When you see videos of extremely well-trained dogs on YouTube, training may seem optional or like more than you need to do when owning such a petite pup who spends most of their time cuddling.
However, there are 2 life-saving training commands that should not be optional for any dog owner, even those who spend most of their time with their dogs in their laps.
2 Life-Saving Commands: “Leave It!” and “Drop It!”
As dogs are excellent scavengers, and often recognize when they are not supposed to have something, there will be times when your Chihuahua comes into contact with something that is poisonous or unsafe for him or her.
The added complication of this happening with a dog so small is that they require less of a toxic substance to be seriously or fatally injured. This means that having your Chihuahua trained to be obedient in these critical moments is not optional, as it could be life-saving.
The “Leave It!” command is intended to redirect your Chihuahua from an unsafe or toxic item that they are showing interest in, or attempting to investigate. Nailing this command is super important, as it is preventative.
For example, your toddler drops a grape on the floor and your Chi begins to approach it. To give yourself time to get the grape away from your Chihuahua, you would command “Leave It!” and your Chihuahua should stop approaching the grape and allow you to pick it up.
The purpose of the “Drop It!” command is to have your Chihuahua drop an unsafe item that he or she already has in their mouth.
For example, your Chihuahua picked up a dead mouse. You have no way of knowing if the mouse died of natural causes or a rodenticide, or what diseases the mouse may be carrying. As such, you do not want to allow your Chi to consume the mouse, and you need to get the mouse out of his or her mouth immediately.
When you have successfully trained your Chihuahua this command, they should spit out the item in their mouth immediately and allow you to pick it up. This command is definitely the more difficult of the 2 because many dogs will not want to give up a potentially high-value item.
The Importance Of Training Your Chihuahua “Leave It!” and “Drop It!”
To illustrate the critical importance of these commands, here is a story from one of my readers who had to learn the hard way that her Chihuahua needed to learn “Leave It!” and “Drop It!”:
Lisa from Virginia let her Chihuahua, Riley, into the backyard to go potty. After a few minutes he returned to her side, but he was not alone. His proud prancing showed this had been no normal potty break, and as he approached her with an epic sense of accomplishment and pride. Then she noticed a whole mouse in his mouth!
She immediately took steps to get the mouse away from him, however, Riley knew what a prize he had just secured for himself, so he refused to part with it and even went so far as doing his best to growl and snap without opening his mouth to release the mouse.
She picked him up so he could not escape with the mouse and called her husband to bring something to bargain with him for the mouse. A few moments later, he emerged from the house with a three-calorie milk bone treat!
Naturally, this was not convincing enough for him. She sent her husband back inside for a container of lunch meat, which ultimately was deemed a fair trade.
They set Riley on the ground and tossed pieces of lunch meat toward him in hopes he would drop the mouse to eat the meat. Amazingly, Riley managed to hold onto the mouse and eat a few pieces of meat. However, he eventually dropped the mouse and Lisa was able to grab him before he was able to pick it up again, however, he bit her hand in the process.
How To Train Your Chihuahua The “Leave It!” Command
The “Leave It!” command is generally the easier of the 2 commands to train, so I recommend starting with this one. You will need about 10 minutes to focus on training, any treat that your dog enjoys, and training treats. Then follow these steps:
- Sit on the floor with your Chihuahua sitting or standing in front of you.
- Place the treat on the floor, and when your Chihuahua steps towards it, cover it with your hand and say in a firm voice, “Leave It!”.
- If your Chihuahua stops, reward by giving a training treat to prevent your Chi from thinking they can have what you commanded them to leave.
- If your Chihuahua does not stop, take the treat away and repeat “No, Leave It!”, and restart the exercise.
Work practice in throughout everyday life by issuing the leave it command during meals when food drops on the floor.
Try to keep the training session around 10 minutes to avoid burnout, and always end on a positive note. If while training your Chihuahua you notice your Chi burns out after 5 minutes, adjust as necessary to end positively and gradually work towards increasing the training session.
How To Train Your Chihuahua The “Drop It!” Command
To train your Chi the “Drop It!” command, you will need about 10 minutes to focus on training, training treats, and your Chi’s favorite toy. Then follow these steps:
- Start by playing with your Chi with the toy for a few minutes, then when the toy is in his or her mouth, command “Drop It!” in a firm voice, as you begin pulling the toy from their mouth.
- Have a training treat ready to give your Chihuahua when they let go of the toy and praise them for letting go.
Try to work in practice every day during play time to become proficient.
Bargaining for a High-Value Item
As part of training and to be ready to address everyday situations, you will need to be prepared to bargain with your Chihuahua for items he or she considers to be high value. You should be prepared to bargain quickly, as illustrated in my reader’s story, there will be moments in everyday life that you need to act immediately to keep your Chi safe.
For example, would you give up the best piece of cake you’ve ever seen for a carrot stick? That’s essentially the way Riley viewed the 3 calorie milk bone offered for the mouse he caught!
As you get to know your Chihuahua, you will understand what he or she deems to be a high-value item. Keep in mind that what dogs consider high-value items may not make sense to us, but it certainly makes sense to them!
Usually, the more stinky and edible an item is the higher its value. Some dogs may consider a dirty sock, dirty underwear, live or dead rodents or bugs, certain foods, treats, blankets, a spot on the couch, chews or toys, etc.
When you know what items your Chi values most, find something more valuable that they would consider a reasonable trade. Some good options to keep on hand for everyday situations would be cut-up hot dogs, pieces of plain baked or grilled chicken, cubes of cheese, pieces of lunch meat, or a can of Vienna sausages.
In an emergency situation, such as Riley with the mouse, be prepared to carry your Chihuahua and retrieve the higher-value item to bargain with as soon as possible. Never leave your Chi unattended with the toxic or unsafe item while you go to obtain the proposed trade item, as he or she could consume it in your absence.
The training commands “Leave It!” and “Drop It!” can save your Chihuahua’s life. Be sure to work on them regularly to keep your Chi responsive to the commands.
Have these commands saved your Chi’s life? Or has there been a situation where you wish your dog knew those commands? Share your story in the comments below.