How To Train A Chihuahua
See files for Dogs
Chihuahua are loving, curious and energetic dogs. However, sometimes it's very important for them to listen to our orders as it can potentially keep them safe in certain situations. This is why it's a great idea to start training your Chihuahua from a young age.
Not only will it keep them mentally and physically entertained, but it will also help you create a greater bond with them. In this AnimalWised article, we're going to teach you how to train your Chihuahua through positive reinforcement.
Characteristics of a Chihuahua
To begin training our Chihuahua, it is essential to know the characteristics of this breed's temperament. Chihuahuas are characterized by having a dominant and possessive character, so it is not in their nature to be submissive. Chihuahuas are also known to be born leaders. They are capricious, energetic, intelligent and very active, always willing to play with their owners and other dogs of their own breed.
Knowing this, what attitude should we take on to properly educate our chihuahua?
- We must show a somewhat authoritarian attitude, without being aggressive but always remaining firm. If we decide that we do not want our little companion to get up on the couch, we must keep strong in that decision and not allow any exceptions to the rule.
- Authority must always be accompanied by security. Even if you remain firm in your decision, if your Chihuahua perceives that you are insecure, they will continue to believe that they are the leader.
- Do not indulge your Chihuahua or allow them to do whatever they want. There must be certain rules to the household and their behavior.
- With all of this being said, you should never scold or harm your Chihuahua. All of the training must be done through positive reinforcement. Scolding and scaring our Chihuahua will break our relationship with them. It will also make them have behavioral issues as adults.
Having authority is not synonymous with being aggressive. This means that you should never shout at your dog, hit them or educate them through negative conditioning. This aggressive punishment will only result in a scared Chihuahua, that will react defensively and aggressively. Small and toy dogs are highly sensitive to this type of behavior and can quickly become distrustful, associating certain people to something negative.
Socializing a Chihuahua
Now that we know how we should address the education of a Chihuahua, where should we begin? Without a doubt, one of the most important aspects of training any dog, is socialization. Although all breeds require correct training on how to maintain relationships with other dogs, people and environment, there are some dogs who are more predisposed to this than others. These dogs therefore require more attention when it comes to this type of training.
As we discussed in the previous section, Chihuahuas are dogs that prefer to interact with dogs of the same breed. Therefore, if they are not socialized correctly they can become aggressive against other dogs. To prevent this from happening, the socialization process of a Chihuahua needs to begin from a very young age.
Dogs are more receptive during their puppy stage. This is the stage when they begin to develop their personalities and adopt a series of behaviors which we must help guide through positive reinforcement. If we want to obtain a happy, healthy and balanced dog, we need to train our dog from a young age. To socialize a Chihuahua correctly, one must take the following factors into consideration:
- When training a chihuahua to be social, you need to make sure that the receiving end is a calm, well-educated and calm dog. A bad encounter can trigger serious behavioral consequences that can mark a Chihuahua for life.
- Don't let your Chihuahua's size fool you. Although they are the smallest dog breed in the world, Chihuahuas are perfectly capable of interacting with larger dogs. Denying them relationships with bigger dogs will only cause a Chihuahua to adopt an aggressive stance if they were to come across an unfamiliar larger breed.
- Prepare the first couple of dog meetings in a pleasant place, where your Chihuahua will feel comfortable and safe.
- Although small, Chihuahuas are not a toy. This is very important to remember when socializing a Chihuahua with small children. When it comes to dogs and children, it is essential that we make sure that our children understand that they should not treat little dogs like toys.
Establishing dog rules
In order to educate a dog correctly it is fundamental that all the members of a family are going to use the same commands and techniques, so as not to confuse the dog. For example, if one person uses the word “sit” and another “down”, the dog will never internalize the order. Likewise, you must decide where in the home your dog is allowed to go. All rules should apply to all dogs under the same household.
Remember that dogs are routine animals and require fixed schedules in order to achieve inner stability. On the other hand, with a Chihuahua being a possessive and territorial breed, it is essential that you provide them with their own designated space. This space should be a space where your Chihuahua can eat, drink, sleep and play in peace. If this territory is not marked, your Chihuahua will believe that it has free access to the whole house and, again, assume that they are the leader of the herd.
Correct bad behavior
Whenever your Chihuahua does not comply with the established rules or norms, do not shout or scold them, simply say no with a firm voice. Make sure you follow this word with correction. If you do not correct your dog, they will do the same thing again. You can do this by rewarding them when they do the correct behavior.
