Chihuahua Potty-Training and Housebreaking

Potty-training is an essential process that every owner must go through with their Chihuahua. Unless you plan on keeping your furry four-legged friend in a fenced-in backyard (not recommended), you'll have to teach them to use the bathroom outside the house and not inside. Unfortunately, however, Chihuahuas have a notorious reputation for being a breed that's difficult and downright stubborn to housebreak. In fact, some owners throw in the flag and simply lay out pee pads for them instead. The truth is that practically any Chihuahua, no matter how old they are, can be potty-trained when it's done correctly and under the right circumstances.

Although Chihuahuas can be successfully potty-trained at any age, it's recommended that you start as soon you bring them into your home, preferably when they are still a puppy. During the first 6-12 months of a Chihuahua's life, their brains are developing at a rapid pace; therefore, they will naturally catch on to routines and consistency. You can use this to your advantage by instilling the basic potty-training commands in your Chihuahua's head. When they learn these principles at an early age, it will stay with them well into their adult years, making the potty-training process easier for the both of you.

Chihuahua Potty-Training - Where Should I Start?

Two Housebroken Chihuahua Puppies

Two Housebroken Chihuahua Puppies

It's easy to feel lost and confused when you first bring your Chihuahua home. You're busy preparing their bed, making sure they have food and water, and you're probably playing them with, too. While all of this fine, you need to place potty-training at the top of your list of priorities. As stated above, it's crucial that you begin teaching them the basics of where using the bathroom is acceptable and where it's not.

Before you start attempting to potty-train your Chihuahua, you'll need to pick up a few basic items first. These items are necessary to encourage good behavior, as well as prevent bad behavior. Here are the things you'll need:

  • 1-2 boxes of small milk bone treats for rewarding good behavior.
  • A crate that's just large enough for your Chihuahua to stand up and turn around in.
  • A small, comfortable bed with a couple soft blankets.
  • A soft, non-abrasive collar with a leash that's at least 10-feet long.

Note: This isn't an entire list of everything you need to own a Chihuahua, but rather a list of items that will come in handy when potty-training your Chihuahua.

Potty-Trained Chihuahua

Potty-Trained Chihuahua

Potty-Training Basics

One of the key factors to successfully potty-training your Chihuahua is letting them know when they do something bad. When you see them do their business on the floor inside your home, quickly walk over to them and immediately say "No!" or "Bad boy/girl!" You should never physically spank or hit your Chihuahua, as this may injure them and make it more difficult to train them. Instead, stick with a strong verbal statement, letting them know that what they did is unacceptable. Chihuahuas are quite emotional, and verbally telling them "no" while pointing at them is all it takes to get the message across.

No matter how hard you try to prevent it, accidents will happen. It's an inevitable part of owning any indoor dog, regardless of breed, so don't expect your Chihuahua to be any different. After you see them peeing or pooping inside the house, tell them "No!" and walk them outside. While you're walking them, say something along the lines of "go potty" or "go pee-pee," as this will help them associate the words with the actual behavior. It may take some time, but remain patient and wait for them to do their business. When they are good and use the bathroom outside, give them a milk bone treat along with lots of petting and praise as a reward for their good behavior. Treats go a long ways when it comes to potty-training and obedience training, so use them to your advantage.

Another little trick I've learned that helps to potty-train a Chihuahua is to always take them to the same place outside to do their business. Chihuahuas have a keen sense of smell and will be able to tell where they've used the bathroom before. When they come across an area where they've already used the bathroom, they will notice the scent and assume it's okay to use the bathroom here again. You can begin walking your Chihuahua to other parts of the yard once they are older and fully potty-trained, but stick to a designated area during their early puppy years.

Chihuahua Crate Training

Some owners are under the impression that forcing a small Chihuahua to stay cooped up inside a crate is cruel and inhumane. After all, how fun can it be to remain stuck inside a crate where you can barely move around? The fact is, however, that a crate gives your Chihuahua their own personal space in which they can call home. There's a certain sense of security they begin to feel and associate with their crate, and chances are they grow to enjoy being inside it. As the owner of three Chihuahuas myself, I frequently find my Chis hiding in their crates even with they are allowed to roam the house free.

