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With their huge liquid eyes, oversized pricked ears, and petite little muzzle, a Chihuahua puppy is hard to resist. Combine that with the Chihuahua's larger than life personality, and you've got a show stopper of a dog that weighs in with a small melon. It's no surprise that you want to show that charming little dog off to the world, and your Chihuahua seems like she's ready to take on anything. The way she spins in circles around you, however, you wonder if you'll ever be able to untangle yourself long enough to actually walk. You can train your Chihuahua puppy to have good leash manners, so you two can conquer the world together.
Chihuahuas, though a relatively healthy breed, are prone to injuries of the neck, back, and trachea if walked on a neck lead. For this reason, even very well trained chihuahuas should be walked on a harness. When fitting the harness to your Chihuahua, be certain that it will not put any pressure on her neck. Harnesses that fit around the front legs and the waist and are clipped at the shoulder blades are best. Be careful that your Chihuahua doesn't rub her delicate coat and skin against the harness. It is best if the harness is soft and well padded. It should be loose enough that you can easily slip two fingers under it at any point, but tight enough that your chihuahua won't be able to lift her paw through, something they are incredibly clever about doing. It is best to practice with a new harness in the house or yard before going out with your dog in it.
Your Chihuahua is likely to be skittish when you first put her new harness on. Let her adjust to it while rewarding her with plenty of yummy treats. She will soon acclimate to the new feeling. Watch her movements to see if any adjustments need to be made to the fit of the harness. Once she if very comfortable with the harness, attach a light leash. Most Chihuahuas are bothered by the tension from a flexi lead, so it is best to use a simple light leash at first. Whenever your Chihuahua pulls against the leash, reward her with a treat, so she is not frightened by the novel feeling of being restrained by the harness. Only when your Chihuahua puppy is very comfortable with the equipment you will be using should you begin training outdoors. Remember also that your puppy can't walk very far. Let her set the pace, and carry her after a little while even if she still seems willing. The big-hearted Chihuahua is sometimes quick to overdo herself.
The Pull, Return, Treat Method
Hold the leash steady
Hold your leash at a set length, allowing your Chihuahua to go about five feet from you.
Feel a pull, pull back
When your puppy puts pressure on the leash, pull back gently but firmly enough that she will turn around
Treat the ease in tension
As soon as your Chihuahua comes back towards you, relaxing the tension, reward her with a treat.
Whenever your dog pulls, pull back, whenever she relaxes tension, reward. Especially reward when she seems about to put tension on the leash but looks back at you instead.
As your Chihuahua gets into the habit of not pulling on the leash, begin rewarding only for the best instances of resisting the impulse to pull.
The Click and Treat Method
Clicker means treat
Associate the sound of the clicker with a treat by clicking and treating until your Chihuahua is looking for her treat whenever you click.
Anticipate the pull
Holding the leash at a set length, anticipate your puppy beginning to put tension on the leash and click just before she does.
Return and reward
When your Chihuahua comes back towards you, give her the reward.
Let her anticipate
Wait until your Chihuahua is just putting pressure on the leash. She should turn of her own will to see if a treat will come. Click and reward her for not putting pressure on the leash.
Once your Chihuahua is correcting herself by releasing pressure before she puts very much weight into her harness, begin rewarding intermittently, only for good behavior in spite of distractions.
The Tied to You Method
Tie the leash to you
Tie your Chihuahua's leash to you, giving her about five feet of line.
Whenever your Chihuahua pulls against her harness, change direction. Do so slowly so as not to jerk your puppy.
When your puppy looks at you to see where you are both going now, reward her.
Walk and change
Keep walking and changing direction whenever your puppy pulls, rewarding her with a treat or toy whenever she looks at you for direction.
Make a game of changing direction and having your Chihuahua pay attention to where you are going. Reward for only the most impressive instances of her noticing your subtle signs that you are changing directions.
By Coral Drake
Published: 02/01/2018, edited: 01/08/2021