How to potty train your Chihuahua
Teaching your Chihuahua grooming habits is very important. This is necessary to keep your home clean and to make sure that your dog is well-educated. If your Chihuahua puppy has not yet been vaccinated, you should teach them to do their business on newspaper or sanitary dog pads at home. Here are some recommendations:
- Select a space in your home. Then, place several sheets of newspaper or large sheets of sanitary napkins in this area.
- A few minutes after eating their meal or drinking water, take your puppy to that corner and place them on the paper.
- Wait the necessary time until they urinate or defecate and congratulate them with enthusiasm. If your veterinarian allows you, offer them a small and healthy treat as a reward for their good behavior.
- You should also take your puppy to the newspaper to relieve themselves after a long nap.
- Remove dirty newspapers and replace them. However, when changing these sheets, you should rub the dirty ones with the new ones. The reason for this is that a puppy needs to be able to smell where they need to go.
Chihuahuas have a much smaller bladder and excretory system than larger breeds, so the waiting time between the act of eating or drinking and urinating or defecating is much shorter. During their first months of life, they need to be constantly monitored, specifically in terms of potty training.
If, for example, you catch your Chihuahua urinating in a place where they shouldn't, gently take them to the chosen potty area. Remember to properly disinfect this rejected area, so that they puppy doesn't return due to the smell.
Once your Chihuahua puppy is vaccinated, you can start teaching him/her to do their business outside the house:
- As with the newspaper, ten or fifteen minutes after eating or drinking water, take your Chihuahua out for a walk to relieve themselves.
- Every time they urinate or defecates during the walk, congratulate them and present a reward for good behavior.
- If your puppy does not want to urinate during their first walks, do not worry. One way of dealing with this is taking your Chihuahua to an area where another dog has urinated. As they are very territorial, their instinct will be to to remark that area as their own.
- Remember to also take your Chihuahua outside after they have slept.
During the first couple of months you will have to take your chihuahua for a walk four to five times a day. After some time, you can reduce these walks to around twice a day, once your Chihuahua has accustomed themselves to urinating and defecating at specific times.
Learn more in our article about paper training your puppy.
How to train a Chihuahua: basic orders
Now comes the education process. You should start with basic commands: "come", "together" and "still". To better educate a chihuahua, professionals recommend using a clicker.
Teach your Chihuahua to "come here"
Without a doubt, this is one of the first orders that one must teach their dog, regardless of breed. If you do not have a clicker, you can use dog treats. To begin, consider the following points:
- It is better to practice this order outside, in a fenced but wide space. This is because a home is full of distractions like toys and food.
- We will place our dog at one spot and walk away from them. Once there is space between the two of you, place a treat on your feet and firmly say the word "come".
- If successful, congratulate your dog enthusiastically and give them the treat.
- Next, repeat the process but without treats. If it doesn't work this way, repeat it with a treat, and be patient.
- Little by little, increase the distance and reduces the amount of treats.
Teach your Chihuahua to walk next to me
This order consists in two parts that we must carry out in order for it to become internalized. Before teaching your Chihuahua to walk with you, you need to make sure that they do not pull at their leash.
- Every time your Chihuahua pulls on the leash, stop walking. Without saying NO or scolding them, simply stop walking for a minute before carrying on.
When your Chihuahua stops pulling, congratulate them and resume your walk. It's that simple!
Once your dog has understood that you do not want them to pull the leash, you can begin the second part of the training. Take your clicker and/ or treats and walk very slowly, monitoring your dog. Every time time the dog approaches you, say the word “together” and click the clicker and give your dog a treat. Repeat this process as much as your Chihuahua needs until it is fully internalized. Then, you can try without the leash.
Teach your chihuahua to stop
This order consists of the same steps as for the previous orders with some changes:
- Take your dog for a walk.
- From time to time, stop walking. When we see that our chihuahua stops, say “stop”. Them, use the clicker and congratulate them with a small treat.
- Repeat this process until your dog associates the word “stop” with the act of standing still, slowly reducing the sweets.
- Test this order in different contexts so that your Chihuahua can internalize it as efficiently as possible.
To teach your Chihuahua these orders you must be patient. Some of these orders might take weeks for your dog to internalize, so be patient and kind. We must never scold our dogs as it may traumatize them, worsen our relationship with them and cause behavioral issues in the future.
Once the previous orders have been learnt, you can start teaching your chihuahua to sit down, give (something to you), play dead, bring the ball, etc. Remember that positive conditioning and patience is essential to obtain a happy and balanced pup.
To learn more about chihuahuas and their training, we encourage you to watch the videos we've linked below!
If you want to read similar articles to How To Train A Chihuahua, we recommend you visit our Basic education category.