In principle, potty training a Chihuahua is no different to toilet training any other breed of dog.
There are broadly two techniques you can use, depending whether you have access to a safe outside toileting space from the time they are a puppy, or whether you need to use puppy pads.
But due to their tiny size, there are several pitfalls which can slow down toilet training for Chihuahuas, Chihuahuas crossed with other small breeds, and teacup Chihuahuas.
This article is all about understanding why those pitfalls occur, avoiding them like a pro, and setting your puppy (and yourself) up for potty training success!
Potty Training A Chihuahua
Potty training is the process of teaching your new puppy or dog the right place to pee and poop, and encouraging them to use it until they return there reliably of their own accord, and don’t toilet anywhere else until they have access to it.
If you have easy access to a safe, suitable garden, then you can teach your Chihuahua to toilet outdoors from the moment you bring them home.
If that’s not an option, you can kick start the toilet training process using puppy pads indoors, and make the shift to outdoor toileting as they grow up.
Sometimes, due to their size and bladder capacity, it’s easiest to toilet train a Chihuahua using a combination of both methods at first.
We’ll take a look at all of these options more closely in a moment.
But first let’s take a look at the special considerations Chihuahuas need during the toilet training process.
Chihuahuas are so small it’s almost hard to believe that they ever descended from wolves.
When Chihuahua puppies are ready to come home at 8 weeks old, they usually weigh between 1 and 2 pounds.
Being built on such a tiny scale doesn’t leave much room for bladder capacity, and Chihuahua puppies can only hold a tiny amount of pee before they need to use the toilet again.
This creates several challenges while potty training:
Chihuahua puppies need to use the toilet very frequently.
At 8 weeks old, they might not even be able to reach 15 minutes between toilet trips.
This means that establishing toilet training demands pretty much your entire attention for several weeks.
Chihuahua puppies need to pee more frequently through the night as well.
Almost all 8 week old puppies still get up to pee in the night, and continue to do so until they’re 12-16 weeks old.
But it’s not unusual for Chihuahuas to get up in the night until they are 20 weeks old or more.
Broken sleep is exhausting, and a real shock to the system if you’ve never experienced it before.
Chihuahuas only pee in tiny quantities at a time.
Why is this a problem?
Well, dogs instinctively pee where they’ve peed before.
An important part of setting up good toileting habits is scrupulously cleaning up any accidents, so your puppy doesn’t return to the same spot again.
But when accidents are tiny, it’s easy to miss them. Without constant supervision, your puppy can pee in inappropriate places, which makes it more likely they’ll return there to pee again later.
Chihuahuas get cold quickly
Finally, because they are so small, Chihuahuas don’t tolerate the cold well.
Especially as puppies they lose body heat quickly, which can be dangerous if they’re outdoors in wind, rain, or snow.
To avoid hypothermia, Chihuahuas have a strong, life-preserving instinct to stay warm.
Which isn’t very compatible with toilet training in early spring, winter or fall, or even during the night in summer, depending on your climate.
Are Chihuahuas Difficult To Toilet Train?
So those are a few of the obstacles to Chihuahua potty training. None of them are insurmountable, and we’ll look at how to overcome them in a moment.
But how do Chihuahuas respond to training generally?
You might have heard them described as being stubborn or diva-like, which is misleading, since it implies they do things simply to get one over on us.
But dogs don’t think like that. If your Chihuahua puppy pees in the wrong place, it’s not to spite you.
He has no idea about the significance of rugs or carpets, or how you feel about them being peed on.
As we touched on earlier, dogs are creatures of habit.
Potty training a Chihuahua can be straightforward if you:
- Make it easy and comfortable for them to do the right thing early on, so they build good habits.
- And overlook accidents with good grace, rather than mistaking them for pot shots at you in a training-based battle of wills.
Getting Started With Chihuahua Potty Training
Most of us ultimately want our dogs to use the toilet outside every time, and hold on until they can do so.
If you can, it makes sense to teach your Chihuahua puppy this habit from their very first day at home.
You’ll need access to a safe outdoor space for your unvaccinated puppy to go on the ground – for example a private back yard.
But it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t use puppy pads indoors as well.
We’ll come to that in a moment.
But first let’s look at the details of potty training outside.
Toilet Training A Chihuahua Outdoors
Potty training outside starts from the moment you arrive home with your new puppy.
Take them straight to their designated toilet spot, and pop them down for an opportunity to pee and poop.
