The Chihuahua is fun a friendly toy sized dog that can be prone to ‘Small Do Syndrome’ if not handled correctly. Positive reinforcement is the best way to get the most out of this playful and lively breed. If trained well, Chihuahuas can be fantastic playmates who love to socialize with children and other dogs. They have a wonderful thick coat of hair that requires a lot of care and attention, they do shed but not as much as other thick coated breeds.
|Good With Other Dogs|
Stories From Real Life Chihuahua Owners
Noel, Long-Haired Chihuahua
Ten years ago, a friend from work was struggling to sell the runt of her chihuahua’s latest litter. Her four brothers and sisters had already received forever homes, but the smallest of them was still searching. My family had lost our previous dog the year before, so I felt it was time to bring a new one home. I brought her home on Christmas morning, and this little girl has been the highlight of our house ever since!
You would never know that Noel was the runt now! She’s a healthy six and a half pounds of love and fluff. Noel is a long-haired chihuahua, so she’s no stranger to the groomer. Surprisingly, she sheds very little so her dark hair rarely litters our carpet. Only during the summer is this an issue.
Temperament of My Chihuahua
Chihuahuas are notorious for having nasty little tempers. I was genuinely a little cautious about taking her because of that reputation at first, but decided to take her after spending an afternoon around her and her canine family. They were all very sweet dogs, and Noel is no exception. She loves each and every bit of attention that she can get, and is always the first to greet newcomers at the door. She likes to howl at them - what I call singing - until she gets some affectionate petting and maybe a treat or two. When I first got her, I made sure to have friends over often so that she could get accustomed to people coming in and out of the house. I also took her on very frequent walks once she was big enough to traverse the stairs on her own, so she was always engaged in the world and the people in it.
Noel is extremely devoted, happy, sweet, energetic, and loveable. She enjoys running circles in the backyard and tears up tiny toys with a vengeance. She’s affectionate, always ready to lick the first bit of a person she can reach. Her tail wags often and her ears are often perked and ready to listen. The only thing she hates is the vacuum cleaner! Every time it comes out, she’ll run up and try to bite the hose. I’ve learned to let her outside or tuck her into a bedroom with someone to play with anytime I plan to vacuum.
When the vacuum is away, she likes to sleep on the couch and the top of the recliners. She likes to be tall to make up for her short stature, and is always ready and willing to be picked up for cuddles. She happily licks any face she can and will roll over if you stop near her, belly exposed and ready for rubs. Nothing makes her happier than affectionate attention and some treats.
Potty Training My Chihuahua
I never really trained Noel to do any tricks, but I did teach her how to come when called and how to potty outside and on her leash. It was surprisingly easy to potty train her, as I stuck to a strict schedule. I only placed her potty training pad next to the door in order to keep her smell from being all over the house and she was never left alone. I made sure to take her outside every hour on the hour and waited for her to potty. I would say, “Go potty” several times while out with her and then “Good potty!” anytime she squatted so she knew that was what I wanted her to do. She would only get one treat when she came inside afterwards and only when she pottied properly.
I also made sure to change the training pad as soon as she used it so her scent would not linger in the house. It took us a month of consistency before I was able to take the training pad away completely and she learned how to go to the door anytime she needed to go out. I eventually got a dog door for her to go in and out at her leisure. Because it’s locked at night, she will always run up to the nearest person in the morning and then scamper to her dog door and poke it with her front paws until the lock is undone and she can run out. When she comes in, she likes to run to the stand I have her treat bucket on and will sit next to it until someone notices. I will ask, “Did you potty?” When she barks in response, she gets a treat.
Teaching her to come when called and, most importantly, that I am her home base was simpler. When I first got her, I would take Noel into our fenced backyard. To imprint on her, I would run a few feet away from her and then let her chase and “catch” me. She would get plenty of petting and affection every time she caught me, and then I would run away again and call her name. Eventually, I would just call her from a corner of the yard and she would come scampering over. It was a great way to teach Noel her name and teach her that she was safe when she came to find me.
Tails of the Chi Noel
One of my favorite memories about Noel involves us moving to our new house. There was a shed in the backyard and two gates on the fence. My family and I spent the whole day moving, keeping Noel in a bedroom so she could sleep and to avoid her getting stepped on while we were all distracted. It was my younger brother’s job to take tools and the lawnmower and such into the backyard through the gates. At the end of the day, he forgot to close the gate and no one had any idea. Noel was finally let out to run and play and get acclimated to her new yard and probably spent a good hour going in and out by herself as we also now had a dog door for her to use.
I finally went outside to get something out of the shed and saw her laying down in the grass near the open gate. I quickly closed the gate, but it was amazing to realize how good she really was. With an hour of total freedom, she never once left the confines of her brand new yard because she knew we were inside waiting for her. She knows where she gets fed!
