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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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