Using a Crate
One of the most effective ways to housetrain a puppy or to refresh an adult is to use a crate. The reason that a crate can be so effective is that puppies and dogs have a natural aversion to lying in their own waste and urine. They don't want to be dirty. In fact, this is one of the first observations you can make with very young puppies: They will relieve themselves in the whelping box away from the area in which they are playing.
When you use a crate in your training, you want to teach the pup to hold until she has alerted you of her needs and you are able to let her out.
How can I tell if my Chi needs to go out or just doesn't want to be in her crate?
If you just put your Chihuahua in her crate and she relieved herself fully right before she went in, her plaintive whining is most likely due to her confinement. If she's been in her crate for an hour or longer and then starts communicating with you, she most likely needs to relieve herself. Over time, you'll be able to tell what she is communicating by the sound of her bark or whine.
Size and Timing
The crate only works, however, if it is not too large for the Chi and the owner is judicious with its use. For housetraining purposes, the crate should only be big enough for the Chi to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. This gives your dog a comfortable place to rest or chew on a good toy but is not so big that if the puppy relieves herself she can lie in a clean, dry area of the crate — far away from her mess.
The Chi should only be crated for eight to ten hours maximum in a twenty-four-hour period. The crate is not a substitute for spending individual time with your puppy or adult and the vigilant supervision that is necessary when the Chihuahua is playing in a larger area. It is only intended for use when you can't keep an eye on your Chi or when you leave the house for short periods of time.
Knowing what kinds of things trigger a Chi's need to relieve herself can help, too, in knowing whether you crate your Chihuahua or if you need to give her a quick walk.
In general, your Chi will need to relieve herself at the following times:
Immediately upon waking up
Immediately upon being let out of her crate (at any time)
Within thirty minutes after eating a meal
Within an hour of drinking water
After or during a lot of excitement
While under stress, such as a ride in the car
Every four hours during the day (adult)
Every two hours or less during the day (puppy)
As you can see, if you have a puppy — particularly a young puppy — the need to go is pretty much a regular occurrence. In other words, you can't give a puppy too many opportunities to relieve herself. As the puppy matures, she will be better able to control her needs. However, always allow a Chi to relieve herself before putting her in her crate for any period of time.