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Why Is It SO Hard To Potty Train A Chihuahua?

Why Is It SO Hard To Potty Train A Chihuahua?

Potty train another Chihuahua?

No thanks.

I’d rather teach an octopus to put on pants.

Potty training a Chihuahua is HARD. If you’re here for troubleshooting, you’re not alone.

There are some ways that you can make this process a bit easier. It starts with understanding the nature of your itty-bitty companion.

What’s Wrong With Your Dog?

A health issue could be causing your dog to be incontinent.

Early spaying often causes urine leakage, especially on bedding. Spay incontinence happens to about 5% of small dogs who are spayed before their first heat.

Urinary tract infections can cause frequent urination and incontinence. If your dog is peeing a lot, or has any sudden, unusual urinary-related behaviors, a quick urine test can rule out a UTI. A female dog’s urethra is shorter and wider than a male’s, allowing bacteria to enter the bladder, though males can suffer from a UTI too.

If you’re having trouble with potty training, talk to your vet to rule out an underlying health issue. This is even more crucial if they were once trained, but are suddenly having accidents again.

Chihuahuas Are Sensitive

All dogs are sensitive to punishment, even if that’s just raising your voice… even if it’s an unintentional exasperated sigh when you have to clean up yet another puddle.

Chihuahuas are especially sensitive to any anger or annoyance you might have about potty training.

They can even become frightened if you celebrate too loudly when they finally poop outside.

Once they become fearful about going potty, they will hold it in when you’re near, and then wait until they can sneak off.

It can help to use a longer leash, or two leashes clipped together, so your Chi can have a bit more privacy when you’re out on a walk. Only use a long leash in an open area, as you may only be allowed a 6-foot leash when you’re at a park. Reel in your long leash any time you’re near a road.

Chihuahuas Are Sneaky

Face it, if you’re on this blog post, there’s a 99.999999% chance that there’s a dried pee stain or poop nugget in your home that you don’t know about.

Lingering scents attract your Chi, and she’ll continue to soil the same area again and again. Use an enzyme based cleaner like Nature’s Miracle to break down the stain and get rid of the scent. Add your Chi’s scent to the correct potty spot by depositing her poop or a paper towel soaked in pee wherever you want her to go.

You can use baby gates and crates to limit your Chi’s free range of your home until you can trust her. I really like the puppy gates from Carlson’s Pet Products because of the walk-through door.

Chihuahuas Get Cold Easily

Smaller dogs have a larger ratio of skin to insides.

With more surface area in relation to their overall size, they get cold more easily.

You might start to have a few accident-free months through the summer, only for your Chi to start having accidents again in the winter.

You can teach your Chihuahua to poop outside in the winter, but in the meantime, you may want to consider using puppy pads when it’s cold… especially if you know that you won’t be able to walk your dog as often, or supervise her outside to make sure she does her business before you let her in again.

Every Part Of The Chihuahua Is Miniature

I will never cease to be amazed at the size of Matilda’s poops.

For her size, they’re long and thick, and sometimes the land sticking straight up out of the ground.

Your Chihuahua has a tiny digestive system to match their tiny body, though they have a huge appetite. What goes in must come out. That tiny bladder and small intestine work extra hard to hold in all of those wastes.

There’s not really any science on this, but it’s anecdotally evident that Chihuahuas are just physically disadvantaged when it comes to being able to hold their #1 and #2s than larger dogs.

As they get older, they will get better and better at holding it in. But that might take longer than you expect.

Crate training can help your Chihuahua learn to hold it so those muscles will strengthen over time.

Chihuahuas Don’t Always Communicate Well

It took a while for Matilda to learn how to “talk” to me. Maybe because she was pad-trained. When your dog is pad-trained, they handle bathroom matters on their own, they’re not accustomed to asking to go potty.

If she never seems to show any sign that she needs to go potty, it can help to teach your Chihuahua to use potty bells.

Why Chihuahuas Are NOT Hard To Potty Train

Remember, your Chi is not being spiteful when she pees or poops where she shouldn’t.

