Whether you’ve rescued an older Chihuahua or toilet training didn’t go well the first time, you don’t need to panic. It’s still possible to potty train an adult Chihuahua, although it will likely take more time and patience.
We’ll go over everything you need to know about how to potty train an older Chihuahua, breaking it down into six simple steps.
How to Potty Train an Older Chihuahua: 6 Steps
Some people think that because Chihuahuas are so little, they can’t be trained! Although Chihuahuas can sometimes be strong-willed, they are trainable like any other breed. It just takes time, consistency, and lots of positive reinforcement.
We rescued my Chihuahua when she was around three years old (although we think she was much older). We had to train and socialize her from scratch. It was tricky at times, but we got there, and you can too! The steps below will help to guide you.
1. Choose a Toilet Area
The first thing you need to decide is where you want your dog to go to the toilet (you need to be consistent with this).
If you live in an apartment like me, you may want them to go to a specific grassy area outside. If you have a garden, you’ll likely want to use that area.
If your Chihuahua is particularly old or has health issues, they might prefer an indoor toilet option like puppy pads, a litter tray, or an indoor doggy toilet.
2. Take Them to The Toilet Regularly
Once you’ve chosen where your dog’s toilet is, take them to it regularly throughout the day. Ideally, you want to take them out every three to four hours.
Chihuahuas have small bladders and can’t hold their pee for as long as bigger dogs. It’s better to take them more often at first until you get used to a routine of when they need to go.
The goal is to ensure they aren’t having accidents in the house because they can’t hold it!
I recommend taking them to the toilet:
- When they first wake up in the morning
- When they wake up from a long nap during the day
- Just before or after eating a meal
- Just before bed
3. Supervise Them
Supervise them as often as you can at home when you’re toilet training. Look for signs that they need the toilet, which might include:
- Sniffing around the floor a lot
- Looking agitated or restless
- Circling as though they’re about to go
- Whining, barking, or other vocalizations
- Panting a lot
- Looking towards the door (or scratching the door / sitting near it)
As soon as you see the signs, take them straight to their toilet spot!
When you take them to their toilet area, keep your eyes on them at all times. The goal is to see them going to the toilet so you can reward them right away (the next step).
4. Toilet and Reward
When you see your dog go to the toilet in the right place, praise them immediately and offer them a treat. Since Chihuahuas are so food-motivated, I found it helpful to offer high-value treats (for example, chicken).
They’ll quickly catch on that you want them to go to the toilet outside, and that when they do they’ll get lots of attention and yummy treats!
It can be helpful to say a phrase like “go potty” or “go toilet” while they’re going, to help them associate the words with the action. That way, in the future, whenever you say that phrase they’ll know it’s time to go to the toilet (even if it’s a new place).
If they don’t get the hang of it right away, try to stay calm. Older dogs may be set in their ways and it might take them a while to get used to a new routine. Keep up with the steps we’ve talked about and you’ll soon see things begin to click.
5. Interrupt Accidents
If you see your Chihuahua about to go to the toilet in your home, interrupt them with a firm ‘no’. Then take them to their toilet area instead so they can go in the right place. Follow up with the praise and reward we talked about in the previous step.
Try to clean up previous accidents as thoroughly as possible – if your dog can smell where they’ve been to the toilet before, they’re likely to go there again.
6. Crate/Pen Train
One of the best ways to help with toilet training your Chihuahua is to crate or pen train them. Dogs don’t like to go to the toilet where they sleep! Plus, it gives them a safe, cozy space, and keeps them out of trouble when they’re unsupervised.
Crate or pen training isn’t cruel when it’s done right. Always keep your dog’s crate as a safe, positive space, and never use it as a punishment.
What Not to Do
You should never do the things below when training your Chihuahua, as they’re cruel and ineffective. They also break the trust between you and your furbaby, can make them scared of you, and can lead to further behavior issues.
When training your Chihuahua you should never:
- Shout at them: Using a firm, stern voice is fine to correct them, but shouting isn’t productive.
- Physically punish them: Never hit, drag, or otherwise physically punish your dog. You should also never rub their noses in accidents. These methods are cruel and they don’t work.
- Scold them later: Correcting your dog during an accident is fine, but if you find an accident later, there’s no point scolding your Chihuahua. They can’t connect the two events and won’t understand why you’re angry.
Remember that Chihuahuas are delicate little dogs. They need to be treated with care and respect.
Can Older Chihuahuas Be Potty Trained?
Potty training an older Chihuahua can be more difficult than toilet training a puppy, but it’s still possible. Remember that your dog wants to please you, but might just need a bit more time. Focus on being patient, consistent, and using positive reinforcement for the best results!
Are Chihuahuas hard to train?
Chihuahuas can be stubborn but they’re also highly trainable with the right motivation. It’s best to start training them as soon as you bring them home.
Do Chihuahuas need pee pads?
Not all Chihuahuas will need pee pads – they can go to the toilet outside like any other breed. However, older Chihuahuas or those with health issues may benefit from an indoor toilet option like pee pads.