The reason why crates are such an effective potty-training tool is because you can confine them to it anytime you're unable to watch them. Instead of "hoping" your Chihuahua doesn't use the bathroom inside the house, you can rest assured knowing they are safely confined to their crate. Naturally, most Chihuahuas won't use the bathroom in the same crate where they sleep and rest. If they have to use the bathroom, they will try to hold it until you let them outside. This works in your favor, as it lets your Chihuahua develop the skills necessary to hold their pee until you take them outside. Just remember to never leave a Chihuahua in a crate for long periods of time.


214 Responses to “Chihuahua Potty-Training and Housebreaking”

  1. Violet says:

    I have a 6 month old chi, he isn’t potty trained at all, and I have been letting him do his buisness whenever and wherever in the house (bad choice I know) but as he got older I’ve been trying to take him out more. I have no money for puppy pads or kennels so any advice on how to train him to go on newspaper maybe or how he can tell me when he needs to go outside? I don’t want to lose him because he is the most precious guy ever . I need help, open to anyadvice !!!

    • BrookeC. says:

      First of all, keep in mind your dog has established that it is OK to potty indoors. Even without a crate, you can confine your dog to a small area in the home at night and when you’re gone. It’s highly improbable that the dog would potty in the same place he is confined to if it’s barely big enough for turn around movement.

      Still, it’s your responsibility to take the dog out regularly and minutes the water consumption. Perhaps limit the night water intake just in the hour before bed time, the same you would do for a child. Always make sure they are hydrated though.
      Lastly – the smell of urine can linger much longer than the wet spot stays visible. The carpet pad gets wet, and urine is known to soak into tile grout as well. It should not be a condition you accept for yourself or your pet. Make it your top priority to potty train the dog. We all have memories of the people we visited and when we walked in, hit a wall of animal urine. Even after you get used to it, your friends won’t.

  2. Dee says:

    I have a one and a half year old Chi. She is pad/box trained (due to long work days and the fact that she travels with me & stays in hotels. She will also go outdoors), but when she is not gated in a certain area of the house with her pad, she insists on sometimes pooping off the pad in the same couple of spots in the house. She does not pee off of the pad, just poops. Any suggestions for correcting this behavior? She’s really smart and trains easily, but this has been a source of challenge and frustration.

  3. Kathey Traylor says:

    My chi is pretty much potty trained, she will ask to go out but my problem is I’m trying my best to crate train her and she pees in it every time. I don’t know how to get her to stop. I know she can hold it when I’m at work because I’ve seen her do it. I don’t know what else to do or any ideas?! I also come home on my lunch break so it doesn’t feel like it’s that long for her.

  4. Davie says:

    Hi, we have two new Chi pups (12 weeks old) Our problem is it’s far too cold outside to let them out the house, we are happy to train them to use puppy pads / pee mats indoors but we are having a very low success rate at the moment, we do not crate the dogs at night or when they are left alone, we have them in a small room with their beds, blankets & puppy mats, any tips on how to improve our success rate would be greatly appreciated…

    • Phyllis Salser says:

      Cover the floor in pee pads. After a week or 2 they will pick an area to use so you can put only 1 or 2 pads down in that spot.

  5. Rmont says:

    I am potty training a little chi right now. Like my other two, I have a baby-gated bathroom with her extra bed and pee pads. This is the only area she goes in when I can’t supervise her. All other times she is on a harness and leash attached to my ankle or if I am running around the house, she is in a back pack. It is a lot easier if they don’t ever get a chance to pee in the house, ever. I let her outside every two hours-no exceptions. She follows the older chi’s. If I am away, I have a pet sitter let her out. They have always been out every four hours with me or a pet sitter. I just shortened up her schedule with the new girl. Perseverance pays off!

  6. Medusa says:

    My Chihuahua is having an odd issue when it comes to going outside lately. I feel something outside may have scared her.

    She will not leave the doorstep at all anymore. In fact getting her outside to pee is nearly impossible. She pees in the house though, however.

    She used to be good about peeing. Why is this?

