How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Be Friendly

Medium
4-10 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

All puppies are sweet and cute; yours will be no different. Chihuahuas are sweet and cute as well, and your Chihuahua will be super friendly to you. Chihuahuas are unique in that they fall in love quickly with their masters but don't often have any interest in meeting other people or other dogs. 

Chihuahuas are very comfortable within their own spaces, so to teach your Chihuahua to be friendly you need to expand his personal space. Having a friendly Chihuahua means your dog won't give off the scary bark every time your doorbell rings or a guest walks in the house. A friendly Chihuahua won't growl at your guests as they reach over to pet him or pick him up. A friendly Chihuahua sits in your lap and allows others to be near you. A Chihuahua, if not taught to be friendly to other people will come across as aggressive and possibly even mean. This is not what their personality is; they are just built to be the only dog in your universe and need to be trained that your universe doesn't always revolve around them.

Defining Tasks

The trick to training your Chihuahua to be friendly from the start is to get him social as early as possible. If you are adopting a Chihuahua puppy into your family, let as many people handle him as possible as soon as you bring him home. If you have other dogs in your household, let them interact with your new Chihuahua. If this is a puppy, as always, be cautious with any older dogs or larger dogs around your new Chihuahua because he is small and tender. Under your close supervision, let your Chihuahua and your other pets explore and get to know one another. A social Chihuahua knows how to be friendly because he has been exposed to more than just his owner. A Chihuahua who lives and breathes for his owner only and does not know the breadth of the world around him can sometimes come off as aggressive or unfriendly. You can also teach an older Chihuahua to be friendly, it just may take more time for some of the older guys because they are set in their ways and need to learn new behaviors.

Getting Started

Start training your Chihuahua to be friendly as soon as you bring him home. To do this, be sure to socialize him as much as you can with people as well as with other pets. If you are introducing your Chihuahua to other pets, be sure to have treats for both animals on hand so they can meet on common ground over food. If you are introducing your Chihuahua to other animals that do not live in your home, be sure you know the owners and are comfortable with the animals to keep both animals safe during your initial meeting. Be persistent and consistent with his training. Your Chihuahua can be friendly to people and animals, but you have to insist he behaves as so. Keep your training sessions short with lots of rewards.

The Set Rules Method

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Step
1
From the start
Before you bring a Chihuahua into your home, decide your boundaries. Set boundaries with sleeping arrangements, whether or not your Chihuahua will sleep in your bed, be allowed on your couch, or be held much of the time. Set physical boundaries within your home, such as not allowing the Chihuahua in the bathroom with you or in the kitchen while you are cooking.
Step
2
Obedience training
As soon as you bring your Chihuahua home, begin obedience training. Chihuahuas can be stubborn, so do not give up even if your dog stops showing interest. Offer high-value treats during training and keep your sessions short. Start with the basics to set yourself up as the leader of the pack. If this isn’t done early, your Chihuahua may become the leader before you even know it.
Step
3
Aggression
Your Chihuahua will growl a lot, especially as he is meeting people and pets in your world. Do not allow him to get away with growling at your guests. Do not show him affection or hold him if he’s going to be aggressive. Be firm and ignore poor behavior but overly reward good behaviors.
Step
4
Good behavior
When you catch your Chihuahua being friendly to someone within your household, a guest, or another pet, reward him with a tasty high-value treat. When setting your boundaries, decide if lap sitting or couch sitting will be allowed as long as your Chihuahua is well behaved. If so, when he is good, allow these things as rewards.
Step
5
Socialize
Get your Chihuahua out as often as possible to see the big wide world. He needs to be comfortable with people coming into your home and with other pets being near you. A Chihuahua who is not well socialized will stick to his owner and fear anyone else. From early on, take your Chihuahua anywhere you can take him. Let people hold him or pet him while he’s on the ground. Introduce him to other dogs.
Step
6
Treats
Always end social time, training time, good behavior moments, and affection moments with a treat.
Recommend training method?

