Bringing home a new puppy is so exciting! However, this time is all so crucial. Caring for your new Chihuahua puppy will be a little different than caring for other breeds.
Raising a puppy right in the first few years of his life will determine how well behaved he is in the future.
There are things you can do to help your Chihuahua puppy start life on the right paw to be as healthy as possible.
Since Chihuahuas tend to have the longest life expectancy of all breeds of dogs, you want to be sure that you are giving your puppy everything he needs to be well behaved, happy and healthy.
After all, he hopefully will be your side kick for the next 20 years!
How to help your Chihuahua Puppy adjust to your home
There are a few things you can do to ease the transition into your family:
Create a schedule
Dogs love consistency and puppies learn what you want better when their schedule is consistent.
A good example schedule is: morning potty break, back to bed, morning walk, serve breakfast, morning nap, potty break, play time, cookie in a kong for mid day snack, afternoon nap, potty break, afternoon walk, play time, dinner is served, evening snuggles, potty break, bed time.
Obtain a dog license as appropriate
Some states and counties require that dogs have a dog license, which is renewed annually. Consider it a form of personal property tax.
Be sure to find out if your area requires this and register your Chihuahua as appropriate.
Please be advised that you may need your dog’s rabies certificate handy for this, as most states require a rabies vaccine to obtain a dog license, which is a way to ensure that all dogs get their rabies shot.
Make a veterinary appointment
Choose a veterinarian and schedule an appointment.
Be sure to have your Chihuahua examined thoroughly for any health issues common to puppies, such as worms or ear mites.
Obtain a schedule of when her shots will be due. Arrange for spaying or neutering as your veterinarian recommends.
Make the first week quiet
While your friends and family may be eager to meet your puppy, it is important that the first week be fairly quiet and settled as she gets into her routine. Try to have as few people over as possible, and make these visits calm and quiet.
Chihuahuas bond very closely with their owners.
Some ways to start bonding with your Chihuahua are to bathe her, snuggle her, walk her, play with her with her toys, talk or sing to her, pet her, and train her.
Chis are usually one person dogs, so if you are married or have a family, be sure to create bonding moments for each member of the family to ensure she bonds with everyone equally.
Decide sleeping arrangements
Decide where you want your puppy to sleep the first week.
Whatever arrangement you choose should be followed consistently.
Remember that is it much easier to have your Chihuahua move from sleeping in a play pen to your bed, than to move from sleeping in your bed to a play pen.
If your Chihuahua cries and whines until you bring her to bed to snuggle you, she has learned how to get you to bring her to bed with you and she will continue this behavior to get what she wants.
Before allowing your Chihuahua to sleep in your bed, consider that you may not get a full restful night’s sleep because you may worry about rolling onto her and hurting her.
If your bed is tall, your Chihuahua might injure herself trying to jump off of it; consider purchasing a set of stairs to help her get on and off without hurting herself.
Also, if your bed is large, your Chihuahua may choose to relieve herself on the end of your bed while you are asleep if you do not wake up when she gets up.
I am not saying to never let your dog sleep in your bed. All my dogs sleep in my bed with me.
But the first few weeks, while they were still so small, they slept in their dog bed with lots of blankets in their playpen.
Do not expect perfection and be patient while your Chihuahua learns what is expected of her.
It will take awhile for her to become successfully potty trained.
If you do not want her on furniture, know that because of how snuggly this breed is, that can be a difficult concept for them to grasp.
Consider covering furniture with blankets instead of keeping her off it entirely.
Creating a Well Behaved Chihuahua Puppy
To have a very well behaved Chihuahua puppy, there are two things you need to start doing immediately:
Have your Chihuahua meet as many people and animals as safely possible. Take her with you wherever you can to expose her to new situations.
Take her to a coffee shop or restaurant on a nice warm day and choose a table near the door to get as much foot traffic as possible by your table.
Take her shopping with you in pet friendly stores such as Petsmart, Petco, Pet Valu, Pet Supplies Plus, Lowes, Home Goods, Hobby Lobby, Cabelas/Bass Pro Shops, and gardening stores.
Allow anyone who wants to pet her to do so. Try to get as many different people meeting her as possible; young and old. Be sure to tell children to pet her gently.
