8 Essential Chihuahua Training Commands for Better Behavior

8 Essential Chihuahua Training Commands for Better Behavior

Owning a Chihuahua is a delightful adventure. These pint-sized companions, despite their diminutive stature, are brimming with personality, intelligence, and an abundance of love.

However, their strong will and seemingly boundless energy can sometimes present challenges in the form of less-than-desirable behaviors.

This is where the magic of training comes in. Effective training isn't merely about teaching your Chihuahua to perform tricks; it's about cultivating a profound bond with them and empowering them to blossom into well-adjusted members of your family.

8 circular icons, each representing a different Chihuahua training command (e.g., Sit, Stay, Come, Down, Leave It, Heel, No, Quiet).

Think of it as unlocking their full potential, both as a happy dog and a cherished member of your household.

This comprehensive guide will serve as your roadmap to mastering eight essential commands every Chihuahua owner should have in their training arsenal.

We'll explore the "why" behind each command, providing you with clear, step-by-step training techniques, and illuminating common pitfalls to avoid.

By the time you finish reading, you'll be well-equipped to transform your spirited Chihuahua into a well-mannered companion who brings joy to everyone they meet. Let's embark on this journey of canine enrichment together!

1. "Watch Me" - The Foundation of Focus

The "Watch Me" command is the cornerstone upon which all other training is built. It's the command that teaches your Chihuahua to direct their attention towards you, forging a clear channel of communication and control.

This command is especially critical for Chihuahuas, who, as you know, can be easily captivated by the myriad sights and sounds of their surroundings. Training them to focus on you amidst distractions is a game-changer.

Why "Watch Me" is Essential

  • Redirecting Unwanted Behavior: Think of "Watch Me" as a gentle interruption. It acts like a circuit breaker, redirecting your Chihuahua's attention away from behaviors like barking at the mail carrier, chewing on your favorite slippers, or jumping on guests.
  • Building a Deeper Connection: When your Chihuahua makes eye contact with you, it's more than just obedience; it's about forging a deeper connection. Eye contact is a powerful way to foster a bond of understanding and trust between you and your furry friend.
  • Setting the Stage for Learning: Before your Chihuahua can effectively learn new commands, they need to be able to focus. "Watch Me" lays the foundation for all subsequent training by teaching them to tune out distractions and concentrate on your cues.

Training Steps for "Watch Me"

  1. Choose a High-Value Treat: Not all treats are created equal in the eyes of a Chihuahua. Select a treat that your dog finds irresistible - something they'll work hard for. This could be a small piece of cooked chicken, a favorite chewy treat, or even a tiny bit of cheese.
  2. Capture Your Dog's Attention: Hold the treat close to your face, positioning it right between your eyes. Say "Watch Me" in a clear, upbeat tone.
  3. Reward Immediate Eye Contact: The moment your Chihuahua makes eye contact with you, even for a fleeting second, deliver the treat and shower them with enthusiastic praise. Make them feel like they've just won the lottery!
  4. Repeat and Gradually Increase Duration: Consistency is key in dog training. Practice "Watch Me" several times a day, in short bursts. As your Chihuahua gets the hang of it, gradually increase the duration of eye contact required before they receive their reward.

Pro Tip for "Watch Me"

Weave the "Watch Me" command into your daily routines. Before you place their food bowl down for dinner, say "Watch Me." Before you toss their favorite toy for a game of fetch, say "Watch Me." This reinforces the command in a natural, real-world context, making it more likely to stick.

2. "Sit" - The Classic Control Command

"Sit" is a cornerstone of dog training - a foundational command that instructs your Chihuahua to gracefully place their rear on the ground and maintain that position until you release them. It's an incredibly versatile tool for managing your dog's behavior in a variety of situations, making life smoother for both of you.