The Boundaries Method

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Step
1
Commands
As leader of the pack in your house, teach your Chihuahua all the commands he can learn. Start with the basics to get him to sit and lie down on command. Then move on to cute tricks like standing on hind legs, rolling over, or begging. Little dogs can learn a lot of fun tricks that will give him positive attention when performed. Be sure to end any training session with treats along with the treats he earns while learning.
Step
2
Food
Do not let your Chihuahua free feed. Provide his meals to him on a set schedule. Make a big deal out of preparing is meals and setting them down at meal times.
Step
3
'Wait' command
If at all possible, train your Chihuahua to stand back away from you while you are preparing the meal and putting it in place. Your Chihuahua should be able to see you prepare his meals but not be allowed to jump or beg while you are making his food. You can train the ‘wait’ command to help with this.
Step
4
Territory
Show your dog what part of your home is his territory. When house training, take the Chihuahua on a leash to one part of your yard, training him to only use that area. By keeping him on a leash and showing him where to go, you are showing him you are alpha-dog and will make the rules.
Step
5
Shared spaces
While your dog is in training to be a good social dog, keep him off your couch or bed. Give him a comfortable bed near you but down on the floor as he is learning to be under your command. Be sure to acknowledge him with treats and a calm tone when talking, but do not let him on your level until you can trust him to be a friendly, well-rounded pet.
Step
6
Social
Socialize your Chihuahua as often as you can to get him used to people and other dogs. The earlier and more often you can do this, the better adapted he will be once he’s around people and pets without you coaching him along the way.
Step
7
All together
Once your dog has gone through obedience training, has been socialized, understands who feeds him and his role while waiting for his meals, and knows he has to earn his place on the couch or in your spaces, even your arms, put all these things together and have him around people and pets more. If he’s well trained and well adapted, he will do fine.
Recommend training method?

The Respect Training Method

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Step
1
Position
Establishing the leader of the pack role with your Chihuahua and demand respect for yourself. Over time, he will get that you expect him to be respectful of others as well.
Step
2
Set boundaries
Set your boundaries early on. If your Chihuahua is acting aggressively or growling, put him down or do not pick him up to begin with. Babying or coddling this behavior will only enforce the behavior as good for your Chihuahua.
Step
3
Remain calm
Do not discipline your Chihuahua with angry voices or tones. Yelling at your Chihuahua only sends mixed messages of aggression and anger. Remain calm and redirect your Chihuahua when you see him misbehaving or acting in an aggressive manner.
Step
4
Wait
Train your dog to wait. In all occasions as you see fit, from walking out the door to feeding times, have your Chihuahua wait for what he wants. Walk through the doorway first, holding it open for your pup to follow. Have your Chihuahua watch you prepare a meal and make him sit and wait patiently as you set the bowl down before he is allowed to eat.
Step
5
Work dog
Make your dog earn privileges. You can ask him to do commands before eating, such as sit. Before you pick him up or let him into your bed or on the couch, have him 'beg' or stand on his hind legs to be picked up.
Step
6
Social dog
As early as you can, have your dog be social with people as well as other pets. Use your commands with your Chihuahua as he is getting to know his world. This will teach him how to behave around others
Step
7
Friendly dog
If your dog has learned commands from you, is social, knows to work for what he wants, and respects you, he will carry that respect around to others as well. Make sure he knows you expect him to be friendly and continue to use commands for respect when he is with people and pets to ensure his behavior is up to par.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Sweet Pea
Chihuahua
4 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Sweet Pea
Chihuahua
4 Years

My chihuahua may have trained Lucky to bark at other dogs, or at least trained Lucky to behave in her way.

How do I get her to stop training Lucky to be bad? Should I separate the two until Lucky's trained? I think maybe Sweet Pea is hindering our progress in training, so...

