The worst mistake you can make in house training a Chihuahua is to call or drag your Chi over to an accident and scold her. Doing this does nothing to speed up her learning; it only teaches her not to come when you call her. In the case of collaring her and dragging her over to the mess, she’s not likely to let you grab her by the collar again.
The only time a mild verbal correction is permissible in house training is if you catch your Chihuahua in the act of relieving herself in the incorrect place. If you see this happening, you’re allowed to say “Ah-ah!,” which should help to startle the Chi and stop what she is doing. Then, with absolutely no anger or malice, pick up the pup and place her in the correct elimination location. When she relieves herself here, praise quietly, give your command, and then treat.
Harsh and/or physical corrections do not have a place in house training! The Chihuahua is a breed that wants to please her owner. You just need to show her what you want in a consistent manner and follow a reward-based, positive house training program. She’ll learn much faster without any damage to the human-canine bond.
Your best approach is to go over to the accident and clean it up quietly. If your Chi is curious, and you are having troubles maintaining your cool, place her gently in her crate so you can finish your cleanup work. While you’re cleaning, try to figure out what mistake you might have made in her training.
The Reward System
Give the correct behavior, receive a reward. Give the wrong behavior, nothing happens. It doesn’t take long for a dog—a species that has been domesticated for thousands of years and that lives to be with humans—to figure out what behavior gets the most benefits.
When applying the reward system to house training, it’s really rather simple. When your puppy or adult is in the act of relieving herself, praise her quietly and say, “Go potty” or some other suitable command. If you are too jubilant in your verbal praise, you will startle your Chi and may actually stop the flow of events, so to speak.
After she’s finished, continue to tell her how good she is and give her a small treat. Do this every time your Chihuahua eliminates in the correct area, such as outdoors or in a dog litter pan. Soon she will not only understand where to relieve herself, she’ll also understand the command “Go potty” and will start looking for a spot when you ask her to.
Understand the Signals
If you’re not keeping a close eye on your Chihuahua, it is quite possible for her to have an accident right in front of you. Young puppies give very little warning that they are about to relieve themselves, probably because even they don’t know they have to go. Just like toddlers, if they’re playing hard or otherwise distracted, Chihuahua puppies might ignore their urges until it’s virtually too late for them to get to the right place.
If you are watching your Chihuahua closely, she will give you indications that she is about to relieve herself in one or several ways. Here are a few of those telltale signs:
- Sniffing the floor or ground
- Running behind furniture
- Beginning to squat (female and young male puppies)
- Sniffing another dog’s mark
- Raising a rear leg (older male pups)
Do Not Punish
In some instances, even if a puppy or an adult urinates right in front of you, you should not voice a verbal correction. One of these times is when a Chi leaves a puddle because of submissive urination. A very submissive puppy or young adult may crouch slightly and release a pool of urine on the floor when she greets you. This is a dog’s signal that she recognizes you as being her leader and wants to make sure you know this. It is not a sign of disobedience.
A person’s natural reaction might be to give the dog a correction; however, with a submissive puppy or dog, shouting a correction will only make a submissive dog more frightened. Usually, submissive urination fades away as the Chihuahua matures.
Another common mistake that isn’t really an accident is the male puppy dribble. It is not uncommon to see young male puppies dribble urine as they trot across a room or out in the yard when they need to urinate. This situation also disappears as the pup matures, usually around the age of five months or so.
If a puppy or adult Chihuahua suddenly begins urinating with greater frequency or urgency than normal, have her examined by your veterinarian. She could have an urinary tract infection, diabetes, or another condition requiring medical attention.