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.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Small Dog Syndrome: Fact or Fiction

If your small dog is a handful, eventually some smarty pants is going to tell you he has 'small dog syndrome'.  Basically because he is small he's gonna get his own special label.  The reality is people like labels and stereotypes.  It makes them feel like they know something important about things they really know nothing about.

So the Chihuahua and other small breeds with 'behavior issues' now have 'Small Dog Syndrome' or SDS.  But wait! It gets better!  Because it is YOU that has caused this!  Yep! That's right!  You and all you're spoiling!  How dare you let your Chihuahua sleep with you and sit in your lap and I bet you even carry  them at times!!  'Gasp'

It's no wonder with all the bad Chihuahua parents out there that the breed has developed such a reputation as to need it's own 'syndrome'!  No need to fret though, because there is a cure!!

All you have to do is just treat your Chihuahua exactly the same as you would treat a Doberman.   Smiley   Now dont you just love it when people come up with stupid solutions to made up problems??  Exactly.

So now let's get down to the real nitty gritty of todays topic.. The Myth of Small Dog Syndrome and how Stereotyping is Shortchanging your Dog!

Basically Small Dog Syndrome is a by product of the Dominance Theory. Supposedly your little dog is behaving badly because he believes he is the leader of your pack and the owner of your home.  So now we have to contend with this syndrome based on a flawed theory.  How could we not fail?

The truth is dogs are not power hungry social climbers.  That's just humans once again applying human thought processes to animal behavior.  Dogs are however very opportunistic with a good historical background in scavenging.  And they will simply do what works.

But my real beef with SDS is that is just doesn't make sense.  There's no real logic in it.  Let's take a look at the symptoms of SDS.
  • Barking when approached.
  • Barking at strangers
  • Biting and snapping
  • Destructive Behavior
  • Growling
  • Possessive over food, toys, etc
  • Stubborn
  • Paws at or Jumps on people

Now I cant be the only one who has know a large breed dog to do these things as well.  So why Small Dog Syndrome??  We clearly have pushy behaviors, resource guarding, and either aggression or nervousness or both.  These aspects of dog behavior do not solely belong to 'small' dogs.  

And let's take a look at the 'cure'..
  • Don't let your dog sleep with you.
  • Don't let your dog on your furniture.
  • Make your dog work for everything from food to affection
  • Make sure your dog obeys your every command
  • Be the Alpha!!!!  
I've even seen one site that proudly displays a picture of a beautiful Chihuahua looking very confident and happy and tells you how this is really a bad thing because he is too dominant and then they show a dog looking at the ground slinking by with his tail between his legs and it says this is your goal.  Really??  

These solutions have about as much relevance to the problem behaviors as running the vacuum when your dishes are backed up. It's just another way to tell dog parents that they need to dominate their dog.  If you dont keep your dog in its place it will take over and attack you.  And if you were living with wolves that may be the truth.  But Fluffy is not a wolf.  She is not descended from wolves.  She is a dog and dogs have their own unique phychology, body language, and social system.  And it is not a take over agenda.

They simply want what they like and they do what works for them to get it.  That's all.  No plans for world domination or anything.  The dog that whines while you eat has learned that whining will convince you to give it some of the food.  Small dogs can be pushy and jump in your lap unwanted and big dogs can be pushy and knock you over.  But it's not because dogs are naturally searching for the upper hand.  They just want the chicken, people!

Now obviously dogs can ALL develop poor behaviors regardless of size.  And this is typically just a lack of boundaries and self control.  Self control is a skill and having boundaries is how it is learned. And if you really want to fix your Chihuahuas behavior problems, forget about being the alpha and going through doors first, etc and actually evaluate each problem, it's cause and come up with a valid solution and then be consistent.

I find most mild issues can show great improvement within 2 -3 days of some consistent boundaries and they  get lots of love and still all pile in my lap and in the bed.  Work on training out excitement and only acknowledge, reward, and be affectionate to your little one when they are calm.  This is a wonderful way to continually teach and reinforce self control in your Chihuahua.

Decide what you are fine with and when the lines are crossed and consistently hold the line.  When one of my Chis wants in my lap they jump up and put their paws on me or the chair.  This is fine.  If they just stood there I probably wouldn't see them.  When one just suddenly jumps in my lap without warning, I simply push them back out.  Dogs are smart.  It really only takes a day or so before they figure out the approach that works.  If I get slack, they get pushy.  If I'm consistent they are patient.  It's just they way it works.

Keep little treats handy.  When you catch your dog behaving, just give a treat.  When your dog is being pushy or obnoxious don't give treats.  And don't treat for everything.  Treats should be like winning the lottery because dogs LOVE the lottery and they will almost always play!  So if you call your little Chihuahua and they get a treat some of the time when they get to you they will have a better recall because they know there is a chance that the chicken cookies are waiting!  Sometimes they win the big prize, sometimes they win a 'good baby' and sometimes they find they just ran across the house for nothing.  That's the beauty of the lottery and they can't resist it!  So keep a little mystery and surprise in your dogs day.

