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Are Chihuahuas Easy To Train? (The Answer Might Surprise You)

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As Chihuahuas are the longest-lived breed of dog, a major consideration of owners, or potential owners, should be training because well-behaved dogs are a joy to live with, and you likely have many years ahead with your Chi.

Before you get a Chihuahua, you should want to understand what your training responsibilities may look like. Or, if you have a Chihuahua, you might want to know if your experience with training your Chi is common among the breed, or specific to yours.

Let’s discuss training these tiny dogs to answer your question:

Are Chihuahuas Easy To Train?

Generally speaking, most Chihuahuas are not easy to train.

Where they excel is in training their humans to do what they want! This breed has the upper paw when it comes to manipulation due to their cute appearance and small stature.

Many humans think that Chihuahuas do not need to be trained since they can be carried around like teddy bears. However, all dogs need rules and a job to really thrive.

Lovingly known as little napoleons, it is common for Chihuahuas to take the stance of “my way or the highway”. This attitude makes training even more important, as allowed to rule the house, dogs develop bad habits.

If you would not let a 100-pound dog do something, you should not let a 5-pound dog do it either.

Necessary Supplies To Train Your Chihuahua

hand holding dog clicker

To train your Chihuahua, you will need:

  • 15-30 minutes of uninterrupted time to focus on working with your Chi.
  • Patience and a calm mindset.
  • Training treats.
  • A training treat pouch so that you may access them quickly to reinforce the correct behaviors immediately.
  • A standard leash and harness, not a retractable leash and collar.
  • A clicker, if you are interested in clicker training.

Chihuahua Training Tips

Chihuahua dog eating treat from hand

To start training off on the right paw, here are some tips to consider:

Only Train When You And Your Chi Are Both In Good Mental And Emotional States

If you are feeling stressed or impatient, training will not go well. If your Chi seems off, it is not a good time to start training. Both of you should be relaxed and in a positive mood for a training session to be successful.

Your Choice Of Treat Matters

Training treats must be different from treats that you give your dog regularly. Regular treats are usually the traditional style of dog biscuit, while training treats are high-value food items in tiny pieces.

A high-value training treat is something that your dog considers extra yummy and that they do not get often, which really reinforces the behavior that they performed to earn that special treat.

Treats to be given for training must be in tiny pieces to feed them quickly and efficiently when your Chi does something right. A tiny bite also allows your Chi to eat the treat quickly and allows you to feed the maximum amount of treats without adding too many extra calories to your Chi’s diet.

Examples of training treats are freeze-dried chicken or cheese, soft training treats such as Pet Botanics, or cut-up pieces of hot dogs, Vienna sausages, or baked chicken.

The less frequently a dog gets a favorite treat, the more special it becomes, making the reward for the positive behavior stronger in your Chi’s mind, so consider alternating between high-value treats.

long hair chihuahua in pink coat looking at the treat hand is holding
 

Chihuahuas Will Try To Get As Much As They Can

Chihuahuas will learn to gamble for treats if you do not give a treat for every single command, which prepares them to listen in everyday situations sans treats.

While treats are important to train, you cannot always have training treats on you, so as you see your Chi improve, gradually decrease to a treat for every other successful command, but petting and praise for every single command.

Keep The Training Sessions Short

As dogs have the intelligence of human toddlers, their attention spans cannot endure hours of work the way that adult humans do. Keep the training sessions about 15 to 30 minutes long to get the most out of them.

End On A Good Note

woman giving high 5 to fawn colored chihuahua
 

Training is an ideal bonding opportunity, so keeping training sessions positive can help the bond with your Chi continue to improve and grow.

Ending a training session with your Chihuahua having performed well is essential; you want your dog to associate training with positivity and praise. This helps them learn to enjoy training and can help motivate them to want to please you to enjoy more praise.

If your training session has been going well but you think your Chihuahua is starting to lose focus, ask him or her to perform a simple command that they know well and then end the session.

Consider A Group Training Class

Signing up for a group training class offers a few benefits, such as:

  • An opportunity for socialization in addition to training.
  • An opportunity to work with your dog with distractions, which prepares you for success with your Chi in everyday situations.
  • A chance to learn more about training different behavioral issues by observing other students.
  • Other students may raise questions that you may not have considered, helping you learn more and be better prepared to continue training.
  • If you prefer the convenience of training at home, read about my experience with training my dogs like you would train a service dog.

What To Do If You Are Struggling With Training Your Chihuahua

woman sitting on floor with 2 chihuahuas
 

Training any dog, but especially a breed that is harder to train such as a Chihuahua is a process that includes ups and downs. When you experience a down, keep the following in mind:

Taking A Break May Be The Answer

If you are becoming frustrated, or your Chihuahua is not in a good mindset, pushing through and trying to continue training is likely not the best idea.

Taking a break and restarting when both of you are in a better space mentally and emotionally is a better way to set yourself up to succeed and keep training fun.

Finding A Professional Trainer Does Not Make You A Failure

If you are unsure where to start training your Chihuahua, or if you run into problems, do not hesitate to contact a professional dog trainer for assistance.

Training your chihuahua the right way the first time is more clean-cut than having to address bad habits, which can quickly become complicated and tends to be more time-consuming. Do not view it as failing; view it as a learning opportunity.

Conclusion

Chihuahuas tend to be a difficult breed to train and require persistence and dedication from their owners for training to be successful. Training offers a bonding opportunity that can help you and your Chi grow closer. Many chi parents find that they benefit from taking training classes with a professional dog trainer.

Cathy
blond woman holding white chihuahua

Cathy Bendzunas

Dog Blogger

I’m an avid dog lover and I’ve had many dogs throughout my life. When I rescued my first Chihuahua, I was hooked on the breed.

I have had dogs all my life and have trained as a dog groomer. I also have been a kennel worker, worked in a pet hotel through PetSmart, and still am a pet sitter.

Read my full bio on my About page