Why are Chihuahuas So Hard to Potty Train. A Helpful Guide

Chihuahuas are so cute and many owners of these adorable little dogs wouldn’t have it any other way. However, there is a caveat: These pups are known around the world for being hard to potty train. Why is this? And, what can we as chihuahua owners do to get this problem under control? That is why I am going to answer your question “Why are Chihuahuas So Hard to potty train”


These are the things we will discuss in today’s article so that you and your beloved chihuahua enjoy a sanitary and clean home where everybody “goes” at the right time!


Busting The Myth of Why are Chihuahuas So Hard to Potty Train



Let’s understand one thing: Chihuahuas are very smart and can be trained so long as you are consistent and treat your dog with patience, offering lots of praise when warranted. 


Perhaps the biggest issue of training a chihuahua to go outside for the potty is that they are so small. Even smaller dogs like a french bulldog are easier to see when they are circling around, sniffing, looking for a place to go potty. Meanwhile, a chihuahua is so small that it is harder to see when they are getting ready to eliminate it. 


Your goal as a pet owner is to keep a very close eye on your puppy, so they can be house trained. 


First, Let’s Rule Out Medical Issues


The first thing to do if your pup is having trouble going outside is to rule out any medical issues that could be bothering the dog. Your dog might be incontinent, and not even realize they are leaking urine. 


For instance, spaying early may cause urine leakage. It happens to only a small percentage of pups, but it could very well be the reasoning behind the leaking. It happens if a dog is spayed before the first time they go into heat. 


Another cause could be a UTI. Urinary tract infections lead to incontinence and a frequent need to go. If your chihuahua is urinating more than usual or has some strange behaviors related to urination you haven’t seen before, you may wish to perform a urine test with your vet so you can know if it is a UTI or not. This affects females differently than males, as a female dog has a wider, shorter urethra as compared to a male. However, do not misunderstand: males can contract a UTI just as females can. 


All in all, just talk to a vet if you have tried your best at potty training, been consistent, and offered praise. The issue could be something that you need medicine or some other medical help with. 


Smaller Dogs, Greater Sensitivity


Much like humans, dogs are not fans of punishment. Raised voices, rolled up newspapers, rubbing noses in waste…these are things that we absolutely should NEVER do as dog owners or trainers. You would be angry and afraid if someone treated you this way-don’t do it to a dog. 


Chihuahuas are particularly receptive to anger, irritation, or other negative feelings you might have about housebreaking. Even good things-such as a boisterous round of praise after your dog successfully poos-can make them feel a bit scared. 


If your dog becomes afraid of going to the potty in any way, they may sneak away to do their business in a place they deem to be safe, and you end up becoming more upset when you find various spots of poop and urine around the home. This makes it a lot harder to potty train your chihuahua.


Be sure you keep praise at a level comfortable for your pup and offer a treat after a job well done. It is a nice, non-verbal way to praise your dog and will have them associating potty time with a positive feeling. 


You might even give them a long leash if you live in a busy area. Opt for a long leash with an extendable feature, or hook two smaller ones together. This way, they can have some privacy while they go and you can stand there calmly, and offer some praise when they finally come back. Be sure to verify your long leash does not break any city laws-some cities, for instance, allow only a 6ft leash maximum. 



Chilly Dogs


No, I am not talking about the hot dog with the chili sauce on it-rather, the phenomenon of chihuahuas getting cold thanks to their small size. The chihuahua has a coat that is not long, fluffy, or particularly furry-and this leads them to get cold easier than a bigger dog. 


If your dog is averse to going outside in winter thanks to the cold, there are a few approaches you can take. You can take them outside while they wear dog parkas, but it may just be easier to have them train on a puppy pad for the cold months. If you let your dog outside in the winter, keep a close eye on her so that she really goes before letting her back inside. 


Tiny Dogs, Greater Need To Go


A tiny dog means their digestive system is also tiny. And these dogs eat a lot! These little guys are known for their huge appetites, and what they eat gets filtered out and turns into, well, waste. 


