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 dog breeds as well, and your Chihuahua will be super friendly to you. Chihuahuas are a unique dog breed 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 dog training sessions short with lots of rewards.

The Boundaries Method

ribbon-method-1
Most Recommended
5 Votes
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

ribbon-method-2
Effective
5 Votes
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?

The Set Rules Method

ribbon-method-3
Least Recommended
5 Votes
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?
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Written by hannah hollinger

Published: 12/20/2017, edited: 04/16/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Hershey
Chihuahua mini pincher
3 Months
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Hershey
Chihuahua mini pincher
3 Months

I adopted Hershey from a family that had kids that were not nice to him. Now is growls at everyone and barks but he is wagging is tail the whole time. I work for campgrounds and I need help please

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1105 Dog owners recommended

Hello Carolyn, Check out the video series I have linked below on reactivity - which helps address the underlying suspicion and fear through counter conditioning with rewards gradually. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlZmJlllP7Y&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Benny
Chihuahua
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Benny
Chihuahua
3 Months

We got Benny a little less than a month ago and he is already growing so much! The thing is that he just won't stop biting absolutely everything. Even if i try to distract him with a toy, he will still go for my fingers, hands, cellphone, waterbottle etc. How can I get him to stop?
Also- he does a very good job of peeing on his pads but will poop everywhere in the house. Help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1105 Dog owners recommended

Hello Caroline, Check out the Exercise Pen method from the article I have linked below to address the pooping. Even though pup is good with peeing in the right spot, pup needs to go back a couple of steps to learn about pooping too. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy For the biting, check out the article I have linked below. I recommend the Leave It method especially. You can use the Bite Inhibition method also, while pup is still learning Leave It though. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Pepper
Chihuahua cross
2 Years
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Pepper
Chihuahua cross
2 Years

My little girl is very timid and afraid around other dogs. She walks on the beach on and off lead twice a day but cowers around other dogs and has her tail between her legs. She won’t allow strangers to pat her. She is only friendly with her sister and a few small to medium dogs that she knows. How do I get her to be less scared. She’s even flighty at home with sudden movements or noises.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1105 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Check out the article I have linked below on shy dogs. There are sections there that address both interactions around people and around dogs. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ She might also benefit from confidence building activities with you. Often spending time every day teaching pup new things, like obedience commands or fun tricks using lure reward training, can help build a dog's confidence and also help them practice being in a thinking mindset instead of an anxious state. Zak George from superfetch or canine revolution on youtube has a lot of great trick and obedience command videos training using lure reward training. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZzFRKsgVMhGTxffpzgTJlQ Another great activity for nervous dogs is actually agility. You can either join a class or club, or just create or purchase your own obstacles for your home or yard to practice with pup. Having pup overcome and experience new surfaces, obstacles, and challenges, while having fun and learning things can help a pup gain confidence. Expect some hesitancy at first with a nervous dog. Use your own energy and enthusiasm, and a lot of patience, to encourage pup to follow you around the course and follow your treats, to help pup not overthink the new things and freeze. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Jimmy
Chihuahua
2 Years
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Jimmy
Chihuahua
2 Years

My chorkie is lovely to all his family members but sometimes he will snap for no reason such as someone can take him on a walk give him treats feed him etc but he is very territorial and as soon as they come towards me he will snarl and even bite people that he actually likes. How do I stop him being so protective of me?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Your dog needs to learn new behaviors to quell his fear. First we reduce his fear around strangers/new people, and then we begin adding cues such as “watch me” or “sit.” The tips below can be applied to both humans and dogs, or anything else your dog may encounter that he is reactive to. Research tells us that most leash reactivity is caused by fear, not by aggression. Dogs bark and lunge at strangers to warn, “Go away! Go away!” Dogs fear people because of genetic reasons, lack of socialization, fights when they were puppies, or any scary (to the dog) interaction with other dogs. Sometimes having low thyroid levels contributes to unwanted canine behavior. During this time, avoid any punishment for reactivity. Doing so will make his concerns even bigger. Dogs learn by making associations, and you want your dog to associate people with pleasant things — never punishment. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming person means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view other people. As the person comes into view, drop a lot of enticing meat treats just in front of your dog’s nose. Ignore any hysterics for now, but back up and create more space if your dog is unwilling to eat. This part is hard for humans — I understand. It helps to see your dog’s behavior for what it most likely is: fear vs. disobedience. The training reinforcer MUST be a great one, such as real meat. It is critical that the appearance of the person causes meat to fall from the sky. When the person is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that people near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram his opinions of other people. Instead, sit on your front porch or in your garage (or somewhere out of the way if those two options aren't possible) with your dog on leash, and practice treating every time someone comes into your dog’s line of sight. During this time, engage your dog’s mind with mind puzzles, obedience work, and fun stuff like games in the house or yard. You know you have made great progress when your dog sees someone, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening person and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at her (former) trigger and then looking expectantly up at you for a treat, you can begin to put this skill on cue. Tell your dog "watch me" every time you see someone approaching. Your end goal is for your dog to see someone, and remain calm, looking at you for guidance. And this will be either continuing your walk, or being allowed to interact with someone. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

