The Chihuahua is a relatively easy dog to train, but sometimes they’re not as docile as you might think. What makes them easy is that for a toy dog they’re at the upper end of the intelligence spectrum, and the difficulty comes from the fact that they have a propensity to be stubborn and sensitive.
First and foremost, the road to a well-trained Chihuahua is best achieved through puppy classes. Professionals that have handled the dog breed before will teach them basic commands and obedience, and the Chihuahua is smart enough to bring those lessons home and incorporate them with their owner.
Not only that, but puppy classes help socialize your Chihuahua with other canines—something imperative to his training, as Chihuahuas can be a bit bull-headed with dogs they don’t know. If you want it done right, enroll your dog in puppy classes. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t also train your pup at home.
Before you begin the training process and create a routine (which needs to remain consistent) know that a Chihuahua is not looking for an alpha as an owner. They’re looking for a guide that’s going to direct them with love and care. That means you don’t need to hold too firm of a hand when training this breed, and that positive reinforcement is the only way to dictate good from bad behavior.
Where To Begin?
Start by creating a routine for your Chihuahua. Once you’ve decided on a healthy meal plan, then create a set ‘dining area’ that he will always return to at set times for his meals. You can teach your pup to eat upon command, but that’s entirely up to you and the extent in which you want him trained.
Next will come potty training (often called housebreaking), and once you’ve chosen a designated area, every time you see your little dog attempting to use the restroom, gently pick him up and run him over to the area.
You’ll have to do this multiple times a day, and you’ll start gaining a sense of when he’s going to go (after drinking lots of water, before a nap, in the morning, etc.) Once your dog has finished, reward him with a treat, praise, and an assured voice to let him know he has gone in the right place.
Also, there are different potty training alternatives for a Chihuahua due to their petite size. Some owners actually prefer to litter box train their Chihuahuas like cats, because then they can go within the home and don’t have to go outside (Chihuahuas don’t do well in climates that aren’t moderate). Crate training is also quite effective when it comes to this breed, and can help with the potty training process.
Keeping Your Chihuahua Engaged
When you begin training your Chihuahua different commands and obedience lessons, the most difficult part is keeping him engaged. Chihuahuas love to please and are always madly affectionate with their owner, but keeping them focused is another game entirely.
A tip here is to make sure you’re not training your Chihuahua on an empty stomach, and then using treats as positive reinforcement. Since your pup is hungry he’ll want the treats, and if he knows he can access a prize for good behavior, he will be more inclined to attempt the task you’re asking of him.
Once you’ve gained your dog’s attention, incorporated positive reinforcement, and created routine (including where he is going to go potty) the next step is consistency. You can’t teach your pup something on Monday then expect him to remember it by Saturday with no other training in between.
Consistency—particularly in your Chihuahuas youth—is just as important as any other element of his training. Be sure to take time to work at it every single day, and teach your dog the same lessons with the same command words. Remember, Chihuahuas are smart enough to catch on, and if you administer conflicting information, you’ll end up confusing them.
Make Playtime Separate
Then lastly, try not to engage in ‘playtime’ when you’re training your dog. Although Chihuahuas are notorious for being a bit snarky and aloof towards others, with their owners they’re nothing but goofy little love balls.
Those big eyes will woo your heart and when your dog is snuggling up against you as you’re trying to teach him something, it might make forgetting the lesson altogether an appetizing decision.
But you have to differentiate training and playtime; otherwise you’ll create a false routine for your Chihuahua.
Training a Chihuahua is an easy task if you take the proper measures of preparation, and do your research (especially when it comes to just how trained you want him to be).
Use positive reinforcement, create a routine, and stay consistent with training. But remember, puppy classes are still highly recommended with this breed.