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House Training

Chihuahua House Training

Tips to Get You Started

Housebreaking is going to be the biggest challenge of any puppy owner. 

While training for commands can require dedication and other elements such as grooming will take up a bit of your time, potty training - by far- will take consistent training and a good plan.

By following some easy guidelines, this does not need to be a stressful time. Working together as a team, an owner should be patient during mistakes and celebrate the victories.

The time and effort that an owner dedicates to this has a direct correlation with how fast it can be accomplished and how well-trained a dog will be.
Canines have essential no instinct to urinate or eliminate outside of the home; the only instinct that they have is to find what seems like the 'perfect spot' to them. 

In addition, it is a myth that a dog will not go to the bathroom near the area in which he eats. Puppies have very little ability to hold their needs and even an adult will defecate or urinate near his feeding area if given no other choice.

It will be the owner's job to train the puppy to go to the bathroom where expected and to signal when there is a need.

Step by Step Instructions for House Training a Chihuahua

1) Choose the area. Before diving into potty training, have a chosen designated area that will serve as the dog's bathroom. This should be located near the house but not very close to where humans tend to gather. Therefore, it should not be close to a barbecuing area, etc.

When deciding on where this should be, keep in mind different weather conditions that your locations experiences during the year. What may seem like a great area in the summer may not work well in the winter when there is 2 feet of snow on the ground.

Puppy-proof the area for any sharp objects or any other dangers.

As you will see ahead, there may be a need to set up a lawn chair in the very center of this spot. Being patient while a dog readies himself is a big element to successful house training. You'll find that being able to sit down to read, look over your emails or busy yourself will make it easy to wait the required amount of time.

2) Have all needed items readied and near the exit door. For your Chihuahua, you'll need his leash. A short 6 foot leash is recommended. For you, have your coat, shoes and any other needed items near the door so that if you can both make a quick departure.

3) Have a set schedule. You will want to take your puppy to the designated area every few hours, based on his/her age:

• 2 months old = every 2 hours

• 3 months old = every 3 hours

• 4 months old - every 4 hours

• 5 months old = every 5 hours

You will also want to bring him/her outside at specific times based on meals, actions and time of the day:

• Each morning as soon as the puppy wakes up

• 15-20 minutes before the last human leaves for the day if the puppy will be home alone

• 20 minutes after each feeding time

• Any time right after the pup awakens from a moderate to long nap

• Roughly 20 minutes before bedtime

• Any time that the Chihuahua makes a motion to squat or lift a leg. Clap your hands to distract the pup. If there is not time to connect the leash and walk him outside, grab the leash and carry him. Even if he dribbles along the way, the goal will be to have the puppy finish in the designated area and that should be considered a success.
Chihuahua potty training
4) Allow your Chihuahua enough time. Once you bring your puppy outside, stand (or sit on an outdoor chair) in the center of the designated area. With your Chihuahua puppy on a 6 foot leash, allow him/her to circle within that area, to sniff around and chose just the right spot. When a dog feels that he has control over where he goes to the bathroom, this leads to faster success. 

Be patience. It can take up to 20 minutes for a dog to relax his bowel muscles long enough to finally have a bowel movement. Urination normally takes a shorter amount of time; however it is best to wait the allotted 20 minutes.

The #1 complaint that most owner gripe about is that their Chihuahua goes to the bathroom immediately after entering back into the house. This can often be attributed to lack of owner patience for the dog's body to relax and do the deed.

5) Reward appropriately. Positive reinforcement via attention, praise and treats will be vital to properly and quickly housebreaking your Chihuahua. Being enthusiasts about each success is important. 

When it is clear to a dog that it is beneficial to perform any particular action and that non-performance leads to nothing (the dog is ignored, no treats are given), that dog will be much more likely to repeat the desired action.
6) Let the mistakes slide, but clean up properly. There will be housebreaking accidents. Being prepared for them will help move things along faster. The area should be cleaned well with a mild soap detergent and then an enzyme spray.

Do not yell or punish the dog since it will be done in vain and if a dog is intimidated, he will fear his owner. Dogs listen and learn much better when done out of respect rather than fear. 

7) Respond at night only if needed. Most puppies wake up throughout the night and will bark or whine. In many cases it is due to wanting attention. In some instances, it is due to needing to go to the bathroom. Therefore, in the evening and throughout the night, you will be training your Chihuahua puppy for 2 elements:

1- Self-soothing himself back to sleep

2- Potty training if there is indeed a need

If a dog has gone to the bathroom within the last 2 hours, most likely he will be making a ruckus for attention and should be ignored. Make a logical decision about whether or not bathroom needs are a reasonable reason for waking. If so, when the puppy is taken outside, this should be done with minimal talking and no playing at all. 

