How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Listen

Medium
6-12 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Chihuahuas are known for ruling the roost with their stubborn attitude and demeanor. Don’t let your Chihuahua rule over you. Train him to listen to you, so you have control over him when it matters most. 

Chihuahuas who aren’t trained to listen often bark and growl at others and don’t bother learning obedience commands. Getting your Chihuahua to listen to you will not only give him the commands he’ll need to become a social pet but also give you the respect you command as leader of the pack. Chihuahuas can be sweet dogs who show loyalty to their owners. But Chihuahuas who don’t know how to listen can wreak havoc on the lives of their families, making dog ownership difficult. Train your Chihuahua to listen from early on so you can stop poor behaviors and reward good behaviors--giving him reason to continue being a good pup.

Defining Tasks

To get your Chihuahua to listen, you will need to set boundaries right away.  Whether you are bringing home a new Chihuahua puppy or adopting an older Chihuahua who needs a good fur-ever home, you will need to let him know your expectations as soon as you bring him home, so he knows how to behave. Rewards are the best motivator for Chihuahuas. However you train your Chihuahua, try to remember to reward good behavior and redirect when behavior is poor. This will help condition your Chihuahua to earn treats with good behaviors. Be patient with every training session, and take any opportunity to show your Chihuahua how he can earn treats by listening. Keep scheduled sessions short, but pay attention to your Chihuahua’s behaviors and make every moment a chance to learn. 

Getting Started

You will need lots of rewards for your Chihuahua to learn how important it is to listen to you. High value treats work best with scheduled training sessions. When you catch him listening outside of training sessions, be sure to reward as well. Be patient and be sure to spend extra time getting your Chihuahua to listen outside of everyday activities.

The Short Session Method

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Step
1
Scheduled time
Schedule very short training sessions to work with your Chihuahua and train him to listen to you. If he’s young, his attention span is short. If he’s older and doesn’t listen, he doesn’t know listening is something he should be doing. You’ll only have his attention for a short period.
Step
2
Work
Your Chihuahua needs to know you are the leader of his pack. It is his instinct to listen to the leader of the pack. To set this hierarchy straight, make him work for food, setting yourself as the one who controls commands and rewards.
Step
3
Name
Say your Chihuahua's name. If he doesn’t yet know his name, say his name and then touch him to get his attention.
Step
4
Acknowledge
Once your Chihuahua acknowledges you by looking at you once you’ve said his name or gotten his attention by touching, give him a treat with verbal praise.
Step
5
Other commands
Once your Chihuahua responds to you when you say his name and has earned treats for doing so, move on to other commands. You can teach him basic obedience commands such as 'sit', 'down', 'stay', and 'come', or you can reinforce commands he already knows. The trick here will be to tell him to do something and reward him for doing a good job when he is successful
Step
6
Practice
Until your Chihuahua listens any time you ask him, consistently practice these steps. This listening training might take some time, so give it several weeks of rewarding for getting his attention and setting up leader of the pack boundaries with your Chihuahua before you stop these short training sessions.
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The Teach Obedience Method

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Step
1
Basic commands
As early as you can, teach your Chihuahua basic obedience commands. This will set the tone for you being the leader and your Chihuahua looking at you for direction. Be sure to reward your Chihuahua each time you train a command and each time you ask him to do something by command.
Step
2
Fun tricks
Once your Chihuahua has basic obedience commands down, work on teaching him fun tricks like 'play dead', 'walk on hind legs', 'dance', and 'roll over'. Once your Chihuahua knows he can earn rewards by learning new tricks and performing them, he will take listening to a new level. Be sure to use high-value rewards to keep him working and treat often.
Step
3
Every day
Every day, use the commands your Chihuahua has learned to keep him working. Be sure to offer treats each time he performs a command.
Step
4
Meals
Before feeding your Chihuahua any of his meals, have him do some of the commands he has learned, such as 'sit'. This will help to remind him that he needs to listen before earning food.
Step
5
Persistence
Be sure to make your Chihuahua work throughout the day for any morsel of food he gets. Making him earn his food will put you on the top tier of your pack together. Using commands throughout the day will also force him to listen to you and be a constant reminder of the rules and expectations you have set, along with the rewards he can earn.
Recommend training method?

