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How to Potty Train a Chihuahua: 5 Quick & Easy Steps

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By Nicole Cosgrove

chihuahua pooping

Chihuahuas get a pretty bad rap for being difficult to potty train. If you would like to train your Chihuahua pup efficiently, you need to take the right approach tailored to your specific dog. Obviously, the younger the Chihuahua is, the easier it will be to train.

However, you can train a dog at any stage of life to go to the bathroom outside. Remember that Chihuahuas have much smaller bladders than many other dogs. Because they are so small, they have to use the bathroom more frequently. Let’s learn a little bit about different ways you can potty train your Chihuahua.

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Puppy Pad Training a Chihuahua

Puppy pad training is a very popular method for small breeds. Lots of people don’t have time to take out their small breed every single time they have to use the bathroom. After all, you have work, school, and all sorts of other activities on your schedule. You might even be cooking dinner and miss a cue that your dog needs to go outside.

Having a puppy pad around provides a safe space for your dog to use the bathroom without you having to clean up any messes. Of course, puppy pads come with their pros and cons. Let’s look at some good things and not-so-good things about training your dog to use as puppy pads.

  • Puppy pads are disposable, making them easy to dirty and throw away.
  • Many puppy pads contain odor eliminators, so the smells don’t radiate throughout your house.
  • Puppy pad packages usually last a while and come with several in a pack.
  • Depending on other methods of training, puppy pants might be a cleaner alternative.
  • Continuing to use puppy pads long-term might deter your Chihuahua from learning to use the bathroom outside.
  • Depending on the brand of puppy pads, things can get quite messy.
  • Puppy pads can sometimes confuse your Chihuahua, making them think that it’s acceptable to pee or poop on similar
  • Using puppy pads too long might make you or your dog a little lazier, leading to permanent bathroom problems.

To sum it all up, puppy pad training really depends on the dog and the owner. Puppy pads should not be an encouragement to use the bathroom in the house their entire lives. Unless you are in a predicament where you cannot take your dog outside regularly, puppy pads should be a short-term fix for a long-term solution.

dog sitting on training or pee pad
Image Credit: Chewy


Litter Box Training a Chihuahua

While it might sound peculiar, many toy breeds are taught to use litter boxes these days. Even though it’s a foreign concept for most, it can work out well compared to a puppy pad or outdoor training.

One major complaint about small breeds is that they are tough to potty train. Their small size, in combination with their stubbornness, can create a hassle for their owners. If you’ve ever owned a small breed before your Chihuahua, you might already know this to be true. To cut corners, litter boxes seem to be a better alternative to puppy pads in some cases.

Litter boxes might be a bit more sanitary than puppy pads—but they can be messy. Ultimately, litter boxes provide a surefire way that your dog has an enclosure that they feel safe using the bathroom.

  • Litter boxes can provide a safe, private spot for your dog to go to the bathroom indoors.
  • If you live in an apartment or work long hours, this is a terrific lawn-like solution.
  • You can eliminate the likelihood of accidents on your upholstery, carpets, and household fabrics.
  • It can be an excellent option for senior chihuahuas experiencing incontinence issues.
  • Things can get pretty messy, depending on how much your Chihuahua flicks out the contents.
  • Cleanup is a bit more strenuous than simply tossing out a puppy pad.
  • If you have a digger on your hands, it might serve as a playstation rather than a bathroom space.
  • Because male dogs urinate differently, you’ll need to accommodate by having high sides on the box.

Only you can decide if litter box training would work in your particular situation. This option can be an excellent alternative for toy breeds because of its convenience.

Doggy Doors

If you have the right kind of environment, offering a doggie door might work for your little guy. Since Chihuahuas are so small and have trouble holding their pee or poop, allowing them access outdoors at their leisure can help.

Of course, you would need a fenced-in and secure backyard. You might also want to have something such as a bell to let you know when they’re going out.

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Are Chihuahuas Hard to Train?

Chihuahuas have quite the reputation for being stubborn little pooches. Many owners believe that they definitely have a mind of their own. When it comes to training, this can make things a little bit complicated.

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The 5 Steps to Potty Train Your Chihuahua

One of the primary things you need to have to potty train your Chihuahua is patience. If you maintain your level of patience by implementing the proper attitude, motivation, and positive reinforcement, you have a trained Chihuahua in no time.

1. Choose the Spot

You’ll want to pick a spot that you can use for each and every trip outside. You can introduce your Chihuahua by letting them sniff and explore the area. Once you choose the spot, it will need to stay the same.

Soon, they will familiarize themselves with that particular area and understand that it’s potty time. Don’t allow them to play in the area or roam around for fun. It should be free of any play or funny business, so you don’t confuse them.

2. Set a Schedule

Nothing will work faster for your Chihuahua than keeping a consistent schedule. The amount of time you wait in between bathroom breaks will depend on their age dog. Once you get a feel for your pup, you will be able to keep a mental note of exactly how long it takes for them to need to go out.