Why "Sit" is Essential

  • Promoting Calmness: The act of sitting encourages a calm and submissive posture in dogs. It's a natural way to de-escalate excitement and potential reactivity, helping your Chihuahua stay composed in stimulating environments.
  • Managing Greetings: Ever had a guest bowled over by an overly enthusiastic Chihuahua greeting? Teaching your dog to sit before greeting people is a surefire way to prevent jumping and overexcitement, making introductions more pleasant for everyone involved.
  • Enhancing Safety: Safety first! Having your Chihuahua sit before crossing the street, entering a doorway, or engaging in any potentially hazardous activity ensures their well-being and gives you peace of mind.

Training Steps for "Sit"

  1. Lure with a Treat: Hold a tasty treat in your hand and slowly move it over your Chihuahua's head, arcing it gently towards their tail. Their natural instinct will be to lower their rear to follow the treat.
  2. Verbal Cue as They Lower: As your dog gracefully lowers their rear, say "Sit" in a clear, distinct voice. Timing is key here - you want the verbal cue to coincide with the action.
  3. Reward and Release: The moment your Chihuahua's rear touches the ground, deliver the treat and shower them with praise. Let them know they've nailed it! You can then release them from the "Sit" position with a word like "Okay" or "Free."
  4. Phase Out the Lure: As your Chihuahua becomes more proficient with "Sit," gradually reduce the hand motion of the lure. Eventually, you'll be able to rely solely on the verbal cue, and they'll respond with a perfect sit.

Pro Tip for "Sit"

Don't limit your "Sit" practice to the living room. Practice in a variety of locations - the park, the sidewalk, a friend's house - and gradually introduce distractions. This will ensure your Chihuahua generalizes the command and can perform it reliably in any environment.

A Chihuahua being rewarded during a training session

3. "Down" - Encouraging Relaxation and Submission

The "Down" command, instructing your Chihuahua to lie down on their belly, is a powerful tool for encouraging relaxation and reinforcing a sense of submission. It's a more relaxed and submissive posture than "Sit," making it particularly useful for calming an excited or anxious dog.

Why "Down" is Essential

  • Promoting Calmness: The physical act of lying down encourages a state of relaxation in dogs, reducing stress and anxiety. "Down" can be a valuable tool for helping your Chihuahua chill out in stressful situations, like car rides or vet visits.
  • Managing Exuberant Behavior: Does your Chihuahua have a tendency to jump on guests or zoom around the house like a tiny furry tornado? "Down" can help redirect their hyperactive energy, encouraging a calmer state of being.
  • Enhancing Control: "Down," like "Sit," helps establish a clear hierarchy in your relationship with your dog. It reinforces your role as the leader, which is essential for maintaining a harmonious household.

Training Steps for "Down"

  1. Start from "Sit": Have your Chihuahua perform the "Sit" command. This sets the stage for a smooth transition into "Down."
  2. Lure Downward: Hold a treat in your hand and slowly lower it towards the ground, in front of your dog's nose. Their natural inclination will be to follow the treat with their nose, guiding them into a lying down position.
  3. Verbal Cue as They Lie Down: As your dog follows the treat and begins to lie down, say "Down" in a clear, distinct voice.
  4. Reward and Release: Once your Chihuahua is fully lying down, deliver the treat and praise them enthusiastically. You can then release them from the "Down" position with a release word.

Pro Tip for "Down"

If your Chihuahua struggles with "Down," try luring them under a low object, like a chair or coffee table. The physical barrier can encourage them to lie down fully to reach the treat. You can gradually phase out the barrier as they become more comfortable with the command.

4. "Stay" - Mastering Impulse Control

"Stay" is a command that teaches your Chihuahua the art of impulse control. It instructs them to remain in a specific position (sitting or lying down) until you release them. This command is a powerful tool for preventing unwanted behaviors and ensuring their safety in a variety of situations.

