Chihuahuas are notoriously hard to housebreak. As much as you love your little dog, his bathroom habits might leave much to be desired. That's one reason these tiny pooches sometimes end up at shelters. Train him with patience and consistency, and your Chi will perform correctly most of the time.
Living With Tiny Dogs
Life with a little dog is a lot different than that with a medium or large canine, and Chihuahuas are the smallest dogs of all. Your pup might easily pick up bathroom habits like darting into a corner and taking a pee, with you none the wiser -- for a while. That out-of-the-way place could become his favorite toilet area, until you make the discovery and he's in the doghouse, figuratively speaking.
The Great Outdoors
With Chihuahuas, you have bathroom options that aren't practical for larger dogs. You can train traditionally, by taking your dog for frequent walks so that he eliminates in the great outdoors. For Chis, that might be the most difficult option, especially during cold weather. With their short coats and tiny bodies, Chis get cold fast. Why go outside in the cold when you can stay nice and warm in the house? He's got a point -- humans replaced the outhouse with indoor plumbing over a century ago.
Paper or Litter Box
Litter boxes -- they're not just for kitties. You can train your Chi to use a litter box, but you don't need to fill it with cat litter. Lining it with newspaper will do the trick. You can also set out newspaper or pee pads in an area designated as the indoor bathroom for your Chi. Whatever option you chose -- outdoors, paper or box -- use it consistently in your training. Don't confuse your dog with a variety of options, at least initially.
When first house-training your dog, take him to the selected area when you first get up, after your Chi eats, after his nap, before bed -- whenever it's likely he'll feel the urge. He'll soon realize this is a big deal. Establish a routine and stick to it. Praise your Chi when he's successful. If you catch him in the act of inappropriately eliminating, you can scold him in a firm tone, but never hit him or really raise your voice. Use a word or term to denote that it's time to empty the old bladder and bowels. "Go potty," is a classic, but choose whatever works.
An intact male Chihuahua wants to mark his territory with urine. You could end up with discolored areas on your walls and furniture at Chi pee stream level. Unless you intend to breed your dog, have him neutered. That usually eliminates territory marking.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.