One of the first things to teach your dog when you welcome him into your home is potty training. This can be a long and arduous process, some of which is in your control, or it could be a relatively easy one compared to some other dogs. While you can’t control how quickly your dog “gets it”, you can do all that a dog parent can in order to make it a rewarding and hopefully quick experience.
All of this applies to all dog breeds, but we’re going to focus today on how to potty train a chihuahua. Are they easy to train and how long will it take? These are all questions we will address when covering how to potty train this cute small breed dog.
Is it Hard and How Long Does it Take to Potty Train a Chihuahua?
For chihuahuas in general, they are a medium difficulty breed to train. Why are they not the easiest or the most difficult? Well, it’s because small dogs have smaller bladders, which can make potty training more difficult, especially if you have a chihuahua puppy because they can’t hold it for as long as some other larger breeds.
While it may take longer to potty train your chihuahua puppy, remember to keep your eyes on the price because it can be done with patience and consistency. Just how long will the potty training process take? Tons of dog parents tend to ask this question when they welcome their new dog because potty training is one of the most difficult aspects of owning one.
How long it takes has to do with your chihuahua himself and how consistent you are with attentive training, but in general, you can expect a fully potty-trained pup at anywhere between 1 to 8 weeks. However, we stress that this doesn’t mean that your chihuahua puppy won’t have any accidents. Accidents happen, and that’s okay.
What do you do when accidents happen? You have to clean it up right away. We mean pronto because the longer your puppy’s pee or poop remains there, the more it will soak into the area and make it more difficult to get rid of the odors.
Dogs tend to go to the same spot to do their business, so if the soiled area isn’t properly cleaned up, your dog will continue to frequent that same location, which is not the place you want him to go. Our suggestion is to use an enzyme cleaner to clean the spot completely. Enzyme cleaners will break down the waste particles on a molecular level, which will remove germs and odors.
An enzyme cleaner is just one of the items you need in your arsenal when you’re getting ready for the training process. Let’s take a closer look at what else you need.
What Do I Need for Toilet Training my Chihuahua?
It’s important for dog owners to come prepared when they are house training their chihuahua puppy. Other than the enzyme cleaner, here are some other items you should purchase.
Using puppy pad training is a controversial topic, because many dog owners, dog trainers, and breeders like to train their dogs to do their business outside and outside only. While we get that and it is more natural for a dog to do so and it makes cleanup easier, many members of our team prefer to train their chihuahua puppy or puppy of any breed to relieve himself indoors and out.
It opens up more flexibility when it’s storming out, or when you’re extra busy and it’s one of those days when you have no extra time to tend to your pet. What happens if you’re under the weather and you live alone? Supervising your dog in the yard or taking him on a walk can be very taxing. However, it all comes down to personal preference.
If you agree with us, then puppy pads are very useful. Consider purchasing a puppy pad holder as well which can prevent tracking and your dog from playing with the pee pads.
A Good Cleaner
Get an enzyme cleaner, we swear by this because it prevents your chihuahua puppy from making the same mistake again.
You must clean up after your chihuahua puppy whether it’s in your own yard or in public areas. Not cleaning up the business is very unsanitary and can attract undesirable guests like mosquitos. There are poop bags that come in rolls with a clip that makes it easier to use on walks because you can clip them you your dog’s harness or leash.
You can, of course, also purchase other kinds that basically come in a pack and take a few with you on your walks. The main feature our team wants you to consider when getting these waste bags is to make sure they are biodegradable and eco-friendly. While this is not a must, it really is helpful not to add to your carbon footprint and the mountains of uncompostable products in landfills.
A pooper scooper is essentially a small shovel that picks up poop. There are various designs and if you don’t mind doing it with tissue or going in to pick up with mess with one hand in the poop bag, then this really isn’t needed.
A pooper scooper is also only practical for use in your own home and it isn’t the most portable thing to take with you on walks.
On the other hand, doggy wipes, which are wet wipes for animals, are indispensable. Not only are they useful to keep around to wipe up messes and give your chihuahua puppy’s behind a good wipe, if you get any on your hands the wipes will be handy in a pinch. There are scented and unscented options, and it’s tempting to go for the fragrant choice but we still recommend unscented wipes for their lack of chemicals.