    I can stand there or sit there for over ten minutes telling her to go peepee so she could get treats. She just stared and stood there doing nothing.

    My grandmother does not believe anything is wrong, and that she is just the “alpha dog”, so she has to look at her surroundings. She usually pees on a mat by the porch doorstep, and my grandmother claims it is because “it smells”.

    We do have a dog who died and is buried in the yard, and this started a month after our beagle was buried.

    Any ideas on what to do?

  7. Dorothy says:

    Never spank or hit any dog Use a crate, take out after naps, play, meals. And having a male neutered or a female spayed helps tremendously. If you can’t watch your Chi, crate. As soon as you take her/him out, carry straight to your yard. No playing. As soon as he/she pottys, praise and bring in. Being consistent is the key. 3months or a year, do this every few hours until he/she gets it. The shelters are full of Chi’s & many are euthanized because they were never properly potty trained.

  8. linda says:

    i have a 3 year old chihuahua i just got 5 days ago from the shelter…i am trying to potty train her but she refuses to go outside she will smell she will walk arounf and she will try to sit or lay down. i have he in a crate while i am gone but she ends up going potty inside her crate that is only big enough for her it is not an over sized crate…can you please help me what can i do… specially to stop her from going potty inside her crate that has a blanket

    • Hannah Gibson says:

      I just rescued a 5 month old chihuahua puppy and am having the same experience his goes outside sniffs around walks around a bit or seems so cold or scared of outdoors. Have you had any success with this since your post?

  9. rose newlon says:

    My dog will not pee or poop outside only use pads she’s 8 months now what is an answer?

  10. marilyn says:

    are Chihuahuas free???

  11. Brenda Rawson says:

    I have a very healthy & happy 10 year old chi. We rescued her 8 years ago. I am wanting to get a second chi. Either young adult or puppy (female short hair). Our big girl is house broken with a rare pee puddle. We have a doggie door & a fenced yard. I missed the puppy experience with Sassy & would love to have it. Possible problem: U am on dialysis during the night while sleeping & would not be able to take pup out during the night. Husband could do this, but since he doesn’t think we need another chi he would be a grump about it. Although he would do it. My question is will I be fighting a losing battle getting a pup. Also would pup learn quicker by being around Sassy who is trained. We are firm believers in crate training. Should a new dog be in a separate crate at first????

    • Cara Davenport says:

      I was recently given a 9 month old Chihuahua and he was never trained the woman who had him just assumed clean it however when I got him he was kept in a crate where there was old poop Caked Up in the corners and all over the blanket that was in there my fear is that even though I have another dog that can show him it’s not okay to go to the bathroom in the house the crate is not going to work because I believe it was used overbearingly in his last residence? I don’t keep him in the crate when he pees on the floor or poops on the floor I put him in it to show him that he did something wrong but he’ll go outside for hours and will pee outside but will not poop outside should I take the poop in a paper towel and put it outside so that he smells his own feces outside? Please help me it took me a while to train my first dog and I do not want that dog to go backwards because of the Chihuahua now peeing and pooping in the house..

      • HappyMom88 says:

        Great job, Keep it up. They can be stubborn little things. Try bringing it out like you are doing first thing in the morning after crating all night. Give it extra time to pee and poop. If it doesn’t poop, then feed it in its crate with door latched shut. As soon as it is done eating, take it out again and wait. If it still hasn’t pooped, don’t allow back inside. I would suggest taking it on leash for a walk in neighborhood. Some dogs need a little extra exercise to defecate. I hope this helps. Let us know how things are going.

  12. Sheri says:

    I’ve recently adopted a little chihuahua shih tzu mix, lover her so much but she is a little stubborn about potty time. I take her out often and many leave her out in the backyard to run with the other dogs and to do her business and unless i’m watching her I never know if she goes or not, then after a while I bring her in and she immediately pees on the floor.. so frustrating. She is also very quick as well, so most times I don’t see that she’s made a mess until its too late. I have been taking her out to go potty when we wake up in the morning, and sometimes I hear her barking in the night and take her out (I learned my lesson and don’t ignore the bark) last time I did she peed on the bed. I do have one spot I take her to in the yard were she consistently will do her business, she also likes to go on the lawn.