Why "Stay" is Essential

  • Preventing Door Bolting: Picture this: You open the front door, and your Chihuahua, seeing an opportunity for adventure, makes a dash for freedom. "Stay" prevents this scenario by teaching your dog to remain patiently by your side, even when the door is open.
  • Managing Greetings: "Stay" is your secret weapon for calm and controlled greetings. It ensures your Chihuahua remains composed when meeting new people, preventing jumping, nipping, or excessive barking.
  • Enhancing Safety: Whether you're preparing their food, tending to chores, or engaging in any activity that requires your full attention, "Stay" keeps your Chihuahua safely in place, preventing accidents and mishaps.

Training Steps for "Stay"

  1. Start Short and Close: Begin by having your Chihuahua sit or lie down. Say "Stay" in a firm, clear tone, take a small step back, and then immediately return to reward them with a treat and praise.
  2. Gradually Increase Distance and Duration: As your Chihuahua masters short stays, gradually increase both the distance you step back and the duration of the stay. Progress slowly, building their confidence and success with each step.
  3. Introduce Distractions: Once your Chihuahua can reliably "Stay" in a quiet environment, start introducing distractions. This could involve tossing a toy, having a friend walk by, or practicing in a busier location.

Pro Tip for "Stay"

Always release your Chihuahua from the "Stay" command with a clear verbal cue, such as "Okay" or "Release." This signals to your dog that they've successfully completed the command and are free to move about.

5. "Leave It" - Preventing Unwanted Consumption

The "Leave It" command is a lifesaver, literally. It's the command that prevents your Chihuahua from picking up and consuming potentially harmful items, safeguarding them from ingesting toxins or choking hazards.

Why "Leave It" is Essential

  • Preventing Poisoning: From cleaning products to medications, our homes are filled with substances that can be toxic to dogs. "Leave It" is your first line of defense, preventing your Chihuahua from ingesting something that could make them sick.
  • Avoiding Choking Hazards: Chihuahuas, with their small mouths, are particularly susceptible to choking on small objects. "Leave It" teaches them to resist the temptation to pick up and chew on things that could pose a choking risk, like small toys, bones, or dropped food.
  • Managing Food Stealing: Does your Chihuahua have a knack for snatching food off counters or tables? "Leave It" puts an end to counter surfing, teaching your dog to respect your food and their boundaries.

Training Steps for "Leave It"

  1. Start with a Low-Value Item: Place a treat or a toy on the floor and cover it with your hand. This creates a mild level of temptation.
  2. Verbal Cue Firmly: As your dog approaches the covered item, say "Leave It" in a clear, firm tone.
  3. Reward for Ignoring: If your Chihuahua hesitates, even for a moment, or looks away from the covered item, immediately reward them with a treat from your other hand and shower them with praise.
  4. Gradually Increase Temptation: As your Chihuahua progresses, you can gradually increase the temptation. Use a higher-value treat, place the item closer to your dog, or even briefly uncover it.

Pro Tip for "Leave It"

Practice "Leave It" during your walks. Use a long leash to maintain control of your Chihuahua if they try to grab something off the ground. This real-world practice reinforces the command and helps them generalize it to different environments.

An ideal Chihuahua training environment setup

6. "Come" - Ensuring Safety and Responsiveness

The "Come" command, also known as "Recall," is paramount for ensuring your Chihuahua's safety, especially if they ever slip their leash or find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation. It's the command that teaches them to return to you immediately when called, no matter the distractions that may be vying for their attention.

Why "Come" is Essential

  • Safety in Emergencies: Imagine your Chihuahua darting into traffic or encountering a stray dog. "Come" could be the command that saves their life, ensuring they return to you quickly and safely.
  • Off-Leash Control: Mastering "Come" opens up a world of possibilities for safe off-leash play in controlled environments like fenced-in dog parks or secure backyards. It gives you the confidence to let your Chihuahua explore while knowing they'll return to you when called.
  • Enhancing Responsiveness: "Come" fosters a sense of obedience and responsiveness in your Chihuahua, strengthening your bond and making them a more enjoyable companion.