Leash and Harness or Collar
It’s almost impossible for a dog to only be subjected to indoor potty training. We would not recommend letting your dog off-leash unless it’s in a suitable fenced-off area or in your own property. Although for a chihuahua puppy, we don’t recommend them being unleashed period, which is why you need a leash and a harness or collar.
Collars can choke more active pups who like to pull and tug, so we suggest switching to a harness whenever possible. Make sure to leash your dog up securely wherever you go during house training.
Lastly, don’t forget to have treats at the ready whenever you can because your chihuahua has to have something to show for his triumphs. Positive reinforcement is the key to house training, along with plenty of patience and consistency. You don’t need to give your pup a large treat or one every time, because this could risk overfeeding him.
Instead of a treat, offer him plenty of verbal encouragement combined with belly rubs, hugs and kisses!
How Do I House Train my Chihuahua
Okay, now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty parts of house training, which is how to do it. We’re going to start with the basics and get into the different methods to make sure you’re well equipped for the task.
The Basics of Potty Training
One of the most fundamental aspects of potty training is the set up a routine. How do you expect to have a properly potty-trained puppy if you don’t have a schedule? Puppies and dogs, in general, thrive on consistency, so setting up a schedule is the first thing on the list and it makes the potty training process easier – trust us.
This is because it gives you more control over when and where your dog needs to go so you can predict and prevent accidents.
The key times of the day are when you and your dog wake up first thing in the day, after meals, after playtime (or during if it’s extra long), after naps, before bed and during the night when your puppy is young.
We talked about positive reinforcement, but we waited until now to address negative reinforcement. While all dogs work differently, research has shown that negative reinforcement or punishment actually hinders you from getting a fully house-trained pup. Your dog will have a negative association with house training, which can lengthen the process.
When you bring a chihuahua puppy home, the potty training can commence as early as 8 weeks, but just keep in mind that there will be accidents galore. Until 12 weeks old, your pup will still have difficulty holding it, but we think instilling the concept of going to a certain spot to pee and getting treats for doing the right thing is never too early.
So, what should you do about accidents to let your dog know what he did was not correct? Don’t give him a treat. He will learn that doing certain things will not get him delicious snacks, and he will learn not to do it over time.
It also depends on whether you caught your dog in the act or not. If you didn’t, then reprimanding him will only confuse your dog more, because he won’t automatically associate the crime with the punishment. However, if you do catch him in the act, this is when you can say “no!” and show your displeasure. If you don’t catch him, just clean up the mess and hope to do it next time.
Potty Training Methods
There are various ways to get to a house-trained pup, and which way you choose will depend on your dog. Every dog is unique, so one method may work better than another.
The most recommended way to train a chihuahua is to use crate training. Crate training is training your dog to be accustomed to his crate, which can double as his den and safe space. Your chihuahua should feel very comfortable in there and retreat into his nook when he feels overwhelmed, tired, or anything else under the sun.
Because you want a positive association between your dog and the crate, never use it as a form of punishment. Many dog parents think shutting their dog in the crate for a time out is a good way to teach him a lesson, but on the contrary, it will make crate training harder because the dog will develop a distaste for a spot that’s supposed to be relaxing.
Why is this form of training so recommended? It’s because a dog that accepts his crate won’t protest as much when he’s left in there when you’re out of the house. It also keeps your dog contained so he can’t get up to any mischief. Mischief in your absence could be ingesting something dangerous or getting into the electrical wires.
We can’t count how many times we have come home to puppy pads destroyed because our dogs are complaining about being left alone. Dogs don’t usually soil where they sleep, so training with a crate is a way to control the accidents and teach your dog to hold it.
Potty Training Without a Crate
Don’t panic if you don’t have a crate, because you can achieve the same results with a puppy pen. This is when you can make full use of puppy pads by placing one inside the pen to become your dog’s designated bathroom. If you don’t have time to supervise your chihuahua all day, then make sure to get a puppy pad holder.
A potty pad holder will keep your dog from getting at the pee pads to eliminate any chances of him destroying it, and a potty pad holder has a grate or netting over the pee pads that elevates your dog above his pee, which will then prevent tracking all over the house. The logic for crates applies to the pen as well. Your dog will soon see it as his safe space and hopefully enjoy spending time in there.