Another story I love is her reaction when I brought home a puppy when she was two years old. I had heard that chihuahuas would not acclimate easily to another animal, but she had already proven me wrong on so many other things, that I was eager to try something new and was ready to bring a second dog into the home. JJ is another chihuahua, though he is mixed with a Jack Russell. I was worried that he may be a little too hyper for her as he was only ten weeks old when he came home, but Noel was fantastic. She reacted like a little mom, immediately taking to this white little short-haired mutt.
I made sure that Noel was calm and had been greeted appropriately before I picked JJ and his little carrier off the table. I set the carrier on the floor and let her approach. JJ yipped and Noel’s curious sniffing immediately broke into excited whines and tail wags. I opened the carrier door and Noel stuck her head right in and licked his muzzle. He came running out and they’ve been best friends ever since. She’s been sweet and gentle with him, but is also never afraid to bark at him when he does something he shouldn’t. He once tried to attack the lawnmower, but she pushed him away from it with her nose and chased him inside. He never went after it again.
Why I Love My Chihuahua Noel
I love Noel because she has proven the chihuahua stereotype wrong. Anytime anyone cringes when I tell them what kind of dog I have, I get to tell them, “She’s not yappy or territorial at all.” She barks for attention from her loved ones and is always happy to greet anyone who comes into the house. As she’s gotten older - she’s ten years old now - she’s only gotten sweeter. She loves to cuddle up with me at night, and she’s a very warm little dog. She likes to get right in my lap while I’m on the computer or watching television and won’t move until I do. She’s obedient and loveable and makes me grateful every single day that I got to claim the little runt no one else wanted.
Raising & Living With a Chihuahua
Choosing a Chihuahua
I grew up with dogs my entire life. In fact, I can't imagine ever not having at least one dog in my home. This lifelong series of canine companions never included a Chihuahua. In fact, most of my dogs were medium to large. When I was growing up, the types of dogs we had included a collie, a black Labrador retriever, a boxer, and a few mutts we adopted.
Once I was on my own and choosing for myself, I did my research and finally decided an English bulldog would be the perfect companion for me—and he was. After sharing my life with a bulldog for nearly 12 years, a Chihuahua would have been a huge jump for me, and because I knew my bulldog would pretty much be an impossible act to follow, it was many years before I finally decided to raise another dog and have that bond in my life again.
Now, I can't exactly say that I actively chose a Chihuahua for myself. To be honest, I was having some serious health problems and could hardly imagine what it would be like training a puppy. But my husband had other ideas. He had been yearning for a dog since the day I met him and had always wanted a Chi (that's what those of us who are "in" on the Chihuahua life call them!).
One evening, he showed me a Chi for sale. She was the last of a litter and he was adamant that this was our dog. While I was still pretty hesitant to just jump in without being familiar with the breed beforehand. I was, however, all too aware of the importance of being as knowledgeable as possible about your chosen breed. That said, I took the plunge and I learned as I went along. It wasn't easy and I don't recommend it.
I do, however, recommended reading further to hear about my experiences so that you can be prepared for your new little companion. Real-life experience will tell you much more about what it's really like to choose this particular breed than you would learn from any Chihuahua book or any breed website!
Chihuahua Behavior and Temperament
My intention was to adopt an older Chi, one that was already potty-trained, knew basic behavioral commands, and—most importantly—was older and therefore more calm.
What I got instead was a puppy that I believe was just barely six weeks old at most. Uh-oh… I knew I was in for it with training and all of the frustration that comes along with the whole process. Having some quality, pet safe cleaning supplies is a must. Rubber gloves are a great idea, as well as a carpet brush for scrubbing. And be prepared to spend some time on your knees scrubbing the carpet!
Then again, holding this warm little puppy against my chest as we drove home with her formed an immediate bond. I was looking for a companion, a dog with which I would feel that bond that can only exist between human and animal. Based on my own experience, this was the easiest part of it all. The bond between us was forged in steel the moment I took her in my arms and held her through the terrifying (to her!) twenty-minute ride home.
As much as I wanted a dog that would lie around with me all day, that's not exactly what I got. However, I did need a little cheering up at the time and she didn't disappoint. Not a single day has gone by that this little pup has brought at least a hundred smiles to my face.
I'm not sure if all Chihuahuas share a similar temperament, but I can certainly tell you what Belle is like.
She's very, very attached to me specifically. She's also bonded to my husband, of course, but she's always ultimately aiming to be as near to me as possible. She goes to bed early and sleeps into the early afternoon, always under the blankets with me. She loves to be warm, but it seems the thing she loves most is being close to me.
This makes for a wonderful companion. Belle is sometimes rowdy, playing hard like she's a big dog. Sounds come out of this dog that I've never heard before—when she's engaged in a game of fetch and tug-of-war with one of her favorite plushies, she's like a rabid big dog and there's no denying her her playtime.
