Before starting the house training process, it is important to realize that from the perspective of new puppies or untrained dogs, there is no good reason why they should not potty inside the home. It is up to people to give their dogs the tools they need to succeed in a domestic world, that starts with helping them learn where it is appropriate to toilet.
There are a number of ways for potty training a Chihuahua successfully; your choice really depends upon the type of environment you live in. People in urban living situations with no yard tend to paper train their puppies until the pups have had all their vaccinations at approximately sixteen weeks old. When it is safe for the puppy to be outside, they make the transition between paper training inside and toileting outside.
In contrast, those in suburban or rural environments with yards or a safe outside area might use a combination of training pads and outside toileting; still others will skip pads altogether and take their pups straight outside.
Paper Training Guidelines
- Create a “safe zone” area where the puppy can be confined when unsupervised. This can be either a pen or a small puppy-proofed room with the pup’s bed or crate, food, and water bowl.
- Line the entire area with training pads. At first the puppy will potty all over the place, but this way it will always be on a pad.
- Remove soiled pads frequently.
- Reduce the number of pads by taking away one pad every few days, leaving a small area without a pad. Because the puppy has built up a habit of toileting on the pads, he should naturally gravitate to the area where the pads are still covering the floor, leaving the unpadded area clean.
- Puppies instinctively do not like to potty too near where they eat or sleep, so ensure that the first pads you remove are the ones closest to the pup’s bed and bowls.
- Over the next few weeks, gradually reduce the potty area by removing each pad until is only a single pad left. Ensure that the remaining pad is the farthest from the pup’s bed and bowl, and change any soiled pads regularly.
- Use a cue word (“go potty” for example) that the puppy will associate with toileting, and quietly say that word while he is in the act of toileting. When he has finished, gently praise him and/or give him a favorite treat or toy as a reward. Repeating this process consistently will build up an association between the word and the act of toileting, so that you then can use the word to encourage the puppy to potty.
- If the puppy is making the transition from toileting on pads inside to going outside, take a partially soiled pad to an appropriate outside area and place it on the ground. This will encourage the puppy to potty outside while still having the comforting feel of the pad underneath his paws.
- Once the puppy is confident about going outside, remove the use of indoor pads completely.
- If you want to designate a permanent toileting area in your home, make sure you choose a quiet area. As you give your puppy more freedom, encourage him to use the pad by leading him to this area at hourly intervals and then less frequently as he learns to hold himself for longer periods.
- The puppy should now be at the stage where he is taking himself to his pad to potty.
What Not To Do
Never scold a dog for toileting inappropriately, and never rub his nose in or near his mess. Contrary to popular opinion, a puppy or dog does not toilet inappropriately out of spite. If you catch your Chihuahua in the act of toileting in the home, issue a gentle vocal interrupter and pick his bottom off the ground. Remove him to the pad or outside and encourage him to potty in that area.
If a puppy is punished for toileting, the punisher becomes someone to be feared, and the pup will then be inclined to either potty in secret or hold himself until the person is out of sight. This does not bode well for those who want their dogs to toilet when out on a walk. Leaving poorly house trained puppies or dogs in the home unsupervised sets them up to fail unless they are in a “safe area”.