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Question
Bella
Chorkie
2 Years
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Bella
Chorkie
2 Years

My Bella is very aggressive to my husband every time he tries to touch me Bella runs at him and attacks him. Sometimes if he looks at me she growels. I don’t know how to handle this situation can you help?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1105 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nicole, It sounds like pup is being possessive of you, which is a bit different than protective. Possessive is a form of resource guarding, where pup is acting like they own the person they are guarding. It's generally related to a lack of respect. Since this involves both you and your husband I suggest you both work on building pup's respect for you. I also recommend introducing pup to wearing a basket muzzle and temporarily having pup wear a basket muzzle and drag leash while you are both home, so that when pup behaves aggressively, you can calmly pick up the end of the leash and make pup leave the room. This should be done with a calm and confident attitude - when you tell pup to do something, you mean what you say, but you are calm when enforcing it. No body should react angrily or by petting and soothing pup - angry can encourage a defensive fear response, and petting and soothing pup when they behave that way rewards the aggressive behavior - simply pick up the end of the leash and lead pup out of the room and keep them from returning until they are willing to do a couple commands like Sit and Down and return with your permission. Don't allow pup to be pushy at other times either. No standing on laps, climbing onto you uninvited, nudging or barking for attention or food, ect...Anytime pup wants something, even petting, command pup to do something like Down first before giving it to them - have them work for everything they get right now. Follow the Working and Consistency methods https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Commands that are good for respect building - Out, Leave It and Off are especially important for giving pup directions right now. Place, Down and Heel are especially good for respect building. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ If this tends to happen on the bed, pup also looses bed privileges right now. Pup should sleep in another room or crate until pup no longer acts possessive at all. To introduce the muzzle, first place it on the ground and sprinkle his meal kibble around it. Do this until he is comfortable eating around it. Next, when she is comfortable with it being on the floor with food, hold it up and reward her with a piece of kibble every time she touches or sniffs it in your hand. Feed her his whole meal this way. Practice this until she is comfortable touching it. Next, hold a treat inside of it through the muzzle's holes, so that she has to poke his face into it to get the treat. As she gets comfortable doing that, gradually hold the treat further down into the muzzle, so that she has to poke her face all the way into the muzzle to get the treat. Practice until she is comfortable having her face in it. Next, feed several treats in a row through the muzzle's holes while she holds her face in the muzzle for longer. Practice this until she can hold his face in it for at least ten seconds while being fed treats. Next, when she can hold her face in the muzzle for ten seconds while remaining calm, while her face is in the muzzle move the muzzle's buckles together briefly, then feed her a treat through the muzzle. Practice this until she is not bothered by the buckles moving back and forth. Next, while she is wearing the muzzle buckle it and unbuckle it briefly, then feed a treat. As she gets comfortable with this step, gradually keep the muzzle buckled for longer and longer while feeding treats through the muzzle occasionally. Next, gradually increase how long she wears the muzzle for and decrease how often you give her a treat, until she can calmly wear the muzzle for at least an hour without receiving treats more than two treats during that hour. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s If things don't improve, they get worse, you are worried about a bite (the muzzle is important here), or you feel overwhelmed, I would not hesitate to hire a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues and will come to your home, to help you in person with this. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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