Monday, October 15, 2018

Do Chihuahuas Like Kids? Absolutely...IF! Tips for Socializing Your Chihuahua with Children.

One of the most common questions that I hear from people interested in Chihuahuas as a breed is "Are they good with kids?" 

My answer is most definitely yes....IF!  That "if" represents a few things.  First of all, your Chihuahua must be properly socialized.  This begins with the breeder, but does not stop after you bring your puppy home.  In fact, socialization is an ongoing process throughout most of your dog's life.  This includes the all-important aspect of socializing your puppy with children.  If you take your puppy home and he never sees a child, it is likely that your Chihuahua may grow to dislike children.  Our suggestion to continued socialization of your dog....take him with you every where you possibly can. Take him on outings in the park where there will be children around. 

While it is important to introduce your puppy to children, if your puppy is unsure about children, there is a word of caution associated with the process in order to prevent bad experiences for both your puppy and the children involved.  Be careful about how you allow children to approach your Chihuahua (hopefully the child's parents will be keeping an eye on their child too.)  If your dog seems afraid of the child, do not pick your dog up and cuddle him...this will reinforce his idea that there is something to be afraid of.  Instead, talk to the child in a calming voice (this will calm both the child and your Chihuahua) and be friendly with the child.  This will give your dog the idea that the child is ok. If possible, have the child sit down on the ground near your puppy to make the child appear smaller to the puppy and to reduce unanticipated movements that could startle your puppy.  

Don't allow the child to approach  your dog though until your dog takes an interest in the child, usually by sniffing in the child's direction or possibly moving in the child's direction a little bit. Once your dog has taken an interest, allow the child to reach for or approach the puppy gently while you continue to talk to the child in a friendly tone, but do not allow him to touch your Chihuahua until he is comfortable with the child's proximity.  

Once the dog seems comfortable with the child being near, allow the child to offer your Chihuahua his hand to sniff.  Always allow your puppy to sniff first, before ever trying to touch! If your dog is alright with that, allow the child to put his hand on your Chihuahua's head, and once your dog demonstrates that he is alright with that, the child should be able to pet your Chihuahua after that with no problems. 

If you're concerned about your Chihuahua biting the child, you will definitely want to have the basic obedience commands in place (such as sit, stay, no, down, and so forth) before you attempt this, as it will give you much more control over what your dog will do.   

If you have children in your home, it's important to understand that it's just as necessary to train the child how to behave around the Chihuahua as it is to train the Chihuahua how to behave around the child.  If you allow your child to abuse your Chihuahua by pulling ears or tail, using the Chihuahua as a pillow (although some Chi's love this...some don't), or worse, using the Chihuahua as a football, you should hardly be surprised if your Chihuahua comes to hate your child. Chihuahuas will protect themselves if they feel the need too.  Teach your child to be calm when the Chihuahua is around.  Teach him how to handle your Chihuahua properly and you shouldn't have any problems with your Chihuahua and your child getting along.  Chihuahuas often attach very strongly to children and act as their protectors. 

So, in short, yes, Chihuahuas can be wonderful with children if they are properly trained and socialized.  Most Chihuahuas love children very much, and children love Chihuahuas.  Start off on the right foot with your child and your Chihuahua and before you know it, they'll have a bond that may make even you a little envious!

Monday, October 8, 2018

To Clothe or Not to Clothe? That is the question. Can my Chihuahua wear those adorable doggies dresses I see in the store?

"Can I put clothes on my Chihuahua?" 
The answer to the question varies as much as Chihuahuas themselves do.  Chihuahuas, as with most other dogs, really don't need to wear clothes most of the time.  There are some breeds, such as the hairless Chinese Crested, that do well with clothing due to lack of their own "clothing".  And, many Chihuahuas do well with clothing too, especially in particularly cold times or places, as Chihuahuas are very much "warm weather" dogs.  They really don't care for the cold, and so many welcome a warming sweater or jacket when the temps plummet.  

But then, there are some that.....well, let's just say...don't so much welcome it.  There are a variety of ways that your Chi may tell you that he does not, indeed, like the extra layers that you have added to his body.  He may run around the house like a mad dog, bumping into walls and furniture, screeching and howling the entire way, until either you catch him, or he finally manages to get most of the offensive material off and dragging behind him. 

Or, he may stand stone still, too afraid or too uncomfortable to move, glaring at you or looking unbelievably pitiful,and stay that way until you pity him enough to take the horrible mess off of him.  And then, there are those that will calmly, rationally, RIP the offensive garment off of themselves and hide it under a cushion or bed to ensure, at least in their minds, that you will never find it again, and therefore, certainly could not ever attempt to cover them with it again. 

Remember though, while these antics of the tortured Chihuahua may be amusing, your Chi is trying to tell you something.  I think that if he could actually tell you what he's thinking, it may sound something like this "Please, beloved human, do not put an extra cover on me again, because I do not need it and I do not like it.  If you insist on covering my beautiful fur with those horrid garments again, I will be forced to hate you forever." 

