How to Crate Train a Chihuahua Puppy

How to Crate Train a Chihuahua Puppy
Easy difficulty iconEasy
Time icon3-6 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

There is nothing quite like the fun of bringing home a new Chihuahua puppy--they are so tiny and cute. But mayhap some of that dims just a little the first time he leaves a pile in the middle of the floor. So now, not only do you have a mess to clean up, it's time to start thinking about crate training the little guy. Before you think of a crate as a puppy prison, you need to understand that all dogs are born with a natural instinct that makes them want to find a den.

By creating a safe place for your pup using a crate, you are not punishing him in any way. You are simply giving him a den, a safe place, a place he can literally call his own. How can anyone see this as a bad thing? The only time using a crate can be seen as punishing and not right, is if you leave your pup in it for too long at a stretch. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Defining Tasks

Crate training can be considered a very important part of your pup's overall training program. You can use it as part of his potty training, teaching him to sleep at night, and do deal with separation while you are at work. Be aware, however, that you should never leave your pup in the crate for too long. It will only lead to problems getting him to go in his crate. Also, if he tries to hold himself for too long, it could cause physical problems for him.

The idea is to teach your pup that his crate is actually his den and a safe place for him to take a nap, hang out in at night, or simply go into when he wants to get away from it all. You can make the crate as simple or fancy as you like. Carpet the floor, add a doggy bed, toss in some toys, even throw a blanket over the top to create a cave-like atmosphere, just be sure to make it comfortable and welcoming to your pup. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Getting Started

There really isn’t much to getting started. First, you need to buy a crate; be sure it is neither too big or too small for your pup. Then you need to create the den by making the inside comfortable. From here it is simply a matter of working with your pup until he loves being in his "den". However, you need a few supplies:

  • The Crate – Be sure you get the right size
  • Training pads – For accidents
  • Treats – As lures and rewards
  • Pup bed – Somewhere comfortable for your pup to sleep
  • Toys – For your pup to play with

Plus of course, you need plenty of time to work with your pup along with a generous supply of patience. Chihuahuas are very smart but tend to be a bit stubborn, be patient and he will soon figure out what is expected of him. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

The Build a Den Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Assemble the crate

Start by finding a quiet area in your home that is still in sight of you during the day and assemble his new crate. Place the carpet or a blanket on the floor, add the bed, the toys, and a pee pad for accidents.

2

Add one pup

Time to introduce your pup to his new bed by placing him directly into it. As you do so, be sure to use your choice of cue words such as "crate" or "go to bed". Close the door and give your pup a little time to get used to his new surroundings.

3

Let him have his say

Chances are pretty good your pup is not going to be happy with the door being closed and will let you know it quite vocally. That's okay, let him have his say. When he quiets down, give him a treat and lots of praise.

4

Let him out

Go ahead and let your pup out, then take him straight outside to go potty. When he is done peeing, praise him, give him another treat and let him stretch his legs.

5

Repeat and extend

The rest is all about rinse and repeat. Keep working with your pup, extending the time your pup stays in his kennel until he is comfortable being in there at night or when you have to go to work. In time, your Chi will come to love the time he spends in his "den."

The Explore Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Find a spot

Find a nice quiet spot in your home for your pup's crate, somewhere you can see him, and he can see you, but he won't have to deal with a lot of distractions. Use a blanket, doggy bed, some toys, and a pee pad to create the perfect den for your pup.

2

Add dinner

Place his food and water dishes in front of the crate by the door and fill them. Open the door and leave it open. Allow your pup to go in and out of the crate, give him plenty of time to explore it. Do this for several days, giving him time to get used to it.

3

Shut that door

Now it's time to work with your pup with the door closed. Place him in the middle of his kennel and close the door. If he decides to verbalize his discontent with the door being closed, let him. In time he will get tired of whining and will quiet down. When he does, praise him and give him lots of treats.

4

Time to go out

Open the door, let him out and then take him outside to pee immediately. This will help with his potty training.

5

Keep on trucking

Or in this case keep the training going, working on longer times and eliminating the treats until you can leave your pup in his "den" at night or when you need to go work. Be patient, your Chi will soon understand what is expected of him.

The Slow Increase Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Make a home

Create a home for your pup's new crate/den in a quiet spot in your home. Turn the crate into a comfy home by adding carpet, a blanket, a bed for your pup to sleep on, and maybe a few toys.

2

Use his treats to your advantage

Using one of your pup's favorite treats, lure him into his new home. Repeat this until your put seems to be very comfortable with going in and out of the crate.

3

Add the command

Time to add a command word, such as "crate" or "kennel" as your pup is walking into his crate. This will help him associate the command, with the action of going into his crate, and being given a treat.

4

Work the command word

Start using the command word first then tossing the treat into the kennel. This will speed up the process as it won't take long before he will walk into the crate in anticipation of the treat. Practice this until he goes in every time.

5

Finishing up

Keeping working with your pup and extended the time he has to stay in the crate until he will stay in there as long as necessary. It will take time until he can stay in all night or day, but keep working with him until he is successful at staying in his crate.