Their small bladders and intestines work hard to keep everything going. It seems (although I am not aware of any studies on this) that smaller dogs have to go more than big dogs because they just don’t have the same size digestive system.


So, bearing that in mind, it is easier to understand your dog’s mannerisms and needs to go to the bathroom. Helping your dog get crate trained is another way to help him or her hold their poo while they wait to go out with you. 


Plus, dogs love crates because they are safe, secure spaces. Your little dog will love it and you will see that it is not so hard to potty train a Chihuahua.


Let’s Talk Crate Training a Chihuahua (See crate prices on Amazon)


In the wild, dogs love dens. These are safe, secure spots where families can be raised, sleep can be restful and productive, and families can grow without fear of predators. 


Your tiny chihuahua feels the same way about a special crate for themselves. It is a place they can feel safe while you are having a friend over or out for a quick trip to the store. It is also a place where they can learn to “hold it” when the chance to go to their potty spot is not always available. 


For starters, do not ever use the crate as punishment. Your Chi will fear it and be averse to going inside. 


Never leave the dog inside the crate all day. Let them out for exercise, interaction with the rest of the “pack”, and food. Furthermore, put the crate in a place the whole family usually is, like the living room, so they can always interact with the family as they relax. 


If your Chi is six months of age or under, they should not be in their crate for more than three or so hours. Their bladders are small and not able to be held. Older Chis will have an easier time with this, but should still be supervised. 


Start by doing 30-minute increments and work up to larger increments of time. You might start with 30 minutes, then to 45, then to an hour, and so on. Your Chi will learn to “hold it” so you can get short errands done without the worry of them going into the house.



Understand This: Your Chihuahua is Crafty


Us Chihuahua lovers know about those random poop pieces you sometimes find in the house as well as the urine stains you probably walked by once or twice before you finally saw them. 


This is nobody’s fault-the the chihuahua is small enough to fit into some pretty crazy spaces, and you as an owner are busy with other things as well as being a dog parent. It’s why some people find it so hard to potty train a chihuahua. 


Therefore, it is critical to be vigilant and stock the right cleaners on hand to keep things going smoothly. Your dog is going to go back to a place they have soiled before, as it is familiar to them. Therefore, keep an enzyme cleaner around to clean up any accidents. This gets rid of any familiar smells so your dog can be re-trained properly. 


You can soak up fresh urine with a paper towel or old rag you no longer use and leave it in the spot where your dog is supposed to go. This way, her scent will be there and she will be more inclined to use that spot. 


Another good way to prevent urination in places you don’t your Chi going is to put up barriers. Baby gates work well, other blockers like boxes and such are good ways to keep the dog away from places she should not be. Puppy gates also exist, and you can get them online or at your local pet store. 


We Have To Communicate With Our Chihuahuas


If only it was easy to see what our dog was saying to us in plain English! This is not the case, unfortunately-but there are steps we can take to be better in tune so that it is not so hard to potty train chihuahuas. 


If you adopted your chihuahua from another owner, and they pad-trained the dog, this makes it harder for you to potty train her. A pad-trained dog is not impossible to teach, but they have their own way of doing things and you have to work with them to alter that behavior


You can use potty bells to do this. These little bells are easy for your dog to let you know when they need to go and are perfect for chihuahuas. Most dogs can paw at the door or whine a bit, but a chihuahua may not be heard as easily. These potty bells hang right on the door and your pup can alert you about when it’s time to go out. 


Don’t Give Up!


Your dog has no idea that we as humans find waste to be yucky. Often, the dog is trying to just put their scent in places they want it to be. It’s not something a dog does to make you feel angry or resentful-it’s their way of marking places they want to be their own. 


So, don’t give up, whatever you do. If you are having trouble, consider asking a professional dog trainer to help out. It likely will not come to this if you are patient, consistent, and kind to your Chihuahua. 


The important thing to remember is that it may seem so hard to potty train a chihuahua, but you can do it.

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