How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Listen

How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Listen
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon6-12 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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.

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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. 

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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.

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The Short Session Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

The Teach Obedience Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Food Boundaries Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

By Stephanie Plummer

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

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Winnie

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Pomchi

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18 Months

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Question

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She knows she isn't supposed to chew things and she knows she isn't supposed to bark, yet she does it anyway and then looks at us guiltily yet keeps doing it.

May 3, 2022

Winnie's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, For the chewing, check out this article: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ For the barking, check out this video series: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a For overall listening, check out the methods from this article: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 4, 2022

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Bailey

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Dachshund

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8 Months

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Question

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My dog has a bad habit of listening when things convenience her. I have tried for three months to make her stop doing things such as chewing and eating things she shouldn't and destroying things behind my back. I know she knows that what she is doing is wrong, as she runs when I catch her. I am not sure how to make her stop. Everyone else is suggesting getting rid of her but I don't want to give up on her just yet.

March 7, 2022

Bailey's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Leonni, First, at 8 months of age, destructive chewing is actually extremely common. Many people who struggle with this actually are making the mistake of giving pup too much freedom too soon. Right now pup's jaws are developing, even though they are past teething; that and boredom can equal a lot of chewing. Check out the article I have linked below. I highly suggest crate training pup if you haven't already done so. The best thing you can do at this age regarding destructive chewing is to confine pup somewhere safe with a dog food stuffed chew toy (to encourage chewing their own toys) when you can't supervise. When you are home, work on commands like Leave It and Drop It, which the article also includes details on. For really persistent chewers you may also need to use a deterrent, in addition to working on commands, confining when you can't supervise, and teaching pup what to chew instead - by making their own toys more enticing - like stuffing a kong with dog food and treats. A spray like bitter apple or biter melon or white vinegar (make sure what you spay won't be harmed by those sprays, especially acidic vinegar) can be sprayed on items pup keeps returning to over and over again. Booby traps can be set up for certain things, like a scat mat on the coffee table if pup is jumping up there and grabbing things. Finally, low level vibration or stimulation remote collar training is something I would research and learn about before rehoming pup. This needs to be done in combination with the other training though to be most effective, but it can be helpful for some cases where the dog only does the behavior when you are out of the room, allowing you to set up a camera to spy on pup and correct from another room when pup goes to grab something you have taught them is off-limits. Extending your consistency in training to times even when pup thinks you aren't there. Because of the high desire to chew at this age, I would still confine pup in the crate while you are asleep or away until pup is about 18 months old and hasn't destroyed anything in at least 3 months. Chewing article: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 7, 2022


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