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Unfortunately, many people have a preconception of a Chihuahua as a hyperactive spaz of a dog, always yapping and running in circles. There is a misconception that Chihuahuas are forever puppies, incapable of controlling themselves, or worse, that they are so spoiled that they just don’t care what anyone thinks. They are thought to be less self-controlled, less sociable with other dogs and children, and less trainable than larger breeds. Too often, chihuahuas are tolerated, rather than taught. They are not given the socialization or exercise that benefit larger dogs because their bursts of energy or aggression are thought less important than in larger dogs. Quite to the contrary, if the basics of dog responsibility are observed with your Chihuahua, she can be as cool and laid back a companion as the most noble of Great Danes or the most easy-going Lab.
The same fundamentals of exercise, ritual, and trust that form the bedrock of a calm temperament in large and powerful breeds can make a secure and laid back pup of your Chihuahua. The secret is to take your Chihuahua as seriously as she takes herself, affirming in her what is confident while weeding out insecurities that make her anxious and wild.
Teaching your chihuahua to be calm is a matter of changing her outlook on life, and will not happen overnight. However, if you are determined, patient, and understanding your Chihuahua will blossom into a calm, confident dog.
While the principles of training are the same for your Chihuahua as for a large dog, there are distinct differences that must be considered. For one thing, exercising your Chihuahua will be different than exercising a large breed dog. Chihuahuas must trot to keep up with our walk, and if we jog they gallop. This means it takes less to sufficiently exercise them. Chihuahuas must also work harder to earn their place in dog’s social hierarchy since they are so small. They can also be more quickly overwhelmed by an environment that is so much larger than them. It will help you to train your Chihuahua to be calm if you keep in mind all the reasons she might become stressed.
The fundamental tool for training your Chihuahua to be calm will be a well-fitting harness that will not cause harm if she throws her weight against it from any angle. You should also have on hand plenty of yummy little training treats and a few favorite toys. Chew toys are wonderful for relieving stress and are helpful to have on hand. Training tools like a lure on a rope are awesome for burning off energy, while stuffable treat dispensing toys can occupy an overactive mind.
The Run Off the Crazy Method
Chihuahuas are little runners capable of running for surprisingly long distances at a good clip. Tapping into the marathon runner in your Chihuahua can keep her calm the rest of the time.
You can walk at a brisk pace to keep your Chihuahua in a trot or if you and your pup are up for a bit of a jog, go for it.
Frequent is better than long
Don’t push your Chihuahua to do too much at a stretch. It is better to take frequent walks throughout the day or into the night than one long one. Little bodies may not stand up to strenuous exercise as well as more powerfully built dogs.
Walking and jogging not only serve as opportunities to exercise your little athlete, they also serve to expose her to new people and environments. The more often you do this throughout the day, the calmer your Chihuahua will be when exposed to new things.
When your friends come over at the end of a few weeks of this, they will be surprised to find that your wild little dog has become a chill companion begging for belly rubs.
The Little Athletes Method
Harness the joy
Chihuahuas are known for twisting their bodies into amazing jumps and leaps, apparently for pure joy. Having a range of activities that utilize your Chihuahua’s athleticism to call on whenever your chihuahua is acting a little crazy can help make her a calm companion.
Run in circles!
Using a lure on a rope, encourage your pooch to run in circles, figure eights, or varied patterns after the lure. This is a great way to burn off a burst of energy while building focus and exercising fine motor skills.
Through the hoop!
Encourage your dog to run, then jump through a hoop. Make it a game to put the hoop down unexpectedly so your Chihuahua hurries to jump through it. Use toys or treats as encouragement at first, but soon your Chihuahua will love the game.
Have your chihuahua wait while you throw toys all over the house. Then have her find and bring you all of them. Remembering where they are and finding them builds focus, which will help her to be calm.
Put it all together
Use the tricks you have taught your Chihuahua to wear her out and exercise her mind throughout the day. Encourage guests to do her tricks with her too. Soon, no one will complain about your crazy Chihuahua, they will be pestering your calm companion to get off the couch and come play!
The Field Trips Method
Calm comes from experience
The image of calm seems to conjure up someone who has seen and knows a lot. Experience goes with calm like childishness goes with wildness. An experienced Chihuahua is a calm Chihuahua.
Take your Chihuahua with you wherever you can. Have a designated bag for her where she can feel comfortable no matter where you go.
Try new things
Encourage your Chihuahua to explore new places and meet new people. Point out interesting places to sniff and explore. Encourage her to run all over exploring.
Go with new people
Ask trusted friends and relatives to take your Chihuahua to their homes or to places with them. Make sure your friends give plenty of treats, toys, and happiness to make it a great experience for your dog.
Enjoy the chill
A Chihuahua who has spent the day traveling and exploring will be the picture of calm at the end of the day, as she lays around and thinks about all the cool things she’s done.
By Coral Drake
Published: 12/14/2017, edited: 01/08/2021