How do I housebreak my chihuahua to go outside?

My mom and I just adopted a chihuahua puppy. We live in a house with a big backyard, and we would like to train our chihuahua
to do her business in a designated area in the yard. How do we do that?

Congratulations on the new member of your family! The keys to housebreaking are straight-forward: confinement from going in the wrong place and praise for going in the right place. First establish a confinement system at your home, same as that for indoor training ("How do I paper train my chihuahua?").

For outdoor training:

1. Establish a regular schedule for going out. For a puppy, it should be frequent, as often as every two hours during the day, and for any dog, immediately after meals and upon waking up in the morning or after naps.

2. Take your chihuahua outside to the spot you want her to go. Use a few drops of Puppy Training Aid on the area, and let her sniff it. If she’s ready to go, she will usually go then. If not, walk her around a little and return to the spot. If she doesn’t do anything in 15 minutes, she probably doesn’t have to go. Bring her back inside, confine her so she doesn’t go inside, and take her out again in a few minutes. If she has just eaten, you want to keep trying until she goes, because she will most definitely have to go sometime soon after her meal. When she does go, praise her like she did the neatest trick in the world, and give a a highly desirable and small treat (you don’t want her to have to go again soon).

3. Crate your chihuahua when she’s indoors. Use a crate that’s just big enough for her to lie down and turn around. Most dogs know better than to soil their own bedding, so she will hold it until you let her out. You should not confine your chihuahua for more than 4 hours at a time. If you must leave her alone during the day while you’re at work, then use a pen or block off a small area and leave newspaper or a Piddle Pad (now available in biodegradable).

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4. Many dogs are trained both to go indoor in a designated area and to go outside. That’s completely OK. If you are home when she is in the pen, keep an eye on her and if she goes near the paper or wee wee pad, take her outside immediately and praise when she goes. If you catch her before the act and pick her up, she will usually stop, and you can bring her outside and put her down on the ground again.

4. Clean up messes in the wrong place quickly and thoroughly so your chihuahua will not be attracted to the same area.

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13 Comments

September 2, 2007

Maureen H. :

My chihuahua was house broken and has perminatly regresses. She has her own small room with a dog door to go out to her own fenced in yard. Usually there is no problem there, but when we are home (I work 7a-3p)and shes out she refuses to go and do her buisness outside. She does it inside! Even on the bed!!! I’m at my wits end with her. I love her but…
My other dog has no problem. She never has a accident inside. What can i do? I’ve tried the whole retraining process about a hundred times. Is this just her and I have to live with it?

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September 5, 2007

Cindy :

Hi Maureen, I know your frustration, I have fostered dogs who refuse to go outside. If I’m reading your post correctly, it sounds like she only refuses to go out when you are home. I wonder if it is an attachment issue. Maybe she is not willing to go outside on her own, but if you put a leash on her and walk around with her, she might be more willing to go. Also, does she have a designated place to go when she’s inside? If she really doesn’t want to go outside, maybe the alternative is to paper train her. Read my post on paper training http://yourchihuahua.com/?p=14.

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September 29, 2007

jazzy :

but i read in a dog training book that u should never leave your dog in confinement for more than two hours

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October 30, 2007

Cindy :

I’d say it depends on the individual dog. Some dogs will freak if you try to confine it for more than 5 minutes. Some dogs lie in the same spot for 4 hours even when not confined. The goal would be to keep the confinement period as short as possible. Personally, I think the best thing to do when you adopt or retrain a dog is to allow yourself a few days when you can be home to devote yourself to the housebreaking. That way, you don’t have to confine your dog for the whole time when you’re away at work. If you’ll be gone all day and you must confine your dog because he’s not housebroken, then you should confine him to a small area of your house or apartment, ex: kitchen or bathroom, that way, he’s not in a tiny space.

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April 23, 2008

Will Rico :

I’ve found leaving the dog confined for more than two hours is counterproductive because they become extremely restless causing even more trouble later in the day.

Will
CommonMind

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June 16, 2008

Kristy :

I have 2 chihuahuas and ever since I got the two of them, they have slept together in one big crate at night. What I am seeing is that since its a large crate, they will pee in their crate at night in one corner and sleep in another. It is totally smelling up my house! Should I get 2 small crates and keep one in each or would it be better to downsize a bit but still keep the chihuahuas sleeping together?

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June 16, 2008

Cindy :

I would get two separate smaller crates. The crate is supposed to be just big enough for the dog to lie down, stand up and turn around. If you got them a crate that’s big enough for both of them, inevitably there will be extra room for them to do their sneaky business. It’s also possible that only one of them is doing it and you won’t know which one it is if they’re both in the same crate. Just keep the crates next to each other, and they’ll still know their friend is right next to them.