If they do, lavish them with praise. If they don’t, scoop them up and carry them in your arms for five minutes or so, before trying again.
Puppies don’t generally like to pee or poo whilst being held, so the aim is to alternate between cuddles and trips to the toilet area, until they use it.
Luckily cuddling tiny soft puppies is no hardship!
Continue taking them outdoors every time they eat, every time they wake up, after playing games, and every 20 minutes in between those occasions.
Over the coming weeks, you’ll be able to gradually stretch out the intervals between toilet trips.
Encouraging Your Chihuahua To Toilet Outdoors
Here are some tips to get your Chihuahua puppy toileting outdoors!
- If the weather leaves them cowering in the doorway, set up a gazebo so they have somewhere dry to use. Look for objects you can use as windbreaks around the side as well.
- I toilet trained my puppy over the course of a wet autumn. He’s not a Chihuahua, but a Whippet with very little body fat. On wet and windy days the only place he would poop was in our greenhouse. Luckily it was out of use for the season, and it was better than using the floor in our house! As he grew, he stopped feeling the cold so much, and didn’t need it anymore.
- If the weather is dry and bright but a bit nippy, consider a lightweight weight jumper they can wear indoors and out. Something lightweight is better than something thick and heavy, because taking it on and off every 15 minutes in the early days will quickly get annoying!
- And finally, consider combining outdoor potty training and indoor potty training. Providing an appropriate space to pee indoors means you can at least keep accidents off your favorite rug!
And we’ll look at how to do that next.
Using Puppy Pads In Chihuahua Toilet Training
Puppy pads are the second method for Chihuahua potty training.
If you don’t have access to a safe outdoor space for your unvaccinated Chihuahua puppy, you’ll have to use puppy pads exclusively until their vaccination schedule is complete.
Even if you’re using an outdoor space as well, there’s no reason not to use puppy pads overnight, or in your puppy’s playpen in case they need to toilet whilst you’re showering, preparing dinner, or answering the door.
Using puppy pads has advantages for house training a Chihuahua:
- If you live in an apartment, they’re safer and more convenient than visiting the street several times an hour.
- Once your Chi has formed the habit of using pads during the day, you can choose to leave a puppy pad out at night so they don’t have to wake you up to go out.
In fact, some Chihuahua owners go as far as using a dog litter box throughout their Chihuahua’s life – you can even get ones which look like little patches of turf!
But if you prefer, you will be able to gradually phase out the puppy pads when they get bigger.
How To Potty Train A Chihuahua Using Puppy Pads
To potty train a Chihuahua using pads, first you’ll need to find a spot in your home with hard, non-porous floors, and wipe clean walls and baseboards.
Kitchens, utility rooms and laundry rooms are all popular choices.
At first, you’ll cover most of the floor with pads, so that your puppy’s first wee in there is guaranteed to hit a pad.
Then, as they start returning to the same spot time and time again (remember how we said puppies like to pee where they’ve peed before) you can begin removing half of the pads furthest from that spot, and then half of the remaining pads, and so on.
Eventually, your puppy will reliably return to a single pad to pee and poo, and then you can gradually move that pad to the corner of the room, or inside their puppy pen.
Once they begin to hold their bladder for longer stretches, you can move the pad just outside the back door, or go cold turkey and scrap it altogether.
Encouraging You Chihuahua To Use Puppy Pads
To encourage your Chihuahua to start using puppy pads:
- Return them to the pads regularly.
- Watch them closely, and clean up accidents in other places quickly.
- By watching them closely, you’ll also learn the signs that they’re about to toilet, for example turning in circles sniffing the ground!
- Don’t let them have access to carpeted areas at any time when you can’t supervise them.
Troubleshooting Chihuahua Potty Training
In this article, we’ve looked at how potty training can be adapted for Chihuahuas in particular.
Final Thoughts On Chihuahua Potty Training
Chihuahuas puppies can take longer to potty train than other breeds, because they have a very small bladder capacity.
This means they will have more frequent accidents if they’re not taken to the correct toilet spot often enough.
Chihuahua puppies might also resist toileting outside if it is too cold or wet.
But time, patience, and a few simple adaptations will ensure you get there as quickly as possible.
What Are Your Chihuahua Potty Training Tips?
Do you have experience in Chihuahua potty training?
What tricks worked for you and your dog?
Let us know in the comments box down below!
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