Train Chihuahuas with positive reinforcement for the best results.
Chihuahuas are graceful, alert, confident and intelligent dogs that grow to about 6 pounds. They can be stubborn but respond well to positive reinforcement training methods that use praise as a reward, rather than force or punishment. Chihuahuas distrust strangers and tend to snap or nip at other people, children and animals. It is important to spend time training and socializing your Chihuahua to prevent dominant, aggressive behavior.
Always end your training sessions on a positive note, right after your dog had success with a behavior. This positive behavior is what your dog will remember when you begin training the next time, according to Karen Pryor, renowned dog clicker trainer and lecturer. Even if your Chihuahua is having a perfect training session, do not be tempted to take it too far, so they begin making mistakes. This will frustrate you and your Chihuahua. The duration of the training session depends upon your Chihuahua’s ability to focus on a task before shutting down.
Clicker training is a positive training method that gives immediate reinforcement to Chihuahuas when they respond correctly to training. Using the clicker to mark correct behavior lets your Chihuahua know the instant they did the right thing. Right after clicking, reward your Chihuahua with praise and affection. Clicker training is one of the most effective animal training methods, according to Karen Pryor. Another positive training method is to use a cue as the marker for correct behavior. This method works the same way as clicker training but using a word instead of the clicker. If your Chihuahua responds correctly to training, say the marker word, for example, “Yes,” as soon as they do something right. Praise them and offer a treat immediately after saying the marker word. Chihuahuas can be difficult to housebreak, so use positive reinforcement when they relieve themselves in the designated area. Use your clicker or behavior marker and praise them. Consider potty training just like any other skill you want your dog to learn.
Training a Chihuahua socialization skills using praise and affection are necessary for them to adapt to family life with adults and children, according to the AKC. If you allow your Chihuahua to get away with unwanted behavior just because they are small, it can lead to bossy, dominant behavior. Chihuahuas also benefit from socialization with people and animals outside the family. Begin training Chihuahuas at home without distractions, using praise and treats as rewards. Slowly introduce one friend to your Chihuahua, giving them time to settle down and quietly greet your friend. When your Chihuahua accepts your friend in the house without nipping or barking, praise them, give them a favorite treat and tell them what a good dog they are. Once your Chihuahua accepts one friend, gradually introduce them to another. Always praise, pat and reward positively. Eventually, bring your Chihuahua outside to meet a neighbor, talking in a quiet, soothing voice. If you find yourself getting frustrated or angry, end the training session, so your dog does not sense your annoyance. Using praise and ending on a positive note reinforces your Chihuahua’s good behavior.
Even though these dogs are small and can be picked up to stop their unwanted behavior or remove them from a dangerous situation, Chihuahuas should learn basic obedience like sit, down, stay, come and leave it, using positive reinforcement and praise. If Chihuahuas understand and respond to these commands, they learn self-control and trust their owners to keep any situation safe and under control. Teaching your Chihuahua to respond immediately to your commands can even save their life if they are in dangerous situations where you cannot reach them.
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