Potty training at night is a serious time and once done, the puppy should be immediately returned to his area.

8) Increase the increments of time. As your Chihuahua grows older, each month he/she will be able to hold bathroom needs for a longer amount of time. Therefore, adjust the schedule as needed. 

While a 3-month-old had to be taken out every 3 hours, if that dog is now 5 months old, but still taken out every 3 hours, he will not learn to tighten the bladder or bowel muscles in order to hold his needs.

9) Plan for when you will not be home. Ideally, you will be home each day that you are house training your Chihuahua. However, for most, this is not going to be the case. Crating while home alone is not recommended since being confined to such a small area for a long period of time can be stressful and cause anxiety.

It is suggested to set up a small, gated off area or use a canine playpen. Within that area, have all needed supplies for the day: Water dispenser, food, plenty of chews (some containing treats), resting area and pee pads. The goal will not be to potty train a puppy to perfectly hit the spot on the pee pads.

The objective will be to have them there, away from the food, toys and bed in the hope that they will be used. It is too much to expect a puppy to learn both an indoor and an outdoor method. 

Remember that as the Chihuahua matures, hours will be added to the time that he can hold his needs.

By the time a puppy is 6 to 8 months old, pee pads in the house will not be needed if home alone for 7 or 8 hours.

Common Questions - Tips and Advice

How long will it take to housebreak my Chihuahua? 

This varies depending on how much time a person invests in the training process. With a good, solid routine and everyone in the household on the same page about what needs to occur, a puppy can be somewhat trained in 3 to 4 weeks. 

Since a puppy's bladder and bowel muscles need time to strengthen in order to hold in his needs, full potty training is often accomplished once the pup is 6 months old.

As each month goes by, the puppy's ability to hold his needs lengthens. Therefore, it will be about 6 months before a Chihuahua can stay home while owners are at work without urinating.

See Also:
3 month old Chihuahua puppy
Is indoor training better than outdoor?

While it is true that indoor training is much more applicable to tiny, toy dogs that larger ones, all canines have a deep instinct to choose the spot in which they go to the bathroom.

This goes all the way back to the wild dogs that were the Chihuahua's ancestors and remains just as strong today. 

For some people - such as those that do not have access to an outdoor space or for owners who are housebound themselves, indoor training may be the right choice. With this said, the Chihuahua will be able to be trained much faster with outdoor training.

Training methods as very similar. One of the keys to success in these helpful hints is to have a 'designated area' and for all intents and purposes, this can mean a location in the home that is lined with pee pads as well as the recommended outside area.

Why does my Chihuahua pee or poo as soon as we get back into the house? 

This can be frustrating, indeed. However, there are reasons why this happens. When a dog urinates as soon as he is brought back into the home, this is often a marking issue. Marking is a behavioral element as opposed to a training element. With marking, the bladder is not emptied. Rather, it is a light spray of urine that is released to mark territory.

Here are 4 things that stop marking:

1) Clean the area with an enzyme cleaner that will strip away lingering scents that dogs will be able to easy pick up but humans will not.

2) Instill the hierarchy of the house (humans are the leaders) by teaching all basic commands, always commanding a dog to sit before meals are given, and having the dog be the last to enter and exit the house.

3) If there is one to two particular areas that the dog always seem to mark, turn those spots into play or rest areas by placing your Chihuahua's bed or toys there.

4) Having your dog spayed or neutered reduces marking considerably.

Why does my Chihuahua go to the bathroom in his crate? 

Some believe that when a puppy is put into a crate that this will create a situation where he refuses to pee or poo in there. This is not true. While it is correct that most dogs do not like to soil the area in which they live, rest, sleep and eat....nature overrules on this one. 

A puppy or even older dog can only hold his needs for a certain amount of time and will indeed soil a crate if no other option is presented to him.

My Chihuahua was house trained but has suddenly forgot the rules. 

This can happen if a dog is under stress. A move to a new house, the departure or entrance of a new household member, etc. can throw a dog off track. 
Alternatively, if leadership has not been established or a new dog has been added to the family, a dog may be marking to claim territory.

Alternatively, bladder or urinary tract infections and many health problems can cause these sorts of issues. While it is not often listed as a symptom, even dogs that have impacted anal glands may have incontinence problems. Therefore it is always best to have a full and complete medical checkup when there are any moderate to severe changes in a dog's behavior.

Older, senior Chihuahuas may have less control over bladder and bowels; however this should not be accepted as a normal part of aging. An older dog should be checked for medical problems before owners decide that incontinence is part of the aging process.   
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