Skip to main content

PawTracks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

4 effective ways to housetrain your stubborn little Chihuahua

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.

Reasons Chihuahuas can be difficult to housebreak

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.

Related Videos

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.

Cute Chihuahua standing in grass.

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.

4 effective ways to housetrain your Chihuahua

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.
Chihuahua getting a treat.

Last thoughts on puppy potty training

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Howling dog went viral for sounding like an opera singer — we can’t get enough
This video shows a pup who has mastered the art of music with his perfectly on key howling
A dog lies in the grass and howls at the sky

Many of us think that our dogs talk way beyond the average woofs and barks that we all hear. Some seem to be particularly good at human speech, mimicking our sounds to try to be more like their pet parents. While most beasties never quite make it to speaking to us in our language, others go a step further and decide they will learn to sing too. Singing pups have taken over the internet, and this diva is no different.

If you've ever been to the opera, you know to listen for the tell-tale vibrato, which is really just moving between two pitches very quickly. There's nothing quite like it, and most of us will immediately think of that sound when we listen to this melodious dog.

Read more
Have your heart set on a breed? Here’s why it’s important to consider different types of dogs
Think you need a small dog? Here's why you should research different types of dogs first
A woman kissing a dog

Perhaps you love your friend’s Yorkie. Maybe you grew up with a beagle and always dreamt of having one of your own. Getting fixated on a specific breed is normal and natural, and there’s no shame in it. Just like gender disappointment is a "thing" in parenting, so is dreaming about welcoming a specific dog with a distinct look and characteristics into your family.

Still, you want to consider different types of dogs while searching for a new furry family member. It may be difficult to wrap your head around, but researching other breeds and considering all of your options is an essential step in the process of choosing a dog breed. That doesn’t mean you must consider all dog breeds — that’s overwhelming — but you want to look into several. Here’s why and how to jumpstart your search for your next four-legged best friend.

Read more
6 affectionate and cute dog breeds for owners who love to cuddle
Different dog breeds that are cute and that any owner would love
Cavalier King Charles spaniel lies on a pillow and looks into the camera with big eyes

Sometimes, a dog simply falls into your life with no notice. Other times, however, you have the opportunity to plan for welcoming your new furry friend. You might even want to research different dog breeds to decide the kind of pet you're looking for. Do you want an athletic canine bestie? Or would you prefer a buddy who wants to hang out on the couch?
Affection is one other quality that many look for in a pet. After all, nothing beats a good cuddle with your pup after a long day. Luckily, all the cute dog breeds on this list are known for their affectionate natures, so they'll be just as happy for a snuggle session as you will. Take a look!

Great Dane
Although a lot of people think of small dogs as the cuddliest, that's not always the case. The American Kennel Club (AKC) explains that this breed "need[s] lots of affection and socialization with people and other animals, making them great family pets." They are called "Gentle Giants" after all.

Read more