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post #16 of 59 (permalink) Old 04-18-2004, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
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There are always modifications that can be made based on the temperament of the dog and what you are trying to accomplish


What behaviors are you trying to retrain or reinforce with your Chihuahua?

I'm sure if she is used to getting walked when she sees the leash she's getting excited to go out when you take it out! Dogs really can be such creatures of habit but those habits can be modified, replaced or even eliminated.

I know sometimes it feels like we are "letting them down" or dissappointing them ... I believe that dogs do have "feelings" but keep in mind that they are not the same as ours. We all tend to impose the way *we* would feel, or interperate a sad look or other facial or body language for "people feelings", but that isn't always the case. Dogs can be distracted and rituals can be broken without us having to feel like we are hurting our dog's feelings.

My Brittany Max is an Upland Game Dog who works actively and consistantly in the field with my husband. I trained him and turned the reigns over to my husband. It was a little difficult at first in the field because Max was used to my giving him commands and directions. I realized that I had to leave them alone in the field and hope that my training had really stuck! He is an awesome performer in the field and he's only one year old.

Whenever my husband takes out the field bag or takes his gun out to clean Max goes bonkers with excitement thinking he's going out to "find birds" He's even ran to the car and sat there whining waiting to be let in! Of course that isn't always the case. Some petting and "Good Boy Max" is really all he needs. Confirmation that he recognizes his *job* even if he doesn't always get to follow through and get his reward in the field when his excitement is triggered at home.

I'd be happy to help you with some suggestions! Most often there's an easy solution that will make you both feel good about the change in your normal routine

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post #17 of 59 (permalink) Old 04-19-2004, 02:52 AM
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Thank you for your quick and kind response! Anyway, I want to basically retrain her the basics. How to sit, stay, come, and to an extent fetch. She is really protective of her toys, so if she is playing them and I come around she growls at me basically telling me to get away.


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post #18 of 59 (permalink) Old 04-19-2004, 02:54 AM
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I am also trying to retrain her with going the bathroom. She seems to have taken up the habit of going certain places in our house, and it is beginning to stink to the point where we are shampooing (sp?) our carpets often.


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post #19 of 59 (permalink) Old 04-19-2004, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
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Combs, I believe I understand the position you are finding yourself in with your Chi! There are other Chi owners on this board who can jump in here and tell you that this little breed can be quite a fiesty little handful!!

If she is possessive with her toys, food - whatever - I firmly believe the first step you must take is *taking back control*. YOU need to be her leader at all times.
SHE needs to be reshaped to know that everything is YOURS and you can take it from her mouth at any time (thus reinforcing that you are the leader and she is below you in the "pack order") without her making a sound or resisting in any way.

Are you her first owner? This information will give us some direction.

I would choose reshaping behavior in order of priority. Dog behavior is formed in layers. Sometimes it can be liken to peeling the skin from an onion and getting to the root of what we want. (corny metaphor but it was what popped into my head).

For me, the first step would be gaining back my alpha/leader status. If you know her temperament and can anticipate her reactions this is a good place to start.

I would collect all her toys and start with making her "SIT" before she gets anything. Doing this without a lot of fuss and drama as if this is just the way it is will reduce her stress level as you gain her confidence and control over her universe. Making her "SIT" before getting anything, even her food, treats and before you open the door to take her for a walk will start letting her know that YOU are the boss. You are peeling off some crusty layers and forming desirable ones in which to proceed and build on.

Offer her a toy and command her to "SIT" praise her lavishly and enthusiastically. If she tries to snatch the toy possessively, STAND straight in front of her and give her a loud sharp, firm "NO!" Repeat. When she has the toy (because she is sitting and didn't snap or snarl at you - she's starting to understand what you want!) , start making a game out of the next step. This all can be done in the context of fun and not stress.

If she runs and isn't used to be commanded to "Stay", let her. Let her have her run around, but keep your eye on her. When she stops and lays down with the toy, walk up to her, stand tall and make sure the look on your face is not threatening - just neutural - tell her "MINE" and "GIVE" reach down and take the toy from her. If she growls, a louder "NO!". Remember, you are larger and even though many toy breeds will take on a much larger, even aggressive dog - Bigger and BIG body language will often set the tone for her to submit. YOU do need to be firm and get control of this. The end result should be that you can reach into her food bowl, take her food, toys and anything else she has in her mouth away from her. I consider this particular issue a safety issue too. If one of my dogs happen to put something dangerous into their mouth and start playing or chewing on it, I need to know I can tell them, "MINE!" "GIVE" and they will open their mouth, drop the item or let me take it directly from their mouth and examine their teeth to see if anything harmful is still in there.

I would break the issues you have into prioritized chunks. If there are several behaviors you want to modify, one thing at a time is best. Working on too much at once only causes confusion on the part of the dog.

You want to set the foundation for a trust based relationship with you as the leader. Once she has fully accepted you as the center of her universe and the leader of her world the other behaviors should fall into place with very little struggle, just lots of repetition and loving firm guidance.

Remember - dogs learn in layers and dog behavior is often "trigger" based. These patterns and layers can sometimes take some time to modify, but it can be done! Be positive and know that you have a support system and a place to ask questions.

Ack! I've blathered on enough for this post

Good Luck!

What is your dog's name btw?

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post #20 of 59 (permalink) Old 04-19-2004, 04:30 PM
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I don't know why but I've noticed that it can be harder to housebreak a chihuahua than other breeds. I think because chihuahuas are smaller and their messes aren't quite such a "big deal" you might be inclined not to develop a pattern of training with them. For instance -- you see a dropping on the floor and just clean it up rather than verbally scolding the dog every time ... or doing whatever you do to housebreak. Consistancy is important.

Also, when they sneak off -- which they often do -- to do their business inside you may not notice it immediately because it is so small it may not stink where you are in the house. It is hard to teach a dog that what they are doing is bad when it is after the fact that you find the accident.

LOL, another problem might be that Chihuahuas tend to be naturally sneaky. You can get them to KNOW that doing their business inside is wrong ... but they are smart enough to know that they can easily sneak off and that is A LOT easier than going outside. It is at this level in training that a lot of chi owners get stuck.

Mine thinks she is the princess. About once a year she gets it in her head that she is above stepping outside on the yucky dirt and will go through about a week of being UNhousebroken. I can take her outside often and everything but unless I stand there and physically WATCH her go to the bathroom she will sneak back on the porch without doing anything. She KNOWS that what she is doing is sneaky and wrong but she does it anyway. It is battle between me and her.

You just have to be consistant and let them know that this behavior is unacceptable -- even if this leaves you standing outside in the dead of winter for 15 minutes waiting for your chi to do its business.
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post #21 of 59 (permalink) Old 04-19-2004, 05:49 PM Thread Starter
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I believe it's so, so important for us to remember that our dogs don't have the capacity to think in complex thought processes.

What appears as "sneaky" or deceptive, behavior patterns is really something quite different.

In a dog's mind there is "right now". Is it possible that when she is standing on that porch and it's pouring rain her "denning" instinct is telling her to seek shelter?Relieving body functions take lesser priority.

Elf you are 100% correct in saying that your presense there, even in a downpour or driving snow, will direct the dog's thought process to what you are expecting from them. Without you there they naturally resort to their instictual patterning.

Your first paragraph was also really true! It's true for me, I'm raising my first Toy Breed (Remy, Yorkie - 6 mos and 3 pounds) and I have found myself doing what you described! It didn't take me long to realize and smack myself around a little

Tiny dogs sometimes need more consistant and persistant regiments than larger breeds. OUR psychological response to a larger pup is different.

At 6 months old my Brittany was being field trained, remaining in his crate longer and more independent overall than my little Yorkie.

I'm realizing that I need to be as firm with Remy (firmness is always based on the temperament) as I was on my Golden or my Brittany or on other medium or large breeds that I have trained.


I think your input is great - you really hit the nail on the head!!

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post #22 of 59 (permalink) Old 04-19-2004, 06:40 PM
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LOL .... you obviously don't know my dog. She's a class act.

Believe me ... it isn't just the winter time she does this. It can be in the middle of summer on a beautiful day .. 70 degrees ... there is no pattern. Most days she is good ... some she isn't. .. the winter is just when I find it particularly annoying because I have to stand out in the cold. She is incredibly smart ... my other Chihuahua and Shih-tzu are nothing like her. None of them like going out in the cold or rain but Ethel has always been different She is the princess ... that is not a loose term ... that is how she views herself.

You know those stuck up dogs in the movies that sit on pillows and eat only gourmet food? That is her! She knocks over the pillows on the couch to perch on them. She doesn't eat dog food if someone is watching. I've had to sneak into the kitchen to watch her eat dog food. If she sees me? She stops. And it isn't like she is nervous about eating in front of me .. she eats anything else readily. She eats human food with no problem but she is very picky about that too. If Ethel is entirely primative and live only in the moment then Ethel wouldn't boycott dog food and be picky about the human food she eats if she knows there is a choice. Yes, a choice. She will gobble up Ritz crackers if she knows that is all you have. But if you have Ritz crackers with cheese then she will never take a plain Ritz cracker even if that is all you will offer. For real. I've even done an Ethel-experiment with that. I pulled out only Ritz and she ate the plain cracker. I pulled out the cheese and offered her only the plain cracker and she wouldn't take it. I hid the cheese and about 2 minutes later offered her a plain Ritz and she took it. I pulled out the cheese again and offered her a plain .. no go ... then a cheese ... yes ...plain again ...no.. put away the cheese ... left out the Ritz ... waited a minute ... she ate the plain when it was offered. Stuff like that. I'm not saying this is complex reasoning ... but it isn't something that every dog out there is going to do. Every single other dog I have owned would have eaten whatever cracker was thrown. Because they did live for the "right now" ... their instincts told them to eat. Ethel's tell her to "eat WELL" LOL

And she will be sneaky ... yes, sneaky ... to avoid going outside when she is not in the mood -- usually after she has been woken up to go out after being in bed. She only sleeps under the covers, BTW This is mostly true with droppings when she does go through these phases. She'll pee outside without any problem whatsoever even in the rain and cold and then stand there and wait for everyone else to finish up (another 5 min.) but come inside and wait until I've settled down somewhere and then sneak away (she's always next to me) to do her business someplace. If it wasn't sneakiness she wouldn't go to places like ... the guest bedroom on the side of the bed that is not near the doorway ... or the game room way in the back ... or even behind the couch. I'm not saying she has complex emotions or thoughts attached to it. But she does know the difference between right and wrong and between going in highly traffiked areas of the house and areas that we are never in. If she lived in the moment she wouldn't go all the way across the house. She'd go into the next room like my other dogs. My Shih-Tzu and other Chi can't make that distinction. They rarely mess up but when they do it is, yes, in a different room from us but it isn't "hidden" so to speak. She doesn't get spanked or beaten ... so she has no reason to be scared. For a dog ... I'd say that was sneaky ... even if it isn't on the same level of thinking as a human .... I fully believe she is aware of what she is doing.


I agree that most dogs have basic reasonings for their behavior ... I mean, I've owned a lot of dogs and what you are saying is true. But after owning Ethel? I think some can break the mold. I fully believe in their capacity to be sneaky.

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post #23 of 59 (permalink) Old 04-19-2004, 08:12 PM
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Thank you so much for all of your help, both of you! I really do appreciate this! In a way I'm the dog's first owner. My great grandma is the primary care taker of her, but since she is on vacation, I thought this would be a good time to start. Her name is Sarah, BTW.


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post #24 of 59 (permalink) Old 04-19-2004, 08:15 PM
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Good luck!!
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post #25 of 59 (permalink) Old 04-21-2004, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
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I'm here for you if you need any advice or suggestions Please feel free to start a new thread in this section with your questions or comments. We all share a lot of common issues!

With a little thought and putting our heads together to come up with a plan or solution we can usually do a lot of good for our dogs - and ourselves

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post #26 of 59 (permalink) Old 06-07-2004, 11:05 PM
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You make some very good points!

I hope everyone listens!
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post #27 of 59 (permalink) Old 06-14-2004, 12:51 AM
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Great article! I just got a new puppy and will most likely have many questions for you soon.
 
post #28 of 59 (permalink) Old 08-07-2004, 03:41 AM
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i just wanted you guys to know that making your dog sit before throwing a ball, going outside, or putting the food bowl down in order to 'regain that control' -makes a world of difference. something so small and effortless can be the start of completely turning your problem dog around. **thank you for mentioning that!!!** =)

i recommend this to my clients whose children were having a hard time with their family dog taking them seriously -just because the dog sees them at their level and often tries and ends up thinking they come before the kids. its just a simple thing that the kids can do -they'll love it because they are helping out with the dog! (obviously age of children should be taken into consideration at discretion of parents)
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post #29 of 59 (permalink) Old 08-09-2004, 11:14 AM
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Thank you for an informative article, not to mention the terrific posts! I have a new adolescent and I'm having a bit of a problem with him. I can't seem to find something he'll work for! He doesn't like me having control over his actions outside, even though I carry treats. I have discovered that if I stand in his line of vision then he's forced to look at me and not what he's so attentive on. This works especially well when he spots another dog he wants to go play with. It's baby steps, but what else works when a dog has lost his...well, he seems to've given up? He loves a tummy rub, but I can't give those to him in the middle of the street, lol! I've got him on natural balance treats, and he does like them, but they're not enough of a motivating factor at the moment. I can't afford to let him gain the upper hand, but it is an internal --and physical struggle with him, even with the gentle leader I have him on. He stays near me constantly, so I quit tethering him. Did I give up too soon?
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post #30 of 59 (permalink) Old 08-09-2004, 01:46 PM
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When I asked if I gave up too soon, it was in reference to the tethering, that's all! I just wanted to clarify.

the only harm in not trying is failure before you begin...
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