Sometimes when you have a quiet moment with your Chihuahua, you might wonder what he or she is thinking. Based upon my experience with my dogs, here are my top educated guesses on what your Chi wishes that you knew:
Shelters scare me; there is so much more to me than what you are seeing!
It is incredibly common for dogs to mentally and emotionally shut down when living in a shelter environment. When you visit a shelter to search for your next companion, keep in mind that a shelter kennel is overwhelming and scary, so if you see a Chihuahua cowering in the corner who won’t come say hi to you, ask to visit with him or her in a quiet room. Be patient and give them a chance to come out of their shell before writing them off completely.
You are my world.
You have a multifaceted life; you have a job, friends, hobbies, errands, and life, in general, to keep you on your toes. Your Chihuahua just has you, so try to include him or her in as much of your life as you can.
You may love me like a baby, but I am still a dog.
You can certainly love your Chihuahua like a baby, but treating him or her like a human baby is not fair to them. Dogs have completely different needs than human babies, and if you treat your Chi like a baby, you will likely create a very unhappy dog. If you want to love your dog like your baby, make him or her your priority and understand the needs of a dog, and carry those out to the best of your abilities.
I can’t tell you if someone is mean to me.
Sadly, animals are often victims of abuse because they are completely defenseless and helpless. Always pay attention to how your dog reacts to people; for example, does he or she flinch if someone moves a certain way?
Always carefully select roommates, significant others, veterinarians, groomers, and dog walkers. If someone is going to be alone with your dog, get to know them first. This can be a way to prevent your Chi from being abused or stop the abuse if it is happening.
I really need you to listen to my body language.
Dogs can only communicate with us in so many ways; their body language is the main form for us to observe. Know that a wagging tail does not always mean happiness. Learn how to read dog body language with the American Kennel Club here.
You can also check out our article here: What Your Dog’s Body Language and Sounds are Trying to Tell You.
I only have two ways to say no.
Chihuahuas cannot clearly say “no” the way that humans can. Your Chihuahua will try to tell you no by moving away, and if that does not work, the next available option is growling or biting. Observe your dog’s cues and do not push them to the point of biting.
I need enrichment.
Dogs have the intelligence of human toddlers, and as such, they need enrichment daily for their physical, mental, and emotional health. Enrichment can be playtime, training, and walks. Bonus points are awarded for field trips to new or exciting places to walk where they can smell interesting scents, and meet other people or dogs, depending on their personality.
My destructive behaviors come from boredom.
Dogs who are not given daily enrichment become destructive out of boredom, so if your shoes and pillows are suffering, this could be your Chi’s way of telling you that he or she is not getting enough enrichment.
Preventative veterinary checkups are really important for me.
Most pet parents rush their dogs to the vet when something is noticeably wrong, but there is a way to get ahead of that: preventative care.
Part of the dog’s survival instincts are to hide or barely show weakness. As such, most dogs are adept at putting up a facade when they do not feel well. This means that preventative veterinary checkups can uncover medical conditions in your Chihuahua that you may have missed, not because you do not care, but because they would not have been discovered otherwise.
If I’m acting off, there is a reason for it.
When most dogs do not feel well they act off; it may be subtle or obvious. Pay attention to your dog to learn his or her specific personality traits and habits; this will help you understand when they are off and it may help you get them veterinary care in time to make a big difference.
Kennels can be overwhelming for me.
While most dogs do not like kennels, some breeds struggle with them more than others. Particularly Chihuahuas, who are people puppies, do best with a personal pet sitter as opposed to being in a kennel environment.
I may be eating poop for a reason.
When dogs eat poop, it can be as a result of a nutritional imbalance or medical condition. Arrange for a veterinary examination and be sure to discuss their diet with the veterinarian.
My nutrition is important to my health.
Want your Chihuahua to live as long as possible? Start with evaluating his or her nutrition. The better the diet provided, the better fuel their body has to run on. While feeding a high-quality diet does not guarantee longevity, it is something that you can do to give your Chi’s body a boost, and it is one less thing to question that you did right at the end of their life.
I can’t wait in the car for you.
Even if you’re “only running into a store for a minute”, life happens; it is easy to get stuck waiting in line or cornered by someone you know who just won’t stop chatting.
Even if you leave your car running, something could happen that turns it off or sets it into motion. For example, the black Labrador who drove a car in Florida.
Even if the weather is not exceedingly hot, the interior of cars heat up rapidly; cracking a window is simply NOT enough. Dr. Ernie Ward demonstrates how hot cars get in this video.
I need a seat belt too.
If your Chi is allowed to roam freely around the car, if you were to get in an accident, he or she could be thrown from the vehicle, which for a dog of that stature, means death. If your Chi rides in your lap, the airbag could kill him or her. Further, a loose dog could be construed as contributing factor to distracted driving, which could result in a lawsuit if the accident was your fault. As such, be sure to always safely secure your furry friend when you go for rides.
I don’t speak much human.
Your Chi may seem to understand some of what you say, but outside of basic commands, most of how they understand what you are trying to communicate comes from your facial expressions and tone of voice. Keep this in mind as you are trying to communicate with your dog.
I age faster than you do.
Large breed dogs age the fastest, but small breed dogs also age more rapidly than humans. Observe your Chihuahua as he or she ages, arrange for preventative veterinary care, and make accommodations to help them when their age starts to show as necessary, such as getting steps to get up onto furniture or adding joint support supplements to their diet as arthritis sets in.
While the old wive’s tale of seven years to one year is not entirely accurate, the American Kennel Club breaks it down in this dog years to human years article should you want to learn more.
I can’t eat everything that you eat.
While your Chi can have some of the foods that you do like strawberries, apples and carrots, they cannot have all of them, like grapes, raisins and French fries. Due to their small stature, Chi owners need to be even more careful; a tiny bite of the wrong food can make your Chihuahua more sick than a larger dog.
Begging for food does not mean I’m hungry.
Most Chihuahuas are “foodies”; they will ask for a sample of whatever is available whether or not they are hungry.
Since they are a small dog and generally not very active, it is easy for them to pack on extra pounds with little effort. Saying no to their sweet face is actually in their best interest; food does not equal love.
For example, according to Hills Pet, a one ounce piece of cheese is equivalent to a dog eating one and a half burgers! This makes even more of an impact in a small dog who is not very active.
I need accommodations for different times of the year.
Providing exercise for your Chi year-round is important for their overall health. Although Chihuahuas were made for the warm weather of South America, they can still go for walks in the cold if they are appropriately attired in a coat and boots. Even though the breed does better in warm weather, they need you to help protect them from heatstroke by keeping them in the shade, offering plenty of fresh water, and avoiding being outside during the hottest hours of the day.
My memory is short-term.
Discipline is best understood as close to the unwanted behavior as possible. For example, if your Chihuahua has an accident in the house in the morning when you leave for work and you scold him or her when you get home at the end of the day, they will not understand why you are angry.
I learn best from positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement training techniques are much more effective than negative reinforcement. For example, praising a dog like they cured diabetes when they go potty outside is far more effective than rubbing their nose in an accident or hitting them with a rolled-up newspaper.
So what do you think? Leave a comment and let me know if you think I’m on target with what chihuahuas wish we knew about them or not.