Chihuahuas are wonderfully spirited little dogs full of love and energy! Anyone who knows them can tell you how lively their personalities are. I have 5 chihuahuas, 3 of which are puppies. Susu, Ginger, Cori, Fen, & Cinna. I'll be sharing my thoughts here on everything from health issues, to food, to fashion and fun for the small dog.

I hope you enjoy the blog, leave me a comment and follow along!!

-- Michelle K.

While the main dog here is the Chihuahua, I believe the information here is valuable and entertaining to any small dog owner.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Forget About Being the Pack Leader!!

 Dominance is not the problem.  

The problem with dominance training is that it simply doesn't work.   And for some temperaments, it actually does harm.   Chihuahuas are revered for their sensitive, expressive nature and their stubbornness.  Dominance theory and the Chihuahua simply don't mix. 

When I brought my first Chihuahua home almost 6 years ago, I was very interested in how to train him and have him be a great part of my family.  Unfortunately, virtually everything I heard on tv, found online, or was advised by friends and family was based on the dominance theory.

It all sounded so simple and logical too.  The Pack order.  Be the Pack Leader as Cesar Millan would say.  If you could just master that elusive title your dog would simply do whatever you wanted because you were their beloved Leader.

And the steps were also relatively simple!  Go through the doors first.  Have your pet sit before being fed.  No paws on their Leader.  No jumping on or in the lap of the Leader and so on.  I'm sure you've heard them all too. 

But I found that me and my new best friend soon went from excited and happy to stressed and discouraged. Susu was faster than me and always seem to get out the door first.  And I started getting infuriated at this.  He wouldn't always sit when I told him too.  And things I liked.. for instance being pawed at by my cute little chibaby were simply out of the question. 

I wasn't happy and it wasn't working.  My boy was unhappy around me and obviously just frustrated at trying to figure out what I wanted.  And then, I gave up and just lived with an entirely untrained and unmanaged dog for the next 2 years.  

So how did I get from there to being a happy Doggy Mom to 5 Chihuahuas?  I started working with them using the methods of positive reinforcement.  I started using calming signals, and treats and being very consistent. And I took the time to learn the different needs and temperaments of my dogs.  Problems that I had tolerated for years were resolved in days or weeks with some consistent direction.  My dogs weren't impossible - they were simply untrained. 

Chihuahuas are exceptionally eager to please and easy to train if you are gentle and kind in your approach.  They are not a breed to be bullied or pushed.  They need encouragement and approval to make progress.  They are sensitive little souls who become very in-tuned to their humans moods and emotions.  They can be greatly impacted by scolding or punishments of any kind.  Always be pleasant and encouraging when working with your Chihuahua.

I watch mine closely to be sure tails are wagging, eyes and ears are attentive and that they are eager for the time with me.  And I no longer care if they sit or stand or do handstands and I'm not worrying over who gets to the door first.  I simply enjoy their zest for life much as I would watching children run and play.  So relax, and enjoy your chi.

 I'm really very happy to not wear the title of Pack Leader.  I prefer to think of myself as the 'Mother' of the group and I teach and correct them they same as I would small children.... with love and patience.  Understanding and appreciating their differences as well as celebrating their successes. 

Susu is my oldest Chihuahua at almost 6.  He is very sensitive and easily frustrated and requires a lot of hands on affection and calm direction in his daily life.  I have learned a lot from this little guy.  

Leadership rather than dominance is the key to 
raising well behaved Chihuahuas.  
Training and teaching should be fun and enjoyable.  
It should be a bonding experience not a battle of wills.

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