Training Your Chihuahua
By Leslie Smith


Training your Chi: why bother?

They’re like babies — little and cute and hardly capable of any real damage with those tiny teeth and petite claws. So it’s hardly necessary to train a Chihuahua, right? 

Oh so wrong — and for several reasons. Believe it or not, a trained dog is actually a lot happier than his freewheelin’ cohorts. 

Aside from having an animal who’s pleasant to be around, training facilitates communication. And that’s essential for two species who live together but don’t naturally speak the same language. 


Happiness

Face it, it’s a humans’ world — dogs are just living in it. To them, there’s no rhyme or reason as to why we do what we do when we do it. While it makes perfect sense to us, your dog might wonder, Why aren’t I allowed to pee on that rug or what’s wrong with taking a bite out of this dead bird? 

Acceptable behavior in the human world is actually quite counterintuitive to the untrained canine making for potential frustration on both sides. So, the more we can communicate our expectations, and the more consistent we are with our rules and boundaries, the greater the chances your dog acts in a way that elicits positive reinforcement from you. And the more secure he becomes. 

• My human says “sit,” I sit, he smiles. 

• I chew on the rubber ball, he gives me a treat.

• I lay at his feet, I get a belly rub. 

In an otherwise inscrutable world, predictability for your Chi is a powerfully reassuring force.


Safety

Even if you don’t mind “a little nibble” now and then, biting and scratching hurt. So no matter how infrequent your pup’s interactions may be with other people, it’s important she understand that teeth on skin cause pain, especially to children. 

And then there are the legal ramifications and financial implications if your Chi in any way injures another individual. In some cases, his very future may be at  stake should a court decide he’s a threat to public safety. Worth the risk? We didn’t think so.

Like humans, some dogs fear — and eventually aggress toward — what they don’t know. Socialization, the process by which we introduce our dogs to a variety of sights, sounds, and experiences, is crucial for their healthy development and mental well-being. As early as possible, expose your dog to people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. Pair new experiences (oh look, a baby!) with positive stimuli (here’s a treat!). Teach your dog to be comfortable and confident in myriad situations and the more likely he is to behave appropriately in both new and familiar settings.


Reputation

Obnoxious dogs give all dogs a bad name. 

(And with Breed Specific Legislation  all too common, there’s no telling which group will next become the target of dangerous stereotyping and unfair discrimination.)

Well-behaved dogs have the potential to do just the opposite, winning over even the most affirmed “non-dog person.” 

Our dogs count on us to be their advocates and protectors; training them to become polite members of society is part of that contract. Simply put: Make it easy for people to love, understand, and relate to your animal (dog) and breed (Chihuahua) of choice. Believe us, everyone wins.