You can have great little dogs and you don't have to rule with an iron hand either!!  Give love, boundaries, incentives, and be consistent.  And that works whether your dog is 5lbs or 50lbs too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Chihuahua puppy pics and a Bonus Video!

I just couldn't seem to decide which pictures to post today so you are getting the whole lot!  You're getting 16 cute Chihuahua pictures and a bonus 3 minute video of the puppies toddling around.  Hope you can stand the cuteness of it all.  Have a Happy Wednesday!!!  I'm off to cuddle somebody!

Snow (white), Rose (cream), Cami (tricolor) & Dusty (tan)

I just love how cute they are snuggled up and how sweet that little
 Rose is already  loving on her brother Cami!
Typical puppy pile up!
Cori with Dusty and Snow.
Cinna.. possibly also wondering how we ended up with a tricolor from a red sable and a cream!
Rose getting a good looksie over from Mom, Cori and Cinna.  She may be looking for an escape route!

A quick little nursing session.  Snow is the 'fussybutt' of the litter so Ginger settles him more often .
Dusty and Snow.
Cori is checking out Snow and Dusty again.  Cori has a particular fascination with the puppies and will cry for them to brought out so he can smell and slobber on them!
Cori checking out that adorable puppy face!
Snow and Dusty.
Snow is up and walking..he just needs to learn to aim now!
He also wags his tail when he walks!  He just love to be up and moving.
Ginger making sure everyone is still a happy camper!
Little Cami is making some tracks toward Snow.
Just put one foot in front of the other and you are on your way little boy!

3 minute video of puppies walking and Doggies checking out the puppers! And for those wondering where Susu (Dad) and Fen are.....  Well they weren't too interested in puppies. It was their nap time.  


Want more 'Wordless Wednesday' ?  They are just a click away!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to Measure Your Dog for a Perfect Fit

In Part 1 of my Dog Fashion series, Yes, You Can Have Your Chihuahua Wearing Clothes! And Here's How! , I went over the basics of how to get your Chihuahua feeling nice and comfy about wearing clothes.

Now we are ready to dive in a little deeper and start looking at developing your dogs style, where to shop, and how to care for those frilly (or manly) fashions once you have them!

But let's not forget one of the most important steps to successfully having a fashionable Chihuahua!  Properly getting your dog's measurements!
Special thanks to Joannie at Especially Fur You for allowing me to post her instructions for measuring your dog here at The Charming Chi.  It is by far the most thorough set of instructions I have seen and I appreciate her generosity in allowing me to share it with you.

-- Michelle of The Charming Chi

How to Measure Your Dog 

for a Perfect Fit

With the wide variety of apparel and accessories available for pets, choosing the right size can be daunting. And proper fit is especially important for dogs. Wearing anything on their bodies is an alien concept to them, and they will not be comfortable with the experience if they feel constricted or their movement is hindered. Improper fit can even be dangerous -- too tight can impair blood circulation or interfere with natural movement and breathing, and garments that are too loose can create safety hazards by tangling in your dog's legs or falling down over their eyes. Beside that -- just like us, our pets simply look better in properly fitted clothes!

And just like us, individual dogs vary in size and physique. Even within individual breeds, there is a lot of variation in size, so choosing your size based on a list of breeds is not a very accurate method, either, so such lists should only be taken as a suggestion, not a true guideline. Size ranges such as 'small, medium and large' can also be deceptive, as everyone's perception of generalized sizes is a bit different. One person's concept of a medium sized dog is quite often another person's concept of a small dog. The only truly accurate way to choose the right sized garments for your dog is to use your dog's actual measurements. Just like in human clothing sizing, there are certain key measurements for each type of dog garment.

Manufacturers will usually list at least one measurement as a guideline for their sizes, but the best fitting clothing will be based on more than one measurement. Knowing what these measurements are, and where they are found on your dog's body is the first step toward finding your dog's ideal fit.

The Measurements:
You may find some of the terminology unique to canine anatomy unfamiliar.
This diagram and the following explanation should help clarify:

The three basic measurements of a dog's body
are Topline, Girth (chest) and Neck
These are the measurements you will need for most basic garments
such as coats and jackets, as well as for collars and neckwear.

The Topline is the length of your dog's back, measured along the top of the spine from the withers (point A) - the high part of the back between the shoulders, where the neck joins the body, to the base of the tail (point B) where the tail joins the body.

The Girth (or Chest) measurement is taken all the way around the biggest part of your dog's ribcage, generally just behind the withers (point C) down and around just behind the front legs (point D) and back up the other side to point C.

The Neck is measured at the place where your dog's collar would naturally rest* - from about the top of the chest (point E) to just above the withers (point F) - this measurement is also taken all the way around.

*note: for Sighthounds such as the Greyhound and some other long necked breeds, the collar is worn much higher, actually at the top of the neck below the head, but in measuring for coats and similar garments, the neck measurement for these dogs is taken lower than the collar, about midway between collar level and withers - approximately the same level as line E-F in the above diagram. For dogs with short thick necks, such as Pugs, and dogs with a very full coat in the neck/chest area like Pomeranians, determining the neck measurement can be a bit tricky. For most apparel, and neckwear accessories like bandannas on this type of dog, you may want to use a neck measurement taken a bit lower than collar level (closer to the withers) for a more flattering fit.

