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Chihuahua Blog - Topic of the Month

A Monthly Chihuahua Blog, Offering New Information

This Month's Chihuahua Blog Topic:

How To Create a Better Bond with Your Chihuahua in 5 Steps
Overview

When you bring a new puppy or dog into your home, you naturally expect to have a new best friend. But, what if your Chihuahua isn’t as close to you as you thought he’d be? Are some dogs distant and unable to have a close bond? 

The good news is that in most cases, there are lots of things that you can do to bond more closely with a dog. Whether you have a good relationship that you want to turn into a great one or you need to create a bond that simply does not seem to exist at all, there is help.

This section will cover all the steps needed to grow and strengthen the bond between an owner and a Chihuahua of any age.
How Much Bonding Should Be There Naturally?

For canines in general, there is a natural bond between owner and dog; however, there are circumstances in which a dog does not bond as expected. 
If 2 key elements exist: respect and care, there will be some level of bonding. The more these elements weigh into the relationship, the stronger the bond. Respect is in regard to how much a dog respects his human and care, of course, refers to the level of attention that person puts into taking care of their canine family member. 

Just as with any other type of relationship, the more time and effort that is put into it, the closer you will be with your Chihuahua. And if neglected, the bond can weaken or if the Chihuahua is young, not form as it should.
chihuahua-sitting-at-table
"Waiting for his date"
Gizmo Meeko, at 21 months old
Photo courtesy of The Trezza/Vadjinia Family
#1 Recommend shampoo for Chihuahuas
The Foundation of Bonding

As we touched on, respect is a fundamental element in the bond between owner and dog. Our dogs live by canine laws; one very important one being that of hierarchy. Every den (house) has a pack (family consisting of humans and animals) and that pack has an Alpha (the leader).  

If a dog has an improper understanding of hierarchy in which he does not know who is in charge, or worse, thinks that he may be in charge, this warped perception can most certainly get in the way of proper bonding. 

While it is best to start when a Chihuahua is a young pup, teaching him that you are his loving leader will go a long way in establishing a bond and is extremely helpful (and often vital) for such things as housebreaking and having your Chi walk properly beside you, etc. 

While some owners would rather be best friends with their Chihuahua as opposed to being the leader, it is important to note that once the relationship of Alpha is established, you and your Chihuahua can have a fantastic friendship. It can be one of respect and loyalty, love and companionship. 
Expecting a 'Sit' before any food is given, both meals and snacks, is one way to claim your place as leader. 

Puppy Bonding VS Adult Bonding

There is a difference in the way that a Chihuahua puppy and an adult Chihuahua will bond with his humans. 

Puppies – Though puppies go through amazing growth spurts in the first 8 weeks and have a good degree of cognitive abilities, it is normal for a pup to appear to be very well bonded, then seem distant and then go back again. There are several reasons for this. 

Firstly, young pups have not yet reached their full cognitive awareness. For this reason, they may not seem to mind being held and cuddled. They may seek warmth and comfort with no hesitation, easily snuggling up to their human. They often do not complain or show intolerance for any level of holding or attention.

But then, as the pup matures a bit, he becomes more aware; for this reason, he may assert himself that he does not prefer to be held quite so much. He becomes more independent; for this reason, he may want the freedom of retreating to his doggie bed instead of sitting up on the sofa with you. He is more curious. For these reasons, he may choose to investigate toys instead of laying on your lap. 
What to do: While we’ll cover some great tips for bonding ahead in a bit, the most important thing to remember is that a pup’s growing independence and assertion of ‘likes and dislikes’ should not be taken personally. While you will want a dog to be close to you, it’s also not a great idea to have a dog that is exceedingly clingy or over-dependent.  

This is not to say that he should make his own rules; that would be a disaster. But rather, out of the rules that you have established, he should be allowed to make choices. 
Adults – In speaking of adult Chihuahuas that are rehomed, this is a whole new ballgame. It can be very hard for a dog to transition into a new home. And this is so even if a shelter dog is being brought into a loving home that offers so much more than what was found at the shelter. 

Owners can get a little taken aback when an adopted, rescue dog immediately does not seem happy or does not seem to welcome love and attention. 

What to do – Again, while we do have a list of ways to bond with a Chihuahua up ahead, do know that a transitionary phase for rescued dogs is completely normal. Many rescues have been through a lot, not just physically, but emotionally as well. For some, a close-knit loving home is not even recognized because it has never existed in that dog’s world before. 

As the Chihuahua settles in, he will start to learn that he is indeed safe. Once he is confident in that safety, his shyness may fade and he will often start taking small brave steps in the right direction. Do have rules that you expect to be followed in regard to house training, chewing, etc., and then do have patience. 

Also, know that some rescued Chihuahua may never live up to certain ideals. Your Chi may learn to interact well with you but may shake when in big crowds. Or he may snuggle by your feet but may also need to retreat sometimes to his bed (or for some dogs, even ‘hiding places’ such as closets, etc.   

As always, know what choices you find acceptable and then allow your Chihuahua the freedom to choose. 
"Woof, rufff, rrrr...grrr... UMPHF!"

Translation:

"Tweets for treats...? ... or share for... ahh, a pear ??? Well, you get the gist... Show some love & share this Chihuahua blog before you read on!"
female-chihuahua-on-white-fu
Mona Lisa
Photo courtesy of Claudia Cruz
Super fun puzzle games to play with your Chihuahua for better bonding & great brain exercise!
Top 5 Ways to Bond with Your Chihuahua

Please keep in mind that many of these tips will only be successful once you have established yourself as Alpha (see previous).

