Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Don't Forget, Chihuahuas Are Still Dogs!

I know how easy it is to spoil your tiny bundle of Chihuahua happiness.  I've had to fight the temptation myself.  But you must remember that a Chihuahua is a dog, not a baby, and in the end, you're the one who will be sorry if you don't treat your Chihuahua like a dog.

Treating your Chihuahua like a dog may not always be easy.  These little guys have the biggest most heart melting eyes I personally have ever seen.  And Chihuahuas are very smart.  They learn very quickly how to get what they want and I've seen too many Chihuahuas take over control of entire households in a matter of a week or two.  Believe it or not, Chihuahuas are very adept at training their humans...it happens every day.  So, we've got some tips for you to help you start out on the right foot with your Chihuahua, and a few tips to help you reverse some of the "human training" that may already have occurred between you and your Chihuahua. 

The key to keeping control of your dog is to remember that Chihuahuas, like all other dogs, are pack animals and they need a pack leader.  When there is no clear pack leader, they try to take over the position out of necessity, whether their personality is suited for it or not.  So, remember, YOU are the pack leader and you must establish that with your Chihuahua.

For starters...and this may be the most important... Training!!!  Teaching basic obedience commands is absolutely essential because it allows you to establish your dominance over your Chihuahua, which is necessary to establish your role as pack leader.  Your Chihuahua must learn that all the good in his life comes from you, but at the same time, he also must learn that the good depends upon his behavior.       

Next...don't feed your dog like a child.  Do not feed him human food!  This is not only bad for his training but also for his health.  But even more than that, don't feed your Chihuahua when you eat.  Don't sit with your plate and give your dog pieces of food from  your own plate, especially if he's begging.  Do not give in.  Giving in establishes your Chihuahua's control over you.  Your feeding technique should center around you as the "alpha" of the household allowing your Chihuahua to eat.  Teach your Chihuahua a few basic obedience commands (such as sit and stay) and require that your dog obeys the commands while you are holding his food bowl.  He doesn't get his food until he has properly obeyed the commands.  This requires him to be calm and under control as you are preparing his food and it also reinforces the fact that you are the provider of food and just as an alpha dog would do in a pack, you only provide food for the pack members who display appropriate behavior.
You cannot tolerate your Chihuahua begging for food while you are eating.  The basic obedience commands of "sit" and "quiet" should handle the begging. 

Another important part of maintaining control over your Chihuahua is allowing him to walk.  Don't carry your dog everywhere.  He has 4 perfectly capable legs, let him use them.  Leash train your Chihuahua and require him to walk properly on the leash.  It's the leash that allows you to control your dog when he's walking.  But if you're trying to maintain control by carrying him everywhere so he can't get into anything, that's not control.  Your Chihuahua must learn to ignore outside influences and maintain attention on you, while on leash.  Once this is mastered,  you will have complete control over your Chihuahua, even when he's walking on his own. 
For more information on leash training, click the link below and find the leash training link:

Leash training and basic obedience training will help to reverse some of the "human control" your Chihuahua may have established over you.  For feeding problems, you'll need to get your dog back onto dog food.  To do this, the first thing you have to do is stop feeding him human food.  Just stop cold turkey, so to speak, and don't feed him another bite of human food. Then find a canned or pouch food that your dog cannot resist and mix a little bit with the dry food that you feed until he's eating his regular food again, then you can gradually wean him off of the canned food.  Your Chihuahua will not starve himself.  He will eat. It may be slow at first, but when he's hungry, he'll eat, so don't give in on the human food just because your dog isn't wanting to eat his food very well.  If he's not eating well, offer his food several times daily so that he has ample opportunity to eat. 

The above ideas should be all you need to maintain the control of your household.  If you have a more difficult case with your Chihuahua, you may consider consulting a trainer for more aggressive and complex training ideas. 

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