Chihuahuas are known as the smallest breed of dogs and because of that, they are also one of the most popular. Many people live in urban areas or in small apartments where they can’t have a big dog. Training a chihuahua can be a bit of a challenge, though, because owners tend to overlook behaviors in small dogs that they would correct in a big dog.

Their origin is somewhat unclear, but the most common theory is that they are native to Mexico and descended from the Techichi, a companion dog of the Toltek civilization. They are also considered one of the oldest breeds of dogs in the world dating back over 500 hundred years. Dogs with similar characteristics were even found dating back to the 1500s in the materials from the Pyramids of Cholula and ruins of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Chihuahuas are fiercely loyal to one owner and are known to not always get along with other breeds of dogs. They are sometimes over-protective around strangers and other animals showing bold aggression.  These cute but stubborn little dogs with a big attitude can sometimes make it difficult when training a Chihuahua.

Background for Training a Chihuahua

A Chihuahua’s temperament is unique in many ways and training can be time consuming.  Socializing is the key to creating the groundwork for training a Chihuahua. A Chihuahua is perfectly happy just spending all of its time with you. They are great companion dogs because they are bred to shadow their owner wherever they go.

The problem is that extreme loyalty can also lead to dominant behaviors if your Chihuahua is not properly socialized with other dogs and people. Depending upon personality and temperament of the dog, there can be a number of aggression issues. As mentioned earlier, they tend to have the “small guy” syndrome and try to act bigger than they are.

They see other pets or people as a threat to their domain. Because of a lack of trust and patience, they are especially known to not be good with children. They are standoffish with strangers and are overly nervous and jumpy to unfamiliar sounds.

The good news is that all of these behaviors can be overcome with training a chihuahua properly. As with most breeds of dogs, proper training should start as young as possible. From the time you bring your Chihuahua puppy home, you have to assert your leadership and avoid treating them different because of their size.

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Specific Criteria for Training a Chihuahua

The first thing you need to do when training a Chihuahua is to show him who the boss of the household is.   These cute little dogs will assume they are in control and will take advantage of every moment of weakness.  So, establish yourself as the leader of the pack and create boundaries.

Start by structuring their feeding times.  Allow your Chihuahua to eat at set times instead of when they want to.  They can be finicky eaters, so you may have to make adjustments with their food. No matter what, though, only leave the food out for 30 minutes.  If they don’t eat it within that time period, put it away.

Give you Chihuahua plenty of exercise. Don’t be tempted to carry it everywhere.  You have to dictate where and how fast the walk will be.  Using a leash properly is very important to training a Chihuahua so it understands that you are the Alpha.

Allowing any pet on the furniture and bed gives it a sense of dominance.  If you decide you do want your Chihuahua next to you on the furniture, be in control of when and how often.  Chihuahuas love to snuggle into blankets and create a den of their own, so giving them a bed on the floor with lots of covers might be a better solution.

Since they can be somewhat hyper dogs, ignore your Chihuahua as you leave and come back home. Give them attention once they calm down. Their tendency to shake is due to their nervousness and excitement, so the more tranquil your mood is, the more relaxed they are.

Potty train them using a crate and lots of positive reinforcement and be aware of the health issues that come with owning a Chihuahua.  These little headstrong dogs crave the mental and physical stimulation that training a Chihuahua provides and by doing so, you will create a best friend for life.

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