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.
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.
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.