    • Kane Shi-Chi says:

      Hi, Sheri, I’m Kane. I’m nearly one year old. I’m also a Chihuahua-Shih Tzu mix. I was given to a shelter when I was ten months old.
      My new family brought me home 2 weeks ago today. On the drive home, I pooped on my new Daddy! I also poop in the house. I’ve never pooped outside, but I am learning to pee out there (I get a delicious treat that Mommy makes each time I pee outside).
      The problem is that none of us know how to get me to poop outside.
      But I feel better knowing I’m not the only little ShiChi who is stubborn about potty time. Not that I think it will make Mommy any less frustrated…..

  13. Jennifer says:

    I have to take ours out like once an hour to start out with even.if he didnt go i would stay with him and tell him “go potty” and he would if he had to we did that for the first week i was leaving him out of his kennel at night and i was having to take him out a couple times a night but now he goes in his kennel at 11pm til 6am without any accidents ive have never been successful at training any dog but i want to thank u cuz following ur instructions we have been accident free for awhile now but we still go out at leaat every couple hours our adult chi wants out every couple hrs too

    • HappyMom88 says:

      Some dogs will see outdoor time as play time. Until your new pet has gained your confidence and learns that outdoors is for eliminating and not playing, I would suggest monitoring her activity outside. Once you are satisfied she has done her duty, give her a reward and bring her in. Don’t allow her to run around yet. She is a small dog that will get enough exercise by running around and playing indoors.

  14. Julie howarth says:

    I have two chihuahuas and no matter what i do they still poo and pee in the house . They pee on anything

    • Tracie says:

      Hi I have 2 also that pee and poo anywhere ..I understand your frustration lol iv tried the sturn No !! They just wag there tail there now 6 months ..let’s hope it stops eventually 😀

    • HappyMom88 says:

      How old are they? Are they spayed/neutered? If not, that can also cause marking of territory. Make sure you crate train your dogs in separate crates at night and during the day if working or close them off in a small bathroom without a rug (leave puppy pad). Potty them outside first thing in AM and after eating, playing, and sleeping. Also take them out before bed at night. Don’t allow them to play outside unit they are doing their elimination outside and not in house. These are small dogs that do not require a lot of space to get their exercise. One can also walk them to give them a chance to eliminate which can also be seen as a reward for pets.

  15. Angelina says:

    Do I have to wake up in the middle of the night to let it use the restroom ? Or keep it as only in the morning night and after it eats ? Pls let me know

    • PAM says:

      Mines will whine,bark or scratch to let me know that she has to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, she is 8weeks old just got her a couple days ago. GOODLUCK

      • Ray jr says:

        Yeah right at 8 weeks old! Ha ha!

        • Crystal says:

          I brought my chi home, he was only 6 weeks…he doesn’t pee in his crate and wines to go out at night…however during the day if I don’t monitor him while he is out, he will use the bathroom in the house!

  16. E. Hoffmann says:

    Never spank a Chihuahua. Use the fake grass. Take them outside in the morning and at night when home from work Good luck, you are going to need it.

  17. Debbi says:

    My 6 week old chihuahua is amazing! However, when I walk outside, he won’t move. He sits on my porch, and bites me if I pick him up! PLEASE HELP ME OR HE WILL BE BACK ON THE KILL LIST. I love him lots…😿