By PB Getz

Published: 01/24/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Bean

Dog breed icon

Chihuahua

Dog age icon

1 Year

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Recent rescue. I have had him about a week. My household is me and my 27yo son. At first Bean responded to my son but now its just me he wants. He has some aggression issues, has bitten both me and my son. I don't know what to do to help my son establish a relationship with Bean

March 22, 2022

Bean's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Judith, Pup might be becoming possessive of you, which is similar to resource guarding, where pup views you as something they own and they try to keep others away from you. If this is the case, I would work on building respect for you now gently, using structure and obedience practice. Check out the following articles on methods and commands that can help with that. Listening and respect: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Below are useful commands to help with communicating with pup. I would prioritize the Listening and respect methods from the article I have linked below, teaching Off, Out, Leave It, Heel, and Down from the articles below. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Come - Reel in method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Drop It – Exchange method: https://wagwalking.com/training/drop-it Say Hi/Touch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj1oMlfjPZ8 Watch Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zeZrOPzO-c For your son, I would have him work on building trust first. Have him toss pup a treat whenever he first enters the room where Bean is. Have him practice changing positions and tossing a treat if pup stays calm once pup is okay with him entering the room. Have him practice tossing pup a treat when he hugs you or sits next to you. Finally, once pup is comfortable with him, have him practice gently touch pup somewhere and give a treat, such as touch pup's should and give a treat, touch pup's collar and give a treat, ect... You and your son can both practice the touches with treats using pup's meal kibble, having pup earn one of their meal portions this way several times a week. Don't grab out of pup's food bowl though, measure pup's meal into a baggie and use that as treats. Depending on the level of pup's aggression and severity of the bites, I would also desensitize pup to wearing a basket muzzle and drag leash while you are home to ensure it doesn't get caught on anything. With those safety measures in place, you can calmly enforce commands like Out and Off when pup isn't listening, to further build respect and trust through your consistency with following through. When pup doesn't obey, calmly pick up the end of the leash and swiftly move pup out of the area or off the couch for example. When pup obeys willingly, a good basket muzzle should have holes and allow pup to open their mouth inside while wearing, so you can slip pup a treat through the muzzle too. You want pup to learn that biting isn't an acceptable way to get their way, but that you mean what you say and that you are calm and consistent at the same time - so pup doesn't have to be afraid but does need to listen. To introduce the muzzle, first place it on the ground and sprinkle his meal kibble around it. Do this until he is comfortable eating around it. Next, when he is comfortable with it being on the floor with food, hold it up and reward him with a piece of kibble every time he touches or sniffs it in your hand. Feed him his whole meal this way. Practice this until he is comfortable touching it. Next, hold a treat inside of it through the muzzle's holes, so that he has to poke his face into it to get the treat. As he gets comfortable doing that, gradually hold the treat further down into the muzzle, so that he has to poke his face all the way into the muzzle to get the treat. Practice until he is comfortable having his face in it. Next, feed several treats in a row through the muzzle's holes while he holds his face in the muzzle for longer. Practice this until he can hold his face in it for at least ten seconds while being fed treats. Next, when he can hold his face in the muzzle for ten seconds while remaining calm, while his face is in the muzzle move the muzzle's buckles together briefly, then feed him a treat through the muzzle. Practice this until he is not bothered by the buckles moving back and forth. Next, while he is wearing the muzzle buckle it and unbuckle it briefly, then feed a treat. As he gets comfortable with this step, gradually keep the muzzle buckled for longer and longer while feeding treats through the muzzle occasionally. Next, gradually increase how long he wears the muzzle for and decrease how often you give him a treat, until he can calmly wear the muzzle for at least an hour without receiving treats more than two treats during that hour. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s Don't leave a drag leash on while not supervising though, in case it gets caught on something. Once pup trusts your son, then having him calmly give pup commands for pup to work for treats and kibble, take pup on heeling walks, and teach pup fun new things can help develop both trust and respect for him further. Finally, provide boundaries for pup since there is aggression - fearful dogs also benefit from boundaries too; things like pup not being allowed on your lap unless invited and with the rule that they must get off of that and furniture as soon as they are told (and if they won't use that drag leash and don't allow them on there at all until their aggression improves). Not petting pup if they nudge or bark or are pushy for the attention. Not feeding pup when they demand it, but having pup do a couple commands and wait politely first. If pup is being rude, require some obedience and manners before giving them what they want. Doing so can effect pup's overall attitude, and thus aggression level. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 22, 2022

Dog nametag icon

Bagheera

Dog breed icon

Chihuahua

Dog age icon

2 Months

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

User generated photo

He is biting and i was new as a dog owner need some tips

Oct. 10, 2021

Bagheera's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Priyanka, Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when he attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if he makes a good choice. If he disobeys your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told him not to. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The pressure method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just roughhousing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite I would also work on teaching the Out command, and then use the section from the article on How to Use Out to Deal with Pushiness, to enforce it when pup doesn't listen, especially around other animals or kids. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Another important part of this is puppy learning bite inhibition. Puppies have to learn while young how to control the pressure of their mouths - this is typically done through play with other puppies. See if there is a puppy class in your area that comes well recommended and has time for moderated off-leash puppy play. If you can't join a class, look for a free puppy play group, or recruit some friends with puppies to come over if you can and create your own group. You are looking for puppies under 6 months of age - since young puppies play differently than adult dogs. Moderate the puppies' play and whenever one pup seems overwhelmed or they are all getting too excited, interrupt their play, let everyone calm down, then let the most timid pup go first to see if they still want to play - if they do, then you can let the other puppies go too when they are waiting for permission. Finding a good puppy class - no class will be ideal but here's what to shoot for: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ When pup gets especially wound up, he probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help him calm down and rest. Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep working at it. Puppies often chew and are mouthy a lot when they teeth, then again when their jaws strengthen as older puppies. Leave It is especially a great command for the jaw stage. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Oct. 11, 2021


Training assistant
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.