For this we are going to be under the assumption that you are trying to potty train a puppy. It can be more difficult to train an older dog; particularly if they have never been in a structured environment before. It can be done, with enough time, love and patience.
Possibly the most important factor in successfully training a Chihuahua to defecate outside or in the area you designate for it to go in, is consistency. Some might say patience is the most important thing, or rewarding the dog even, but unless you are consistent in the method you use to train your Chi and tell him or her exactly what you want from them, they will not understand and it will become a guaranteed hassle.
When your Chihuahua is very young, you may not want them to defecate outside, as they are small, fragile and temperature sensitive. There are also dangers for them outside, such as other dogs, hawks and other predatory birds, etc. If you choose not to train them to go outside right away, there is always the option of puppy pads or litter training.
Regardless of the method you choose to use when training your puppy, you should begin as soon as they are old enough to start venturing out of their box or containment area. When they are very small, they have weak bowels and tiny bladders and they may defecate in their sleeping area. As they grow a little they will develop a natural aversion to laying in their own soil, and they will start searching for another place to go. Teaching your dog the word ‘come!’ from an early age may be a benefit while potty training.
Puppy pads are absorbent, specially designed pads that have a scent attractant on them that helps attract your dog to the pad to defecate. They come in many brands and sizes for different types of dogs. They can be used in a pen or containment area or on the floor, depending on where you keep your puppy.
Using litter for a puppy is much the same as it is with a cat. Make sure you have a safe litter that is free of harsh chemicals. Try to find a litter that is not made of clay and is unscented. Keep the litter box away from the food, water and bedding to establish that the ‘potty place’ is not the same as the sleeping and eating place.
If you are going to pad train your puppy, be sure that you remove the pads as soon as they are soiled. You do not want your puppy to start searching for another area to go because they do not want to be around a soiled pad. If you are attempting to train your dog to defecate outside or if you are planning to train your dog to defecate outside in the future, then you may want to try using the puppy pad on the floor in a contained area rather than in a playpen or in a kennel. This way you can move the pad closer to the door as your puppy gets older and eventually transfer it outside.
If you are not planning on ever training your dog to go outside, it may be easier to pad train them in a contained area such as a kennel or a playpen. The problem with this method is that you must always have a puppy pad available to them then, and it can be difficult to do this if you are traveling, or if you have other dogs in the house that may chew up the pad or carry it off somewhere.
My method has always been starting off on a puppy pad and then transitioning into the outdoor training as the dog ages and becomes a little more mature and trainable. You may choose to go another route based on your living situation and schedule.
When you begin training your puppy to defecate in a designated area, you should keep in mind that they are young and may not understand the first couple of times what you expect of them. They will learn by repetition and reward.
One thing to keep in mind when initial house training begins is the feeding schedule. With very young Chihuahuas, what goes in must come out. If you put your Chi on a feeding schedule, then you will be able to estimate about when they need to go potty. Very young Chihuahuas should never be left without nourishment for more than a couple of hours. If left longer than that, they may suffer from hypoglycemia.
If you monitor when food and water is available to your Chi, then you can accurately gauge about when you need to take them to their potty area. You should offer your chi food and water every 1 ½ – 2 hours for ten to fifteen minutes. After that, remove the food and water dishes and take your dog to their designated area. If they do not go then, try to repeat the potty break in twenty minutes. Chi’s have a very small capacity to hold waste when they are very young. As they age you may begin spacing out the feedings and potty breaks a little more each day until they are on a less demanding schedule.
When you start training, be sure that you have already established a trust relationship with your puppy. If your dog is afraid of you, it will set back the training immeasurably. Although it can be frustrating when you feel as though you are making progress and then you find out your dog had an accident, please never raise a hand or scold your dog violently. This will frighten the dog and can lead to the type of passive aggressive behavior that may cause trouble later. It also might frighten the dog from ever trusting you again.
When your dog chooses to defecate in the proper area, praise and give a reward. The reward may either be affection or food, but with younger animals, affection may be better as any extra treats will create extra bowel movements.