The Food Boundaries Method

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Step
1
Start with meals
To set up food boundaries, your Chihuahua needs to know where he falls in his pack and who he needs to be listening to. Start with meals. Once he recognizes you are the one providing food, he will begin to see you as the leader he needs to listen to.
Step
2
Attention
Before preparing your Chihuahua’s meal, get his attention and have him watch you prepare the food. Once he recognizes the food doesn’t magically appear and that you prepare it, he will see you as the leader. Keep his attention while you make his meals, but also make him wait for them.
Step
3
Wait
While you are making his meals, talk to him, using his name often. Once the bowl of food is finished and ready for serving, ask him to wait before diving in. You want him to wait for you to set it down before allowing him to start eating. Anytime he tries to jump up to get to the bowl, pull it up away from him and make him wait.
Step
4
Snacks
Have your Chihuahua work for his snacks. Be sure you have his attention and he is listening to you before giving him a snack. Think of any food items as rewards for showing you his attention. Even if you’d like to give him a special treat just because, make him work for it. This will teach him he needs to listen before earning a reward.
Step
5
Always
Be consistent with these food rules. This will keep you on the top of the hierarchy while keeping your Chihuahua working for his food and showing you respect by listening before he gets to eat.
Step
6
Other times
Once your Chihuahua is consistently listening to you and showing you respect before getting his food, begin offering rewards for listening to you during other occasions as well. If you haven’t yet, begin obedience training with your Chihuahua and work on calling him by his name for rewards. This will reiterate your expectations of listening to you always
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Written by Stephanie Plummer

Published: 12/27/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Rocky
Chihuahua
2 Months
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Question
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Rocky
Chihuahua
2 Months

He is a male chihuahua, I train him how to sit and stay, and he knows where he going to pee and pop, but the time I will go to sleep I play some lullaby music for dogs, and 5 minutes he falls asleep, and I know he gets tired of playing with me and with history. but sometimes he always bites when he is excited or wants some attention. I want my dog to stop biting with me because his teeth are very sharp. And I know when he grows older, her will get to use it. I need some of your help and vice on how to stop biting with us. His biting is not actually mean it, but he wants to play. I need some of your advice. Thanks

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1012 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lyka, Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when he attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if he makes a good choice. If he disobeys your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told him not to. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The pressure method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just roughhousing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Another important part of this is puppy learning bite inhibition. Puppies have to learn while young how to control the pressure of their mouths - this is typically done through play with other puppies. See if there is a puppy class in your area that comes well recommended and has time for moderated off-leash puppy play. If you can't join a class, look for a free puppy play group, or recruit some friends with puppies to come over if you can and create your own group. You are looking for puppies under 6 months of age - since young puppies play differently than adult dogs. Moderate the puppies' play and whenever one pup seems overwhelmed or they are all getting too excited, interrupt their play, let everyone calm down, then let the most timid pup go first to see if they still want to play - if they do, then you can let the other puppies go too when they are waiting for permission. Finding a good puppy class - no class will be ideal but here's what to shoot for: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ When pup gets especially wound up, he probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help him calm down and rest. Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Charlie
Chihuahua
14 Years
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Question
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Charlie
Chihuahua
14 Years

Oh my Charlie boy is a 14-year-old Chihuahua I got him from the shelter he is a rescue he doesn’t of course as you can tell have his bottom jaw or his teeth at all he’s a really good boy when he actually listens he’s incredible but I’ve noticed there are times where he is very ignorant and he just doesn’t listen no matter what I say or do I’m not quite sure how to deal with it because I can’t really stand him because of course I mean in my thoughts it doesn’t really help too much and for two he screams bloody murder every time you patt his butt. I’ve noticed I feel like it’s a manipulative thing because there’s times where he doesn’t and times were he doesn’t I’m not exactly sure how to handle it I just need to know maybe what ideas would help to get him to listen to me and understand that I’m not playing and what I mean is what I mean and to keep it consistent

