How To Avoid Them And End Up With Your Dream Dog
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“It’s not what you don’t know that kills you, it’s what you know for sure that ain’t true.”
Realities and Myths
Some breeds, like the Chihuahua, are in some ways like the Mercedes Smart Car of dogs. Other breeds like Golden and Labrador Retrievers are perhaps the mini-vans and pick up trucks. Other breeds are tuned more Porsche-like, while others still are in the Ferraris or even the Formulae 1 category. Some breeds have the physical ruggedness of a Jeep while other breeds are physically more like a military Hummer.
As long as you know and understand the dog you have and learn to drive and keep him or her in tune, in a manner in keeping with his or her model (genetics) you can avoid a whole lot of heartache and seriously increase the amount of life-shared pleasure you get from your dog and your dog gets from you.
When life doesn’t turn out well for dogs like the Chihuahua, it’s often because their owners are lulled due the breed’s Lilliputian appearance which truly belays the potential largeness of their personalities.
As a result, many Chihuahua owners make many and sometimes all of the mistakes outlined in the following pages. The characteristics of anxiety, fear, and aggression so commonly associated with these dogs exist almost always due more due to a failure to address what you will read ahead rather than genetic flaws.
However, it wouldn’t be accurate to entirely dismiss a genetic component to the anxiety and aggression often found in some of the Chihuahuas. Toy breeds, in general, have become overly represented and victimized by those breeding them as a means to earn pocket money as opposed to an ethical commitment above all else to maintain and improve physical and mental stability in the breed.
There is no doubt though that there are genetic components that make some Chihuahuas much more susceptible to transitioning from young and cute to neurotic and/or aggressive adults. However, even if you suspect that the breeder you purchased your Chihuahua* from might not have been the pick of breeder litter themselves, the good news is that while they are responsible for the ‘Nature,’ of your dog, as of this moment, you and I are responsible for the ‘Nurture.’
Even if the breeding was designed more to enhance the breeder’s wallet than the Chihuahua breed, if we do things right, we can do a lot to protect your Chihuahua* from the vast majority of the more common negative symptoms that many otherwise develop. If you take what you read on the following pages to heart two things will happen:
1. You won’t accidentally make matters worse (and that is very easy to do).
2. You will learn to use the mighty component of ‘Nurture’ (as in ‘Nature vs. Nurture’) to reduce the influence of any genetic shortcoming (Nature) and exponentially positively influence your dog’s future quality of life.
Even with the late-start dogs I’ve worked that suffered from genetically influenced lower thresholds for stress manifesting in anxiety and/or aggression more often than not we found by addressing some of what you will read ahead, 80% of the symptomatic behavior was ‘drama’ (stress run amok) and very addressable.
Despite the Chihuahua’s tiny physical size, they are in many if not most ways as ‘big’ in all other respects as any different breed. Mark Twain once said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” That ’s not a bad quote to always keep in mind as you’re making developmental decisions for your Chihuahua’s.
People are generally less concerned about the behavior of tiny breeds because, “How bad can it get?” After almost thirty years of training companion dogs full time, I can say with confidence, “More often than you’d think, pretty bad actually.”
People often get “pocket dogs” so they can take them more places. However, if the dog is highly anxious because we didn’t dot our ‘i’s’ and cross our ‘t’s’ as you will learn to do in this booklet it’s not fair to drag them about if it triggers stress. If they become nasty, they are harder to take places because people don’t want a nasty dog around no matter the size. More importantly, things you can’t avoid, practical things like nail clipping, veterinary care, boarding, etc. become unnecessarily problematic and hard on everyone.
That said, most of the myths regarding the Chihuahua are just that, myths. They don’t need to stay with the breeder longer (and almost absolutely always should not.) You don’t need treats to train or control them. They can be house trained just as quickly as any other dog without the nonsense of bell ringing to be let out. (Properly trained, 3X/day in one spot.) They will, Come, Stay, and Heel on a loose leash – No Matter What.
Rather than any inherent failure in the overall breed’s genetic proclivities, the things they typically have negative ‘reputations’ for have far more to do with these two factors:
1. How careful their breeders have been with the genetics they are working with before they selected a breeding pair as well as how they handled the puppies up until they were sold.
2. Whether the puppies find themselves in a home that is up for the responsibilities of raising them correctly.
Raising and training a tremendousChihuahua isn’t hard, but it will be a bit like realism painting. If you want to end up with an image that best represents what you have in your mind’s eye regarding your life with a dog, you need to paint with all the colors, not just the ones you like or are convenient.
Trust me when I say, the Chihuahua is far more often than not one of those breeds that needs a few more colors in the palette if you want the picture you have in your head regarding living with your Chihuahua to be your long-term reality.
As a result, the Chihuahua does far better with a well-informed, diligent ‘artist.’
Parents, Teachers and Mentors
Regardless of the level of our own intellect and potential, if we’re fortunate, we and all other higher order social species have an impressive array of teachers when we’re growing up. This is for many reasons. Some of which are:
It keeps us from having to learn our lessons by means that more often than not would be far more painful and often traumatic.
We learn skills that lead towards maximum freedom and happiness.
We learn to avoid paths that lead to pain (or worse) and a lack of freedom.
We learn to do what I call ‘exercise our suck it up muscles’ not only so that later in life we get into less impulsive trouble but so that we’re more resilient to stress later in life as well.
We learn that in spite of a considerable amount of hardwiring that will throughout our lives trigger “urges” we must develop the self-discipline to at least sometimes exert self-control.
In humans, it starts with our parents, later if we’re lucky, great teachers and luckier still mentors. For your puppy, it likely started with his or her mother, and now the torch is yours.
We are diligently supervised as we make the transition from birth to adulthood. Not to wreck our freedom but to wreck our freedom to make mistakes. Lest it loses its way, the Chihuahua dog is one of those breeds that needs and benefits from similarly careful guidance. Trust me when I say left to its own devices a Chihuahua is as susceptible as any other breed to heading down the wrong path. From the moment they are born they are learning whether you are supervising and/or teaching or not.
This booklet is intended to provide the direction you need so you can ensure the correct path for your Chihuahua and so your Chihuahua can grow up to fulfill his or her potential, be a fantastic canine companion and always be an excellent ambassador of its breed.