Do this carefully, as a positive experience will benefit your Chihuahua the rest of her life, while a negative one will make her scared of certain situations the rest of her life.
This is the most important thing you can do. You may have your Chihuahua for 20 years; if she is trained properly, they will be the best 20 years ever.
If she is not trained, she may not be well behaved and this may be a source of stress for you and will make it difficult for her to find a home if something happens to you.
If you are not sure where to start, search for a local dog trainer and sign up for a puppy class. This is ideal because it is a safe space for you to socialize her with other puppies.
Never take your Chihuahua to a dog trainer who will train the dog for you and return her in a few weeks.
Being your Chihuahua’s handler and being involved in her training will help build a bond with her.
New Chihuahua Puppy Supply Check List
These are the supplies you will need to take care of your new Chihuahua puppy:
- Good quality puppy food OR a veterinarian approved recipe for home made meals to prepare for him.
- Good quality treats; both regular biscuits and training treats.
- Good quality food dishes and a feeding mat.
- If you live in a cold climate, sweaters and coats.
- A good quality leash that does not have heavy hardware.
- A harness for walking and a small dog collar or cat collar (or a ferret collar if your chi really tiny) with a bell to wear around the house.
- Blankets and a cozy bed.
- Toys, and a lot of them! Some of them should be chew toys. Be sure to pick a cute toy box to store them in.
- A play pen or kennel.
- Stairs for furniture.
- Carpet/floor cleaning solution.
- Potty Training Supplies.
When you go to the pet store or you are shopping online, the mere amount of available products may be overwhelming! These tips will help you pick the perfect products:
What type of food?
Whatever the breeder, rescue, or other owner was feeding the puppy is what you must feed initially, even if you do not like the food.
This is because your puppy will suffer digestive upset if they are switched between foods too quickly. If possible, ask them to share about 3 cups of food to help your puppy through the transition so you do not have to buy a large bag.
Choosing a food for dogs has become quite controversial in recent years.
Traditional dog foods that contain corn and by-products are shunned by many, and natural and organic foods are often considered to be the best options.
While natural and organic may sound better, the regulations for pet food manufacturers are nowhere near regulations for human foods. This means that even brands that say natural or organic may not necessarily be better than the traditional pet foods.
If you choose to feed your Chihuahua commercial food, search for small businesses that prepare the food in small batches, as they have the most quality control.
As companies grow, the chance of a recall grows as well, and the volume of affected product may reach quite far.
Fresh meals that are human grade and shipped to you (you can freeze them after you receive them) are very good to use too, although a little pricey.
Should you desire to feed your Chihuahua a home made diet, be sure to find recipes from trusted sources and always discuss the recipes with your veterinarian to ensure that they meet your puppy’s nutritional needs.
Always consult with your veterinarian either way; they would never advise you to feed your puppy something unhealthy.
You will need a few types of treats.
Chewy treats will satisfy your puppy’s need to chew. Stay away from rawhides. Bully sticks are a good alternative. But there are other chew treats, such as dental chews that will help keep their teeth clean.
Training treats are much smaller and smell strong; they are small so that you may feed many treats during a training session, and they smell strongly to get your dog’s attention during training.
Whatever training treats you choose, be sure to save these for training sessions only to keep them special. If your Chihuahua has them all the time they won’t capture her attention as effectively.
As these little guys gain weight rapidly, be sure to be mindful of how many treats you offer daily. Maintaining a healthy weight early on in life is beneficial to your Chihuahua’s long term health.
What type of food dishes
When choosing food dishes for your puppy, look for pottery made in America. Avoid plastic and metal; plastic becomes scratched and bacteria lives in the scratches, and metal may rust. You could purchase bowls made for human children to be safe. A feeding mat helps keep the floor of their eating area clean.
If you live in a cold climate your Chihuahua will need clothing to keep warm on cold days. Most pet stores sell light weight t-shirts for dogs, which will not help your Chihuahua very much. Be sure to purchase sweaters and coats, not just light weight t-shirts.
If your Chihuahua does not fit into the clothes at the store, or they need custom clothes for another reason, such as a boy dog who urinates like a girl and as a result pees all over the stomach of his sweater, you can find custom made dog clothes.
