Puppy training is essential in any breed.
Yet there are some breeds where there is an instinct from owners that less effort is required. We see this in Chihuahuas, where animals are spoilt and are left to do their own thing. However, Chihuahua training is essential.
The question is, how to train a Chihuahua puppy and just how difficult is it?
Are these animals spoiled pets because they are so passive and sweet, or because training is so problematic. Anyone that has met a stranger’s Chihuahua may have the answer there, but Chihuahua lovers can be oblivious.
In this guide to training a Chihuahua we will look at the issue in three main areas.
There are the problems that owners can face with these dogs, such as how to potty train a Chihuahua or combat barking, and then there are the solution that go with them. This means advice on techniques, aids, training guides and obedience schools.
In addition to this, we will also look at the psychological elements of bad behavior in the breed. Just what is it that makes these dogs tick, and so different to some other breeds?
So, lets start with the question that is on everyone’s minds here. Are Chihuahuas Easy to Train?
Are Chihuahuas Easy to Train?
Unfortunately for all those that find the Chihuahua to the be cutest pup and assume that such a small dog must be easily to look after, there is a cold, harsh reality here.
The short answer is no. Chihuahuas are notoriously one of the most difficult dogs to train.
They have an attitude and temperament that means that they can struggle to take orders and behave as required.
These dogs can exhibit so many traits and behavioral issues that they can be quite a challenge. This all requires the need for small, consistent action from a young age, something that we will go into further later.
There are many potential issues to watch out for, and it pays to handle them as quickly as possible. The first is one that many will have heard of “the small dog syndrome”.
What is Small Dog Syndrome?
The first consideration with how to train your Chihuahua is small dog syndrome. This is where we get cases of dogs that believe they are bigger and more important that they are.
They are dogs that are overly sensitive and difficult to handle. This sensitivity can be seen in a number of ways, such as a dislike of being disturbed when eating, or of not wanting to move when “in the way”. Then there is the risk of aggression, which we will look at next.
Chihuahuas are not the only dogs that have to deal with small dog syndrome. Yet, they are the breed that most think of when they hear the term. This is because the Chihuahua is such a pampered, highly-strung little animal.
For years, many saw this as a designer dog to carry around wherever they went in a bag, and some still do. This can have severe psychological consequences on the dog and its viewpoint on its world, and itself.
Dealing with Aggression when Training a Chihuahua Puppy
While many think of bigger dogs as the aggressive type, such as working police dog GSDs and Rottweilers, or those with bad reps like Staffies and Pitbulls, the Chihuahua is perhaps the more aggressive.
It is certainly prone to biting when threatened and out of control. This aggression can be seen with other animals, which is often clear when taking dogs out to a park with a fiesty Chihuahua.
Then there is aggression with strangers coming into the home. The biggest issue here can be the possessive nature of these dogs towards the one caregiver that they most identify with.
For example a Chihuahua imprinted upon a wife/mother that gives it attention and food may show aggression with husbands and kids. This cause be a protective nature, but it could also be simple jealously.
On that note of devotion, it is also important to consider separation anxiety when training a Chihuahua.
Separation anxiety comes into play quite easily with these little dogs if they are used to being around that one owner that are devoted to, and then find themselves left alone for what feels like a long period. It helps to train them to be independent when needed.
There are Problems, But There are Also Solutions
The behavioral issues above highlight some of the problems that Chihuahua owners have to deal with.
Adult Chihuahuas that are allowed to be top dog and get away with murder can be stuck in their ways, making life difficult for families and newcomers.
However, whatever the problem – whether aggression, barking or potty training Chihuahua – there are solutions. Also, the intelligence of the Chihuahua can play a big part when trained correctly.
The First Thing to Do Here is to Start Young
The most important thing to do with any Chihuahua is to start their training from a young age and to be consistent with it.
👉 You have to ensure that they learn their place in the pack from an early age. What this means is ensuring that they know that they are a dog, the family pet, and that while they are loved and part of the family, they do not rule the roost.
This means they know that their master is in charge, they know that they are not top dog and can’t bully other animals, that they don’t have the same privileges in the household.
Those that are spoiled and treated as equals, or even as above others in the household, will assume that this is true. This will make it very difficult for training because why should they then listen to commands.
There are clear problems to overcome here, but there are solutions to obedience training for Chihuahuas too.
Make sure to work in small sessions so the animal doesn’t get bored, work on a command with food and praise for 15 minutes, then try again tomorrow.