  18. Merrie says:

    We have a 6 week old chi, vet says is very healthy. After reading all comments I think we are doing really well! We take her potty immediately when she wakes, and 20 minutes after she eats. We’ve had her a week tomorrow. Luckily, my daughter met her the day she was born and visited her daily so by the time the breeder told us to come get her, my daughter was her person. We didn’t want to take her sooner than 8 weeks but there were circumstances beyond our control and since she’s bonded to my daughter we felt like bringing her home was the best option of a bad situation. She likes people and doesn’t seem to miss her pack. Starting day one here, if she pottied inside we blotted it with a paper towel and took both her and the towel outside, had her sniff it and then put it on the ground and said potty. By day two she was going outside. By day three she was whining to go out. I learned the hard way not to say let’s go potty and put her down to walk to the door. She gets confused and pees inside when you do that. She doesn’t like treats so I just praise and Pat her. My daughter runs with her and plays in the leaves when she is a good girl but if she doesn’t go, no reward time. We matter of fact go back in and try again in a few minutes. I am handicapped so she is harnessed when I take her. It was hard to find our 2 lb baby girl a harness that fit but a guy at the pet store advised to use a ferret harness. medium fits her.
    Our problem is that she will sometimes pee in her crate even though that’s where she eats. I am worried that since she was too little when we got here that is why. We both work so we need to get it resolved and also need to know how to get her to the point where she can be alone without crying. How long is it supposed to take? Today left her home alone in the crate for the first time and she carried on so! Need advice for helping her like her crate!

    • Stephanie says:

      We lost 2 of my babies. Nina was miniature pincher. (She was mama girl)
      She past away Nov 12,2016. I loved that Nina Polina. You are missed baby girl!
      You are in my prays.

      Then we lost Ryder Roo from seizures. He was having them 3-10 a day We tried seizure meds. But it did t work. At the end he was going after me and my hubby. He attack gihita (140 lb put she is mixed with pit/ Mastif ) and Ryder weight 7# so we talked to our vet and she said there’s not a life for him to live.
      Me and my husband agreed. I had the vet give Ryder a bath and his nails done. The lady at the check in. Told me Why would I pay for the shampoo and nails. I told her because I wanted him to know that his last breath. I was there. Mama really miss you (little Man)

      About a month after Nina pasted. Me and my daughter was driving from town and we saw puppy trying to eat road kill so they won’t starve. So I couldn’t stand by and watch what these babie survive on road kill. So my family got together and we adopted 5 apple head chihuahua’s – Sam got- coco
      Angel got- Jane
      Me got – Jack And Jill
      Bobbi – cant remember

    • HappyMom88 says:

      You are starting off great! Six weeks is still too young to hold bladder. I know your pet is older now. At about 4 months is when they START holding their bladder through the night or day. It should get easier as your pet gets older. Keep trying and let us know if it has gotten better.

  19. Nicole says:

    I have a 10 week old chihuahua and I’ve had her since she was 4 weeks! Her mommy quit feeding her way to early but I have treated her like the baby she is and she is very healthy, playful and sweet as can be. She shocked us when she picked up on the puppy pads so young but she did and used the good. Now she will not use a puppy pad for nothing! I don’t whip her when she uses the bathroom inside, I just tell her no in a firm voice and she hides. She knows she is doing wrong but dont use a pad for a treat or anything. I dont understand what went wrong. I now have a crate and she holds it while she’s in there and when she gets out uses it on the floor not her pad. Can someone please help me, I really don’t wanna get rid of her. We are attached to her and love her so so much. She has brought life back into our morkie and they play all the time. I wanna keep her but I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I know its not her fault do I wanna fix whatever I’m doing wrong to help her!

    • Melba says:

      Hey I have a 11 week old brown tri-colored chihuahua. When I got him he was 6 six weeks old as soon as he got home I lay the potty pad in front of his bed. When he wakes up from nap he goes straight to his pad because I point to it “Go pee pee or poop here”. He understands and I keep repeating the same cycle with him supervising him to keep repeating the same routine until he no longer needa to be supervise. Maybe that can help you if anything let me know!!

  20. lori carthy says:

    I have an 8 week old shih tzu chihuahua mix and I can not get him to potty outside I am not sure if it’s to cold or he gets distracted really easy please help I thought about litter training but if I travel with him then he will want to go indoors any advice thanks Lori

    • Andy Kuhn says:

      The same things happen to me with my dogs. I have a teacup chihuahua, and a shih tzu yorkie mix. The ways I’m gonna tell you to potty train might actually work. I have tested it, and it does work.

      1. Take the dog outside on a leash.(unless he or she can walk off-leash) When you get outside, you’re gonna put a little pressure on the dog and push it around a little. Try not to hurt the dog, don’t push too hard.

