.

Chihuahuas are highly motivated and willing to please. They don’t respond well to scolding or punishment. In fact, they can become fearful of potty training when you’re too aggressive.

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.

To make sure your Chi is listening to you, start by making sure they know their name. Do they acknowledge you when you call them? If not, they may not be aware of their name yet.

An “easy” chihuahua training method to teach a puppy its name is by saying his or her name and then gently touching them on their side to grab their attention. Once your Chi makes eye contact give them a treat followed by a “good boy” or “good girl”.

Keep practicing daily until it is apparent that they know their name. You can use this approach when moving on to other commands, including teaching them where to go potty.

How to Potty Train a Chihuahua Puppy

If you want your chihuahua puppy to go potty outside you need to create a plan of action.

Housebreaking, in theory, doesn’t seem like it should be that hard, but it can be especially difficult if you don’t take the time to create a schedule and figure out how and when you are going to start training them to use the potty outside.

You want to set yourself and your pup up for success, do not implement unrealistic expectations for your dog. Start with a simple training schedule and work from there!

Set a Puppy Potty Training Schedule

Create your puppy training schedule around your household routines. You will want to establish regular times to take your Chi outside, like first thing in the morning, after she eats, anytime after you have been away, and before bed.

Always use the same word for it, such as “go potty” and use that word repeatedly 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 she has a chance to have an accident on the floor.

Depending on the age of your puppy, you’ll want to take them outside or to a designated area in your home frequently throughout the day.

  • For a pup that is two months old, take them out every 2 hours
  • With a pup that is three months old, take them out every 3 hours
  • With 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
Barking white chihuahua in grass

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 stick to the training method and you will find that house training 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 to Avoid Chihuahua Potty Training Problems

Proper supervision is a must when chihuahua potty training. Try to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t sneak off and do their business when you aren’t watching.

Watch your Chi for signs he or she has to go potty. Sniffing around, circling, whining, barking, sniffing their butt, and pawing at a door are all clues they may have to go.

As soon as you notice this behavior, take them outside immediately. This will help avoid unnecessary accidents.

When you are dog training but you can’t be with them, be sure to keep them in a closed-off room that isn’t carpeted like a kitchen, bathroom, playpen, or even a crate. Put a potty pad in the room with them just in case.

Patience and consistency are key to house training 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.

puppy laying in grass

How Long Does it Take to Potty Train a Dog?

If you follow all these tips and tricks, you are probably wondering how long potty training a chihuahua will take.

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. The more time you allow, the more strength they develop. 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.

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.

As you begin 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.

A chihuahua potty training

Why Are Chihuahuas so Hard to House Train?

It comes down to their temperament. You need to be the real Alpha in the house and help your chihuahua overcome their stubborn streak.

Along with their overall stubbornness, 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.

Indoor Potty Training vs. Outdoor Potty 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. No matter which way you choose, always make sure to have a designated spot, either indoors or outdoors.

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 chihuahuas was, and they gave me some good ideas to encourage successful indoor puppy pad use.

If your Chi has a favorite spot in the house that they use frequently as their potty area consider using it as their designated potty spot.

If you would like to train them to use a different area of your home, start by using a paper towel to pick up the poop or wipe up the pee. Save that paper towel, then clean the area where she pees or poops really well with an enzyme-type cleaner.

Your goal is to get rid of the scent. You want to remove all traces of urine as possible. You can find Enzyme cleaners, specific to pet urine removal, these types of cleaners at pet stores, or Amazon. White vinegar will also work.

After you have cleaned the area, take the paper towel with your dog’s scent on it and lay it on top of a puppy pad where you want her to go potty. Usually, once they smell the paper towel with their own poop on it they will want to go again in that area.

When you notice your dog sniffing around the potty pad do not distract them. Don’t call them over to you or say “good girl” or “good boy” just let them be. After they use their new potty area successfully you can give them praise and maybe even a treat!

You can also use puppy pads that are scented with pheromones that help your puppy understand that it is okay to go potty in that spot.

Should You Use Treats When House Training a Puppy?

Cheesy Bone Treats

Praise is a big part of potty training! You want to make sure you are making every pee/poop in the right area feel like it’s something amazing for them.