Click the link for other ways to find clothes for your tiny dog.
What type of leash?
Choose a traditional nylon leash, a paracord leash, or a leather leash. Due to their small stature, a Chihuahua’s leash should not have heavy hardware attached, as this could cause neck or back strain.
Avoid retractable leashes; they are unsafe. If you prefer to be as hands free as possible, there are leashes that you may wear around your hips like a belt.
Be sure to check out our article on leashes for chihuahuas.
Choosing a Collar and Harness
To keep your Chihuahua safe around the house, choose a cat collar with a bell, this way everyone can hear where she is and be cognizant of her location when they are walking or closing doors.
Choose a safety/break away type collar rather than a metal buckle so that if your Chihuahua gets caught on something she will not strangle herself.
Be sure that you can fit 2 of your fingers between the collar and your pup’s neck.
Never walk your Chihuahua using only a collar; their small necks are delicate and they could easily sustain serious injuries to their trachea or their necks.
You will need a good quality, escape proof harness that fits properly. Many styles of harness are easy to slip out of and make it difficult to obtain a proper fit, so choose carefully.
Blankets and Beds
Since they are so small, you may even use a cat bed or a baby blanket, both of which may occasionally be less expensive than dog beds and blankets.
Try to make one corner of your couch your Chihuahua’s “cuddle corner” to avoid accidents; some Chihuahuas burrow under blankets and may not been seen before someone sits down. If she is always in one corner of the couch, this decreases that risk.
If you want your Chihuahua to chew on appropriate things you must provide her with them. If you do not give your Chihuahua toys, she will find things to play with and chew on that you may not want her to.
So buy toys, more than you think you need, and be sure that she has a toy in every room of the house. Be sure to buy toys small enough to fit into her mouth, but not so small that she would choke on them.
However, do not allow your Chihuahua to chew the rubber bone unsupervised, as this is a potential choking hazard.
Avoid any type of antlers and very hard chews, as Chihuahuas may break their teeth chewing on them.
Playpen v. kennel
Your Chihuahua needs a place that is completely hers.
Even if she will have free reign to run around the house wherever she so chooses to, there will be occasions where it would be beneficial to her safety if she was not under foot, such as work being done on your home, or a large number of guests coming over.
Playpens may be easier to put your puppy in and take your puppy out of. As long as the walls are high enough, she will not be able to escape. If you plan to train your puppy to use puppy pads, play pens are ideal because they offer enough space for a puppy pad and a cozy bed.
Kennels are ideal for traveling or for more security if you fear your Chihuahua may escape. If you may travel frequently with your Chihuahua, getting her comfortable in her kennel at home would be great for her, as it would reduce her stress when traveling.
Whichever you choose, be sure to never leave your puppy with toys that may be easily destroyed to avoid them choking on the pieces they tear off while you are gone.
The only safe toys to leave your puppy with are the rubber KONG toys and hard nylabones, as they could not tear off pieces large enough to choke on.
Kongs may be stuffed with peanut butter and frozen to help the distracting treat last longer, and they are dishwasher safe, which is ideal because of how slobbery they become!
Before giving your Chihuahua peanut butter be sure to read the label to ensure safety.
Stairs for furniture
Due to their small delicate legs, Chihuahuas have a high risk of breaking a leg if they jump off a tall piece of furniture. Be sure to have sets of stairs for your Chihuahua to access tall places such as couches and beds.
Effectively removing urine stains is essential to successful potty training.
Dogs are likely to return to where they leave their scent to relieve themselves in the future.
Be sure to use a powerful cleaning solution like Nature’s Miracle Advanced which conquers stains from urine, poop, blood, vomit, etc.
Potty Training Supplies
Potty training will only be successful if it is implemented consistently. Be sure to offer your Chihuahua lots of opportunities for success, such as taking her outside to potty hourly while she is awake.
If she has an accident inside, collect what you can in a paper towel and put it outside where you want her to go. Leave it there for her to sniff the next few times she goes outside, then clean it up once she starts to understand.
It takes some time for your Chihuahua to adjust to your family dynamics and to learn what is expect of her. Be patient and do not be afraid to seek advice from your veterinarian, dog trainers, and friends.