Submitted by: John Molnar
Successful house training begins with total supervision and management until you know your dog has developed a preference for outside surfaces – grass, gravel, concrete – instead of carpet, tile or hardwood. Crates, tethers, exercise pens and leashes are tools that will help accomplish this. Be consistent, and your puppy will soon know that potty-ing should occur outside.
For the first two to three weeks of a puppy’s life, his mother helps him to eliminate. His mother also keeps the whelping box, or “nest area”, clean. When pups begin to walk around and eat on their own, they choose where they eliminate. You can train your puppy to relieve himself wherever you choose, but this must be somewhere suitable. You should keep in mind from the start that when your Chi puppy is old enough to go out in public places, any canine deposits must be removed at once; always carry a small plastic bag or poop scoop.
When deciding on the surface and location that you will want your Chihuahua to use, be sure it is going to be permanent. Training your dog on grass and then changing two months later is extremely difficult for your dog to comprehend.
Next, choose the cue you will use each and every time you want your puppy to potty. “Lat’s go,” “hurry up” and “potty” are examples of cues commonly used by smart dog owners. Get in the habit of giving your puppy the chosen relief cue before you take him out. That way, when he becomes an adult, you will be able to determine if he wants to go out when you ask him. A confirmation will be signs of interest, such as wagging his tail, watching you intently or going to the door.
Let’s start with the crate
Clean animals by nature, dogs keenly dislike soiling where they sleep and eat. This fact makes a crate a useful tool for house training. When purchasing a crate, consider that one correctly sized will allow adequate room for an adult dog to stand full-height, lie on his side without scrunching and turn around easily. If debating plastic versus wire crates, short-haired breeds sometimes prefer the warmer, draft-blocking quality of plastic while furry dogs often like the cooling airflow of a wire crate.
Some crates come equipped with a movable wall that reduces the interior size to provide enough space for your puppy to stand, turn and lie down, but that do not allow room to soil one and sleep in the other. The problem is, if your puppy potties in the crate anyway, the divider forces him to lie in his own excrement. This can work against you by desensitizing your puppy against his normal, instinctive revulsion to resting where he has eliminated.
If scheduling permits you or a responsible family member to clean the crate soon after it’s soiled, then you can continue crate training because limiting crate size does encourage your Chihuahua puppy to hold it. Otherwise, give him enough room to move away from an unclean area until he’s better able to control his urge to potty.
Needles to say, not every puppy adheres to this guideline. If your Chihuahua moves along at a faster pace, thank you lucky stars. Should he progress slower, accept it and remind yourself that he’ll improve. Be aware that pups frequently hold it longer at night than during the day. Just because your puppy sleeps for six or more hours through the night, it does not mean he can hold it that long during the more active daytime hours.
One last advice on the crate: Place it in the corner of a normally trafficked room, such as the family room or kitchen. Social and curious by nature, dogs like to feel included in family happenings. Creating a quiet retreat by putting the crate in an unused area may seem like a good idea, but results in your puppy feeling insecure and isolated. Watching his people pop in and out of his crate room reassures your puppy that he’s not forgotten.
Remember, one of the primary ingredients in house training puppies is control. Regardless of your lifestyle, there will always be occasions when you will need to have a place where your dog can stay and be happy and safe. Crate training is the answer for now and in the future.
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