You should take your Chihuahua to their designated area at least once per hour during the day, 20-30 minutes after every time they eat and directly after they wake up from a nap as these tend to be precursors to potty times. You need to give him or her plenty of opportunities to defecate in the right place. If your Chi does not go while he is in the potty place, then contain him for another 15-20 minutes and try again.
If you have a busy work schedule and are gone all day, you might find that potty training is a little slower than if you are able to spend more time with the dog. If this is the case, then be sure to let your dog out to their designated area before you leave and as soon as you return and then every hour thereafter until it is time to go to bed for the night.
Using a keyword can also be helpful. For example, you could say ‘go potty’ or ‘make toilet’ or ‘go go.’ When you want him to go. After a while your Chi will become familiar with this phrase and associate it with the action, which may speed up the process of getting your dog to defecate upon first entering the approved area.
You should teach your dog the word NO from the very beginning of your relationship. You should say it in a firm voice, a bit louder than your usual voice, but not so loud as to be frightening to the animal. Chihuahuas love to please their master and a simple no will suffice.
Catching your Chi defecating in the wrong spot and correcting the behavior is far superior to trying to punish them later for something they did and you discovered after it happened. They will not have any idea why they are being punished if they are not in the middle of the misbehavior. If you try to punish them for something after it is already done, you will only serve to confuse them and break their trust in you.
If your Chihuahua does have an accident in the house, clean it up with a good odor remover. Nature’s Miracle® makes a very good one. If you are not on top and vigilant about cleaning up any spots left behind from accidents, the dog will most likely continue to defecate there again and again as the scent will keep attracting them back to the same spot. Dogs are very fond of going where they have gone before.
Although it might seem cruel, when you are in the beginning stages of potty training your pet, you should keep them confined at all times when you are not able to pay direct attention to what they are doing. Every time they are able to defecate in the house without being caught and corrected, you are telling them in not so many words that the behavior is acceptable. If they get into a routine of going wherever they please, it can become a real problem later.
Male Chi’s, particularly if they are not neutered, will go through stages where they begin to mark territory. Before you can deal with marking behaviors, it might help to understand why your dog does this. He is not intentionally being bad or obtuse. He is not being sneaky or going against your wishes on purpose.
Male dogs in the wild live in a hierarchy. They mark to establish the pecking-order within the pack. When a dog comes into your home, there are a million new smells and things he would like to claim as his own. The marking puts out pheromones that other dogs can smell, even if he is the only dog in the house, telling them that this space has been claimed by the resident dog. Dog’s noses are much more sensitive than our own and can pick up on smells that have been in a home for years. If there was ever a pet in the home you live in, even before you moved in, chances are your dog can still pick up the scent.
Your dog does not view this behavior as annoying or wrong. In his mind he is protecting the house and the family, by letting others know that he is there and he is willing to fight for you if he must.
Sometimes we might take for granted the human/dog relationship and what it means. A dog does not naturally housetrain. When they go outside to relieve themselves it is because you have reinforced to them over and over that is appropriate behavior and they are looking to please you. If you allow a male dog the freedom to run through the house without being watched, he may choose an out of the way place out of the main section of the house to defecate. To him, this is just like going outside, especially of he views the main portion of the house as his area. Just like a dog not liking to sleep or eat by their own waste, they may view alternate areas of the house as being prime areas to defecate because they are not allowed to visit them very often and therefor do not have to deal with the waste.
Dogs can tell about as much from each other’s urine as a medical lab can tell from a blood test. Dogs, just from smelling a urine spot, can tell whether the dog that left it was larger or smaller than them, the sex of the dog, if the dog was in heat, spayed or neutered, if they are about to go into heat, if they are a familiar or an unknown dog, and if they are healthy.
Urinating in marking fashion while in the wild is like a map for other dogs. If the female is in heat and wants a partner, she may be able to use the scents that male dogs leave behind as a homing device to single out a mate.
This may be worse if there is a female dog on the premises, especially if she is in heat. Having two males in the same house may also lead to a problem as they tend to get into marking wars on the floors, walls and furniture. Territorial marking is natural and a part of the dog reaching sexual maturity.