Approach housebreaking your chihuahua as if you were potty training a toddler. The more exciting/rewarding an experience is, the more likely they are to continue to do it.

Almost all dogs are food motivated, it’s built into their survival. Offering them verbal and consumable rewards just reinforces for them that they have done something right!

When you give positive reinforcement through attention, 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 – Training a Chihuahua to Use a Litter Box

Yes… I said litter box and yes, I realize a Chihuahua is a dog and not a cat. If you have never heard of litter box training a chihuahua puppy then you might be turning your nose up at it, but it is a real working solution that can help you solve the problem of your Chi using your house as their own personal toilet.

Litter boxes for toy breeds have become increasingly popular in recent years. The concept is the same as with the puppy pad method.

Start by adding your dog’s scent to the litter box and make sure to praise and repeat until they learn that is their designated potty spot.

Regardless of Your Choice to Potty Train Indoors or Outdoors There is One Thing We Can Agree on…

No one enjoys cleaning up dog pee or poop and house training your Chihuahua is a definite must!

Remember if one method doesn’t work, don’t give up! You may not have been planning on having an indoor potty station or having to go outside every two hours but it’s better for you and your chihuahua to do what works over what you had planned.

Be sure to check out my other post about how I trained my chihuahua.

Cathy

Kimbie

Monday 18th of October 2021

I have a 4 year old boy chihuahua, I have had him sense he was 6 weeks….I house train him..he use the puppy pad. For about 1 in1/2 he has been peeing all over the house including my bed…he as ruined the wood board near the carpet. I have block him from getting on the bed & going downstairs..But when we are home he use the puppy pad….I am tried of me not knowing where he’s peeing in the house and my home smelling like urine. I’m thinking buying a play pen to keep him in there when we leave the house….please let me know your thoughts. Thanks

Cathy

Monday 18th of October 2021

I think that's a great idea Kimbie!

laura

Friday 2nd of April 2021

hi my 2yr old chi keeps peeing on my carpet she as never not once done a poo poo I can take her on walks and she must do about 20 wees sometimes it's just a little drip hear and there wen at home she can go hours not haveing a pee wen she in her crate she as never weed in her crate so I feel she is all most there I have rescued her she amazing and I love her to bits she my bff but every day she will pee on me carpet and sometimes it's just a little drip and outher time it's a normle pee she don't let me no wen she wants to go I just look for the .sings I have to let her out at least 20 times a day may be moore and there is not much gap between the times she needs to go all so she don't pee at bed time eather she sleeps with me so she is at least going 7 hours of holding her bladerbut yet she don't in day time any idea's on wat mite be going on thanks laura

Cathy

Friday 2nd of April 2021

Yeah chis are notoriously hard to house train. Is she peeing in the same spot? First it's important to clean the areas she's peeing really well with an enzyme cleaner or white vinegar. If there is any whiff at all of the pee, she will use that area again. It sounds like you are doing everything right. Watching for signals, taking her out multiple times a day. You could make peeing outside a little more attractive. Buy the tiny liver training treats (dogs LOVE these) and every time she pees outside, give her one and praise her alot. When she goes inside, say "No" in a low guttural tone, and take her outside immediately.

Mar

Sunday 24th of January 2021

I rescued a three-year-old Chihuahua I cannot walk her she goes on the Wii we pad but lately she’s been going on the floor and on my rug my son comes over once a week and takes her out for a walk and she loves it and just have business outside is that confusing her

Elsie Grogan

Tuesday 15th of December 2020

I am looking for a teacup Chi. I am a senior, looking for companion. Do you have one that won't sell, that's the one I would be interested in. Please help. I live in Tyler, Texas. My email, elsiegrogan2010@yahoo.com.Thanks

Cathy

Tuesday 15th of December 2020

I'm sorry Elsie, I don't sell chihuahuas, I just write about them.

Marilyn Ellis

Wednesday 25th of November 2020

My 16 month old teacup chi sleeps a lot. He probably sleeps 16 to 18 hours a day. Is this normal?

Cathy

Thursday 26th of November 2020

Most adult dogs sleep between 12-14 hours a day and puppies sleep between 18-20 hours a day. Your dog is just coming out of puppyhood so this may be normal. If he still sleeps this much by the time he is 2, it wouldn't be.