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Despite being the smallest breed of dog in the world, your Chihuahua is full of energy. He’s playful, devoted, alert and intelligent. You seem to run out of energy before he does. He’s happy to keep guests occupied for hours. However, you would like to channel his energy into something productive. You have already taught him a number of basic commands, but now you want to teach him some more advanced tricks.
This type of training will be good for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s a great way for you both to bond. It’s also a fantastic way to keep him busy and stimulate him mentally. This type of training will also assert your position as pack leader, instilling discipline and making it easier to stamp out bad habits.
Despite your Chihuahua being clever, advanced tricks are, by their very nature, difficult to teach. The hardest part will come at the beginning when you need to show him precisely what it is you want him to do. However, once he understands that, you just need to hammer home the training with tasty rewards. Chihuahuas have a surprisingly big appetite despite being little in size, so food will be the way to motivate him during training.
If he’s a puppy, he should be receptive and keen to please. As a result, training could prove successful after a few days. However, if his learning days are behind him and he's easily distracted then it may take a little while longer. It may be three weeks before you see results. Get this training right and you’ll soon have a social media famous Chihuahua who gets people giggling.
Before you start training you will need to collect a few bits. Stock up on mouth-watering treats. A toy or two will also be required, and you will also need a clicker for one of the methods below.
Set aside 15 minutes each day for training. Also try to make sure you can practice in a space where things won’t get broken.
Once you have the above, just bring patience and a positive attitude, then work can begin!
The Figure 8 Method
Lure your Chihuahua into a room with you by using a treat. You will need several treats in your pocket for this trick. You’re going to teach him to do a figure of eight around your legs.
Around one leg
Hold the treat by your ankle and then slowly rotate it around your foot and back into the middle. Move slowly and he should follow your hand. Talk in an animated voice as you go. Chihuahuas learn best when they think they are playing a game.
Once he’s followed the treat around, give it to him and shower him in verbal praise. If you use a clicker, you can also give that a click to signal to him that he’s performed the trick correctly.
Make it harder
Practice this a couple of times and then gradually make it harder. Lead him around your foot and then through and back around the other one, in a figure of eight. Continue to move slowly to start with, otherwise he may give up. Once he has completed the figure of eight you can give him the treat.
Reduce the gesture
Once he begins to get the hang of it, you can start to reduce how much you lead him around your legs. Just point and swivel your hands around while pointing to your legs and he will know what you mean. Once his confidence grows, you can slowly phase out the treats.
The Fetch Method
The first thing you need to is get him excited by the fetching toy. So spend a few minutes each day drawing his attention to it. Point at it, talk in a high-pitched voice and encourage him to play around with it. Chihuahuas mirror their owner's behavior, so if he sees you excited by it he soon will be too.
Now sit right by the toy on the floor with some treats in your pocket. Point at the toy and encourage him to pick it up and touch it. Once he does have it in his mouth encourage him to come over by calling his name and holding out a treat.
As soon as he drops the post near you or even heads towards you, hand over the treat and give him some verbal praise. To start with you don’t need to have him bring the toy very far, you want to reward any promising signs he’s getting the hang of it.
Now practice again, but this time edge a little further away and then beckon him over. Make sure you don’t hand over the treat until he moves towards you. Continue to move away a little further each time you practice.
Lose the treats
Practice each day and he will soon catch on. Once he’s fully got the hang of it, you can then gradually cut out the treats. Fetching the post will now have become a habit.
The Dance Method
Kneel in front of your Chihuahua and hold up a treat. You’re going to teach him how to dance. But the first thing you need is get him to jump up. So give an ‘up’ command in an upbeat voice. You can use any word or phrase you like for the command.
To get him to jump, pat your knees, chest or wherever it is you want him to jump up to with his front paws so you can hold them. It may take a while to start with, so be patient, he will eventually jump up.
Once he does jump up, you can then hand over a reward. The more he loves the food, the more eager he will be to continue playing. Also, make sure you feed him the treat with a spare hand while continuing to hold him up.
Now slowly move around holding his front paws, dancing. Keep it light-hearted and a game. As soon as you see him look uncomfortable, put him down. If he gets scared he may not want to play again. Only dance with him for a few seconds to start with.
Once you have danced for a few seconds, give him another, even better, treat. If the second treat is better, he will want to stay up and dancing after he gets the first reward. Now practice this for a few minutes each day. As he improves, you can increase the length of time you dance around with him for.
By James Barra
Published: 03/01/2018, edited: 01/08/2021