...Incidentally (in case you were wondering) -- the standard measurement of a dog's Height is from the withers (point A) to the floor.

Other Measurements You May Need for Specialty Garments
Follow manufacturers directions carefully, they usually give detailed descriptions
of which measurements are needed. Some (but not all) follow:

The Head measurement is taken from just in front of the ears (point G), around under the jaw (point H) and back up. This measurement is needed for some kinds of headgear, and especially for Snoods and hoods.

The Back of the Neck** is measured for Snoods from just above the ears (point G) to the neck at standard collar level (point F)
** note: For Hoods, Snuggy Snoods, and some turtleneck-type garments, the Back of the Neck is measured from just above the ears (point G) to the withers (point A)

The Under Chest measurement - from just above the chest at standard collar level (point E) down under the dog, between the front legs to just behind the last rib (point L) is sometimes used for garments with chest warmers or belly protectors.

The Waist (also sometimes called girth -- but not to be confused with the chest girth) is measured around the dog just behind the last rib (point L) up around the body (point M) - measured all the way around. This measurement is used for some "shorty" garments, and for specialty items like pants and shorts.

And for the boys --- the Belly Girth*** used for Belly Band sizing is measured around the thin point of the body, just in front of the dog's hind legs (point J) positioned so it will wrap over his 'wee-wee' (point K) This measurement should be taken a bit more snugly than the others -- to ensure the Belly Band will stay in place.
*** note: the Belly Girth measurement is also used by some manufacturers for sizing sanitary pants for the girls, too.

How to Take the Measurements:
It helps to have everything you need ready before you start:

1) A flexible measuring tool. A seamstress' or tailor's type tape measure is best, but if you don't have one you can use a ribbon or a piece of string and a yardstick or ruler -- mark the measurement on the ribbon, and then use the yardstick or ruler to measure it.

2) A flat surface for the dog to stand on. For the little ones, a tabletop can save your back!

3) A piece of paper and something to write with. Prevents the necessity of re-measuring when you forget the numbers.

4) A human assistant -- especially helpful if your dog is a squirmer, or to keep your little one from jumping off the tabletop while you write down the measurements.

5) The dog. -- You didn't think we would forget this one, would you??

Now you are ready to measure. Have the dog stand nice and straight (think "show dog") with all four legs spaced normally under the body and head and tail up. Then determine the corresponding points on your dog to the points on the diagram above.

Take each measurement a bit loosely, so there will be room for your dog to move and breathe, but not too loose. (the measurement for Belly Bands is the exception -- it needs to be a bit snugDo not add extra for the overlap and closures of the garments, that is taken into consideration by the manufacturers. You need the actual body measurements of the dog, not the dimensions of the finished garments.

Write down each measurement, and then measure a second time just to be sure. Most dog apparel is not returnable, in order to prevent the possibility of skin diseases or parasites being transmitted to other pets.It is better to measure twice than be sorry!

When you are all done, be sure to give your dog an extra treat for being such a good model!

How to Use the Measurements to Determine Size
So now you have these numbers -- how do you make sense of the sizes??

This is where things vary a bit according to designer, manufacturer and type of apparel. A general rule of thumb is to choose a size based on the measurement corresponding with the most "fitted" part of the garment. As I stated above, most manufacturers will include at least one measurement with their size, and in many cases, a better fit can be obtained using more than just one measurement, and for some styles, this is necessary.

If any of the measurements are 'between' two sizes, choose the larger size. If your measurements are toward the upper end of the range given for a particular size, you may also want to choose the larger size, as you may also wish to do for heavily coated dogs to accommodate all that fur.

Unless specifically stated otherwise, for all apparel except collars****, the measurements you will use are the actual body measurements of the dog. The designer or manufacturer should take into account the extra inches needed for overlaps and closures, and cut and sew the garments accordingly.

**** note: For Collar Sizes -- the general rule is to take the dog's actual neck measurement and add two inches to get your collar size. This also may vary according to manufacturer and type of collar - so be sure to read descriptions carefully. A properly fitting collar should allow you to slip two fingers easily underneath, between the collar and the dog's neck. Even after he or she is full gown, be sure to check the fit of your dog's collar periodically, as changes in weight, and even the growth of a heavier winter coat can affect the fit. Leather and some other collar materials can stretch or shrink over time, especially if they get wet. A properly fitted collar is imperative, as a too-tight collar can cause serious injury, and a too-loose collar can easily slip off over your dog's head.

If you follow all of these guidelines for measuring and choosing the proper sizes, you should be able to decipher the sometimes confusing or even conflicting information found on different manufacturers' and designers' dog apparel. You should be able to make the best possible choices for a comfortable and flatterring fit, and soon you will have the Best-Dressed Best Friend on the block!

Information Provided By

Especially Fur You Pet Boutique

Especially Fur You
160 Lawr.-Penn. Rd.
Suite 16 #153
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

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