Training Steps for "Come"

  1. Start in a Quiet Area: Begin training in a distraction-free environment, such as your living room or a quiet corner of your backyard.
  2. Use a Cheerful Tone: Say "Come" in a happy, enthusiastic tone. You want to make coming to you an incredibly positive experience! Pat your legs, crouch down, or use any other body language that encourages your Chihuahua to approach you.
  3. Reward Immediately: The moment your dog reaches you, deliver a high-value treat and shower them with enthusiastic praise. Make them feel like they've just won a grand prize!
  4. Gradually Increase Distance and Distractions: As your Chihuahua becomes more proficient with "Come," gradually increase the distance between you when you call them. You can also start introducing distractions, like toys, other people, or even other dogs.

Pro Tip for "Come"

Never punish your Chihuahua for coming to you, even if they were initially hesitant or took their sweet time. Punishment will only create a negative association with the command, making them less likely to come to you in the future. Always make "Come" a fun and rewarding experience.

7. "Drop It" and "Give" - Teaching Voluntary Surrender

The commands "Drop It" and "Give" are essential for teaching your Chihuahua the art of letting go. They teach your dog to relinquish items they have in their possession, preventing possessiveness and making it easier to retrieve potentially dangerous objects.

Why "Drop It" and "Give" are Essential

  • Preventing Resource Guarding: Some dogs develop a tendency to guard their possessions, whether it's a toy, a bone, or even a sock they've snatched. "Drop It" and "Give" discourage this behavior, reducing the risk of resource guarding and potential aggression.
  • Retrieving Dangerous Items: If your Chihuahua manages to grab something that could harm them, like a sharp object or a toxic substance, "Drop It" and "Give" allow you to safely retrieve the item without a struggle.
  • Enhancing Cooperation: Teaching your Chihuahua to voluntarily surrender items fosters a sense of cooperation and trust, strengthening your bond and making training more enjoyable.

Training Steps for "Drop It" and "Give"

  1. Start with a Low-Value Item: Offer your Chihuahua a toy or treat. Allow them to take it and enjoy it for a moment.
  2. Verbal Cue Clearly: Once your dog has the item in their mouth, say "Drop It" or "Give" in a clear, distinct voice.
  3. Offer a Trade: Simultaneously, offer your Chihuahua a high-value treat in exchange for the item they're holding. Hold the treat close to their nose to entice them to release the item.
  4. Reward for Release: As soon as your dog releases the item, give them the high-value treat and praise them enthusiastically. Make them feel like they've made the best trade ever!

Pro Tip for "Drop It" and "Give"

Practice "Drop It" and "Give" with a variety of items, including toys, treats, and even household objects. This helps your Chihuahua generalize the command and understand that it applies to anything they might have in their mouth.

8. "Place" - Promoting Relaxation and Boundaries

The "Place" command is your go-to tool for creating a sense of calm and order in your household. It instructs your Chihuahua to go to a designated spot, such as their bed or a mat, and remain there until you release them. It's a versatile command that can be used in a multitude of situations.

Why "Place" is Essential

  • Promoting Relaxation: "Place" provides your Chihuahua with a safe and comfortable space to relax and de-stress. It's their designated chill zone, where they can retreat from the hustle and bustle of the household.
  • Managing Excitement: During exciting events, like visitors arriving or meal preparation, "Place" helps keep your Chihuahua calm and contained, preventing them from becoming overly stimulated or engaging in unwanted behaviors.
  • Establishing Boundaries: "Place" teaches your Chihuahua to respect designated areas in your home. It can be used to prevent them from jumping on furniture, begging at the table, or entering rooms that are off-limits.

Training Steps for "Place"

  1. Choose a Designated Spot: Select a comfortable spot for your Chihuahua, such as their bed, a mat, or even a specific corner of a room.
  2. Lure to the Spot: Use a treat to lure your Chihuahua to the designated spot. Guide them with the treat in your hand, encouraging them to step onto the bed or mat.
  3. Verbal Cue as They Arrive: As your dog reaches the spot, say "Place" in a clear, distinct tone.
  4. Reward and Release: Once your Chihuahua is settled on their "Place," give them the treat and praise them. You can then release them from the "Place" command with a release word, such as "Okay" or "Free."

