Thinking about getting a pet Chihuahua? This breed is a favourite of many people for their cute size and big personalities! In today’s article, we’ll be giving you some tips on how to train a Chihuahua, and some general information about the breed. As with any new dog, Chihuahua training is very important, so hopefully, these tips help you on your way!
The Chihuahua is part of the ‘Toy breed group’ and can have short smooth coats or long coats, however, even the longer coated do not need too much grooming. In fact, the Kennel Club suggests just once a week. This can make them fairly easy to keep clean and healthy as well as fairly inexpensive to keep due to their small food intake.
Chihuahua’s love their owner’s attention and make great lap dogs as well as adapting to different exercise activities as well. They can be cuddly and quiet yet fun-loving and bold all at the same time. The love of being close to their owner means most do not stray far even when out and about and will always want to be following behind their owner.
Chihuahuas are intelligent and love to be mentally stimulated, which makes them great for training. Want to know more about how to train a Chihuahua? Keep on reading as we’ll cover it shortly! Their size makes them perfect for trick training although they also do well in obedience and agility as well.
This breed could suit a first-time dog owner as long as you are aware of the possible difficulty with house training. They are easy to handle when on the lead but like all dogs, consistent Chihuahua training and direction is needed.
This breed can be nervous of new situations. This can include strangers, noises, bigger dogs and crowded environments. So, they need to be socialised from a young age in order to encourage them to become confident. Furthermore, Chihuahuas are fragile due to their small size so it can be difficult to socialise them with bigger dogs due to the risk of them being hurt.
They can live in a small flat or house as they don’t need as much space as larger breeds, although they do still need regular exercise and stimulation especially as they can put on weight quickly. This puts strain on their small legs.
They are more ‘one person dogs’ than family dogs, and can become worried around children if not brought up from a young age with them. This breed isn’t ideal for a family with very young children as they are so fragile and can be unsure of louder noises and possible rough handling.
Due to their small size, this breed can accompany their owner in plenty of different situations. This makes them a great companion as they are easy to take in the car, on different modes of transport and don’t even take up much space in the office!
Most Chihuahuas love food which can be great for training. It’s important to make sure their treats are the appropriate size as they can become overweight easily from over-indulgence!
How To Train A Chihuahua: Top Tips
Chihuahuas make a great pet for many people, especially if you don’t have the time or space for big, super-boisterous breeds. However, it’s important not to neglect Chihuahua training if you want your dog to grow up well-behaved! Here is some information and our top tips for training this breed:
They can be difficult to house train
Like many toy breeds, Chihuahuas can be difficult to house train. It may be useful to have a crate for your Chihuahua at night and for when unsupervised to prevent mistakes all over the house. When choosing a crate, it does not need to be very big. The bigger the crate is the more surface area the puppy has to go out of its bed and then go to the toilet on. As most dogs do not like going to the toilet where they sleep having a suitable size of crate will make house training easier. It’s best to take them out frequently to the garden rather than having puppy pads all over the house and being so small this needs to be very often as their bladders cannot hold much.
Chihuahuas are very alert
Chihuahuas are extremely alert and observant so it’s quite common that they will bark at anything that seems different or new. It may be useful to teach a ‘quiet’ command and a good recall so you can interrupt this. To help acclimate your Chihuahua to different environments and noises, they should be slowly introduced and familiarised preferably when young. If a dog is exposed to different environments when younger it has a much better chance of being a stable and confident adult. Gentle positive exposure to different situations can still be achieved with an older dog but it will take some time and patience as they may already have built up negative associations.
Don’t be fooled by their size! They have lots of energy
Chihuahuas have lots of energy despite their size. So, activities such as agility training can be great for this breed, especially for their confidence. They love to run and jump around so starting with a few low jumps and equipment at home can help their focus and engagement with you. Many behavioural issues also stem from lack of exercise so it’s important that, although they are small, they are physically and mentally stimulated.
Practice nose touches with your dog
This breed can be wary of new people coming towards them and putting their hands out to stroke them. This is because it can be imitating and scary for them. Their natural cautiousness can lead them to be suspicious and skittish around strangers so it’s important to work on this at a young age. A great exercise to teach them is a nose touch to your hand to help build up a positive association of people putting their hands out. This needs to be practised first in low distracting environments. Once it’s a solid behaviour, it can then be practised around new people.
Let this breed explore naturally
Due to their small size, it’s very common for owners to pick their Chihuahua up and carry them around. It’s really important that they are allowed to explore nature and learn to walk outside to go to the toilet for example, rather than being carried. This is because they need to learn to indicate that they need the toilet by themselves rather than waiting to be picked up.
How to train a Chihuahua to get along with bigger breeds?
With smaller breeds, it’s really important that they learn how to be around bigger dogs as well as ones their own size. Many Chihuahuas are unsure of bigger dogs which can lead to them running up and barking at the dog or running away scared. It’s valuable Chihuahua training to teach them to be able to walk confidently past a bigger dog on the lead and also how to interact when meeting.
The easiest way is starting as young as possible and letting them socialise with bigger dogs rather than over worrying about their size, as long as the other dog is calm and has appropriate behaviour towards smaller dogs then allow them to interact and play. If your dog is older and has certain negative associations of bigger dogs then it may take some time working at a distance and building new positive associations with a training plan.
Lots of games are key with Chihuahua training!
Small flirt poles can be great to play and interact with when dragged and moved around on the floor, the same as small balls on a string. By encouraging your Chihuahua to play with different types of toys you can take these into new environments and also use this as a reward in training. Introducing a puppy to lots of different types of toys will also improve their confidence and adaptability around different objects as they get older.
Reward your dog for calm behaviour
As they can be typically nervous it’s important for your dog to have choices and to feel safe and secure when out. When introducing them to new situations, pay attention to their body language and if they seem stressed then remove them from the situation. Also, provide safety for them (a choice to move away) and reward for calm behaviour. If they come away from a situation feeling stressed and uneasy (especially as puppies) then they will start to build up negative associations and lose confidence. So, it’s important to do this gradually with this breed and try to make scary situations rewarding with lots of verbal praise, encouragement and rewards.
Nervous aggression is common in Chihuahuas, but good training can combat this, as you can see from this video with Teddy, a Chihuahua who came to Royvon!
It’s common for them to pull on the lead
It’s not uncommon for Chihuahuas to pull on the lead if they are not properly taught how to walk with a relaxed lead. It’s a really valuable skill for them to learn as constantly pulling on the lead can cause damage to their small and sensitive necks. When teaching loose lead walking it may be a good idea to have a harness and start by rewarding them for being by your side even at home! The first step is simply building up the association that good things happen when they are by your side. By starting indoors they are less likely to pull so you can take the opportunity to heavily reinforce the good behaviour and gradually move outside to different environments.
Teach them how to relax on their own when left
As Chihuahuas love companionship and are very loyal to their owners, many wonder how to train a Chihuahua to be okay on their own. If unable to cope alone and stressed they can toilet indoors, bark and become destructive. From a young age, teach a good ‘settle’ and gradually get them used to being left alone for short periods. When leaving your dog, it’s best for them to be tired. So, make sure they are walked before as this will help them to settle and you can leave a stuffed Kong or chew to keep them occupied.
Here at Royvon, we have over 60 years of experience in the dog training world. We love using our knowledge to train dogs of all breeds, including Chihuahuas! If you’d like to find out more about what we offer, simply visit our website here today!
Darren is the Managing Director of Royvon Dog Training & Hotels. The business has been in his family for over 60 years! Darren uses this blog to share knowledge and information about dog training and more.