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How I Potty-Trained my “Impossible” Chihuahua

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If you are having a potty training issues, check out this guest post on what worked for Emily.
If you are having a hard time house training your dog, you may want to try this method.

I adopted Luna from a PetCo event in Denver in August 2018.  Her pregnant mom had been taken to a “high-kill shelter” in Texas, where she was thankfully found and brought to Colorado to find a home.

It was love at first sight when I saw her in that cage at PetCo, but to say Luna had issues when I first got her is an understatement.


For weeks she was incredibly destructive, completely hyper and had zero concept of potty training.  She 100% refused to go outside, even after being crated.  Even the dog trainers I brought in were perplexed by her behavior.

I became so frustrated with her at one point, that I’m sorry to say I almost took her back to the shelter.

After doing some Googling, I found out that potty training (and aggression) are the main reason that many Chihuahuas are taken to shelters.

I refused to give up, and after a few more weeks of literally trying everything, I finally cracked it. This is how I did it.

  1. Crate training is everything.

It turns out I hadn’t been crate training her properly.  I’d only been half doing it, as I’d feel sorry for her.  In order for to work, despite what some other blogs might tell you, you have to do it intensely for a few weeks.  

  1. Make sure they sleep in the crate overnight. They will always want to go first thing in the morning so therefore this is the most critical time to train and reward them.  I would literally put on my robe and take her outside as soon as I woke up. 
  1. If they don’t pee or poop, return them to the crate again immediately then wait 1-2 hours more before you try again. Keep repeating until they finally go outside.  They are then free to play for an hour.  Then, take them outside. If they don’t go, return them to their crate.
  • Commence crate training on the weekend. If you work during the day, see if a friend or family member can continue the crate training or walk your pup in your absence.

For more detailed information on crate training click here. 

white and tan chihuahua pooping

  1. Find out where their “favorite spot” is.

Luna will only pee and poop on nice, green grass.  Figure out where your chi likes to pee and consistently take them to that spot.  Walk them back and forth around the same spot until they go.

  1. Give the best treats.

Upping the ante (as they say in Poker) works wonders.  I switched from giving her a regular dog treat to using fresh chicken or cheese. It made a big difference.

The treat was given to her, along with lots of fuss and encouragement, within a second of her either peeing or pooping.

  1. Do not use pee pee pads.

You want to create an environment where it is not OK, at all, to go in the house.  According to my trainer, pee pee pads only confuse pups by giving them the impression that it’s OK to go in the house.  It also encourages them to go on other soft surfaces such as sofas and beds.


  1. Its OK to tell them off (despite what other blogs might tell you)

If ever I caught Luna peeing inside, I would tell her off and immediately (“Luna NO”), then take her outside.  I could always tell when she was about to do it as she’d skulk and sniff around.

After following this routine for around 2 months, Luna is now 100% potty trained.  I started seeing a dramatic improvement after just a few days.  Her other behavioral issues have also subsided and she’s now a real sweetheart.



Saturday 8th of July 2023

they can be hard to potty train but after you break through they are very loving and fun dogs and fun to have around. They sometime take a little longer than alot of other dogs, but so worth it.The most important thing is alot of love and praise and of course the good treat will almost always get you the behavior you are looking for. They also need to know when you are unhappy with their behavior. My two hate when they get the stern mommy voice.

Cathy Bendzunas

Sunday 9th of July 2023

Well said Sandy!

Amy Davis

Tuesday 26th of April 2022

Everytime we take our 8 wk chihuahua outside to do her "business" on the grass, all she does is play (no matter how long we have her outside) and when we bring her inside, that's when she pees and poops


Friday 29th of April 2022

That's got to be extremely aggravating Amy. Sometimes it seems like they are trying to drive us crazy.


Monday 4th of April 2022

I see the benefit to crate training, however I’m not a fan. After Luna was potty trained, would it be possible to ditch the crate? I have a chi (Ollie)who was adopted as a 1 year old, that was/is 100% potty trained by previous unknown owners who for unknown reasons had to give him up. He started off in a crate with me, I left it open, he would close it, he started being more antisocial, so I got rid of the crate so he would interact more with our uncrated lab and people. It worked. He’s the best dog ever at 9 years old now. So loveable and still loves to go potty outside in the rain, snow, wind, & sun. He’s never left outside for longer than he wants to be. I would like to get another chi but I’m not confident I’d be able to potty train him/her as well as Ollie, who was trained by previous owners. I believe your idea is workable, would it work if another dog in the house is not crated though?


Monday 4th of April 2022

Personally I'm not a fan of crate training either though it does make potty training easier.

Rebecca C Andrews

Monday 7th of October 2019

I am struggling with my 1 year old chihuahua. I have never been able to have her completely trained. I will find poop in certain places around the house. I have brought her to the poop and said "bad Cider". Not sure what is going to help. She is crate trained and does not poop or peer in her crate. My next step is to put her on a leash and she stays with me at all times until she uses the bathroom outside. Any other suggestions?


Monday 7th of October 2019

We do have another article on this Rebecca that may give you a few extra ideas.