How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Use a Litter Box

Medium
1-2 Weeks
General

Introduction

Mary lives by herself and has a little Chihuahua named Lula. They live on the 2nd floor of an apartment. Usually, Mary takes Lula for walks several times a day so Lula can relieve herself. Unfortunately, Mary had a bad accident recently and her mobility is greatly reduced. Getting downstairs and taking Lula for her walks to go potty several times a day has become extremely difficult and painful for Mary, but she does not want to give up her little friend--she is like family, and the only company Mary has while she is confined to her apartment recovering. 

The good news is Mary hears that small dogs, like Chihuahuas, can be trained to use a litter box. This will work great since Mary’s daughter comes by every few days to exercise Lula, and has offered to clean the litter box for her. Problem solved! As soon as Lula goes through a little bit of training to learn how to use the litter box, that is. 

Having your Chihuahua use a litter box is a great solution for apartment dwellers, those with reduced mobility, or people who may need to work unexpected hours. Also, for some Chihuahuas that live where inclement weather is common, such as in northern regions and find going outside in winter too cold, a litter box might be an excellent solution.

Defining Tasks

If your dog is already used to going to the bathroom somewhere else you will need to establish a new potty routine with your Chihuahua to establish using the litter box. This process is similar to any doggie potty training, reinforcing the new bathroom area and preventing opportunities to make mistakes or use other facilities for elimination. It may take more time to teach a dog to transfer their bathroom location, as you need to create a new association. Starting training with a young dog without a previous bathroom habit does not require this transfer. However, young dogs do not have as well-developed control over their body functions and need to be taught that you expect them to relieve themselves in the appropriate spot, the litter box--this also can take some time. 

Never use punishment to establish a new potty habit,  as this only confuses the dog. You will want to create a positive association with the use of the litter box instead. Take steps to prevent accidents and avoid allowing your dog to go to the bathroom in an inappropriate location, as this can create incorrect potty behaviors.

Getting Started

Because Chihuahuas are usually little and may not be great climbers, make sure you start with a litter box that has a low area for your dog to step into it easily. Although it may be tempting to locate the litter box out of the way, this is not a good idea, as your dog needs to be able to readily access it. The litter box should be placed in a central location, at least until using the litter box is well established with your Chihuahua. You can purchase special litter boxes that are appropriate for dogs, and even special dog litter that has different properties than cat litter and is more appropriate for your dog's needs. If your dog is used to using puppy pads, you can line the box with a puppy pad at first. If you have a cat, each animal will need a separate litter box; pets do not like to share bathroom facilities. Your dog's litter box will have to be cleaned out regularly, to prevent smells and encourage your dog to continue using it. Special products to reduce odors are available. During training, focus on using the litter box only for elimination. Do not also take your dog outside to go potty, as this will only confuse him.

The Watch & Capture Method

Effective
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Step
1
Get ready
Put your Chihuahua on a feeding schedule. Water should always be available, however, restricting feeding times will help narrow down when your dogs needs to go to the bathroom. Prepare a litter box. You can place a piece of your dog’s feces in the box or soak up some of his urine on a paper towel and transfer it to the box to associate the smell with the box.
Step
2
Watch and interupt
Watch your dog very closely. When he asks to go out, if that is what he was used to, or starts sniffing around and circling, looking like he s about to lift a leg or squat to do his business, interrupt your Chihuahua and take him to his litter box.
Step
3
Take to litter box
Place your dog in his litter box and wait. If the dog tries to leave his box, encourage him back into the box, put him on a leash if this helps. Wait for him to do his business.
Step
4
Reward
When your dog finally pees or poops in his litter box, reward him, say "good dog", and take him somewhere else to play with a favorite toy.
Step
5
Continue until established
Continue over several weeks until your dog starts seeking his litter box on his own to go to the bathroom.
Recommend training method?

The Confine & Capture Method

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Step
1
Set up litter box
Put your dog on a feeding schedule so that you have a better idea when he needs to eliminate. Prepare a litter box; you can place a piece of his feces in the box or soak up some of his urine on a paper towel and place it in the box to associate the smell of his waste with the box.
Step
2
Confine your dog
Confine your Chihuahua in a small enclosure or a crate that he will not feel comfortable going to the bathroom in.
Step
3
Provide potty
Take your Chihuahua to the litter box every hour or so (more often if you think it is around the time that he needs to go to the bathroom) and wait for him to eliminate.
Step
4
Return to confinement
If your Chihuahua does not go to the bathroom in the litter box, return him to his crate and try again
Step
5
Reward litter box use
If your Chihuahua uses his litter box, praise him and take him for play time. Do not return him to his crate for some time. Repeat until well established.
Recommend training method?

The Potty on Command Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Choose a command
Choose a command for your Chihuahua to pee or poop, like “go potty”.
Step
2
Establish a schedule
Establish a routine of feeding to help you determine when your dog will need to relieve himself. Try to establish a predictable schedule so you can be available to direct the behavior.
Step
3
Use command in usual setting
When you predict your dog needs to go to the bathroom, take him to his usual bathroom spot and say "go potty," Wait for him to eliminate and repeat the command and say "good dog". Reward your dog with a treat or praise and affection.
Step
4
Establish
Practice the 'go potty' command and wait for him to go. This may take quite a while at first, ignore your dog while you wait.
Step
5
Transfer to litter box
Once you have well established the 'go potty' command in your dog's usual bathroom spot, start taking your Chihuahua to the litter box and providing the command. Use patience, repeat, watch your dog for signs he needs to go and try to capture the moment and associate with the 'go potty' command and the litter box.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
harvy
Chihuahua
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
harvy
Chihuahua
5 Years

Im not sure you could advise but im thnking of rehoming a chihuahua boy, My cocern is he lives with a female chihuahua and 3 cats and another older dog and family, Do you think he will adapt to living a life with just one owner as I don't have other pets or children

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
112 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tracey, That will depend on a couple of things in most cases. First, is he especially attached to one of the other animals? Or, does simply hangs out with them and isn't firmly attached to any particular one. Do you know if he can be left at home without any of the other animals in the house or at least where he can get to them? For example, if the cats are locked in an upstairs bedroom, and all of the dogs besides him are taken on a walk with the family, and he is the only one left on that level of the house, does he do alright or does he get really anxious? If he does alright, then he would probably be fine without the other animals. Next, how much attention will he receive in his new home with you? This attention can be structured, such as training time, a walk, or simply being present part of the time. If you work from home, work part time, or work full time but have a lot of time to give to him for things like training sessions, or play when you are home, then he will be much less likely to be lonely. If you give him the mental and physical stimulation that he needs when you are present, then when you are gone you can leave things like food stuffed chew-toys, an automatic treat dispenser, such as Pet Tutor or AutoTrainer, take him to Doggie Daycare part of the week, or hire a dog walker to come midday. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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