How to Potty Train a Chihuahua: 8 Vet-Approved Tips & Tricks

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Potty training can be challenging for novice dog parents, but it shouldn’t be too overwhelming, and it mostly involves sticking to a schedule and giving your Chihuahua plenty of learning opportunities. When it comes to potty training, always remember to be consistent and persistent.

In this guide, we’ll share all you need to know about potty training to get your Chihuahua peeing outside in no time.


Potty Training

chihuahua dog holding waste bags in its mouth outdoor
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

Potty training is necessary for ensuring your Chihuahua develops good bathroom habits, and it’s far easier to instill these good habits while your Chihuahua is a puppy. However, if you’ve adopted a non-housebroken Chihuahua adult, they can be potty trained, too. Do not believe the saying; you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. It may take some time and work to break the habits they’ve learned, but it’s certainly possible.

One of the things that makes toilet training your Chihuahua more complicated than with some other breeds is their size. It’s much easier to spot a large dog going to the bathroom behind the couch than a Chihuahua!

So, let’s dive into toilet training a tiny Chi. Here’s everything you’ll need before we get into the tips:

What you’ll need:

  • An outdoor area
  • Treats
  • Poop bags
  • A leash
  • Patience


The 8 Tips & Tricks on How to Potty Train a Chihuahua

1. Pick a Spot

Whether you have a yard or your Chihuahua is a city pup, pick an outdoor area where your dog can pee. You’ll use this spot to help your dog develop a sense of routine around using the bathroom. If you live in an upstairs apartment, you may wish to invest in an indoor grass training patch for your home or balcony until your Chihuahua learns to hold it long enough to get downstairs.

2. Give Your Chihuahua Plenty of Bathroom Opportunities

The key to teaching your Chihuahua to go to the bathroom outside is to ensure they have plenty of opportunities to go. Puppies simply can’t hold their bladders for as long as adult dogs. Adopted adult dogs may never have been taught to use the bathroom outside and will need the new routine reinforced with lots of consistency.

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All you need to do is take your puppy or adult Chihuahua outside on a leash several times a day to the spot you’ve chosen for them. For very young puppies under 12 weeks, you’ll need to do this every hour or two, and you can extend the time as the puppy gets older.

Even if it doesn’t seem like your puppy needs to use the bathroom, take them outside on schedule to get them into the routine. Good times to take your Chihuahua out are first thing in the morning, after playing, after a meal, after drinking water, and before bed.

chihuahua drinking in the water fountain
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

3. Praise & Reward

To motivate and encourage your Chihuahua, reward them with a tasty treat (or whatever motivates them most, like a toy, play session, or praise) every time they use the bathroom outside. This creates those all-important positive associations. Offer the reward just after they’ve finished doing their business rather than during to prevent them from stopping.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s easy to miss your Chihuahua going potty indoors. If you don’t reward them for going outside, all they are receiving is neutral reinforcement for both; there is no reaction when they toilet inside and none when they go outside. Going potty outside must become more appealing than going inside.

4. Learn the Signs

It’s important to tune in to your Chihuahua’s signs that they need to use the bathroom. Signs include whining, circling, sniffing around, and scratching at the door. If they have a spot indoors that they keep using, keep an eye out for them heading in that direction and intercept!

white-brown Chihuahua sitting in front of a wooden door
Image Credit: Emanuel1180, Shutterstock

5. Consider Crate Training

Crates get a bad rap, but when used correctly, they can be useful and help your pet feel more secure when you aren’t there. The trick is to turn the crate into a bedroom and make it cozy with comfortable bedding and toys. A crate should be where your pup wants to spend time and shouldn’t be used as a punishment. A puppy will avoid going to the bathroom in their crate if it’s the correct size, so it makes it much easier to potty train them when you use one.

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Put a puppy training pad under the bedding and blankets in case of accidents, but don’t designate it as a toilet area. This will encourage your puppy to wait until they leave the crate to go to the toilet. If there is an area to go potty inside the crate, they will not learn to hold it.

Every time you let your puppy out of the crate, go straight to their toilet spot. They will soon learn that there is a predictable pattern to follow, which makes it much easier for them to learn to hold on just a little longer.

Using a crate also helps pups avoid separation anxiety. If they have a safe bedroom to go to when you are out, they won’t feel like they are all alone in a big house.

6. Be Understanding

It’s impossible to get through potty training without accidents happening sometimes. This is completely normal, and your dog isn’t doing it out of spite or to misbehave. Avoid being harsh or punishing your dog for peeing or pooping in the house, as this will make them anxious or scared around you. If you catch them going indoors, just make a sharp sound, like “ah!” to get their attention, then calmly take them outside to their bathroom spot.

This should happen as quickly as possible to help your Chihuahua make the association between using the bathroom and going outside. They may have already finished, but going straight to their toilet spot will still help them identify the appropriate area. If they finish outside, reward them! They must be praised when they do the right thing, even if they have just peed on your favorite rug.

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closeup of brown chihuahua
Image Credit: Daniel Martins, Unsplash

7. Take Them Out, and Then Take Them Out Again

The outside world is exciting and interesting, especially when you’re a puppy. But when you let your puppy outside to go potty, that’s not always what they’ll do! Or, they’ll start going but then get distracted. You might think they’ve gone to the toilet and decide to take them back inside, only to have them go potty five minutes later, which can be really frustrating!

Until they’re trained, take them out and bring them back inside when they seem to have finished, and then five minutes later, take them back out again. You’ll be surprised how often they go potty again!

8. Stay With Them

As discussed above, puppies (and dogs) don’t always go to the bathroom as soon as they’re let outside. Some need to sniff and play before they feel ready to go potty. If you just let them out and don’t watch them, you are setting yourself and your puppy up for failure. You need to watch them go to the toilet so that you can reward them, and know that they have actually been. This is essential and where many people fail.

brown and white chihuahua dog in blue vest given treats
Image Credit: Tamara Bellis, Unsplash


Final Thoughts

If your Chihuahua puppy or adult seems to be taking a little longer than you’d expected to learn the basics, don’t panic. Dogs aren’t the same; some will learn quickly, while others will need more time. If the problem persists, however, you might want to have a vet check your dog out to rule out medical causes, like urinary tract infections.

It’s also possible that your Chihuahua suffers from anxiety, especially if they’ve had a harrowing past. If you suspect this might be the cause, please see a vet and consider working with a professional trainer. But if you follow the tips and tricks above, your Chihuahua should be potty trained in a jiffy!

Featured Image Credit: Chaisit Rattanachusri, Shutterstock

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