When we attempt something for the first time, we are all bound to make mistakes. Hind sight is always 20/20. Based upon input from my readers, there are a few things that they would have done differently now that they have gained experience owning a Chihuahua.
I gathered the lessons some of my readers learned from owning their first Chihuahuas to write this article in hopes that other Chihuahua owners will benefit from their perspectives.
I wish I had not babied my Chihuahua
Lindsay of Virginia was gifted a black Chihuahua named Riley for her eighteenth birthday. He is now eleven years old, and her advice to other new Chihuahua parents is to not baby their Chihuahuas.
Lindsay held Riley constantly for the first month he lived with her:
“Riley was barely two pounds. That is TINY! He was about the size of a guinea pig. I was constantly afraid of allowing him to roam freely around the house. For the first three weeks he lived with me, he was constantly in my arms, swaddled like a baby, which I called making him a “blanket burrito”.
Into the fourth week of swaddling him like a blanket burrito, I realized I was holding him too much. He had no complaints about it, but I knew it was not fruitful for raising a well balanced dog. I started to let him roam more freely, and to ease my mind, I purchased a breakaway cat collar with a bell to help me keep track of his whereabouts.”
Lindsay also shares that she babied Riley more than she should have as a young dog, and how this impacted his personality:
“When Riley finished growing, his little legs were the circumference of baby carrots and he was always shaking. If puppies go to puppy school to learn how to look pitiful and hypnotize their owners into doing whatever they want, he was probably the professor of that puppy school.
I was constantly scooping him up and babying him, and he began to expect it. While he thoroughly enjoyed the view of his kingdom (my house) from his throne (my arms), the constant doting made him become expectant that his kingdom would be run his way.
He would not listen to commands and became a “resource guarder” who would bite me multiple times to protect what he deemed to be a resource. Sometimes this behavior made sense, like if he had a piece of human food I had dropped while cooking, and other times it made no sense, like a dried worm on the sidewalk.
Either way, I risked being bitten multiple times when I tried to take away whatever item he deemed important. This behavior was not fixed overnight; it was expensive and difficult to change. I am grateful that nothing happened to me, as he would have been difficult to adopt out with his behavioral issues.”
I wish I had worked on handling my Chihuahua
Lauren of California purchased a brown Chihuahua puppy who she named Brownie when she was nineteen from a homeless man who was selling puppies on a beach she was roller skating by.
Brownie is now six years old, and Lauren wishes that she had prepared her life better by handling her more.
“When Brownie was a puppy, she loved to cuddle, but on her terms and she would not tolerate certain parts of her body being held. She did not like if I attempted to hold her paws, look in her ears, or look at her teeth.
As she got older I attempted to brush her teeth per her veterinarian’s recommendation, but she would not allow me to brush her teeth. She barely tolerated baths, ear cleaning sessions, or pawdicures (nail trims).
I was very fortunate to find a kind and patient groomer who worked with Brownie every month for a year to help her tolerate these things. This groomer taught me that whenever you add a puppy to your family, you should always run your hands all over their body as much as you can; hold each paw for a minute, look into their ears, lift their lips to see their teeth, lift up their tail to check their behind, stroke their legs, rub their bellies and praise them like crazy.
This is necessary because they will need to be groomed, and if they become injured, if they cannot tolerate being handled, it will make it extremely difficult for a veterinarian to examine and treat their injuries.”
I wish I had spent more time training my Chihuahua
Paige of Texas took ownership of a gray Chihuahua named Franklin who was no longer wanted by his family because he was a “tea cup Chihuahua” who grew larger than his family wanted him to be.
“Franklin was still young and about six pounds when I adopted him. When he finished growing, he was a force to be reckoned with weighing in at a whopping ten pounds. He acted like he was one hundred pounds and like he was the boss of the house, and I allowed him to because he was cute and I felt bad for him.
In retrospect, I have no idea why I felt bad for him; he had a wonderful life with me! This combination of his small stature and my pity resulted in the inmate running the asylum. For example, if he decided he wanted a taste of my dinner, he would bark at me until I offered him a sample, which I always relented to quickly, living in an apartment and not wanting to receive complaints from the neighbors.
He knew no basic commands and did not listen to anything I asked him to do. As a result, I spent hundreds of dollars and most of my free time working with Franklin either with a dog trainer privately, attending training classes, or training at home just the two of us.
He was stubborn, and it was a long, hard, road to ride on but eventually we turned a corner. One of my trainers said, “Would you let a dog who weighed over a hundred pounds do everything you allow Franklin to do?”
Anytime Franklin did something naughty, I learned to pause and think if I had a dog who was large, would this behavior be a significant issue? If it was, I took steps to work with him on what behavior was acceptable and what behavior was not.
Chihuahuas can live for a long time, sometimes even past twenty, so I knew that I wanted to enjoy my life with Franklin, not be stressed out trying to live with a dog who did not listen to me. Training was good for Franklin and for me.”
I wish I had been a stronger advocate for my Chihuahua
Peyton of North Carolina was gifted a black and white Chihuahua named Baxter for Christmas when she was sixteen. While she considers Baxter to be the greatest gift she has ever received, she regrets how the first few years of his life were lived.
“I was so excited to receive Baxter for Christmas! My family welcome him warmly, and it seemed the start of something beautiful. At the time my younger brother was twelve. He thought that Baxter was cute but did not treat him respectfully.
He would rough house with him, not to the point of hurting him physically, but to the point of him becoming so uncomfortable that he became aggressive, because dogs only have one way to communicate “no” or “stop”.
I was not okay with how he was being treated, and no one, including my parents, respected me or listened to me when I told them to stop. Because of how my brother rough housed with Baxter consistently, he became aggressive more consistently.
I was incredibly frustrated; I knew that Baxter was unhappy and no one would help me ensure he was cared for as he should have been. I felt helpless and I carried guilt about this for years. Though I wish I had done more to stand up for him, in retrospect, I understand that being sixteen and my parents not seeing how my brother treated Baxter was wrong, there was not much more I could have done.
I moved out as soon I could and of course took Baxter with me. In our house, the first rule is that Baxter is treated with respect, and if you do not follow this rule, you are not welcome back. I am always Baxter’s confident protector and advocate.”
I appreciate my readers being so candid with their stories and I hope that their advice helps new Chihuahua parents. Always remember that properly raising your Chihuahua is very important because of their long life span.
Properly raising a Chihuahua means better quality of life for your Chihuahua and for you, and that he would be more adoptable if something were to happen to you.
We’d all love to hear more stories of what you wished you had done differently with your chihuahua puppy. So leave a comment and let us know!