Lack of potty training is one of the main reasons that dogs end up in shelters. This is very avoidable if you go about potty training correctly. As a dog mom, I know it’s probably the most important training time for your dog. Whether you rescued an adult dog that needs training or adopted a new puppy, every pet parent needs to effectively potty train their dog. None of my small dogs were potty trained when I rescued them and it was a different process with each one. Using positive reinforcement methods, you can potty train your Chihuahua quickly with a minimal margin of error. Here are 10 tips for effectively potty training your Chihuahua or other small dog.
Tips for Potty Training Your Chihuahua
- Start as early as you can: As soon as you adopt your Chihuahua puppy (or adult dog) it’s time to start potty training them. The younger they are, the more they will need to go outside and do their business. They have tiny bladders! When I rescued Wynston, he was six months old. It took a little longer than I wanted to potty train him but it was completely my fault. I was not taking him out as often as I should have been.
- Take your dog out often: Whether your dog is a puppy or adult, if they aren’t potty trained, you need to take them outside as often as possible. Since I work from home I was able to potty train Khloee and McKenzie Rae by taking them outside every 1-2 hours. I know most people work full time jobs but be sure to take your dog out potty right before you leave for work and immediately when you get home. If someone else is at home with your dog, task them with taking your dog out every couple of hours (and explain to them how important it is).
- Use positive reinforcement: Whenever your dog goes potty outside, give them a treat. Always go outside with lots of treats in your hand so you can reward your dog for going #1 and/or #2. Along with giving your dog a treat, get excited!!! Show your dog that you are proud of them!! It’s a super big deal that they did their business outside! If you use positive reinforcement methods consistently, your dog will very quickly learn that going potty outside = treats, praise and happiness.
- Be patient: I definitely understand that potty training can be frustrating. McKenzie Rae was extremely difficult to potty train because she was a stray dog. She thought that it was okay to urinate inside the house wherever she wanted. Although at times I got frustrated, I never took it out on her. Instead, I was more active about taking her outside and treating her. I had to change my behavior in order for her to catch on.
- Don’t rub their nose in feces and urine: This is wrong on SO many levels. All it teaches your dog is fear. If you do this, your dog is going to be afraid of you. End of story. Don’t do it.
- Always have puppy pads and a kennel on hand: When you are gone, lay a puppy pad down in the kennel and put your Chihuahua in there. The kennel should be big enough for your dog to stand up straight and turn around. If your kennel is TOO big, your Chihuahua will just go to one end of it to go potty. Ideally, your dog won’t want to sleep in their feces so they will wait until you come home to do so. If they have an accident, it’s on the puppy pad for easy clean up. And be realistic – if you are gone for 12 hours, your Chihuahua will most likely go potty on the puppy pad. It’s not their fault that you were gone so long.
- There WILL be accidents: It’s inevitable that your dog will have an accident at some point. Don’t get mad. Just understand that it’s part of the process.
- Never physically punish your dog: If your pup has an accident, don’t hit or kick them. Don’t yell at them. They will have absolutely no clue what they did wrong. You are only teaching your dog to be afraid of you at this point. Your dog only wants to make you happy and if you physically hurt them, they won’t understand why you are doing it or what they did wrong.
- Don’t assume they know how to use the doggy door: Not all dogs will catch on right away to the dog door concept. It was really difficult for my Chihuahua to get it because he’s small. You can also positively reinforce the use of the doggy door while potty training your pup.
- Understand that it takes work: Your Chihuahua is not going to potty train themselves. It’s up to us as pet parents to correctly train them. If you don’t put the work into training your dog, they aren’t going to learn. Potty training is on YOU. If you surrender your dog because they keep urinating on the floor, it’s most likely your fault. It means you aren’t taking them out enough or you aren’t frequently rewarding the correct behavior.
Potty training your Chihuahua can be a good experience if you go about it properly. Never physically punish your dog in any way. It’s not effective and your dog will just learn to be afraid of you. I’m a dog mom to three small dogs. I know the process has the potential of being difficult. With patience and positive reinforcement, potty training your Chihuahua will be a breeze!
For more specific information on how to potty train your dog, visit the ASPCA website.
Need potty training items? PetSmart is my go-to place for all pet supplies.