One of the biggest challenges with a new pet is learning how to house train a puppy, and some breeds are easier to train than others. While Chihuahuas are cute as can be, but just like Bichon Frises, they are known for being difficult to potty train. The American Kennel Club (AKC) describes Chihuahuas as “tiny dogs with huge personalities,” and this often includes a stubborn streak, which can complicate house training efforts.
In addition to being stubborn, there are numerous other reasons why Chihuahuas can be harder to potty train than other breeds. Understanding these hurdles can help when it comes to training your tiny dog.
Accidents go undetected
Part of housebreaking is catching a dog in the act of peeing indoors and immediately redirecting him to the appropriate place. However, small dogs can easily slip out of sight, meaning their accidents frequently go undetected. When this happens, pet parents miss a valuable teaching moment. Additionally, accidents aren’t cleaned up immediately, encouraging the dog to eliminate in the same spot again.
Small-dog accidents aren’t as offensive
Because tiny dogs have tiny accidents that are easy to clean up, some pet parents are more forgiving. However, according to the AKC, the quicker you teach your puppy that there is an “approved place to potty and that some places are off-limits,” the sooner you’ll have a fully housebroken dog.
Trouble transitioning from pee pads
Some Chihuahuas trained to use pee pads may have difficulty transitioning to doing their business outside, said Veterinarian Elizabeth Robertson in a National Canine Research Association of America article. This is because they are used to just going on the pad whenever they need to, and it takes time to learn that they have to alert pet parents when they need to go outside.
Constantly supervise your puppy
Constant supervision is key when housebreaking your puppy, say experts at the Chihuahua Club of America (CCA). Small puppies are like babies and eliminate frequently with little or no warning. You can never let your puppy roam unsupervised around your home. “Prevention, supervision, and rewarding the desired behavior are the way to train your puppy,” according to the CCA.
Confine your puppy when you can’t supervise
When you can’t watch your puppy, he needs to be confined in an exercise pen or crate. Provide him with a bed at one end and a pee pad or newspaper at the other. Puppies don’t want to soil where they sleep, so they will naturally use the pad or newspapers when they need to eliminate. When training your puppy to go outside, you can take some poop or a piece of soiled newspaper to the desired outdoor spot. The smell will encourage him to do his business there.
Create a potty break schedule
Puppies do best on a regular schedule. This schedule teaches them that there are times to eat, times to play, and times to do their business. Feeding your puppy at the same times each day will make it more likely that he’ll eliminate at consistent times as well, making housebreaking easier. When setting up a housebreaking routine, you’ll need to monitor daily events and your puppy’s daily habits. With a very young puppy, AKC experts say you can expect your potty break schedule to look like the following:
- First thing in the morning
- Last thing at night
- After playing indoors
- After spending time in a crate
- Upon waking up from a nap
- After chewing a toy or bone
- After eating
- After drinking
This schedule can be overwhelming early on, but by being consistent, your dog can be successfully housebroken.
Focus on praising your puppy for getting it right
You should expect that your dog will have a few accidents during housebreaking. How you react to these accidents will play a big role in successfully housetraining your dog. Follow these tips when accidents happen:
- Don’t overact if you catch your dog eliminating in the house. Simply interrupt the behavior with an “oops” and immediately take him outside to the correct bathroom spot. If he finishes his business there, praise him and give him a treat. Continue reinforcing correct behavior by rewarding your puppy every time he eliminates outside.
- If you find a soiled area in the house, don’t punish your dog. Yelling or doing something as cruel as rubbing his nose in it will only scare your dog and make him afraid to do his business in front of you. Instead, clean the area thoroughly with an odor-neutralizing product such as No Go or Nature’s Miracle.
Finally, if your dog seems to be regressing in his training, don’t assume it’s a behavioral issue. Accidents in an otherwise housetrained dog could mean there’s a health issue such as a bladder infection or urinary tract infection. If you notice blood in the urine, straining when eliminating, or urine that dribbles out, you should visit your veterinarian, Robertson said. Otherwise, understand that housebreaking your Chihuahua will take time and patience. If you remain vigilant in supervising your puppy and rewarding him for desired behavior, you should eventually enjoy an accident-free house.
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