If you’re like me, nothing makes you happier than making your Chihuahua happy.

Chihuahuas live stressful lives, dealing with unique stressors such as seeing the world from 12″ up, and constantly getting stepped on. And struggling to burrow through thick blankets with those weak little arms.

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Chihuahuas live such stressful lives. It’s up to us to make them happier in 5 significant ways.

Here are five proven ways to make your Chihuahua’s life happier. These tips can also apply to Chihuahua mixes like Matilda and dogs of all sizes.

Step 1: Let Her Think She’s Super Strong.

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In the past, dog owners were advised never to let their dogs win at tug-o-war – to do so would risk allowing their dogs to become dominant and aggressive. Now we know better. No evidence letting your dog win at tug-o-war causes behavioral problems—quite the opposite. If your dog knows she’ll always win a game of tug. She’ll be less likely to worry about having her precious belongings snatched away.

Matilda always wins at tug-o-war. As far as she knows, she’s stronger than me. This makes playing with me so rewarding that she often hops onto my lap with a toy hoping to hustle me into yet another easy win.

It would help if you still pulled back to create a little bit of a challenge without tearing so hard that her feet lift off the ground. Loosen your grip so she feels the toy slip through your fingers and let go as she pulls away with a  satisfying winning tug.

Step 2: Return Those Lavish “Welcome Homes.”

Don’t you feel flattered when your dog is head-over-heels happy to see you even if you’ve only been gone for an hour?

It’s one of the best parts of having a dog. You always have someone waiting for you, happy to see you, never holding a grudge, even if it is just bath day. Giving that love back is great fun.

When your dog comes inside, whether hanging out in your yard or spending some time outside the home with another family member, throw a party.

“You’re home!” I like to say, with the same enthusiasm they show me.

If they have just come inside from playing in the yard, there might be a treat in it for them, or I might bring out the toys for some playtime. This is a great way to improve recall and make escaping your yard less appealing to your dog.

Over-the-top greetings are fun for the humans in your life, too. Whenever someone you love comes home, let them know you’re happy to see them. This is a lesson we should all learn from our dogs – don’t take your loved ones for granted!

Step 3: Sleep Together.

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Dogs seem to love snuggling with their favorite humans, littermate-style.

Research shows that dogs deeply enjoy the scents of their people. I’ve got no doubt that they have a better sleep while sleeping beside us, submerged in a comforting, familiar aroma.

I always feel closer to Matilda after a night of sleeping with her pressed against me. I feel more connected to her, and I can tell she feels the same way.

If you can’t sleep with your dog, try to set aside some time for naps, or at least let her sleep in your lap while you watch TV.

Step 4: Cover The Windows.

Growing up, my childhood dog would spend endless hours staring out windows. Occasionally, someone would pass by, and he would go into a barking frenzy.

At the time, I wondered why he found the window so entertaining. I thought he enjoyed it the same way humans enjoy watching television. I felt that, when we were not home, he could at least have something to do and a way to watch out for us as we came home.

Now, I realize that window-watching is not like television for dogs. It’s more like listening to a police radio scanner. Every stranger passed caused my dog stress, making him reactive toward people visiting our home. Every time he reacted to a stranger passing by, his heart raced, and he barked until he was hoarse… multiple times a day. He couldn’t have enjoyed that at all, but my family and I, not knowing any better, rarely discouraged it. Sorry, old dog.

I allow my dogs to look out windows but call them to me if they’re on the verge of an outburst. They rarely become impassioned because I avoid letting them boil over.

Avoid having furniture close to windows in such a way that causes your dog to stare out windows and bark at strangers. Use window film to remove the temptation to window-watch.

Your dog won’t be deprived. They’ll be much, much happier.

Step 5: Take Her Out.

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