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New Years

The Chihuahua New Year's Resolution Challenge

chihuahua-new-year
chihuahua-new-year

The new year offers a fresh start...

... and is the perfect time to reassess your Chihuahua's care. After all, even the most conscientious owners can always find areas to improve. Having a canine family member involves all sort of elements that, once they all come together, combine for optimal health and happiness. 

Maybe you've been a bit behind in one area simply due to a time crunch. Or perhaps you've skipped over a few things in the last year because you kept telling yourself "Next year'. Well, this is the perfect time to start fresh.

So, choose a New Year's resolution to do
for your Chihuahua...

And make this the healthiest, safest, happiest
year ever

Here are 6 New Year's resolutions that will help your Chihuahua be healthier, happier, more comfortable and safer than ever. You'll see why each is important and exactly how to reach your goal. Ideally, you will want to be following all of these; however, even if you make a change in regard to just one, this will greatly benefit your Chihuahua puppy or dog.

#1: I pledge to take my Chihuahua
for a walk every single day

Why this is important: Even if a Chi tends to move around a lot inside, this does not offer what a purposeful, brisk walk outside offers. And every day that exercise is skipped is detrimental to a dog's overall health. Exercise has many benefits:

Some are physical: It keeps the heart healthy, help a dog maintain muscle mass, and done over the course of months and years, helps prevent a host of health conditions including but not limited to cancer and canine diabetes. It certainly plays a role in helping a dog to live a long life. 

And some benefits are for emotional well-being: The main element is that a Chihuahua has a certain amount of energy.This can be expended in a good way (brisk walks outdoors or focused cardio play) or it can become pent-up and eventually released in a negative way (barking, acting hyper, agitation, destructive chewing, etc.)

Why this may have been skipped last year: Some Chihuahuas may appear to 'self exercise' by being quite active indoors. At other times, and especially in the winter, owners may feel that it's too cold to head out with their Chi. And in some cases, as long as a Chihuahua has a walk a few times a week, owners may feel that this is enough. 

If you choose this New Year's resolution for your Chihuahua: Make a commitment to taking your Chihuahua out twice per day. Each session should last for at least 20 minutes. One of the biggest hurdles is the weather. So, prepare and don't let this stop you. 

Prep your puppy or dog with paw wax (in the summer for hot pavement & in the winter to protect from 'snowballing, which is when tiny ice or snow gets wedged between toes or paw pads), and place a quality, warm vest or coat on your Chi to protect from the cold and from the elements. This will keep his core body temperature warm and help him stay out for the appropriate amount of time.

And don't forget to dress warm yourself. If you feel cold you will be much more tempted to dash back into the house.

#2: I pledge to always protect
my Chihuahua from neck injury

Why this is important: Everything on a toy sized dog is more fragile. Larger dogs with thick muscle around the neck are able to be on leash and collar without an issue. Not always so with the Chihuahua.

This breed has very little muscle volume around the neck. In particular, the sternothyroid and mylohyoid muscles which are essentially the only protection for the front of the trachea and even the sternomastoid muscles and others that come down along the sides are not always able to handle sudden tension or chronic stress.

What can happen due to a collar: When on leash, all pressure, tension and stress is placed directly, and only, onto the Chihuahua's neck. One of two things can happen:

1. Sudden acute injury. The trachea is surrounded by rings of cartilage. If the ring(s) are already in a weakened state (a genetic disorder) or too much pressure is forced onto one area, they can collapse inward. Needless to say, this is extremely painful, causing breathing issues, swelling and more.

2. Injury due to chronic pressure. Days, weeks, months and years of tension being place on that one area of the neck can wear the area to the point that it can no longer support the stress. 

If you choose this New Year's resolution for your Chihuahua: Make a switch from collar to harness. A harness displaces pressure along the shoulders, chest and back which have much larger, stronger muscles (trapezius, supraspinatus, sternocephalicus and deltoids). The neck is free from all possible stress.

There are some fantastic harnesses that are super easy to place on, are adjustable for a perfect fit and are made with comfort in mind. In addition, you'll find that walking your Chihuahua is much easier, since this gives you better control. You can even quickly pull your Chihuahua to you (to draw him from danger, etc.) without having to worry.  

#3: I pledge to always protect
my Chihuahua when in my car

Why this is important: How many car accidents do you think happen each day in the US? 1000? 10,000? The number might shock you: it is estimated to be over 17,000. Per DAY. You might be a fantastic, safe driver. But you have zero control over other drivers or how your car will react to weather and road conditions. 

Now, you might think that just a little fender bender might not be so bad if your Chi is on your lap or free in the car. However, in a car going 25 MPH, a Chihuahua weighing 5 pounds will be thrown with the force of a 125-pound object. Going at 35? He'll be thrown with the force of a 175-pound object.

Let's look at what happens with a larger Chihuahua (it's not any better). For a 8 pound Chi, a 25 MPH crash sends him flying with the force of a 200-pound object and at 35 MPH it's 280 lbs.

On the highway, going 60 MPH, the 5-pound dog is sent crashing into the interior of the car with a force of a 300-pound object and for the 8-pound dog the crash force is 520. 

So, needless to say that if your Chihuahua has not been riding in a certificated canine car seat, making this be your New Year's resolution can save his life. 

Your Chihuahua deserves to be
buckled up, in the same way
as a child does

In addition, the right car seat can greatly improve issues of motion sickness and restlessness that can happen when a dog does not have proper positioning. 

If you choose this New Year's resolution for your Chihuahua: A booster seat is best. This gives a Chi the ability to have line-of-sight out of the windows, which cuts down on car sickness. The safest place for the seat is in the middle of the back seat. If you choose to place this on your front passenger seat, please shut off any automatic passenger air bags and move the seat as far back as it can go. 