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1012 Dog owners recommended

Hello Minni, Check out the article I have linked below for some tips on improving listening in general. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you I would also keep a handless soft drag leash on pup while you are there to supervise to make sure it doesn't get caught on anything. When pup doesn't listen - like won't come when called or obey another command, walk to the end of the drag leash, calmly pick it up then reel pup into where you originally called them from, have them sit, then let them go play again. Repeat this a few times until pup comes willingly when called. The same goes for sending pup to Place or enforcing Sit or Down commands. Be calm when following through, but insistent until pup does the behavior. For the screaming when touched in that area, it sounds like pup probably doesn't like being touched there but is likely screaming because they have learned that that gets someone to stop touching them. I would use pup's meal kibble to get pup used to touch there. Gently touch an area near there but not on that spot, where pup is more comfortable being touched. Practice daily when you can. For each touch pup gets a treat. As pup is doing well, slowly progress to the sensitive area until you can consistently touch there normally because pup associates that with treats now, and pup will stay calm. I would also be on the look out for anything that would cause that area to hurt, like a skin sore or injury from their previous home that could have left a sensitive spot due to nerve or skeletal injury. I would speak with your vet about that if suspected. I am not a vet. One thing you can watch for is if you do the touch desensitization and pup never becomes comfortable with that spot even with slow, gentle, gradual practice with treats - then I would consider that the area is actually sore. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
myla
Chihuahua
3 Years
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Question
0 found helpful
myla
Chihuahua
3 Years

stubborn - will not look me in the eye. inconsistent with potty training. can;t teach her to let me know she wants out.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1012 Dog owners recommended

Hello Susie, First, know that avoiding direct eye contact might be pup acting submissive. To teach eye contact, say pup's name excitedly and show her a treat, then move the treat next to your eye so pup is looking that direction. As sokn as pup looks toward your eye, praise and give the treat. Repeat this until pup will consistently look at the treat there whenever you say there name throughout the day. Next keep the treat in your other hand behind your back, and move an empty hand to your eye, pretending to hold a treat. Praise pup and reward with the treat behind your back when they make eye contact. Next, simply point to your eye when you say their name, then reward with the treat from behind from your back. Finally, say pup's name without any hand gestures, then reward. Practice periodically throughout the day, and practice each step until pup is doing well consistently before moving to the next step. For the potty training I suggest using the crate training and tethering methods from the article below. Since pup is older, you can adjust the times, to take pup potty every three hours. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside I also suggest teaching pup to ring a bell to go out. Know that alerting won't happen until pup is consistent holding it with a potty schedule though. https://wagwalking.com/training/ring-a-bell-to-go-out Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Mia
Chihuahua
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Mia
Chihuahua
2 Months

I just adopted a 2 month old chi about two weeks now. She has adjusted to her new life and is conformable for the most part. Its just me and her. We have been working on potty training in the pee pad and it was going well for like a day but now i cant seem to get her to go to it to do her business. I don't want to create train and I set up a playpen for to have room to play. She loses it if I leave her alone, even if I go take a shower and i leave the door open for her to see me and she still loses it. I have tried so many things and nothing seems to be working.

HELP!!

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

Thank you for the question. It seems that little Mia is not yet secure in her surroundings and is forming a strong attachment (not unusual). There are tips here on pee pad training https://wagwalking.com/training/use-a-pee-pad-2. The padded room method may be what works for Mia. When you clean up accidents, be sure to use an enzymatic cleaner as this is the only way to completely remove the odor and assure that she does not use the spot again. You could also try to litter box train: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Use a spray that encourages dogs to pee - you can buy it at the pet supply store. You can also try a real grass litter box. When you take her on walks she pees on the grass, so may do the same in the litter. Here are tips for the anxiety - maybe try pheromones via infuser. They may help her to relax. https://wagwalking.com/wellness/tips-and-tricks-for-dogs-with-severe-separation-anxiety All the best to you and Mia!

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Question
Kiara Hope
Chihuahua
4 Months
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Question
0 found helpful
Kiara Hope
Chihuahua
4 Months

I want to know how can I get her to be potty traind & to stop bad behavior and barking growling & biting. She 4 month's now but I have her since she was 3 week's old I been traing to show her everything but she does not lessen even if you give her a treat. Please help me & thank you

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1012 Dog owners recommended

Hello Elizabeth, Check out the free PDF puppy e-book download, AFTER You Get Your Puppy from the link below. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownload I also suggest finding a puppy class in your area to join. When you are struggling to train a puppy on your own and things seem to be getting worse, that is a great time to join a puppy class where you can ask for help in person and have someone demonstrate in real-time what to do and how to train. Check out the article linked below on what to look for in a puppy class. No class will be perfect but that will give you a general idea of what to look for. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ Finally, check out the articles on puppy biting and potty training and barking linked below. Leave It and Pressure methods for biting - start with the Leave It method and use the Pressure method to enforce Leave It if pup is ignoring you. If you can do this calmly pup will respond better - she thinks this is a game when you are excited. Joining a puppy class where pup can learn to be gentler with her mouth through play with other puppies should also help: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Crate Training and Tethering methods for potty training: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Quiet method for barking: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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