Male Chihuahua
Image credit: Pxhere

Here’s a good average based on age:

Age Maximum Time Between Potty Breaks Maximum Overnight Waits
2 months 1–2 hours 4–5 hours
3 months 2–3 hours 5–6 hours
4 months 3–4 hours 6–7 hours
5 months 4–5 hours 7–8 hours
6 months 5–6 hours 8 hours

*Tip: Remember that these numbers are averages, and they may vary from pup to pup.

3. Look for Visual Cues

We all know what it feels like to hold it when we need to go to the bathroom. When your Chihuahua is feeling the urge, you might notice body language like sniffing around or acting bothered. These cues can manifest in ways like whimpering, whining, or barking.

Some might not show any visual clues at all. It will depend significantly on the individual dog. So, make sure to stick to your schedule and adjust it as necessary.

4. Choose a Word

You will need to find a word that you associate with potty time. You can choose words like “potty,” “outside,” or any other singular word you prefer. Soon, your Chihuahua will be able to associate the word with the action. That way, every time you ask them if they need to go outside, they will respond.

Once you voice the word, you might notice your Chihuahua’s ears perking up or them growling or yipping at you with anticipation. These behaviors indicate that the concept is really starting to catch on.

chihuahua_Shutterstock_Shane N. Cotee
Image Credit: Shane N. Cotee, Shutterstock

5. Stick with a Routine

Just like with any other learned behavior, sticking with the routine helps to keep the behavior set. Everyone has a different learning pace, including your dogs. The longer you stick with something, and the more you repeat the exact same actions, eventually, every Chihuahua will catch on.

Many owners make the mistake of thinking that it’s going to be a breeze—but it isn’t. Your dog won’t just know where to go to the bathroom naturally. You have to train them to perform this action.

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Positive Reinforcement Training

Dogs don’t like to be in trouble. Chihuahuas are no exception. Even though these little spitfires might be a bit more challenging to train than others, that doesn’t mean that it can be done. If you thrive on giving your dog positive attention, they are twice as likely to repeat the action.

If your Chihuahua is scared of you or feels threatened by you, it might have an adverse effect.

Also, keep in mind that most dogs are highly food motivated, so every time your guy or gal goes to the potty like they should, reward them accordingly.

Potty Training an Older Chihuahua

Even though it might seem like a stretch, older chihuahuas can still learn to use the bathroom outside. You might need a bit more consistency and patience, but with time and perseverance, it can’t happen.

Image credit: HG-Fotografie, Pixabay

Some things to keep in mind when you’re training an older Chihuahua or that day aren’t familiar with this routine at all. You’ll have to unwind all of the learned behavior to persuade them their stools are better left on the grass.

It’s never too late to unlearn bad habits.

Bathroom Buddies

Sometimes having an already-trained companion is a very positive thing for potty training. When you let your older dog out, your younger pup will follow.

These repeated actions and good manners will translate to the puppy. Like us, dogs learn from their peers. Allowing them to witness another canine behaving well can really impact their overall success in potty training.

Stay Positive!

Chihuahuas are just as capable as any other dog of learning to go to the bathroom outside. The energy between you and your dog says a lot about the overall success of the training period. Mentally put yourself in your pup’s position and try to maintain a level head at all times.

Here are some takeaway tips:

  • Set up a plan and routine for yourself before introducing it to your Chihuahua.
  • Keep a consistent schedule, making potty time the exact same every single time.
  • Use a word that your dog will know, so they directly relate their urges with outside.
  • Try to use training methods like puppy pads and litter boxes for a short time—and don’t give up on outdoor training.
  • Don’t use negative reinforcement training or harsh punishments, which can lead to much worse behaviors in the long run.
  • Learn your Chihuahua’s body language and preferences to work with them accordingly.

If you follow the above steps and tips, your dog will eventually get the hang of things. It might seem like a slow-moving process but know that you’re making progress even if you can’t see it at first.

Remember that your pup is probably learning all of this, much like human babies develop over time. Don’t beat yourself up if you have to resort to using puppy pads or litter boxes in your home for a brief time. What’s most important is your Chihuahua’s comfort—try to cater to their learning style.

chihuahua pooping_Shutterstock_CHUDEACH SATIT
Image Credit: CHUDEACH SATIT, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Every dog owner can agree that potty training is possibly one of the most taxing parts of training you will do with your little one. Just remember they are learning all of this for the very first time. Once they finally get the hang of things, this will be but one memory of many to come. We hope this helps you potty train your Chihuahua!

Do your part by creating a routine that works for you both. Consider this a bonding experience that will grow trust and understanding between you. Soon, you will have a well-trained, housebroken Chihuahua, and you can focus on other aspects of your relationship.

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Featured Image Credit: Chaisit Rattanachusri, Shutterstock

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