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Hi,
Looking for some help with housebreaking my sister's dog. She rescued a little chihuahua when he was about 7 months old and he is now about 1.5 years old. He is not potty trained and since I am now here where I am with him during the day, I'd like to try to work on this. He's very timid but unless you are laying down, you cannot touch him. I am only familiar with crate training dogs so have no clue how to approach this since we cannot get him into a crate. He's very playful, runs along behind you as you walk and then when you turn, he runs away and as soon as your back is turned again, he will come up to you as you are walking. If we are laying down on the couch or in bed, he will run all over the bed, and even climb all over us and let us pet him. Even comes up to you if you are not petting him and tries to put his head under your hand, or will paw at you to get your attention and he loves to sleep curled up beside one of us. We give him lots of affection but on his terms, which is when we are laying down. He also has a problem with marking his territory and if there is anything set in the floor, such as a grocery bag, or box, he will, within a day or so, usually mark it with urine. She has another male dog who is a wonderfully trained dog. The little one will potty outside at times, but he is just as apt to come in from an outside break and crap within 5 minutes. Surely there is something that will help! Any suggestions on how we could go about starting to potty train this little guy would be greatly appreciated!
 

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I have never potty trained without a crate. Hopefully someone with better insight will come along and give you better advice than I can offer.

Unfortunately, your sister's chihuahua has spent 11 months learning that he can go potty anytime, anywhere. Getting him to stop doing what he's done most, if not all, of his life is going to be a challenge and my guess is that it will take a lot of time and patience.

How does she pick him up when taking him in for vet visits? Does he go on a leash? Or maybe she has to wrap him in a towel? I would use the gentlest method possible to move the dog into the crate. He won't like being confined, I'm sure. But getting him crate trained now will be better than your sister living the next 13-15 years with him peeing and pooping wherever he pleases -- or worse, him ending up at the shelter because she can't deal with the messes.
 

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You can try the leash method - basically, if he's outside a designated potty area, he needs to be supervised 100% of the time, otherwise there will be accidents. This often means he 1) needs to be right next to you at all times 2) watched like a hawk. Small dogs are harder to housebreak because their messes are small - so it's up to how vigilant you can be.

The other option, is to create a penned area with his bed on one side, and the potty grass on the other. I suggest grass because if you use a soft surface like pee pads, he will think carpets are ok to pee on and this will continue on into their adulthood. Some dogs don't, but I've heard too many stories to recommend taking the risk.

Take him out every 2 hours (until he's reliable, then slowly increase duration), say the command to potty, and when he goes, reward. Rinse and repeat until he starts signaling to you she needs to go (whining and pawing at the door, barking at you, etc) - that's how you know you've successfully trained him and can start going longer before letting him out.
 

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Smaller area fenced off.. Make it centralized so they are apart of and can see, hear the activity in the house. but not allowed access to the full house until they are potty trained. Never trained for it. You can always try the bell, if they can learn to ring a bell or push on a rope that has bells attached to it to let you now they need to go outside.

never had a small dog to know if it is true that they need to go more frequently even into adult hood.
 

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I did it with my 2yo who was 13 months when I got him. Just taking him outside very frequently and rewarding him when he goes, and keeping him in my sights at all times when inside. Also, if he didn't pee or poop when outside, I would take him out again 5 minutes later.

He's 100% housebroken during the day now, but will still pee at night if our bedroom door is not closed (very frustrating as he pushes his way out if I want to go pee in the middle of the night, so I have to take him out to pee then, and even then he will sometimes pee again before waking me up in the morning!).
 
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