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kien, Separating the two dogs would help Lucky not to learn bad habits from her. Once he is fully trained it will be easier to enforce your rules for just him. The best option is to train both dogs, so that both behave well and listen. This is sometimes doable and something not. Training just one dog is a lot of work, training two takes a lot of time and since Lucky is the priority right now with his age and size, it will depend on how difficult Sweet Pea's problem behaviors are whether or not that is something you want to tackle right now. Separating will be easier temporarily. Even working on Sweet Peas's general respect for you and having consistent rules around the house that you decide on and enforce will help both dogs, rather than the dogs being the ones to make and enforce the rules for each other. Check out the article that I have linked below to help Sweet Pea learn to listen. Enforce what you feel you are able to while still focusing the most on Lucky's training, and keep the dogs separate for the things that are too difficult to train both dogs on right now, like Sweet Pea's aggression. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Guppy
Chihuahua
6 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Guppy
Chihuahua
6 Months

I am working on socializing Guppy as much as possible so she grows up to be a friendly happy girl. I have a 3 yr old son who she is completely fine with. As part of her socialization, I try to take her everywhere with me. Recently, while at a friend’s house, Guppy was off leash and started growling at one of my friend’s daughters. How should I correct/modify this behavior?

Thank you,
Amanda

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Amanda, Right when the incident happens, I would tell her "Ah Ah" firmly, get between her and the child or remove me from what she is being possessive of and make her leave the area. That is just to show her that that's not acceptable though. To prevent future occurrences, have that child and other children of various ages practice giving her obedience commands that she knows and giving her treats when she obeys. Supervise and help them as needed. You want to teach respect but also trust. You want to do this in a way that helps her relax and associate the kids with fun things like rewards. Having the kids take her for walks, feed her her entire dinner one piece at a time (from a zip-lock and not her bowl) everytime she does something for them like sit, act friendly, or act calm, or play a game like fetch but sit when you old to get the ball and drop the ball on command. Make the encounters rewarding and fun for her but also structured to build both trust and respect. Also, don't let kids tease her or scare her. The encounters should be rewarding. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Messi
Chihuahua
7 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Messi
Chihuahua
7 Years

We recently adopted Messi from an abusive home and he came with some unfavorable traits. He is mostly nice and laid back, but occasionally he becomes EXTREMELY aggressive. For example, if you try to move him from the bed while he is resting he will attempt to bite your arm off. You can’t even pick him up to move him without getting bit, it takes him sometimes 20-30 times telling him “OFF!” in my deepest voice. He also will occasionally try to bite if he doesn’t want to be picked up, if you grab his toy at the wrong time, or walk near his food bowl. Please help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Chloe, I suggest hiring a professional who has a lot of experience with different types of aggression, comes highly recommended by other clients, and uses both fair corrections and positive reinforcement. Messi needs to be desensitized to being touched, he needs to be desensitized to wearing a silicone basket muzzle (so that you can safely work with him and help him learn that biting does not get him what he wants), and he needs to be put on a protocol to teach him respect safely. For the respect training, I suggest starting by making him work for everything he gets in life. Before you feed him, take him outside, pet him, or play with him require him to obey a command to earn the thing that he wants. Sit, Down or Watch Me are three examples of commands he can do. To desensitize him to the muzzle you will want to show him the muzzle and give him a treat. Repeat that until he is comfortable, then touch the muzzle then give a treat. Repeat that until he is comfortable, then gradually move the muzzle closer and closer as he gets comfortable. Finally, you can buckle the muzzle, feed him treats through the muzzle's holes, then take the muzzle off again. You can increase the amount of time he wears the muzzle for until he has worked up to wearing it for a couple of hours. Expect getting him comfortable with the muzzle to take a couple of weeks. I suggest introducing the muzzle, working on respect, and getting him used to being handled with the help of a qualified trainer who can do it safely with you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Mitzi
Chihuahua
6 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Mitzi
Chihuahua
6 Years

6 months ago I rescued Mitzi from a puppy mill. She was used as a breeder her entire life. As a result, she never had any training or socialization. She is extremely attached to me and will tolerate my husband when I'm not available. However, she goes off the rails when my adult sons come into the house. She barks at them and acts like she will take them apart. When she won't calm down, I remove her from the room and isolate her. When she is calm I bring her out again. However, she goes right back to viciously barking at my sons if they're in her line of sight. Interestingly, she will let them pet her if I'm holding her. If she is in my lap or on the floor she is ready to kill them. What can I do to alter this behavior?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sandra, I suggest finding a trainer who can help you with the training from the video below. Since your children are adults, they should be able to carefully following the instructions from the video and remain calm around her while they practice the training. At first, you will probably need your sons to be further away, while your dog is leashed to something like the dog in this video so that she cannot charge them. When she behaves poorly, you can correct her with a low level stimulation or vibration from an e-collar. When she is calm, have them toss her a treat. When she can handle them being close, then they can hand feed treats like the video below when she is behaving nicely. Do not reward her aggressive behavior. If she cannot calm down, interrupt her with a mild correction or add more space between your sons and her while you practice to make the training easier. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJoEJfTS-E Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Pancho
Chihuahua
14 Weeks
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Pancho
Chihuahua
14 Weeks