Pro Tip for "Place"

Gradually increase the duration your Chihuahua stays on their "Place" before rewarding them. Start with short durations, like a few seconds, and gradually work your way up to longer periods, like several minutes or even longer.

FAQs About Chihuahua Training

Q: When should I start training my Chihuahua?

A: The sooner you start training your Chihuahua, the better! Puppyhood is a prime time for learning. You can begin introducing basic commands like "Sit," "Stay," and "Come" as early as 8 weeks old. Early training helps establish good habits and sets your Chihuahua up for success.

Q: How Long Should Training Sessions Be?

A: Chihuahuas, like many small breeds, have relatively short attention spans. Keep your training sessions brief and engaging, around 5-10 minutes at a time. Multiple short sessions throughout the day are more effective than one long, drawn-out session.

Q: What are the Best Rewards for Chihuahua Training?

A: Chihuahuas are often highly food-motivated. High-value treats, like small pieces of cooked chicken, cheese, or commercially prepared dog treats, can be powerful motivators. Don't underestimate the power of enthusiastic praise and playful interactions as rewards. Experiment to find what your dog responds to best.

Q: My Chihuahua is Stubborn! What Should I Do?

A: Patience, consistency, and a positive attitude are your allies when training a stubborn Chihuahua. Break down commands into smaller, more manageable steps. Reward even the slightest progress, and avoid punishment. Punishment can damage your bond with your dog and make them fearful or anxious. If you're struggling, don't hesitate to seek guidance from a professional dog trainer. They can provide personalized tips and techniques tailored to your Chihuahua's personality.

Q: What are Some Common Chihuahua Training Mistakes to Avoid?

A: Here are some common pitfalls to watch out for:

  • Inconsistent Training: Training should be a regular part of your Chihuahua's routine. Train frequently, and reinforce commands consistently. Don't let them get away with ignoring a command one day and then expect them to perform it perfectly the next.
  • Harsh Punishment: Never resort to yelling or physical punishment. This will only damage your bond with your dog and create fear or anxiety. Positive reinforcement methods, such as rewarding good behavior, are far more effective and humane.
  • Expecting Too Much Too Soon: Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a well-trained Chihuahua. Break down commands into manageable steps, and celebrate even the smallest victories. Patience is a virtue in dog training.
  • Ignoring Breed-Specific Traits: Chihuahuas are intelligent dogs, but they can also be stubborn and independent. Adjust your training approach to accommodate their unique personality traits. Be patient, persistent, and find ways to make training fun and engaging for them.

Final Thoughts: Unlocking Your Chihuahua's Potential

Training your Chihuahua is a journey filled with rewards, strengthening your bond and unlocking their full potential.

By mastering these essential commands, you'll empower your tiny companion with the skills they need to navigate the world safely, confidently, and joyfully.

Remember to be patient, consistent, and above all, positive throughout the process. Celebrate every milestone, no matter how small, and enjoy the journey of building a deeper connection with your beloved Chihuahua.

Do you have any tried-and-true Chihuahua training tips? Share your insights in the comments below! We'd love to hear from our fellow Chihuahua enthusiasts on Facebook.

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Justin Anderson
Welcome to the world of pet influencers! I'm Justin Anderson, the proud owner of Cheech, a lively 2-year-old Chihuahua with a huge personality. With over 30 years of experience raising Chihuahuas and a passion for pet care, I've turned my love for pets into a thriving career. As the founder of Social Petworker, I share insights, tips, and success stories to help pet owners and aspiring pet influencers navigate the exciting world of pet affiliate marketing. Through collaborations with top brands and a knack for social media, I've built a community of pet enthusiasts who are eager to learn and grow. Join me on this journey, and let's turn our love for pets into a rewarding adventure together. Whether you're a pet owner looking for tips, an aspiring pet influencer seeking guidance, or a brand interested in pet influencer marketing, you're in the right place!