1. Teach your Chihuahua a command or trick. This is such a great exercise to create a bond or strengthen an existing one. This takes complete teamwork. You are the teacher/coach and your Chihuahua is the student/player. Together, you teach/learn gradually and give/receive rewards for effort and small successes. This is also such a great method to bond because once a dog learns a command or trick, he often loves the attention and praise that comes about when he performs in front of others. 

2. Learn a puzzle game together. Most dogs are not challenged enough when it comes to flexing their mental muscles! Canines are so intelligent and a Chihuahua is capable so much. The key to a dog really living up to his potential is that he needs the opportunity to learn. So, playing a puzzle game together is a wonderful way to spend time that leads to a dog gaining confidence in a fun, healthy way. 

While you can create a homemade puzzle of sorts with a small toy or treat and upside-down opaque cups, there are also some fantastic games you can obtain in which a dog will learn to nose doors, paws levers and otherwise move pieces to reveal a prize. 
3. Speak to your Chihuahua more often. Every word that you say to your Chihuahua matters. There are lots of studies on this; however, one of the more interesting ones was conducted by the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapst. This was a study involving an MRI scan taken of dogs while their humans spoke to them.

It proved that even ‘filler’ words such as ‘if’ or ‘then’ was processed by the dogs. In addition, and most importantly to the element of bonding, researchers found that happy voices caused the dog’s auditory cortex to light up (and this happens with humans as well, when hearing happy sounds). This fact supports the strong communication system and bond that exists between humans and dogs.  
The amount that you speak to your Chihuahua and the tone in which you speak is vital for to strengthen your connection. So, you’ll want to speak to your puppy or dog often and in a friendly tone. And it doesn’t matter what you talk about. Whether you give him the full recap of a show you watched last night or tell him the neighborhood gossip, your dog will love hearing your voice. 

While your Chi can’t answer you back, just knowing that he is taking in what you say and that it does make a difference, can lead to you feeling closer to him as well. 
4. Make your Chihuahua your sidekick. Sometimes, it may just seem easier to leave your Chihuahua at home if you have errands to run and things to do. However, the more time you spend together and the more ‘adventures’ you partake in, the closer you will be. In addition, each time a Chi is taken along instead of left at home, it is one less episode of possible separation anxiety.

Going hiking, but know that your Chihuahua can’t keep up? That’s okay, place him in a canine backpack. Heading out to a large farmer’s market, but know that the crowds will be too much for your Chi or there’ll be too much walking to do? A stroller or tote bag can be just the thing to allow him to join you.  
There’s a lot of stores that welcome small dogs, particularly if you have him in a stroller, carry bag or tote. And while you may not be able to bring your Chihuahua with you everywhere, if it is possible, do make the effort.

Being exposed to new places, sights, sounds, other people, events and situations plays a huge role in how a dog is able to become accustomed to those elements and when done in a measured way is part of important socialization for a Chihuahua that is afraid of things. The more you take your Chihuahua out with you, the better he’ll behave in the future, the more accomplish you will feel that you took on another ‘task’ together and the closer your bond will be. 

Just please do be sure to always have your Chihuahua safely in a canine car seat any time that you head out on the road together. 
5. Use the element of loving touch. If your Chihuahua doesn’t like to be touched, this may just mean that he does not like certain areas touched or having it done in a certain way. Some small dogs like the Chi do not enjoy full wrapped hugs and most dogs in general do not like their paws touched or to be touched without warning or from behind. And of course, dogs typically do not like having their tails pulled. 

While dogs do love receiving praise, studies have shown that dogs actually prefer being petted over praise and in turn will show more interest in people who offer this to them. In a study published by the journal of Behavioural Processes, when given the choice to interact with people who had preciously petted them, praised them or did not offer any interaction, dogs overwhelmingly were more interested in people that petted them. 

In some cases, a dog will need to learn that being petting is pleasurable. An adult Chihuahua that doesn’t like being touched may have had a bad experience and a puppy that seems skittish in this way may just need to learn how nice it can be. 
chihuahua-on-humans-shoulder
Photo courtesy of Juliane Ruff, 
Highland Park IL
Here are some tips:

1) Never force a Chihuahua to be petted. So, in other words, do not corner him or hold him against his will; this can just scare a dog more and lead to further distancing. 

2) Get down on your Chi’s level and allow him to sniff your hand before you reach out.

3) Try to not reach over your dog’s head to touch him; if a dog is not used to being petted, this can make a dog nervous. Reach out from the side. 

4) Most dogs love certain areas to be scratched; this includes the base of their ears, their tummy and under their chin.

5) Speak in a silly, happy tone since how you speak greatly affects how your dog will react to you. 

6) Learn what your Chihuahua likes and does not like and do let visitors know this as well.  
New - Great Gifts to Give to a Chihuahua - Don't just buy gifts for the sake of it, get your Chi some things that he could really use. See our awesome gift ideas that in some way help a Chihuahua, depending on his needs. 
Did you catch the latest blog topics?  
Chihuahua is Fearful of Everything - How to help a Chi that is scared of his world.
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Chihuahua Stung by Bee, Wasp, Hornet, Fire Ants - Be prepared to know how to react, signs of allergic reaction, quick remedies for soothing stings and helpful prevention tips.
Chihuahua Chewing Issues - Help regarding excessive chewing to the body or non-toy items. 
Chihuahua Eating Problems - Covers all of the most common eating issues with this breed, with steps to resolve them. 
The Best Toys for Chihuahuas - Choose wisely! Read about the elements that make for the best teething, chewing, boredom and separation anxiety toys for Chihuahuas. 
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