#4: I pledge take all steps possible
to ease the despair of my Chihuahua
being home alone

Why this is important: Many dogs suffer extreme stress when home alone. This goes far beyond just missing their humans. This condition, called separation anxiety, brings about overwhelming fear and panicked feelings of isolation.

This not only affects a Chihuahua during the experience, but can have lasting effects as well. Many dogs cannot instantly make a switch from being burdened with loneliness to feeling perfectly fine. Depression and clingy behavior when owners are home is commonly seen. 

In addition, the stress and guilt that owners can feel is also an important aspect that needs to be resolved. Your are hardworking and busy; you deserve to be relieved of the added worry of wondering if your Chihuahua is coping well. 

Why this has been so hard: If your Chihuahua has been having trouble, undoubtedly have you been looking for answers. The reason why so many owners have not yet found the solution is because they only employ a few of the possible fixes and/or were not aware of what sort of methods actually work. 

If you choose this New Year's resolution for your Chihuahua: Our Chihuahua care book goes into this in much more detail, a full chapter. This includes desensitization training for this. 

However, the basics are this:

1. Have your Chihuahua in a dedicated spot. A portable indoor canine playpen or gated off area is best. Dogs that are able to roam the house fare much worse, not to mention this enables them have accidents and/or express destructive chewing. Experiment with a window Vs non-window view. 

2. With that area have: 
  • Toys that engage him (speaking, making noise)
  • Effective chew toys including at least 1 that is a treat-release toy
  • A quality bed (even if your Chihuahua sleeps with you at night, he needs the right bed when home alone)
  • A companion toy (one that mimics a live friend via size, a soothing heartbeat and, optionally, comforting warmth)
  • Looping music intended for canine ears (will have songs or songs/speech that engage and relax
* If you'd like to look at all of our recommended help items, right click to open in a new window. 

#5: I pledge to take care
of my Chihuahua's teeth
to prevent pain and toothloss

Why this is important: Every moment, awake or sleeping, plaque is being produced in a dog's mouth. If it is not routinely removed, it accumulates, building up layer after layer. It not only can encase the teeth, but also travel under the gum line. Within 3 days, any plaque on your Chihuahua's teeth hardens into tartar which is much more difficult for the typical owner to remove at home. 

Plaque destroys teeth. It eats away at the enamel. Once there is decay, infection can set it (and can even travel up to the sinuses and/or cause sepsis which can be fatal). Rotted decaying teeth will loosen and eventually fall out. All of this, needless to say, is not without quite a bit of pain. 

Why this may have been skipped last year: Some owners mistakenly believe that a dental treat is all that is needed. But, that is like baking a cake with flour and nothing else. It is an important part of what needs to be done, but certainly cannot do it all on its own. 

In addition, some owners may have tried to brush their Chihuahua's teeth but the dog resisted (common at first and if the right sized brush and/or unpleasant paste is used). 

If you choose this New Year's resolution for your Chihuahua: Make a commitment to taking proper care of your Chihuahua's teeth. Here is what is needed:

1) If you are not sure of the state of your Chi's teeth, start the year off right by having the vet perform a dental exam. X-rays will diagnose any decay that should be taken care of first.

2) Then, with a fresh slate, stick to a routine, just as you have a routine for your own oral hygiene.
  1. Aim to brush your Chi's teeth once per day. Choose the same time each day so that this becomes habit. 
  2. Have the right sized brush. A 3-sided type works best as it can scrub all visible areas at once, cutting down on the time needed.
  3. Use an effective paste. Human toothpaste is toxic. Choose a canine brand that has a nice flavor. Since dogs cannot rinse and spit, they will be more responsive to swallowing something that tastes good. 
  4. Think about adding a water supplement. It is generally 1 teaspoon per 8 oz. of water and can be a useful tool to help rid the mouth of bacteria. 
  5. Give your Chihuahua a quality dental treat, once per day. We highly recommend Greenie's Teenie. These are the #1 vet recommended treat and are sized perfectly for little Chis. 

#6: I pledge to spend
more quality time 
with my Chihuahua

Why this is important: Can a dog survive if he is 'just there'? Given that he has food, water and shelter, of course. Can he seem okay if he's a spectator of what's happening in the home? Yes. But, for a dog to really thrive, he needs more.

Dogs should be challenged. They should have really fun sessions of time with you. They should be taken to new places, see new things and engage their minds.

Your Chihuahua's world is as small or as big as you allow it to be. And his perception of his world will be seen with as little or as much fun and enthusiasm as you let in. 

If you choose this New Year's resolution for your Chihuahua: Make a commitment set aside a bit of extra time for him at least several days a week. Here are some suggestions of things that you may wish to do:
  1. Teach your Chihuahua a fun new trick that he can show off. He's ready to be a student and you can be a great teacher if you know the right methods.
  2. Let him run like the wind. Take him to a large safe area, and with your Chihuahua on harness and with a 20, 30 or even 50 foot retractable leash, let him run and feel free. Be sure to give a 'Sit' command and then an 'Okay' to show that you are allowing this. 
  3. Take him to a store or other place that you frequent at least once a week. You may be surprised how many businesses allow pets (or won't say a thing) if you have a toy sized dog in a sling or carry bag. 
  4. Engage his mind by playing a fun puzzle game with him. You'll teach your Chihuahua to nose levers and paw buttons. The reward is not just the treat hidden inside once he's learned how to solve the puzzle, but also the wonderful bonding that develops with this sort of activity. 
A Final Word - We wish you and your Chihuahua a wonderful new year ahead, with optimal health, safety, comfort and happiness. 

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