There is no point getting frustrated over the situation. Where possible, try and have fun with it, make the tricks and behaviors part of a game.
Also, make sure to start with the basics and work your way up, like how to train a Chihuahua to sit. Once you have that rapport and control on the simple things, like stay, sit and come, you can build up to bigger problems.
Then there is the Problem of Housetraining a Chihuahua Puppy
These dogs are often seen as one of the most difficult dogs to housebreak. Part of this is due to the temperament and difficulty in training.
However, you also have to remember that they are small dogs with small bladders. They are going to have accidents more often than larger dogs, especially when they are young and don’t have full control.
In addition to this, they can also sneak around the furniture and find places to leave an unpleasant mess that may not be found for a little while. They are not trying to play tricks on you, there are just more hidden play areas than we can see.
So we need some good solutions to potty training Chihuahua puppy to counter this.
Training Chihuahua not to pee can be frustrating, but a vigilant, consistent approach will pay off. Correct mistakes and reward them as quickly as possible so they understand what they did and why it was a good thing.
You could take them outside if possible and train them there. However, this is a small dog with a low tolerance to the cold and outdoors.
This means it may be better to work with potty training indoors in a special area with pads. Slowly encourage them to go in this spot and reward them for doing so.
LEARN ABOUT IT: How to Train Your Dog to be Calm Around Strangers
What About the Problem of Barking?
There will be many Chihuahua owners looking to learn how to train Chihuahua not to bark.
Chihuahuas can be quite vocal dogs, barking at everyone to either warn them off or get their way, depending upon which of the behaviors mentioned above they are most likely to exhibit.
While they may think they are doing the right thing, because how else are these humans going to listen, it can be annoying to those involved.
Guests don’t want a yapping dog bouncing around them every time they come over, or they may just stop coming. Neighbors don’t want to hear it through their walls either.
One solution for barking is a Chihuahua training collar. It can sometimes be difficult to find the right training collar for these little dogs because of their size.
Some models only go so small in diameter and there are bound to be concerns about using shocks and static on such a nervous dog. It all depends on preference here. If you are happy with a small static one, find one with a remote for personal correction where possible.
Some also increase the level of the shock with each bark, which is ideal for persistent yappers like these pups.
Alternative options have citronella sprays that emit an odor rather than a shock.
👉 Remember to be careful with collars and leash when training. These are small dogs with small windpipes that can be damaged by sudden movements on a leash.
There will be times when you decide it is best to turn to a professional for help. So should you go for the online approach or an obedience school?
Turn to a Professional for Help
Some owners may immediately think of an obedience school for training Chihuahuas.
An obedience school can seem, like a great option for dog owners that want to give their pets a good education. However, you have to consider whether they will get along in that situation.
Will they listen to correction from another handler? Will they be OK with all those other dogs and people in the class? Also, keep in mind that you will have to go at the pace of the class, which can be tricky with stubborn, hard to train dogs like these.
The alternative is the online training guides. It can be much more appealing to owner to download a guide with specialist advice, something they can read, watch and use in their own time.
One of the best examples of this is Doggy Dan the online dog trainer. His training videos are full of information that can help any owner looking for the best Chihuahua training tips.
This is something where you can work alone, at your own pace, and work on key issues that a pup is struggling with. This tailored made option can be much more beneficial than obedience schools.
Whichever you choose, remember that it is positive reinforcement all the way for great results.
Positive approaches really are the best way to train a Chihuahua. Negative reinforcement or harsh tones don’t really work with this breed.
They respond best when when they think they have done well, but can become stubborn if they are chastised. This can sound contradictory after talking about training collars, but that may be the exception to the rule.
In most situations, even after correction, it is best to praise the dog, treat them and ensure they know that this good behavior is worth their time and effort.
What Have We Learned About Chihuahua Training?
Are Chihuahuas hard to train?
Absolutely. No owner is going to have an easy time with this small breed.
Their personalities and stubborn traits mean that they can exhibit behaviors that are disruptive and hard to shake. Their possessive and aggressive streaks can be particularly damaging to families.
Yet, there is the chance to prevent this with strong, consistent training using positive reinforcement and the right tools for the job.
Deal with each problem individually from an early age, nip signs of small dog syndrome in the bud and don’t pamper them.
Also, invest in the best guides and aids. Once you know how to train a Chihuahua puppy, and start to see success, there is no stopping the pair of you. You will find that they can be well-behaved, good-natured dogs with the right effort.