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Why Are Chihuahuas So Hard To House Train?

House training is a rite of passage for anyone with a pet, but some Chihuahua owners get more than they bargained for.

Despite being an intelligent breed, Chis have a headstrong personality that can complicate potty training efforts.

So why are Chihuahuas so hard to house train?

Here are some things to keep in mind.

Reasons Why Chihuahuas Are So Hard To House Train

Yup, there’s a few good reasons.

Chihuahuas Are Stubborn

The primary reason Chihuahua owners face difficulty in house training comes down to the breed’s stubborn personality.

Chis simply like doing things their way!

However, stubbornness is just one part of the equation.

Let’s take a look at other factors that can make potty training less than straightforward.

Chihuahuas Are Small

Larger breeds are more conspicuous, so it’s easier to keep tabs on them while you house train.

But it’s a different story for the Chihuahua.

The Chihuahua’s miniature stature makes it easy for them to slip away and do their business in places you don’t want them to—all before you realize it’s happened!

Smaller breeds like the Chihuahua may also have higher elimination needs.

They have an intense appetite with less body to hold waste, putting them at a disadvantage when compared to bigger dogs.

Chihuahuas Are Weather Sensitive

Chihuahuas come from Mexico, a country with a warm climate, where they were bred to be household dogs.

As a result, they’re more weather-sensitive than other breeds, and they resist being in the rain, cold, or snow.

The Chihuahua’s aversion to adverse weather may frustrate house training efforts.

Chihuahuas Have a Nervous Personality

Lots of small dogs have a nervous personality, and this is indeed the case with many Chis.

They may feel insecure about the world beyond your front door, especially if you live in a neighborhood with lots of traffic or children playing.

These factors may cause your dog to feel vulnerable or even threatened.

Additionally, Chis are more sensitive to punishment than most dogs.

For example, even unintentional voice raising when they have an accident can make the problem worse.

Similarly, if you celebrate too loudly when they go in the right place, you may be scaring your dog and unintentionally discouraging them from going in front of you.

What often happens in these cases is that the dog holds their pee while you’re near and then sneaks off to relieve itself when it can.

Chihuahuas Sometimes Lack Communication Skills

Sometimes it’s harder for Chihuahuas to learn to communicate that they need to go, especially if they’re pad trained.

Dogs that use pads are accustomed to handling their needs on their own, so it may take them a while to figure out that they need to tell you when it’s time to go outside.

Tips to House Train Your Chihuahua

Despite these apparent “handicaps,” there’s no reason you can’t house train your Chihuahua.

Here are some tips for house training your dog.

Start Young

While this tip will not be possible for every dog owner, if you get your Chi as a young puppy, begin house training young.

Training becomes more difficult the older your dog gets, so start as soon as the puppy is eight weeks old.

Be Patient

Regardless of your pup’s age, have patience.

Potty training takes time.

Remember that some puppies may be unable to control their bladders until about twelve weeks of age.

Use Reward-based Training

Modern training methods have largely abandoned more aggressive styles, like scolding dogs or rubbing their noses in their mess.

These techniques are especially harmful to Chihuahuas, which can traumatize them and encourage them not to come when called.

Instead, reward-based training is the best way to get the desired results.

Chihuahuas are highly motivated to please their owners, and even more so when doing so includes their favorite treat.

So find a treat that your Chi loves and will work to earn.

Take Your Chi Out Often

The best way to encourage the behavior you want is to take your dog out often—and we do mean often!

Give puppies ample opportunity to do their business by taking them out every twenty minutes.

Adults, on the other hand, should go out hourly.

Set Routines

It’s also helpful to establish routine times to take your Chi out.

For example, upon waking, after eating, and before bed. Use the same word(s) when you do, such as “go potty.”

Take Your Chi to the Same Place

This practice helps your dog associate the place with the behavior you want, especially because the smell will tell them it’s okay to do their business there.

Keep in mind that it may take a while to discover where your dog feels comfortable going and on what kind of surface—grass, concrete, etc.

Read the Signs

Chis exhibit certain behaviors when they have to go. Your dog may walk around in circles, stare at you, or sniff the ground.

Learning to read their body language can help you avoid accidents, so pay attention to these clues.

Pro tip: Chis almost always need to go upon waking up, after a meal or after drinking, or after they’ve been excited.

Accidents May Be a Sign of Something Else

A critical note for owners of dogs who seem to be regressing in house training: before trouble-shooting what behavioral issues may be at play, make sure your Chi doesn’t have a health problem.

Accidents in otherwise house-trained dogs (or close to house trained) may point to a more serious issue.

Things like bladder infections or urinary tract infections can make it difficult for your dog to control their bladder, and they need to be addressed.

Consult your vet if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Urine that dribbles out
  • Straining while eliminating
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Cloudy urine

Final Thoughts

No one ever said it would be easy, but consistent, positive training is the key to house training.

It requires a serious effort on your part, but you and your Chi will be grateful for that hard work in the end.

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National Canine Research Association of America