Dogs don’t know that we find pee and poop to be yucky.

She might pee or poop on your bed or in a pile of laundry because these places smell so strongly of you, so she may be drawn to those places and add her own scent.

Chihuahuas Are Underestimated

So many people give up on their Chis.

Don’t give up on your Chi.

Kiss that round, beautiful noggin. Kiss it.

And then keep trying.

Once your Chihuahua is fully potty trained (it will happen if you’re consistent. I promise.)

… it’ll all be worth it.

You’ll be ready for bigger things. Bigger adventures. Bigger goals.

You’ll forget what it was like to have a messy little puppy, and you’ll have a tiny near-human hairy alien creature that has bonded so closely with you that you’ll practically think the same thoughts.

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You'll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.

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All Round Dog Lover

Thursday 21st of December 2023

We had a Chi x Pekapoo. It was taking me SO long to housebreak him I thought something was wrong! The year before we got him, we'd gotten a Borgi (Border collie x corgi mix). She was housetrained in a weekend. Yes, Border collies ARE that smart and so was our Borgi! :)

Started doing some research and discovered a lot of things about the Chihuahuas. But my favorite thing I ran across was this statement: "When it comes to house training a Chihuahua, they're not Border collies." That says it all!

Border collies live for a job to do and if that job is learning to potty outside, they're keen to do it right now. Chihuahuas on the other hand don't often really care to please. I used to imagine Tucker our Chi mix saying "Ohhhh! So you want me to pee and poop outside ALLL the time...not sometimes in, not sometimes out." Took me 7 months to get him fully trained. It was worth it. He was adorable and looked like a fluff ball!

Lindsay Pevny

Friday 8th of March 2024

Sorry I'm so late replying! Oh my goodness, Tucker must have been such an adorable fluff with that breed mix. I hope to eventually experience having a clever breed like a border collie, that was one of my favorite breeds growing up and I'm sure they're so lovely to have! Though, I wouldn't trade my little Matilda for anything, and I know she's smart in a totally different way. And it ending up being such a relief to find out that others have experienced differences in training too - it's totally normal for our little ones to take a little extra time and convincing, but they really are so worth it.

Rhonda Emanuel

Wednesday 22nd of September 2021

Ok, I guess Tiny could be worse. I've had my mix chi now since 8/6. She wondered up to my house and I couldn't find previous owners. She has had 3 poops and now 3 pee accidents. For some reason she peed on my inside door mat and an exact same spot in my kitchen. I have pee pads but seems like now that she is comfortable with me she's regressing.

I found her poop in our office, kitchen and living room to date. I think I have her poopage down because she goes after she eats like clockwork! We don't have a doggie door so I feel like maybe that's her issue?

I just read Chi’s can get anxiety even with a change of tone in voice and not to do that. I'm a busy person though and can't watch her all the time. The last accident I was cooking dinner and she was about 4 feet away from her pee pad. Sigh, I just hope she doesn't progressively get worse with it.

Lisa Little

Monday 23rd of August 2021

Why is my perfect princess pooping in the house again???? She was so good she had the roam of the house. Now even while I'm watching her she manages to sneak off and dump. Her daddy's not happy! help!!!

Gina Thompson

Monday 15th of February 2021

I have an 8 year old rescued chi snd have been trying to litter box train for the last 5 months. At times she goes by herself to these boxes and has no issues, and then there are days she owes outside of that room With the box or hides and poops where she isn’t. Why is this? Does she forget, is she nervous? I read that is you scold them too often they will get scared and hide to go too and not go where they are supposed to. Is it still possible to train her at such an old age? Thank you.


Monday 30th of March 2020

Ok so chi goes poop on the pad but has only peed on one maybe a handful I've always praised and rewarded him when doing so he has looked at me dead in the eye and cocked his leg and started peeing and when i leave the house he will go on the carpet idk what hes almost 3 and he knows to go on one help! Lol

Lindsay Pevny

Monday 30th of March 2020

Hi Terri, can you crate him when you leave the house, or maybe set up a playpen or gate off your kitchen with a pad so he can't use the carpet?

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