I adopted Luna from a PetCo event in Denver in August 2018. Her pregnant mom had been taken to a “high-kill shelter” in Texas. There, she was thankfully found and brought to Colorado to find a home. I knew that getting her potty-trained was going to be a challenge.
It was love at first sight when I saw her in that cage at PetCo. But to say Luna had issues when I first got her is an understatement.
For weeks she was incredibly destructive, completely hyper, and had zero concept of potty training. She 100% refused to go outside, even after being crated. Even the dog trainers I brought in were perplexed by her behavior.
I became so frustrated with her at one point, that I’m sorry to say I almost took her back to the shelter.
After doing some Googling, I found out that potty training (and aggression) are the main reason that many Chihuahuas are taken to shelters.
I refused to give up, and after a few more weeks of literally trying everything, I finally cracked it. This is how I did it.
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1. Crate training is everything.
It turns out I hadn’t been crate training her properly. I’d only been half doing it, as I’d feel sorry for her. In order to work, despite what some other blogs might tell you, you have to do it intensely for a few weeks.
- Make sure they sleep in the crate overnight. They will always want to go first thing in the morning so therefore this is the most critical time to train and reward them. I would literally put on my robe and take her outside as soon as I woke up.
- If they don’t pee or poop, return them to the crate again immediately then wait 1-2 hours more before you try again. Keep repeating until they finally go outside. They are then free to play for an hour. Then, take them outside. If they don’t go, return them to their crate.
- Commence crate training on the weekend. If you work during the day, see if a friend or family member can continue the crate training or walk your pup in your absence.
2. Find out where their “favorite spot” is.
Luna will only pee and poop on nice, green grass. Figure out where your chi likes to pee and consistently take them to that spot. Walk them back and forth around the same spot until they go.
3. Give the best treats
Upping the ante (as they say in Poker) works wonders. I switched from giving her a regular dog treat to using fresh chicken or cheese. It made a big difference.
The treat was given to her, along with lots of fuss and encouragement, within a second of her either peeing or pooping.
4. Do not use pee pee pads.
You want to create an environment where it is not OK, at all, to go into the house. According to my trainer, pee-pee pads only confuse pups by giving them the impression that it’s OK to go in the house. It also encourages them to go on other soft surfaces such as sofas and beds.
5. It’s OK to tell them off (despite what other blogs might tell you)
If ever I caught Luna peeing inside, I would tell her off and immediately (“Luna NO”), then take her outside. I could always tell when she was about to do it as she’d skulk and sniff around.
After following this routine for around 2 months, Luna is now 100% potty trained. I started seeing a dramatic improvement after just a few days. Her other behavioral issues have also subsided and she’s now a real sweetheart.