No chihuahua is exactly alike. Each comes with a unique personality and temperament which requires a slightly different disciplinary approach. The best approach to training these lovable animals is a term called “positive reinforcement”–rewarding your chihuahua when he/she does something GOOD. This breed not only responds well to treats, but loves any type of positive attention, thus reinforcing positive behavior.
How Positive Reinforcement Works
Positive reinforcement is when you reward your dog for doing something good. For example, when my dog goes to the bathroom outside, I immediately give him a treat. If he does not bark when my friend comes over, I give him a treat. He then begins associating the treat with the positive behavior. I have found that scolding chihuahuas is not nearly as effective as positive reinforcement. When I have yelled at my chihuahua, for example, he has hidden under the bed or even repeats the behavior. Negative reinforcement can also result in resentment and insecure attachment. Positive reinforcement, then, is the best way to train your precious chihuahua!
Keep in mind that there are developmental milestones that enhance your chi’s ability to become well trained. For example, at 2 months, your chihuahua is not cognitively and physically mature enough to become potty trained. His mind does not fully comprehend the concept that he is not allowed to go potty on the floor and that he will always be rewarded for going outside. Also, his bladder is not developed to the point where he has full control of urinary urges. Be sensitive to their individual development. My boy chihuahua caught onto the potty training within 3 months, but it took my female chihuahua about 6 months since she has a small bladder and has a more energetic temperament (she would get so excited to the point where she would have accidents).
The Clicking Method
The clicking method is used when utilizing positive reinforcement. When you give the treat to the dog for positive behavior, you click a pet training “clicker” at the same time he takes the treat. This speeds up the amount of time it takes puppies and dogs to associate the good behavior with a treat. With time, slowly wean (for example, give your puppy a trick every other time you click) your puppy off the treats and clicking until he always behaves the manner in which his owner expects! Both my puppies responded very well to this method and I would recommend this style of training to any owner. You can buy clickers at both Petsmart and Petco for less than five dollars.
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