There is hardly a more challenging aspect of pet ownership than house breaking. The most important thing to remember is to be consistent and patient. It will take a lot of work, but the pay off in the end is well worth the time.
I recommend crate training as the most effective and safe form of house training. A crate is also a great place to keep your pet when you are not home or need to keep him or her confined for any reason. Your dog has the natural tendency to make a den so the crate will serve as a man made den. It is safe and secure, so that your dog can’t run away or get into trouble when you aren’t home. The size of crate will ideally be big enough for him or her to stand up and turn around in.
When house breaking your puppy rule number one is, no unsupervised time outside of the crate. They must either be with you, in the crate, or outside going to the bathroom. If they have any time alone they will almost certainly have an accident. Take them out as frequently as you can at first, say every two hours if possible. Use some type of a key word to let them know that it is time to use the bathroom. We say “hurry up” to our dog, after we let him out. Stand and watch your dog and make sure that his “business” is done before her comes back in and make sure you praise them when they have eliminated in the appropriate place. If you don’t have a fenced backyard, keep your dog on a leash.
Have your puppy go out to eliminate just before you put them in the crate at night. Pulling the food two hours before you put them in the crate will decrease that chance of them having an accident over night. Small breed puppies such as Chihuahuas, however, can have problems with low blood sugar and will need access to food at all times. All pets need access to fresh water so you will need to keep water with them in the crate. When they are young you may also need to get up at least once during the night to take them out. Make sure you take them out first thing in the morning.
If your pet does have an accident, don’t lose your temper or “rub their nose in it”. Be calm and take them right out to where you want them to use the bathroom and use your potty command. Back in the house you must clean the soiled area well with a cleaner that enzymatically digests the odor molecules. Even if you can’t smell the area they may be able to and will recognize the soiled area as the appropriate area in which to eliminate.
You will be successful, but patience and diligence is the key. Everyone at home must be on the same page and working for the same goal. Just like children, puppies don’t respond well to inconsistency. Be firm and patient, but don’t give up.