Chihuahuas are highly intelligent, quick on their feet and the perfect size for snuggling in your lap. But these tiny dogs can have big behaviour issues. Fortunately, not every Chihuahua is doomed to be a yapping, biting mess. Raise a loving, well-behaved dog who’s fun to be around with these Chihuahua training tips.
Why Chihuahuas Get A Bad Rap
Chihuahuas have a reputation for being mean. Some Chihuahuas tend to bark and even snap at people they do not know. They may be especially hostile to people who enter their home, or those who approach their favourite humans, especially while they are sitting on their lap.
A Chihuahua is a great “starter” dog. They can live in small spaces and they’re inexpensive to feed, even if you opt for a high-end diet. Their owners may not always realize that they need the same amount of training, exercise, and stimulation as any other dog.
Not all behavioural issues are caused by a lack of training. Many Chihuahuas have been bred to be as small and cute as possible, but may have a family history of aggression. Someone who breeds large dogs will generally not breed a dog with anxiety or aggression, but a Chihuahua breeder, particularly a backyard breeder, might not breed for a stable temperament.
Chihuahuas tend to be a “one person dog” who bonds closely with just one human and takes a long time to warm up to people. Early socialization can help your Chi learn to love everyone they meet, but this may not be possible if you adopted your dog after early puppyhood or missed that window.
When introducing your Chi to someone new, do not immediately ask the person to give your dog treats. Sometimes offering treats may do more harm than good. When your Chi is bribed to move forward faster than they feel comfortable doing, it may be a scary experience for them.
Also, avoid letting people and other dogs greet your Chi while they are in your lap or in your arms, as they can feel cornered and unable to escape a potentially scary situation.
Common Chihuahua Training Issues
Chihuahuas are notoriously difficult to house-train. It may be due to their tiny bladders; they simply can’t hold it as long as that of larger dogs.
It’s common for Chi owners to use potty pads, a litter box, or other indoor toileting systems. These can work well if you have trouble getting your dog outside frequently, but they may become confused as to where they are allowed to go potty and where they should not. They may mistake carpets and rugs for pads.
However, it is possible to transition your Chi from potty pads to outdoors. It can be helpful to use potty bells, as your tiny dog may have trouble communicating with you when they need to go out.
Does Positive Training Work With Chihuahuas?
Though Chihuahua owners tend to be too permissive, it’s not true that small dogs are in need of punishment or intimidation. It’s just a matter of setting boundaries and expectations.
Punishments, including raising your voice, can cause or exacerbate fear-related behavioural issues. For example, if you yell at your Chi for urinating on a rug, they’ll likely be more sneaky next time they make a mess indoors. Instead, they should be taken outside as often as possible, given lots of treats and praise when they relieve themselves outside and crated when you cannot supervise them.
Chihuahuas love food and attention, so they’re perfect candidates for positive reinforcement-based training. Give your Chi plenty of opportunities to please you and watch them shine. They can participate in agility, nose work, obedience training, and elaborate tricks, everything a bigger dog can do.
Get Chihuahua Training Help
Whether you’re a first-time Chihuahua owner or want to learn new ways to teach your dog, you can get help from a professional trainer.
Healthy Houndz offers private training to local Toronto and North York dog parents as well as virtual training for dog owners around the world,