Potty Training Indoors VS Outdoors
Like we said before, there are two types of potty training, one is solely done outdoors, and the other is half and half, both indoors and out. Which one should you go for and what are the benefits and drawbacks of both?
Indoor potty training gives your dog a lot of flexibility. He won’t need to hold it when you’re not home if he doesn’t have access to his potty area outside. Holding it in will have similar consequences for your dog as it would for you. For example, it could lead to urinary tract infections, which means a visit to the vet, which can be costly.
Cleaning up dog pee if your chihuahua goes on the pee pad is quite simple. Since they are a little dog breed, you won’t have to change the pee pad every time your dog urinates. You can go a day or two before switching it out. You will need to wash the holder about once a week just so things don’t start smelling, but we think it’s worth it if your dog can go potty whenever he needs to.
You won’t have to monitor your dog or rush home just to let him go potty. Even if you give your dog access to the backyard through a doggie door, the installation of one and drawbacks it entails can be another issue as well. For example, you may have uninvited guests use the door such as raccoons, and the ones with sensors that open automatically can cost a hefty penny.
Another drawback to giving your pooch direct access to go potty outside is the weather. You can’t control the rain, or snow, or anything else unpleasant, so your dog will be bringing the outside world in with him. We’re talking about mud, grime, dirt, and whatever he digs up in your backyard.
It’s also much tougher if your dog is only allowed to go outside to go potty, because you will need to take him on walks in poor weather conditions at times, and that is something unavoidable. It’s really not pleasant in the dead of winter – trust us.
However you decide to toilet train your chihuahua is up to you. You can take advice from your dog trainer, your vet, your breeder, but in the end, it comes down to personal preference. What would be most convenient for you?
Chihuahua Potty Training Tips
In this section, we’re going to sum up some of the important points for house training we outlined above and also include other ones to make the whole process easier for all parties involved.
When to Start
You can start teaching your dog where to go to the bathroom when you have everything ready and your chihuahua is old enough. You can start as early as 8 weeks, but as we said, accidents will still happen within that time. As time goes on, you will notice your chihuahua will be able to hold it for longer and go potty less frequently.
We would say to start as early as possible just to instill the concept of a potty place in your dog.
Know the Signs
You may be doing the best you can and taking your chihuahua to go to the bathroom on schedule, but your dog may need an extra toilet break here and there that is outside of your plans. You can make sure to take him to the bathroom right as your puppy wakes up, but to your surprise, he went again 5 min after. Nothing is out of the question with these adorable creatures.
The best way to house train your chihuahua and minimize accidents is to know the signs. Understand the actions a dog does when he needs to eliminate. Look for whining, circling, sniffing, and your little chihuahua getting into position. Once you notice this behavior, take your dog to the potty pads or grass mats immediately and give them a treat once the deed is done.
Get Appropriate Treats
Yes, your dog needs treats as a reward for good behavior, but not every treat is a good choice. A treat a dog owner gives to crate train or potty train a dog will be different from the one used to occupy their dog for a longer time.
Training treats are usually not as large as ones used to reward good behavior. Mini treats are the best for training. They are low in calories, small enough to not impact your dog’s daily nutrition intake, and won’t cause weight issues over time.
Lastly, know that accidents happen, as we have said many times, so don’t feel like each one is a setback or a step in the opposite direction. Your dog is very sensitive and he will detect your frustration and even mirror your emotions. Always remain calm when your dog makes a mistake and clean it up thoroughly.
Remember that accidents need to be monitored because they could be an indication of an underlying issue. Getting your dog spayed or neutered will decrease the chances of marking, something more prevalent in male dogs. Dogs recovering from such surgeries may have inconsistent pee schedules. We have seen cases where dogs don’t eliminate themselves for a day and a half due to the pain.
Frequent urination or blood-stained urine could be signifying a health issue such as a UTI. If your dog is sick or recovering from surgery or you suspect something is causing these accidents, you should consult your vet right away and comfort your dog.
Training your chihuahua to go potty in the right place can be easy and straightforward or take a bit longer – it all depends on your dog and your training method. While the process can be filled with uncertainty, one thing is for sure, and that is you and your dog will get there eventually. In the meantime, make sure you give your dog plenty of love, patience and encouragement.