Are you wondering how easy it is to train a Chihuahua? Or what basic training do you need to do with your Chihuahua puppy? Maybe you’ve adopted an adult Chihuahua and want to know if it’s too late to start training them. We’re going to answer all your questions about Chihuahuas and training.
Are Chihuahuas easy to train? No, but if you put in the time and do it consistently, it gets much more accessible. Chihuahuas are hard to prepare, but you must be patient. Your Chihuahua needs to know you’re in charge, and he has to listen. Once he’s got that, training is more accessible.
If a Chihuahua has just joined your family, you’re probably thinking about doing some training. Read on to find out where to start, if Chihuahuas can be trained, what training you need to do, and whether old Chihuahuas really can learn new tricks!
Why are Chihuahuas hard to train?
Chihuahuas were initially bred as hunting dogs to follow scents and chase down badgers. They were raised to think on their own, and this independent streak made them stubborn. They’re one of the most stubborn dog breeds, making them hard to train.
Can Chihuahuas be trained?
Yes, Chihuahuas can be trained. Puppies are much easier to train than adult Chihuahuas, but even if your Chihuahua is an adult, you should still be able to progress with a positive and consistent approach. Potty training and excessive barking are the most challenging areas of training.
This is what you need to know:
Positive reinforcement is the best way to train a Chihuahua. This means rewarding good behavior with treats and praise and ignoring or calmly correcting any harmful or undesirable behavior. Chihuahuas are likelier to potty outside if they get rewards and recognition. They then associate pottying out with tasty treats and fun.
Shouting at your Chihuahua for weeing indoors will scare and confuse him, and it could even lead to frustration, anxiety, or aggressive behaviors further down the line. Building a positive bond with your Chihuahua will make him a more confident and independent dog.
Make sure you’re patient and consistent with your Chihuahua. It’s no good training him not to go on the sofa one minute and then letting him up for sofa snuggles the next – he’ll end up confused. Decide what you will allow your Chihuahua to do and stick to it.
Chihuahuas are hilarious and will do naughty things to get your attention. So when they’re young, you need to be a bit firmer with them. This doesn’t mean shouting or scolding, and this means sticking to your guns and giving calm but clear corrections. Chihuahuas are wilful and independent spirits, which is why we love them so much, but it’s also why you need to be consistent with training! Your puppy needs to know you’re in charge and that he’s not in control of you or anyone else in the family.
Put time in
When you get a puppy, it’s best to take a few weeks off to start the new routine. Or make sure someone is calling in to help you with the training. Anyone looking after your Chihuahua should follow the same approach, so his training doesn’t get mixed up. Basic training can take a few months, so someone will need to be around to help your puppy settle and learn the ropes.
Keep sessions short
Keep your Chihuahua’s training sessions nice and short. Chihuahua dogs have short attention spans, and young pups need their rest. About 10-15 minutes at a time is perfect. And repeat the sessions 3 or 4 times a day until he gets the hang of it.
Time it right
Chihuahuas only understand what’s happening right now. So, if you ask your Chihuahua to sit, and he sits, you must reward him right away. He needs to understand what he’s being awarded for. Use a verbal cue, too, like ‘Good Boy’ or ‘Good Girl. Some people use a ‘clicker’ as a training tool to reinforce that connection. Your Chihuahua will associate the noise of the clicker with a reward and understand what he’s doing right.
Chihuahuas are easily distracted by people, animals, smells, and sounds! So start your training in a quiet room with no one around. You want your Chihuahua to be focused solely on you – not the squirrel on the fence! Once he’s mastered the basics, move into the garden and continue training out there. In time (and after all jabs), progress to the local park where there are more distractions, people, and other dogs around.
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Could you keep it simple?
Chihuahuas pick things up fast but don’t overwhelm them with too many commands at once. If you’re trying to teach too many new things, he may get muddled or confused with all the verbal cues. Please keep it simple and ensure he’s nailed the first command before moving on to the next.
