If you’ve just brought a Chihuahua puppy into your life – congratulations! They’re tiny bundles of pure joy, love, and personality!
Once your puppy has settled in, it’s best to get straight into basic training. This makes your life easier and ensures that your pup learns what you expect from them.
Toilet training should be at the top of the priority list! Despite a somewhat bad reputation, Chihuahuas can be trained just like any other dog breed.
Potty training can be slightly tricky as Chis are prone to being stubborn and they have small bladders, but it’s completely possible I promise.
We had to potty train my Chihuahua as an adult when we rescued her. Within a few months, she was asking to go out to the toilet like the little star she is!
We’ll break down how to potty train a Chihuahua puppy into seven simple steps and cover everything else you need to know.
- How to Potty Train a Chihuahua Puppy: 7 Steps
- My Top Tips
- Is It Difficult to Potty Train a Chihuahua?
How to Potty Train a Chihuahua Puppy: 7 Steps
Potty training is all about consistency, patience (even though it can be tough), and positive reinforcement.
So let’s get started with seven steps to get your puppy potty trained!
1. Choose a Toilet Area
The first step is simple – decide where you want your dog to go to the toilet and stick to it as they grow up. For some people, this will be their garden. If you live in an apartment like me, it might be the grass outside your apartment block.
Ideally, choose a specific area of your garden or outdoor space and keep this spot for going to the toilet only. Discourage playing or distraction in this area – it’s only a space to go potty. You can introduce them to the area and let them sniff around so they get used to it.
Some people choose to use puppy pads or a litter box to train small dogs like Chihuahuas, but I don’t recommend these methods. I have found that it’s best to get on with outdoor toilet training straight away, just as with any other breed (unless there’s a specific reason you want to use puppy pads in the long term, of course).
2. Set a Schedule
The next step is to set up a schedule and stick to it. Puppies have smaller bladders than adult dogs and can’t hold their poop for as long. So, you need to take them out pretty regularly when they’re little.
I recommend taking them out every two or three hours when they’re very young, and gradually extending that to every four or five hours.
It’s best to take them out:
- First thing in the morning
- As soon as they wake up from a nap
- After eating or drinking
- Last thing at night before bed
If you’re unsure, it’s better to take them more often than not often enough!
The goal is to ensure they go potty outdoors rather than having accidents in the house, so they learn through repetition that this is where the toilet is.
3. Supervise and Reward
When you take them outside, keep your eyes on them the whole time. Anytime they go to the toilet, verbally praise them and give them a treat. This teaches them that they’re doing the right thing!
Give them plenty of time when you’re outdoors to see if they’re going to potty. You can encourage them by walking around a little bit (exercise often stimulates their bowels).
If they don’t go within five minutes or so, take them back inside and try again in another 20 minutes to half an hour. Try not to get frustrated with them – it takes time for them to understand what you’re asking.
Chihuahuas are fairly intelligent so they’ll catch on quickly. In my experience, they also tend to be very food motivated so once they get the idea that going to the toilet means they get a treat, you’re well on your way to success!
You’ll also want to supervise them indoors as much as possible early on so you can keep an eye out for behavior that indicates they need to go to the toilet.
Look for signs such as:
- Sniffing around the floor and wandering about aimlessly
- Looking agitated or fidgeting
- Circling as though they’re about to go potty
- Whining, barking, or other vocalizations
- Panting a lot and looking concerned
- Looking towards the door (this usually happens later in the process once they understand that outside means toilet time)
As soon as you recognize any of these signs, take them straight outside so they can potty, and reward them as soon as they do.
4. Crate Train Your Chihuahua
When your Chihuahua is unsupervised, it can be helpful to crate train or pen train them. This not only helps with toilet training (dogs don’t like to potty where they sleep), it also gives them a safe space. Plus, it keeps them from chewing or getting into anything harmful when you’re not around!
When dogs are crate trained correctly, it’s not cruel at all – it can be very useful and calming for them. Think of it like their own bedroom!
My dogs are pen trained and they love their pen. They retreat there when they’re tired, worried, or just want to relax (even though the pen door is open the whole time we’re at home).
5. Use a Word or Phrase
Many owners (myself included) find it very helpful to use a word or phrase associated with potty time. You could say ‘potty time’, ‘go potty’, ‘go toilet’, or something similar.
Once you’ve picked a phrase, stick to it and ensure everyone in the home uses the same phrase.
Anytime you take your dog outside, say this word so they understand what’s happening.
You should also say it whenever they go to the toilet outside so they build that association. It’s even better if you say the word paired with a reward for pottying outdoors.
This is helpful because they’ll learn that when you say your chosen phrase, it’s time to go to the toilet. When they’re older, you can use this phrase to encourage them to go to the toilet when you’re on walks or when you’re traveling.
I also find it really useful to ‘ask’ my dogs if they need the toilet. We say ‘Do you need to go out?’ and they will respond by getting excited or barking if they do.
6. Interrupt Accidents
Remember that supervising we mentioned earlier? This comes in useful to interrupt accidents too!
If you see your dog about to go to the toilet, don’t scold them but interrupt by saying a quick ‘no’ or ‘ah ah’. Then take them outdoors as quickly as possible so they can go to the toilet in the right place.
If your Chihuahua does have an accident when you’re not home ensure you clean it up thoroughly. If they can smell their pee or poo, they’re more likely to go to the toilet again in the same spot. Then continue on with your training.
Since Chis are so tiny, their accidents can be tiny too so they can be hard to spot. I recommend a thorough check around your home or their crate each time you get home during potty training.
7. Keep Things Positive
It’s important to remember that your puppy is still learning and they aren’t trying to be naughty (even if sometimes it feels that way).
Keep the process as positive as possible with lots of praise, rewards, and reassurance.
Never scold them, shout, or use any other methods of punishment if they go to the toilet in your home – this will only make them scared and they won’t understand why you’re angry.
They especially won’t understand why they’re being told off if they’ve had an accident while you’re out – they can’t connect those two events in their mind.
Instead, stick to a short, firm ‘no’ if you see them having an accident, and continue with the other steps we’ve mentioned.
My Top Tips
I’ve toilet trained multiple puppies and older dogs so I’ve summarized my top tips for potty training your Chihuahua below:
- Use food rewards (they’re highly food motivated)
- Use high-value treats
- Give them lots of praise (Chihuahuas love their owner’s attention)
- Say a firm ‘no’ if you spot an accident but never punish them
- Take them out frequently due to their small bladders
- Crate or pen train your dog
- Be consistent and as patient as possible
- Don’t panic if it’s not working at first – keep going and it will ‘click’
If you are really struggling, you can always visit your vet or a professional dog trainer for further guidance.
Is It Difficult to Potty Train a Chihuahua?
Potty training a Chihuahua can be challenging but it’s possible with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Create a routine that works for both you and your pup.
If you’re struggling at first, keep pushing through and your hard work will pay off! Before you know it, your Chihuahua will be going to the toilet outside like the good girl or boy they are!
What age can you potty train a Chihuahua?
It’s best to start potty training when your Chihuahua is a puppy, as early on as possible. However, older Chihuahuas can be potty trained too.
How do I stop my Chihuahua from peeing in the house?
Be consistent with potty training and ensure you clean up any accidents thoroughly – if they can smell where they went in the home previously, they will likely go in the same place again.