      2. Do you have puppy pads? If you don’t, you should get them. If you have a small room in the house, put puppy pads all around the room. Don’t make it so the dogs can do their business right next to the pads. Cover the entire room with puppy pads. If you don’t have a small room, put a baby fence around it, unless you want to cover a bigger room with the puppy pads. Let your dog eat some food while you finish. When you have your space covered with puppy pads, take your dog in the room, and close the door. Leave them in there after 5 minutes. Nothing? Leave them in for another 5 minutes. If they only sit and cry, sit in front of the door, and make no noise. They will smell you, and know you’re with them.

      Hope this works on your dogs.

    • Debbi says:

      Hey Lori, and yes, I’ve got advice. Try a grass mat, and outside. Grass mats are lots like ref. Pee pads, but have grass. Give it a shot! Np!

  21. Rae says:

    I rescued a two year old Chiweenie who started out very well with potty training, then fell of the wagon. I put a towel in the bathroom floor and then put her pee pads on it. When we arise in the morning, She is put in the bathroom until she pees or poops, then lavished with praise and a tasty treat. Then she gets her breakfast. If I can’t watch her like a hawk, she goes in the crate. After evening feeding, back in the bathroom she goes until she does her business. Before we go to bed, she stays in the bathroom until she goes. Otherwise, she is crated for the night. It didn’t take long for her to get a clue about her “rights” to my house. She is absolutely delightful! I have never had a chi, but she knew just how to wrap me around her little paw! 😉 Best of luck to everyone!

  22. Casandra Hiscock says:

    It’s – 35 Celsius here, so it’s to cold outside! I’m using pads and outside on warmer days! I can’t wait till it warms up!

  23. Sara says:

    I need to know how many hours that long hair Chihuahua can hold up bathroom since I got a new job that work from 11-8p since my daughter is with her dad for winter break.. I’m all home alone with my long hair Chihuahua

    let me know asap

  24. sarah says:

    I have a female Chihuahua that has been using the bathroom inside after I bring her outside. She is not even 1 years old yet, and I have been trying different things and it never works.

  25. Ari says:

    I have two regular chihuahuas, two siblings, one boy and one girl. They just turned one in may and when I first got them around last October they had no problems going to bathroom outside and would have very few accidents but then they started going potty in their kennels when we would put them in there when we went out and now they go potty everywhere! They are outside a very good portion of the day and have enough time to potty but they still go potty inside! They even began to pee on my bed and I’m stuck on what to do. Please help.

    • Pam says:

      Yes we are having the same issue with ours. They spend plenty of time outside 4 times a day at least but still will poop the minute they come into the house in a hidden place if I let them roam . Plus the male marks everywhere. I have tried everything, but these were rescued at 2 and 3 years old. The female is pretty good, but my little male is stinks most of the time since he’s a LH and always has pee on his fur. I need advice out of the box. I have him in a belly band when they are in the house and we change it about 6 times a day 🙁

  26. Ashley says:

    I have a chihuahua and she turned a year old in June I have got her to go pee outside but I can not get her to poop outside she is constantly popping on my children’s beds or blankets what can I do to get her to go outside ??

  27. Chihuahua says:

    Help!!!! My chihuahua will go all the time in my house he is 6 moths and still not potty trained how do I stop this bad behavior 😕

    • Laura says:

      Crate crate crate! It really works!

      • Pam says:

        Crate has worked for two of ours but for one female she still poops and pees almost every night even when we walk at midnight. Then she will eat her stool about 25% of the time. I know gross, but this one we raised from a pup, but did it from the time we got her at 7 weeks, and we’ve never been able to break this yucky habit. She’s now 3, and we call her the Pooper, she poops almost 5 times per day. I’ve owned dogs my whole life chihuahuas and terriers and this little pooper recycles her own. What does this mean? Help!

  28. Cheryl says:

    I have a 2 year old Chi that will not potty outside, she has also been peeing on the bed, I got mad after the 3rd or 4th time and she got spanked and now she she seem scared of me, You can have her outside foe a while and a few minutes after coming in she pees, can someone please give me some advice I feel so bad for spanking her I just did not know what else to do

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