Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Dogs > How to Potty Train a Chihuahua: 8 Vet-Approved Tips & Tricks

How to Potty Train a Chihuahua: 8 Vet-Approved Tips & Tricks

chihuahua pooping

Vet approved

Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

Veterinarian, BVSc MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Potty training can be a major worry for novice dog parents, but the process of potty training shouldn’t be too overwhelming, and mostly involves sticking to a schedule and giving your Chihuahua plenty of learning opportunities. When it comes to potty training, always remember two words: be consistent and persistent.

In this guide, we’ll share all you need to know about potty training, to get your Chihuahua peeing outside in no time.


Potty Training

chihuahua dog holding waste bags in its mouth outdoor
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

Potty training is necessary for ensuring your Chihuahua develops good bathroom habits, and it’s far easier to instill these good habits while your Chihuahua is a puppy. That said, if you’ve adopted a non-housebroken Chihuahua adult, they can be potty trained, too. Do not believe the saying; you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. It may take a bit of extra time and work to break the habits they’ve learned, but it’s certainly possible.

One of the things that makes toilet training your Chihuahua more difficult than with some other breeds is size: it’s much easier to spot a large dog going to the toilet in the middle of the lounge and stop them, than it is a tiny one going behind the sofa!

So let’s dive into toilet training a tiny Chi. Here’s everything you’ll need before we get into the tips:

What you’ll need:
  • An outdoor area
  • Treats
  • Poop bags
  • A leash
  • Patience


The 8 Tips & Tricks on How to Potty Train a Chihuahua

1. Pick a Spot

Whether you have a yard, or your Chihuahua is a city pup, pick an outdoor area where your dog can pee. You’ll use this specific spot to help your dog develop a sense of routine around using the bathroom. If you live in an upstairs apartment, you may wish to invest in an indoor grass training patch for your home or balcony until your Chihuahua learns to hold it long enough to get downstairs.

2. Give Your Chihuahua Plenty of Bathroom Opportunities

The key to teaching your Chihuahua to go to the bathroom outside is to ensure they have plenty of opportunities to go. Puppies simply can’t hold their bladder for as long as adult dogs. As for adopted adult dogs, they may never have been taught to use the bathroom outside and will need the new routine reinforced with lots of consistency.

All you need to do is take your puppy or adult Chihuahua outside on a leash several times a day to the spot you’ve chosen for them to use the bathroom in. For very young puppies under 12 weeks, you’ll need to do this every hour or two, and you can extend the time as the puppy gets older.

Even if it doesn’t seem like your puppy needs to use the bathroom, take them outside on schedule anyway to get them into the routine. Good times to take your Chihuahua out are first thing in the morning, while playing, after playing, after a meal, after drinking water, and before bed.

chihuahua drinking in the water fountain
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

3. Praise & Reward

To motivate and encourage your Chihuahua, reward them with a tasty treat (or whatever motivates them most, like a toy, play session, or praise) every time they use the bathroom outside. This creates those all-important positive associations. Offer the reward just after they’ve finished doing their business rather than during to avoid them stopping mid-stream to retrieve the treat.

Like we mentioned earlier, it’s easy to miss your Chihuahua going potty indoors, and if you don’t reward them for going outside, all they are receiving is neutral reinforcement for both; there is no reaction when they toilet inside, and none when they go outside. Going potty outside must become a really great thing to do in order to be more appealing to going inside.

4. Learn the Signs

It’s important to tune in to your Chihuahua’s signs that need to use the bathroom. Signs include whining, circling, sniffing around, and scratching at the door. If they have a spot indoors that they keep using, keep an eye out for them heading in that direction and intercept!

white-brown Chihuahua sitting in front of a wooden door
Image Credit: Emanuel1180, Shutterstock

5. Consider Crate Training

Crates get a bit of a bad rap, but when used correctly, can not only be useful, but actually help your pet feel more safe and secure when you aren’t there. The trick is to turn the crate into a bedroom – make it cozy, with comfortable bedding and toys. A crate should be a place your pup wants to spend time, never somewhere to put them as punishment. A puppy will avoid toileting in their room, so it makes it much easier to potty train them when you use one.

Put a puppy training pad under the bedding and blankets in case of accidents, but don’t create a toileting zone. This will encourage your puppy to wait until they leave the crate to go to the toilet. If there is an area to go potty inside the crate, they will not learn to hold it.

EVERY time you let your puppy out of the crate, go straight to their toilet spot. They will soon learn that there is a predictable pattern to follow, which makes it much easier for them to learn to hold on just a little longer.

Using a crate also helps pups avoid separation anxiety. If they have their safe bedroom to go to when you are out, they won’t feel like they are all alone in a great big house.

6. Be Understanding

It’s impossible to get through potty training without accidents happening sometimes. This is completely normal, and your dog isn’t doing it out of spite or to misbehave. Avoid being harsh or punishing your dog for peeing or pooping in the house, as this will make them anxious around you and often make the problem worse.

If you catch them toileting indoors, just make a single, sharp sound, like “ah!” to get their attention, then calmly take them outside to their bathroom spot as soon as you see what’s happened. This should happen as quickly as possible to better help your Chihuahua make the association between using the bathroom and going outside. They may have already finished, but going straight out to their toilet spot will still help them make the link. If they do finish outside, throw a parade! They must be praised when they do the right thing, even if they have just peed on your favorite rug.

closeup of brown chihuahua
Image Credit: Daniel Martins, Unsplash

7. Take Them Out, and Then Take Them Out Again

The outside world is exciting and interesting, especially when you’re a puppy, so when you let them outside to go potty, that’s not always what they do! Or, they start going, then get distracted. You might think they’ve gone to the toilet and bring them back inside, only to have them go potty five minutes later, which can be really frustrating!

So until you’ve got this toileting thing cracked, take them out, bring them back inside when they seem to have finished, and then five minutes later, take them back out again. You’ll be surprised how often they go potty again!

8. Stay With Them

As we talked about above, puppies (and dogs) don’t always go to the toilet as soon as they’re let outside. Some need to have a sniff and a play before they feel ready to go potty. If you just let them out and don’t watch them, you are setting yourself, and your puppy, up for failure. You need to watch them go to the toilet so that you can reward them, and know that they have actually been. This is essential, and where many people fail.

brown and white chihuahua dog in blue vest given treats
Image Credit: Tamara Bellis, Unsplash


Final Thoughts

If your Chihuahua puppy or adult seems to be taking a little longer than you’d expected to learn the basics, don’t panic. Dogs aren’t all the same—some will learn quickly, whereas others will need a bit more time. If the problem persists, however, you might want to have a vet check your dog out to rule out medical causes, like urinary tract infections, for example.

It’s also possible that your Chihuahua suffers from anxiety, especially if they’ve had a tough past. If you suspect this might be the cause, please see a vet and consider working with a professional trainer.

But if you follow the tips and tricks above, your Chihuahua should be potty trained in a jiffy!

Featured Image Credit: Chaisit Rattanachusri, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets