by Tara M. Clapper, Contributing Writer
Because the Chihuahua is a small breed, some pet owners feel that it requires less training or that a Chihuahua need not be leashed. However, proper leash training could save your Chihuahua's life.
Reasons to Use a Leash
Even the most well-behaved dog is at risk if not on a leash. While dogs can be trained, they have occasionally unpredictable moments--just like people. An unleashed dog faces the following threats:
Small dogs like Chihuahuas are even more at risk for injuries. They're fragile creatures, and are unlikely to survive an aggressive dog encounter or a run-in with a car or bicycle.
Training Collar and Leash
Dog trainers debate about what types of collars are most humane and effective for dogs. Large or muscular breeds like pit bulls may require prong collars, but little Chihuahuas are delicate. Chihuahuas are extremely sensitive to tugs and some trainers recommend avoiding 'choke' type collars altogether.
If you do use a choke collar with a Chihuahua, you must be extremely sensitive with the dog. Many Chihuahuas already suffer from breathing problems such as the collapsing trachea; too hard a tug could severely injure or kill the dog.
Cloth collars are recommended for Chihuahuas, but it may help to switch to a different collar when training or walking the dog. This lets your dog know it's time to get serious. Fortunately, small cloth collars are inexpensive compared to other sizes and types.
Ensure that the leash is also cloth and lightweight. Control should not be a problem with a dog so small.
Dogs are seriously motivated by toys and food! You want to be gentle with a Chihuahua, especially if the dog is still a puppy. Try the following tips to use positive reinforcement and reward for training:
You have a major advantage working with a small dog. A dog pulling the leash gets a 'reward' for doing so if you move forward. If you find that your Chihuahua does this, you can simply stop--stand your ground.
This video also offers other training techniques such as click training and treating behind the heel. The dog trainer in the video uses an untrained Chihuahua as an example. Note how she also treats the dog for stopping when she does and that the size of the treats offered is very small.
This trainer also advises using unpredictability on your walk. This helps your Chihuahua look to you as the leader.
Older Chihuahuas can tire easily, and small dogs sometimes have a hard time keeping a fast pace. Make sure to bring water on your walks and be ready to carry your Chihuahua if he gets tired.
Note: Consult your dog's veterinarian or a professional pet trainer before you begin training.
This post was originally published on Examiner.com as Chihuahua Examiner. Republished with permission of the author.
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