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 Boundaries Method

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

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

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?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Chi Chi
Chihuahua
3 Years
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Question
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Chi Chi
Chihuahua
3 Years

My dog is very nervous around people. She will only trust four people in the family. Even members of the family that she she’s on a regular basis are not able to go near her without Chi Chi barking at them. She will even snap at them if they go too close to her.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
667 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cedric, I suggest starting with those she knows, have people use her daily kibble as treats and toss a piece at her whenever they are in the same room with her and she is not hiding, barking, or otherwise acting aggressive or fearful. Whenever she is friendly, curious or calm in other words. Once she gets more comfortable with someone, you can also have that person give her commands she knows , like Sit, then reward for obedience to further build trust with them. Do not pet, talk sweetly to, or otherwise reward her when she is barking and acting fearful. Act calm and confident yourself instead to mirror how she should feel around the people. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Winston
Chihuahua
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Winston
Chihuahua
6 Months

Winston is afraid of all people and dogs. We are constantly bringing him out but when anyone talks to him or tries to pet him his tail immediately goes between his legs and he runs away. Then when they turn he will bark and try and lunge a little. With us he is the sweetest. How do we get him more comfortable with people without traumatizing him and making it worse? We would love for him to feel relaxed around people and not so scared. What should we be doing to help him?

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

Hello! Your dog needs to learn new behaviors to quell his fear. First we reduce his fear around new dogs, and then we begin adding cues such as “watch me” or “sit.” This technique can be applied towards humans and other dogs. Research tells us that most leash reactivity is caused by fear, not by aggression. Dogs bark and lunge at other dogs to warn, “Go away! Go away!” Dogs fear other dogs 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 her concerns even bigger. Dogs learn by making associations, and you want your dog to associate other dogs with pleasant things — never punishment. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming dog means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view another dog. As the new dog 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 new dog causes meat to fall from the sky. When the other dog is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that other dogs near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! As you are reframing your dog’s opinion of seeing other leashed dogs, be careful where you take your dog, and be protective of what she is exposed to. One fight can create a reactive dog. Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram her opinions of other dogs. 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 another dog 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 another dog, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening dog and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at his (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 another dog approaching. Your end goal is for your dog to see another dog, and remain calm, looking at you for guidance. And this will be either continuing your walk, or being allowed to interact with the other dog. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

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Question
Chico
Chihuahua
2 Years
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Question
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Chico
Chihuahua
2 Years

The dog is very aggressive and high tempered and will not listen to commands to stop attacking or barking! Has even attacked my daughter who visits please help me control our baby who is severely spoiled and is the baby of the home! He only likes certain people so is there anything I can do ?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Hello, there is lots you can do for little Chico. Obedience training is an excellent way to turn a dog's personality around for the better. You may want to start with a private trainer who can come to the home and train Chico, giving you pointers as well, in how to help Chico behave in his home environment. The time and effort are well worth it to have a dog you can enjoy. You can also take him to obedience school -he'll become well socialized and learn to get along with other people and dogs, too, which is important. Dogs are social animals and often thrive on the environment of a class with excitement and lots going on. Have your daughter take Chico on a walk every time she comes over and this will help Chico get to know her on neutral ground where he does not feel threatened or protective of you. Also, start with teaching Chico to sit for each event. Sit before his food dish is placed in front of him, sit before getting his leash on for a walk, sit before, sit before treats, etc. This will help him gain respect for you and others. To start Chico in training before obedience classes: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-dog-basic-obedience. Good luck and all the best to Chico!

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Question
Joey
Chihuahua Terrier mix
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Joey
Chihuahua Terrier mix
2 Years

Can't get Joey to walk on a soft leash, even after obedience training. Spent 4 weeks practicing as suggested with no result.

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

Hello! Some dogs really struggle with loose leash walking training. I have been training for 15 years and have yet to see dogs who are natural pullers, learn to not pull without utilizing a no pull harness. I would suggest getting either a head halter called a Gentle Leader, or a no pull harness called an Easy Walk Harness.

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Question
Blue
Chihuahua
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Blue
Chihuahua
7 Months

Won’t stop jumping nipping and scratching also hard to potty train

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
667 Dog owners recommended

Hello Talina, Check out the Step Toward method (being careful not to step on due to size) for jumping: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump For the biting, work on teaching the Leave It command: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite For the potty training, I suggest using the Crate Training method from the article linked below. Since pup is a bit older you can adjust the times, to take pup potty every 2-3 hours, give 1-1.5 hours of freedom after going potty outside, and taking pup potty 45 minutes-1 hour after crating if pup doesn't go when you take them the first time. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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