Then there are times when all she wants in the world is to snuggle up on my lap and nap through the afternoon.
She is at times obnoxious, very needy and dependent, and strongly bonded to her "parents" in a way that's maybe not the healthiest. Her separation anxiety if off the charts actually. She also gets ridiculously nervous riding in the car and has to be held, so this particular Chi is not one that can just always be out and about with us.
Secretly, I have this very girlie, very unfounded desire to have a small dog that would wear clothes. Dresses, t-shirts, sweaters and jackets. Definitely a Halloween costume. Oh, and I didn't want to forget the sombrero, so that was Belle's very first wardrobe piece. But trust me when I say this: You do not want to be the one to try to put any type of clothing on this dog. It's hilarious to watch, but dangerous to be near-- I'll just put it that way.
A good portion of the time, Belle is an absolute joy to watch, she makes me laugh when I'm down and she has a very distinct personality that's all her own. She's quirky and adorable and practically attached to my hip. For the treatment of loneliness, I definitely chose the best possible remedy.
Overall, my experience has been that the Chihuahua has a multi-faceted personality. Now that she's nearly reached one year of age, she's just become a complete and total character. She's fun and uplifting, as well as comforting and affectionate. At this point, I believe that this breed can be a great match for anyone. With all of the different personality traits my Chi displays, I find that she really is exactly what I needed in my life.
Potty Training a Chihuahua
As a baby, there was definitely a lot more frustration than joy that I was feeling towards this Chi. It wasn't her fault, but she was so small that it made potty training a bit more difficult in some ways For example, we made a bed for her on our bed so she could sleep right between us, but she wasn't yet able to use her stool to jump down to the floor on her own. We had placed a puppy pad setup at the foot of the bed as a kind of added measure. (Previous experience had led me to believe that there wasn't a puppy around who would actually use a pad.). But we hoped.
For the first couple of months, my puppy had several incidences of bed-wetting, pooping on the floor (but nearer and nearer to the puppy pad!), and having little dribble accidents all over the house regularly.
To my surprise and delight, Belle actually took to the puppy pad and began to understand that it was always a good idea to heed the call of nature when taken outside.
Chihuahuas do tend to be stubborn, and mine is no exception! It took a lot of time and patience, as I found that the best way to get her trained was by putting her on a very strict, regular schedule of eating every four hours at specific times. Doing this allowed me to schedule her trips outside to do her business and that is what finally got her to understand that life was much easier for her if she used only the pad and the outdoors.
The puppy pad has really been the most useful tool of all. She has now become so accustomed to using her pad that she often waits until we get inside to go there instead of in the grass! It is absolutely, without-a-doubt a necessity at nighttime. She now gets herself up in the middle of the night, hops sleepily down to the floor, and does her duties on the pad.
To sum up my Chihuahua potty training experience, it was quite stressful at first, but did become much easier over time. Despite what I may have thought about small breeds in the past, I've found my Chi to be surprisingly intelligent. She understands more than just commands – her vocabulary, in fact, just fascinates me every day. Talking to your Chi as often as possible, I've noticed, will quickly lead them to understanding more than you'd imagine.
All told, potty training with my Chihuahua took about 2 ½ to 3 months. She was often stubborn, but also always wanting to please, so it was a delicate balance that we've managed to work out quite well.
As far as obedience training (and obedience in general) Belle was a bit more resistant. She has eventually learned some basic commands including "sit", "lie down", "no", and "leave it". I'm still working on the most important command: "Stay."
Don't let their adorable appearance fool you—Chihuahuas are quite stubborn and a bit cunning as well. Mine often runs off, deep into our property. When I call for her, she very rarely obeys. She hears me, she knows what I want… she simply refuses to pay any attention.
I've noticed that this is because the Chi is also a very, very curious breed who loves investigating and poking around outdoors.
Loving a Chihuahua
My bond to my dog is something it took some time for me to really develop and feel on a deep level. Her adoption happened so fast, and it was unexpected. Being ready for putting forth the time and energy it took was something I simply wasn't ready for. But once I began to feel more and more strongly towards her, she seemed to pick up on it and become even more affectionate.
We now have such a strong bond that she's pressed against my leg napping as I write this.
There's so much to love about my Chi that it's difficult to explain. I love that strong bond, that feeling that this pup sees me as her mother and pack leader, that she looks to me first before doing anything. I also love that she senses when I'm having a bad day health-wise, and she tones down her naturally high energy level to curl up against me under the covers and nap.
Should you happen to choose a Chi for yourself, know that it won't always be easy, but if you put in the hard work and can be patient as you train your Chihuahua, you'll find that the rewards you receive from bonding with this special little desert dog are well worth the initial difficulties.