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July 16, 2008

Anna :

I am a new owner of 8 weeks chihuahua- male
he is adorable… but I’m just wondering
on the sleeping habits we put him in a crate at night at about 10 or 10:30 pm and he is fine until 1 or 2 am, and we being crying
I get up and make sure he gets quite so that he does not wake up everyone else (I do not take him out of the crate) and they he is fully awake at about 5 am or 6. My concern is that we he be waking up everyday 1 or 2 am or is this just temporary because for me it can take a toll on me since I do work out of the house…

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July 16, 2008

Cindy :

Hi Anna, congratulations on your new puppy! Don’t worry, it won’t be a regular thing, every dog I know sleeps through the night…the entire night. It’s amazing because they sleep all day and then they are able to sleep all night. Puppies are different, they are more playful during the day and wake up several times a night. Part of it is adjustment to his new home and part of it is calling for attention. I would stop going to him when he cries at 1 or 2am so that he understands crying doesn’t get you to come to him at night. it will be hard in the beginning to just let him cry, but after a few days, he will know the drill and not cry anymore. Waking up at 5 or 6am will be harder to train him out of, but again, with time, he will learn that he doesn’t get out of the crate until you wake up, and he will learn to stay calm while he’s in his crate.

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August 12, 2008

Alisha :

I am a new owner of an 8 month Chihuahua- male I taught him to ring a bell when he has to goes outside to the dispose. I started train when I got him at 5 months old.
Pavlov’s most famous experiment involved food, a dog and a bell. Pavlov began ringing a bell before placing the meat powder or food on the … I rang the bell every time for one week before going outside. Then I ask him to ring the bell and when he did I gave a reward “Wellness Treat” this took about a week…Then he started randomly ringing the bell wanting the treat. I would take him outside using the outdoor as the treat. Once he doodles or dorky I rewarded him with a treat… 6 weeks later he was doing it on his own. I still from time to time treat him to reinforce the good behavior. I work all day and it still worked. Stick to a schedule and you will succeed..You need to be the alpha dog.

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September 25, 2008

Pam :

I have a 13wk old male long hair Hihuahua and am ready to call it quits. He is driving me crazy. He acts like he gets going outside for 2 weeks then out of nowhere he holds his poop. He will pee outside but now he won’t poop outside, last week he wasn’t eatting, I started to feed him and he would eat well,then I put his bowl in his crate and he started back eatting but won’t poop outside. It is always somethng with him. I have had him since he was 6 weeks old, first we started training him to the pad, same thing he acted like he got the drill then he stopped, and started acting like he was afraid of the pads. He is trained to the crate in that he will stay in the crate without crying and even sleep all night. I take him outside when I first wake up 6am, he pees then he eats,back out he use to poopat this time if he did not poop when he first went out,play in bedroom for 30-45 min then back in the crate till about 11 am then repeat the sequence again but he stays out in the house with me and I take him out about every 1 1/2-2 hr till bed time 9pm. his routine has been going on for 4 weeks. Now for the last 2 days he decided not to poop at all outside, so when I bring him in the house he goes back in the crate with no crying, he seems complacent in the crate. When we are outside I can see he has to poop but he will sit down or slide his but over the ground or sidewalk as if he is keeping the poop in. I am really tired of this.
Do you think he is ready for obedience training, what else can I do. I like the bell ringing idea that alisha did but I am not sure I have it in me.HELP.

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September 26, 2008

Cindy :

Pam, is it possible that he’s constipated? This happens a lot with puppies, sometimes they don’t drink enough water and they have trouble pooping. If he’s acting like he’s trying to poop outside and nothing is coming out and he’s sliding his butt on the sidewalk, it sounds like he’s constipated. Also, if he wasn’t eating for a while and now he’s eating again, it might take him a little while to get back on schedule. I would try to get more liquids in him either by wetting down his dry food or giving him some wet food, and make sure that he drinks enough water. Where does he actually poop if he’s not doing it outside?

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October 5, 2008

Laurie :

ok–everything i’ve read says not to leave the puppy constrained too long in the crate (i have a 8 week old chihuahua). but isn’t she staying in the crate for 8+ hours during the night? She will sleep for 4 hours, then wake up, sleep 2 more, than wake, two more, than wake and so forth. This is only her secong night with us and I’m understanding that we shouldn’t take her out of the crate if she whines, but should we let her out at some point to go pee and then put her back in during the night or should we just let her cry it out for the entire night or her intervals until we get up in the morning?

thanks,
laurie

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