Don’t let their small size fool you—Chihuahuas have a big personality and need proper training to become well-behaved pets. That being said, they are an incredibly smart, loyal, and loving breed.
Training is crucial because it helps you bond with your new companion. Training sessions will also provide your Chihuahua with the mental stimulation they need, and they will help create the structure your puppy needs.
Read on for a few tips on how to train a chihuahua.
1. Use Positive Reinforcement
Training a chihuahua works best if you use positive reinforcement. These dogs are alert, smart, and want to please their owners. However, some individuals can be stubborn. Because they’re so playful, chihuahuas can sometimes get into mischief if they don’t get enough stimulation or aren’t sure who the leader is.
You should use positive reinforcement to set some boundaries and communicate what you expect from your pup. Your Chi will respond well to this approach as long as you’re consistent with your praises and rewards.
Don’t hesitate to be firm. Chihuahuas can develop an attitude and think they’re in charge. Say ‘no’ in a firm voice and withhold treats and attention when you see a negative behavior.
If your Chihuahua is food-motivated, you can use treats as a reward for the behaviors you want to see. Make sure you pick healthy dog treats and avoid foods your Chihuahua can’t have. Otherwise, praises will work since this breed is very affectionate and always craves attention.
Here’s how to train a chihuahua with positive reinforcement:
- Plan daily training sessions, but keep these sessions shorts.
- Offer a reward immediately, so your Chi associates the reward with the positive behavior.
- Be consistent. Your puppy needs to understand which behaviors result in a reward.
- Focus on simple commands like sit, stay, lie down, come, and leave it at first.
2. Barking Training Is Important
Chihuahuas can be territorial dogs, and barking is often an issue. They might bark when they see a stranger or perceive a threat. Some dogs will bark when they’re bored or lonely.
You can curb barking by establishing yourself as a leader. Things like being consistent during training sessions, teaching your puppy not to jump on you, and modeling calm behavior will let your dog know you’re in charge.
When your Chi barks, ignore them. You can pay attention to your pup and praise them when the barking stops. Yelling isn’t the right response since your pooch will think you’re barking with them, and it reinforces the idea that there is something they need to bark at.
Notice the things that get your dog excited and barking. Use that stimulus to get your pup to bark and use a command like ‘speak’ every time. Your Chihuahua will eventually learn to bark on command.
You can then get your pooch to bark on command and clap your hands to make them stop. Say ‘quiet’ every time. After a while, your dog will learn that ‘quiet’ means stop barking.
3. Don’t Forget Socialization
Socialization can be an issue with small dogs because their owners don’t see them as a threat. It’s crucial to introduce your puppy to as many new experiences as possible, especially between eight weeks and four months of age.
Chihuahuas can be nervous, territorial, and even aggressive. You can prevent these behaviors with proper socialization.
Take your Chihuahua puppy for walks twice a day. These walks are an opportunity to discover new things. You can also take them to a dog park or schedule play dates with other dogs. Take your puppy with you so they can meet new people and see new places.
Treats, praises, and a calm demeanor from you will make these experiences positive for your dog. Plus, they will love the stimulation they get from these new experiences.
4. How to Potty Train a Chihuahua
Chihuahuas have a reputation for being hard to house train. Before we discuss how to train a chihuahua to potty outside, you should know that this breed is sensitive to hot or cold weather. Your pup will need a coat in the wintertime, and you should take them to a shaded area in the summer.
If you got a new puppy that isn’t housebroken yet, it’s best to use a crate or restrict them to a room until they are potty trained. Take your puppy outside frequently and praise them when they eliminate outside.
Puppy pads or pee pads are the best way to potty train your Chihuahua. You can move the puppy pad closer to the door so that your pooch eventually associates eliminating with going outside. Keep in mind that your puppy might not know what the pads are for at first. Place them on the pad regularly and praise them when they eliminate on the pad.
5. Teaching Leash Control
It’s important to teach your Chihuahua to walk on a leash calmly. Because small dogs can injure themselves with collars, it’s best to invest in a harness before you start working on leash control.
Pulling on the leash is something that Chihuahua owners sometimes overlook because their dog isn’t strong enough to pull them forward. However, leash control is important because it teaches your dog that you’re the leader.
Your dog pulls on the leash because they see a spot that is interesting to them. If you let them walk faster, you’re teaching them that pulling is a positive thing. Instead, you should do the opposite and stop when your dog pulls. Don’t start walking again until your pup is calm.
You can use treats to teach leash control. Keep the leash loose and hold a treat in front of your Chihuahua to set the pace. Your pup will follow the treat hand and learn to walk beside you at a calm pace.
6. How to Teach Your Chihuahua Some Tricks
Chihuahuas are intelligent dogs who are eager to please their owners. It’s the perfect combination for teaching them some tricks. Here are a few things you can teach your Chi:
- Start by teaching to come when you call their name. Offering a treat is the best way to get them to come to you.
- You can teach your dog to sit by gently pressing on their lower back until they sit.
- You can do the same to teach them the ‘lie down’ command.
- Once your Chihuahua knows ‘lie down,’ hold a treat in front of them and encourage them to grab it to teach them to crawl. Withdraw the treat and use the ‘lie down’ command again if they get up.
- Tap your pup’s leg to get them to lift their paw. Reward them for this first step and place your hand underneath the paw when they lift it to teach them to shake.
- Once your dog knows ‘shake,’ you can use a different hand position to teach them to high five.
- You can teach your puppy to jump by placing a small obstacle in front of them and holding a treat on the other side.
It’s important to learn how to train a Chihuahua so you can form a bond with your new companion and prevent unwanted behaviors. Remember that consistency is key. You need to keep an eye on your Chihuahua and use positive reinforcement at all times and not just during training sessions. Training sessions should be short and fun since they’re an opportunity to provide mental stimulation while teaching your dog some useful commands.
If you’re having a hard time with training your Chihuahua or are dealing with behavioral issues, you should think about signing up for obedience training so you can get help from a professional.