Leadership Works Magic in Chihuahua Training
Magic in chihuahua training does happen with leadership. A happy life with a dog starts by stating who is the leader and who is the follower. The leader must be the human owner, and all other human-beings. The follower must be the dog. Leadership has to be established as soon as dog meets human. A cute-fragile-little-tiny-chihuahua can become a threat to your peaceful life if you let them be the king.
How to transform a miniature dog into a destructive monster?
Give him great freedom and no boundaries, provide unlimited attention, fulfill his every need, and back off when he is not happy.
My neighbour loves his 2 toy dogs, but they make him miserable. They run away, jump on people, chew on his briefcase, and can't walk quietly on leash. He cannot believe how much damage 18 pounds of dogs have caused in his house.
How to rule a 2-pound cutie
Your teacup chihuahua is a priori a dog, a canine animal with natural and survival instints. It needs a pack leader, someone with the authority to provide protection, food, shelter and socialization. If you are not able to establish your leadership clearly, your chihuahua will either try to state himself as the alpha dog, or act very confused.
There is a way to be your dog's undisputed leader and still have him sleep in your bed under the blanket. For example, allow him to go on your bed only when you invite him.
A simple set of rules and reinforced habits will get you well on your way to having a well-behaved dog you can trust.
Consistency is primordial in training your chihuahua. Repetition is also the key when practicing obedience. Remember that anything that a human wants or expects a dog to do has to be taught and trained. You have to teach your chi when and where it is appropriate to relieve himself, and you also have to teach him that excitment or panick is not suitable when driving in the car.
Train your chi step by step, starting with what is the closest to his dog's nature
A dog will most likely approach each object that is presented to him, out of natural curiosity. To bring your dog to wear his chihuahua clothes, keep a sweater close by when he is on your lap, and reward him every time he approaches the sweater with his nose. He will understand that being in contact with it means good. Then you can start touching your chi with the sweater, rewarding, and eventually pass his head through it. Depending on the dog, it may take as less as a minute or so to train your chihuahua.
Start with an exercice that he cannot fail, then gradually increase its lenght and complexity
You want to train your chihuahua to wait for you quietly in the car. While you stay outside, put him on his seat, close the door, open it and reward him. Close the door again and wait 2 seconds, open and reward. Close again and wait 4 seconds open and reward. Increase the amout of time you wait before you open the door. When you are comfortable with leaving your chi in the car for a couple minutes, hop in the car, drive around, get out, close the door and leave for 5 minutes. Do the same again but leave him for 10 minutes. Always reward your dog when you come back. Gradually doing it may take longer at the beginning, but your peace of mind will be set for life.
Reward mostly with praise, affection and play, and less often with treats
If your chihuahua is treat-oriented, he may chose to listen only when he smells treats in your hands. This is not much respect to your leadership as he makes the decision to obey or not. When reward comes as verbal praise or affection, your chi will be attentive each time you command, and then you can chose to treat him or not. Clicker training is a proven technique that works wonders.
Reward often to reinforce a behavior
Still praise your chi when he relieves himself at the right place, even when he is well beyond house-trained. This will remind him that there is a right place to do it and lessen the risk of him doing it in a new environment, such at the office or a friend's place.
Do not allow your emotions to command your chi. Signs of frustration or screaming are a big no-no.
The pack leader's calm-assertive energy commands trust and respect from his dog. Losing your temper is viewed by the dog as a sign of weakness. Thus, letting frustration, discouragement, impatience or anger kick in will lead your chi to ignore or walk away in reaction to your energy. At first, screaming will scare your chi and jeopardize his trusting you. If he gets accustomed to it he will only ignore you until you scream louder. If you are mad at your chi because he did something very wrong, just ignore him until you calm down and figure out a way to re-train him. Don't forget that a dog will act as a dog until we, humans, teach them otherwise. Most “unwanted behaviors” happen because we have not taken proper action to change them.
Make sure your chi gets plenty of exercice
Exercise a priority in chihuahua training. Even if some people think that toy dog breeds do enough exercising walking around the house, they should know that more vigorous exercice is beneficial in many ways. Tea cups need to have activities to release their energy and work every muscle group in order to keep them healthy. Some people train their chihuahua to jog for an hour in the woods, whereas other chis will be happy with a walk around the block. Walking your chi will build endurance and will also build the relationship with you as his leader. Sprints like jumping and running to fetch a ball will strenghten the muscles necessary to preven kneecap dislocation. A dog that gets busy and tired will listen much more to your commands than one whose legs just want to run. It will also have a calming effect back inside the house, where your chi will not tend to chew on your chair legs out of boredom.
“It's so cute!!” is NOT a reason to let your chi perform unwanted behavior
You have never heard your puppy's voice since you got him 2 months ago. This morning, he felt bored while you were working next to him, so he barked his first bark. He's first sound was so shaky that you found it incredibly cute and wanted your partner to hear it as well. Now, you just taught your baby chi that any attempt to bark is “good” and will be rewarded by attention.
A puppy that has fallen asleep on your human baby's toys is worth taking a picture. It's also an alarming sign that your puppy is taking ownership of your baby's stuff, and this can lead to more serious problems in the long run. Remove the puppy from the human's toys right away and bring him to his dog bed, and remember that you are shaping his behavior for the years to come.
Always follow through your command and expect your chi to proceed
Your chihuahua's trained not to go upstairs unless invited. One day you climb usptairs and you find him chewing his bone in your room. Give him the command to go back downstairs ( snap your fingers, point the staircase and say: “Downstairs”.) Now, expect your chi to go down the stairs on his own. Pull on his collar to get him up, stand up and walk towards him so he needs to back out. He may try to avoid you an run under the bed, but stay authoritative and have him get out. Then, keep blocking him in a way that he has to back up all the way to the stairs. You do not need to repeat “downstairs” many times, the snapping of your fingers and your energy will mean it. As long as it takes, keep moving forward to have him walk all the way back to downstairs. After a few times, he will realize that whatever you want him to do, no matter how long it takes, he's going to end up doing it. A chihuahua trained that way will be more alert and understand quickly your commands.
Do take the time to train your chi with basic obedience
Basic obedience commands will ensure the safety of your dog in most environments, and will also help your friends and relatives know how to handle your chi. This will make it much more easier when you need a dog sitter. Learn more about basic obedience.
Chihuahua training is not complicated, and it should be ongoing and embedded in your everyday lifestyle. There are plenty of ways to make it fun and strenghten the love that you have for each other.
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