I got my Pancho at 12 weeks. When we went out to the yard for potty he was scared of cars, noises, people, cats, and dogs. I have been asking him to sit for treats when I can see him get scared, though ssometimes the trigger is too much and he tries to run away. When people are getting close to him he tries to run away and if they stop to talk to him and get a bit close or try to pet him he pulls away and growls. He tries to run from dogs he sees and barks, growls, and lunges at them if they are close. I have been bringing friends over a few times a week and he has gone from growling to being a bit shy at first but warming up to them and falling asleep next to them on the sofa. He sleeps in a crate in pur bedroom at night and during the day he either sleeps in his crate in the living room or on the sofa. Should I stop him from sleeping or being on the sofa with us or guests?
All I wanted was a lovely small dog who was nice to people and animals that I could take everywhere with me. I didn't want a mean yippy dog. I brought him to a puppy social but he hid under a table and lunged at other dogs. I have tried bringing him out on walks around the block but he gets too scared and eventually tries to run away. I don't drive but I can walk to the local park, take the train to town, the seafront is nearby. He struggles to walk all the way to the places I want to show him. Should I introduce him to new places even though he gets scared?
Any advice would really help I'm so sad about his fear and growling.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shay, Don't give up on socializing him. He probably needs the socialization to go slower, be more gradual, and involve a lot of rewards like treats, whenever he acts brave (in a good way) or calm around new things (don't reward the aggressive behavior though). The issue is likely inherited, but dogs who are naturally more shy need socialization even more to make up for their natural fearfulness. He might also be going through a fear period, which is a period when the dog is learning about what's safe and not and the world can seem even scarier during those two weeks that each fear-period tends to last. Keep socializing during this period, but try to avoid overwhelming situations and make the social experiences as pleasant as you can. For example, recruit lots of friends to socialize him one at a time (instead of a whole group coming over) and toss him treats without trying to pet him yet. Instruct them to ignore him while they toss the treats, until he approaches on his own as he warms up. Act confident and happy yourself around new things he is deciding about...For example, if he sees something new on a walk or passes a dog on the other side of the street, do a little excited dance and talk to him in sing-song voice... essentially act happy and silly to lighten the mood and change his mind about the situation. I highly suggest hiring a trainer who has a lot of successful experience helping shy dogs. The earlier you start, the better the outcome is likely to be. Find someone who can do training sessions with you in lots of different types of locations, like meeting you at the pet store, park, a friend's house, your neighborhood, hardwear stores, or outside of other training classes at her facility (so that you can help him get used to the sight of other dogs and people without overwhelming him and crowding him with up-close interactions yet. If she has access to her own, patient, calm dogs to help socialize him gradually with them, even better. He needs lots of extra help and lots of positive interactions with others, without overwhelming him too much. Anxious dogs also tend to do well with a lot of structure and rules in their life. Have him work for things like food, walks, and ball throws at home, by having him perform a command, like sit first. Teach him "Place" and work on him staying there calmly (you can give him a chew toy to chew on while on Place). Teach him to Heel during walks instead of walking on the end of the leash and leading you. Work on his focus on you. Rules and boundaries can help an anxious dog trust and respect you and relax more when they feel like you are in control of things and dependable and confident. If he is respectful of you and get off the sofa when told to, the sofa is likely not an issue. If he acts possessive of the sofa, does not listen to you when you tell him to get off, or it is otherwise causing issues, then the should not be on the sofa. When guests are over, if he is acting possessive, pushy, or aggressive while on the sofa, then he should not be on the sofa. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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