Male Chihuahuas do not fully empty their bladders with a single urination, so they are pretty much able to go whenever the idea strikes them. Having a dog neutered before seven months of age is one way to prevent marking behaviors in most cases. There are also belly bands you can buy that won’t stop the dog from marking, but will catch the flow of urine so it doesn’t end up making a mess. These bands are washable and reusable. Over time they tend to become stained and stretch out, so you may wish to purchase more than one. I found that if you use a maxi pad as a liner inside the belly band you can dispose of it when it becomes soiled and it is a cheaper solution than buying the expensive pads that were designed for the bands. It also means less washing of the band which will increase the lifespan of the product.
You may also wish to try tethering your dog to you with a leash. That way, when he decides he is going to mark in an inappropriate spot you can be right there to stop him. This works well if you are going to be home for a few days and do not need to let the dog spend time alone.
You may also want to offer small tasty treats as rewards for an older dog when they defecate in the correct spot. Be firm with your Chi if you catch him marking in a spot you do not approve of.
If it seems like he is more prone to mark in one section of the house than another, you can try a couple of different things. Don’t let him in that room at all by himself. If he seems to be marking just one object and it is something you can move, take it out of the room and place it in a non-doggy-access portion of the home. You may also want to try repellant sprays. There are solutions you can buy that contain pheromones and urine scent intended to attract your dog to certain spots to defecate. You might want to try one of these outside or in the approved defecation area to give him a boost of interest in marking there rather than in the house.
Small dogs seem to have more issues with marking inside the house than larger dogs. When you get more than one small dog in the house, the marking may become a pack mentality of trying to set boundaries around the house that other dogs will not cross. It might be driving you mad, but the dog is doing this because you and your home belong to him and he wants to keep you safe from intruders.
Although neutering is not in any way a replacement for training and teaching good behavior, it is the single most effective thing you can do to curb the unwanted habits of a male dog. Do not punish your dog for marking in the house. If your dog learns to run away and hide from you, chances are he will run away and hide and do his business at the same time. If this becomes a persistent behavior you may have a huge setback in the training process, and you may end up with a fearful, aggressive behavior that you do not want.
You may wish to confine your dog if you feel that the problem marking cannot be handled any other way. If this is what you choose to do, then gradually allow your dog more freedom and space as improvements in the marking behaviors are noticed. If you find that allowing too much space too soon is causing the marking to increase again, then use positive reinforcements when he does the behavior you are asking for and try to keep catching him in the act when he is doing unwanted behaviors.
You may want to keep small, bite-sized treats available and with you when you take your dog for walks and when you let him outside to use his potty area. When he goes where you want him to, give him a treat and say “Good boy go potty outside,” or something to that effect. He will come to expect a reward when he goes outside and will associate the act of urinating and defecating with a positive reaction from you. You are the center of his world. If he can do something that makes you happy, he will try to repeat it hoping for the same reaction.
Be certain that when walking your dog you do not promptly end the walk as soon as your dog uses the potty. He will take this as a sign that going potty while on a walk means the walk is over and view it as punishment. Then, in the future he may refuse to go in fear that the walk will end as soon as he does.
Sometimes even an older dog that has already been neutered and housebroken will need a slight retraining when they are in a new home. The desire to defecate in new areas and claim them for himself would be the equivalent of a dieter trying to resist the wares of a candy shop.
If you work diligently with your dog and have patience with the behavior he is exhibiting and correct those behaviors, you will find a solution that works. Keeping the home clean and free of trigger smells will always work in your favor. Keeping your dog on a leash out in public where he does not have access to run free in other people’s homes or businesses will also help teach him where you wish for him to go and not go.
You can have a dog, even a Chihuahua, which will learn to obey the rules of the house if you are clear and concise on what you want. Your dog will learn to respect you as the leader of the pack if you establish dominance the correct way without making the dog fearful of you.
The success of house training your dog will vary, depending on many factors, such as, how much time you have to spend training, the personality of your dog and whether or not you are training for the outside, the puppy pad or the litter box or a combination of the above.