Make it fun
Make the training fun, so your Chihuahua enjoys learning and getting things right. Once he’s picked up a new command, don’t stop there. Keep working on it at random intervals. That’ll keep him on his toes and remind him who’s in charge (that’s you, not him!). Doing some daily training is a great way to stop him from getting bored and the perfect way to bond with your Chihuahua.
Get out and about
If your Chihuahua used to be around other dogs from a young age, he’s less likely to develop destructive behaviors, like barking or being aggressive towards strange dogs when you’re out on walks. If you have friends or family with dogs, start by joining them for short walks (after jabs, of course) and gradually build up to having play dates together.
Ensure you introduce both dogs correctly to spot any signs of nervousness or aggression. Don’t worry if you don’t have any doggy friends. Another great way to socialize with your Chihuahua is to join a Chihuahua Facebook group where they organize regular walks.
Teaching your Chihuahua new things should be an ongoing thing. Chihuahuas are intelligent and love using their brains. So, move to the next level once you’ve mastered the training basics. Instead of asking your Chihuahua to fetch a toy, ask him to bring a specific toy or item by name.
How do you discipline a Chihuahua?
The best way to discipline a Chihuahua is to ignore him. Chihuahuas hate it when they don’t get attention. So, if he does something wrong or undesirable, the best thing you can do is leave the room or look the other way. He’ll hate you doing this, but it’s a much more positive way to correct bad behavior than shouting or scolding him.
Chihuahuas have fun, comedic personalities. Even when they do naughty things, they do it in a way that’ll make you laugh for hours. You know when they’re being naughty (and they know when they’re being naughty!), but that’s all part of their natural charm. So don’t ever get cross or use any form of physical punishment.
What age should you start training a Chihuahua puppy?
Start training your Chihuahua puppy when he’s 8–12 weeks old. Give him a few days to settle into your home if you’ve just got him. This is the perfect age for him to learn basic commands like ‘Sit,’ ‘Stay,’ and ‘Down.’ Just remember to keep sessions short so you don’t overwhelm him.
What are the best training treats for a Chihuahua?
The best training treats for a Chihuahua are chunks of carrot or cucumber, small cubes of cheese, tiny bits of chicken, dried fish sprats, kibble, chopped hotdogs, or shop-bought training treats. You may need to give your Chihuahua some goodies to start with, so use something small, healthy, and natural.
Only use high-value treats like ‘cheese’ for special occasions or when you’re teaching a new command. Use different treats, so your Chihuahua doesn’t get bored of them. You can also use praise and fuss because this can be reward enough for some Chihuahuas!
How do you train a Chihuahua that isn’t food motivated?
If your Chihuahua isn’t motivated by food, use praise or give him a new toy. Playtime is a big motivator for a Chihuahua, and they love things like balls or squeaky toys (the louder the squeak, the better!). You can also change the tone of your voice to show your Chihuahua when he does something right.
What training do you need to do with a Chihuahua puppy?
The basic training you need to do with a Chihuahua puppy is:
- Crate training
- Potty training
- Barking training
- Chewing and nipping
- Lead training
- Basic commands
What commands can you teach a Chihuahua?
These are some of the commands you can teach a Chihuahua:
You can also teach a Chihuahua to roll over or sit up like a meerkat, but you do have to consider their back. Sadly, 1 in 4 Chihuahuas is prone to Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), so be mindful of this when teaching new commands or tricks.
Can you train an older Chihuahua?
Yes. It’s possible to train an older Chihuahua, but they’re naturally stubborn, so that it can be more difficult. It would help if you were consistent, rewarded him for good behaviors (with treats and a big fuss), and corrected him when he does something wrong (by saying a firm ‘No’).
You should progress over time if you ignore bad behavior and praise good behavior. You may not be able to train out all his bad habits, but you should be able to work with him on some of them. Besides, training your Chihuahua and getting him to listen can generally give you much better control over him.
So, there you have it. Chihuahuas are stubborn, and training isn’t always easy, but with time, patience and consistency, you can get there. The trick is to start when they’re young, set boundaries, and stick to them. Don’t cave at first sight of puppy dog eyes, and you’ll end up with an adorable little Chihuahua that knows what he SHOULD do – but may not always choose to do it!