Chihuahuas are an extremely popular breed. But they are also one of the top breeds found in shelters. While some of this is from over-breeding, a lot of them are older Chihuahuas with behavior problems that owners just couldn’t figure out how to fix. These are often the result of owners forgetting or not knowing they should have done things differently. Knowing the following 5 mistakes Chihuahuas owners make can help keep your Chi a happy and a welcome part of the family.
#1 – Treating Them Like A “Small Dog”
It’s easy to just carry your Chihuahua everywhere – either in your hands or in a backpack, purse, etc. But your Chihuahua needs to be treated like a dog. Walking on his own legs and experiencing the world around him can be the difference between a well-socialized Chihuahua and one that is nervous, shivery and/or bites when people approach. Make sure you are letting your Chihuahua be a dog and experience things as dogs should – with paws on the ground.
#2 – Not Enough Proper Socialization
Chihuahuas have a natural tendency to be standoffish with other people and dogs, so it’s important that they are properly socialized when young. This means having positive experiences with other people and dogs. If your dog is a rescue, this may take some time and include training with a professional trainer to help wipe away the negative experience your Chihuahua may have had before you got her.
#3 – Not Training Early Enough
Another mistake that is common with many dogs is not starting training early enough. Chihuahuas are smart and can be strong-willed, so letting them know from the beginning that listening to you is a good thing will save you both heartache later on. The sooner you can start training, the better.
#4 – Underestimating Them
Many people see Chihuahuas as just a tiny “purse dog.” But that is not true! Chihuahuas are intelligent dogs that were bred for a purpose and they like to have a job. If you don’t give them one, they will find ways to be naughty, much to the chagrin of their owners. A friend of mine just got a MACH (Master Agility Champion) title with her rescue Chihuahua. You really can do things with your Chihuahua and he will enjoy it, so don’t underestimate the little guy.
#5 – Losing Patience With Potty Training
Potty training small dogs always seems to cause grief. There are many little dogs at the shelter due to “behavioral issues” and often that includes having accidents in the house. Part of this is because owners forget that a small dog means small bladder. You can’t expect your tiny Chihuahua to hold it as long as a Lab does. Chihuahua puppies have an even smaller bladder. So if you are going to be gone for long stretches at a time, you may want to litter box train your Chihuahua. Otherwise, your little dog will either keep having accidents, or will develop issues from holding it too long, including urinary tract infections.