It is a standing, but unfunny joke, that chihuahuas will go out and then come in and pee in the house. It is something that I get messages about a lot. It can be a relationship breaker for some chihuahua owners.
In the week I had a message from Jon who was clearly frustrated by his chihuahua’s lack of toilet training. The issue seemed to be exactly this, his chihuahua would go out and then come in and pee in the house. He was clearly at the end of his patience and considering neutering his dog to try and solve it.
So, why does my chihuahua come back in and pee?
First, we need to understand the difference between peeing and marking. Peeing is a full on empty of the bladder and marking are the little squirts that mainly, but not only, male dogs do up furniture and items left on the floor. Marking is often an excitement behaviour and understanding your dog’s emotional bucket will certainly help you manage this better. Follow the links to read more about these issues.
Once you have established that your chihuahua is really coming back in to empty their bladder you need to consider the next issue. Communication.
So, we know as humans that when the door is open that this is an opportunity to go out and pee. It makes perfect sense to us. But the fact that your chihuahua will come back in and pee in the house is telling us that somewhere we haven’t communicated this to our dogs.
Humans are very good at putting their own narrative on a dog’s behaviour. Especially if the behaviour they are presenting is challenging. Owners really start to believe they are doing it on purpose, but I can promise, your chihuahua does not do things to spite you.
Are you confusing your chihuahua?
So, the door is open, your chihuahua hops outside has a sniff about then comes back in the house and does the deed on the rug. What’s happening?
What do you do when your chihuahua pees in the house? Do you make loud noises of consternation?
“Oh, bad puppy, do your wee in the garden!”
Then think about what you did when they peed outside when you were training them? Conventional training would have advised a high excitement congratulations party and treat your chi.
“Oh, you’re a good pup, good dog, super dog!”
But the confusion may happen because the noise could be startling and similar. You are making the same noise to, and they may be worried they are doing the wrong thing.
What to do when your chihuahua comes back in and pees
So, your first action point is to go out with your chihuahua and stay with them so you can quietly mark the correct behaviour. No party or whooping, just a quiet cue of your choice and mark instantly with high value food. (Food from their daily food allowance is always best.) It also gives you the opportunity to check they have gone to the toilet.
If they play a lot in the garden, then try and build value in peeing in one place. If they associate the garden with lots of high excitement, they may lose focus once they are out there.
Have you really spent the time in toilet training your chihuahua? It might be time to go back to toilet training 101 and rebuild the connexion.
Clean up any areas where they are peeing. Get rid of the smell so they don’t think this is a toilet area.
Is it raining?
Some chihuahuas don’t care about the rain and some hate it. But what confuses owners is why they stand there for 5 minutes getting wet while they consider their options then turn around and come in. We know they could have just done a quick pee, and all done.
I can only theorize; they are checking scents and they don’t feel safe. Doing a pee or poop does leave them in a vulnerable situation. Small breed dogs are programmed to worry about threats from above. You will just need to go out with your dog, take an umbrella or have a garden umbrella up. Another good idea is to take your chi to a different location. I take Minnie out the front of the house and for some reason she is happier to pee there when its raining.
If you have dealt with this issue, please leave a comment and tell us how you did it.