Seriously though, whether or not you can dress your Chihuahua depends entirely upon the Chihuahua.  If your Chi needs clothing for any reason, because he is cold or anything else, he will gladly and happily wear the clothing that you put on him as long as it does not hurt or bother him with rubbing, choking or constricting his movement. If he is not wearing the clothing....if he insists that it must come off....please take it off.  Don't assume that he'll get used to it.  Some may get used to it, though they will likely never enjoy wearing it, but many never get used to it and it's not only a bother to them, but an expense to you to keep replacing what they destroy trying to get it off.  In addition, unhappy dogs can hurt themselves trying to get out of the offending clothing, and that is definitely not going to make you happy either. 

*A side note....please be careful what clothing you choose to put on your Chihuahua.  You'll want to be sure that you do not put too much pressure on the neck and trachea.  Also, you won't want to constrict the movement of his legs, and I think it's also a good idea not to put anything on him that will bend his ears down, as this can damage the cartiledge and his ability to stand his ears up as they should be. Basically, the clothing that you choose should allow your Chi to move and act the way he normally does or it is not appropriate for him.*  

Monday, October 1, 2018

Finding Fido: Tips for Effective Pet Identification.

It's a dog lover's worst nightmare.  Your pet gets out of your yard and the next thing you know, he's missing...completely and totally gone.  You search and search the area, put up posters and call animal control to see if he's been picked up, but nothing pans out and your dog is still missing. 
Nobody likes the above situation, so hopefully this entry will help you avoid it.  There are a few good options for pet identification that will help to get your pet back home should he/she come up missing.  All vets, animal control agencies and rescue groups recommend some form of pet identification, but it's hard to know what is the most effective means of identifying your pet.  Below are three possible options for you.

The basic ID tag- these metal or plastic tags hang from the collar and are engraved with the owner's information.  These are very cost effective, usually costing less than $10 each, and they can be the fastest and most effective way of having your pet returned home.  However, these tags do have a down side.  If your pet is lost, he may find himself in unusual sutiations, such as squeezing under fences or through brush.  It is not uncommon for a dog to be found without the collar and tag that his owner said he was wearing when he went missing.  Collars can come off...and tags can come off of collars.  So while this may be the easiest method of pet ID to use and to change if your information changes, it's not always the most reliable. 

Tattoos- This method of pet ID involves actually making your owner information part of the pet by tattooing it directly onto his skin.  Normally, you would simply tattoo your phone number onto an area of your dog's skin which is the least fur covered.  This is a relatively good method of helping you find your dog, as long as he eventually ends up in a vet's office, animal control shelter or rescue.  But the average citizen may not think to look for a tattoo.  Another down side to this method is..what happens if your phone number changes?  You really have no option but to remove or change the tatoo, which is not only uncomfortable for your dog, but can be costly for you as well.  Finally, another down side to this method is that tattooing is not particularly comfortable during and immediately after the procedure.  Many vets can do the tattoos or can refer you to someone who can, but tattooing is done on dogs under anesthesia and then must heal afterwards. So, while this form of ID may be the most permanent, that may not be a good thing. 

Microchipping- This method of pet ID involves injecting a tiny microchip (about the size of a grain of rice) underneath your dog's skin in the same manner used in giving a vaccine.  The skin forms a small pocket around the microchip to keep it in place.  This chip emmits a signal that can be read by special readers which most vet's offices and animal rescues have.  The reading reveals a registration number.  The chips are registered with the company who makes them and the registration numbers emmited by the chips are linked to your contact information so the company helps to find you and reunite you and your pet.  Microchips are permanent, though they can move around after implantation.  It is relatively easy to change your contact information.  Simply contact the company and update your info.  So, microchips are a pretty good form of ID for your pet. 
There are some down sides to these chips though.  There are a few companies that make them and they make them so that their readers are the only ones that can read their chips, so a reader from one company cannot read chips from another company.  They do make universal readers now, but they are pricey.  The best vet's offices, animal shelters and rescues have access to all the readers or have universal readers so that no matter what chip your dog may have implanted, they'll be able to read it.  Next, reading the chip is done by scanning the dog's body with the reader to see if there is any signal coming from a chip anywhere.  Most chips to provide tags that can be affixed to your dog's collar indicating that a microchip is in place, but without that tag, anyone who finds your lost dog must actually take him/her somewhere to be scanned for a chip, and sometimes, people may not think to do that.  Also, your pet must eventually end up in the hands of a vet, animal control shelter or rescue because the average peson does not have, not ever will have, a reader.  Readers are expensive and not practical for the average person, even the average pet owner, to purchase. Finally, if your dog has beens stolen (it is happening more and more with purebred dogs, unfortunately), even a microchip will not help find him.  They are not GPS locators.  They are simply chips that provide information if scanned.  
For more information on one brand of microchips, click the link below.

All of these methods of pet ID have advantages and disadvantages.  One may be a better choice for you than for someone else.  Small town pets can often do just fine with an ID tag, while larger city pets may do better with the microchip. These methods can also be combined, if you feel the need to be safe about it.  No matter which method you choose, the bottom line is that you increase your chances of finding your lost pet if you use at least one of these methods of pet ID.