A well-socialized chihuahua results in a confident, calmer, and happier dog.
This massive discrepancy in size can put your chihuahua at an unfair disadvantage and he may naturally feel intimidated around larger breeds.
But, by following the correct safety guidelines, you can successfully introduce your chihuahua to larger dogs, so they can get along and even play together.
Deciding on a meeting place
When deciding where to introduce your chihuahua to a larger dog, choose neutral ground — somewhere unfamiliar neither dog is territorial over.
For example, hold the meeting at a park or beach they’ve never been to before. A dog park should also be okay since it’s somewhere both dogs expect to interact with fellow canines.
If you’re concerned about the possibility of the two dogs not getting along well, you can always call a professional dog behavior consultant for help. They can provide advice and come along with you for the meeting.
If you’ve adopted a chihuahua from a shelter, the staff will also be happy to help you introduce him to a larger dog.
Introducing the dogs
Before the dogs meet properly, let them walk near each other on the leash. Let them see each other but maintain a good distance apart.
Keep them on a relaxed leash, so they know there’s nothing to worry about. A taut leash can indicate you’re feeling anxious which can in turn affect your chihuahua’s behavior.
Next, turn around and switch lanes (while keeping the dogs separate still) and let them smell each other’s tracks.
Once they’re familiar with each other’s scent, you can then let them get close and sniff each other. Let your chihuahua set the pace as he’ll probably be feeling less confident around a larger dog.
If they seem okay, let go of the leashes. Take a step back and let the dogs do their thing. There’s no need to be too overbearing — this can actually make the dogs tense and ruin the meeting.
Pay attention to body language
Focus on body language as the dogs meet. It should be relaxed.
In some cases, larger dogs may view smaller dogs as prey.
Watch for behavior like staring, stiffness, stalking, and lunging. If there’s cause for concern, stand in between the dogs to create distance and use treats to distract the large one.
Don’t pick up your chihuahua because the large dog may just think he’s a toy and go for him.
If they start playing together, make sure it’s fun, relaxed, and bouncy. Positive signs the larger dog is accommodating your chihuahua include him slowing down or even lying down to meet your chihuahua’s level.
Remember to praise your chihuahua for good behavior right from the beginning. You’ll encourage him to keep it up and boost his confidence in the situation.
Ultimately, if you’d feel more comfortable with a professional dog behavior consultant, it’s a good idea to hire one so the meeting can be as smooth and successful as possible.