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How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Use a Litter Box

How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Use a Litter Box
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-2 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

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.

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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.

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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.

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The Watch & Capture Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

5

Continue until established

Continue over several weeks until your dog starts seeking his litter box on his own to go to the bathroom.

The Confine & Capture Method

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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.

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.

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.

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

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.

The Potty on Command Method

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Choose a command

Choose a command for your Chihuahua to pee or poop, like “go potty”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

By Laurie Haggart

Published: 12/14/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Chiketa

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Chiweenie

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5 Years

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I work from home but I am unable to leave my desk to watch for when she needs to go, what should I do?

Dec. 19, 2021

Chiketa's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Erna, I would use the Exercise Pen method from the article I have linked below if you don't have carpet in the room you work in. Setting up the Exercise Pen in the room with you so you can see pup from your desk when she goes. If the room is carpeted, I would use the Crate Training method also found in the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Dec. 20, 2021

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Roxi

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Chihuahua

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3 Months

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One Stop partying in the house and can't get her to stop biting people

Nov. 28, 2021

Roxi's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on puppy nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

Nov. 29, 2021


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