If you’re like me, nothing makes you happier than making your Chihuahua happy.
Chihuahuas live stressful lives, dealing with such unique stressors such as seeing the world from 12″ up, constantly getting stepped on, and struggling to burrow through thick blankets with those weak little arms.
Here’s 5 proven ways to make your Chihuahua’s life happier. These tips can also apply to Chihuahua mixes like Matilda, and dogs of all sizes.
Step 1: Let Her Think She’s Super Strong.
In the past, dog owners were advised to never let their dogs win at tug-o-war – to do so would risk allowing your dog to become dominant and aggressive. Now we know better. There’s no evidence that letting your dog win at tug-o-war causes behavioral problems. Quite the opposite, actually. If your dog knows that she’ll always win a game of tug, she’ll be less likely to worry about having her precious belongings snatched away.
Matilda always wins at tug-o-war. As far as she knows, she’s stronger than me. This makes playing with me so rewarding, that she often hops into my lap with a toy, in hopes of hustling me into yet another easy win.
You should still pull back to create a little bit of a challenge, without pulling so hard that her feet lift off the ground. Loosen your grip so she feels the toy slip through your fingers, and let go as she pulls away with a satisfying winning tug.
Step 2: Return Those Lavish “Welcome Homes.”
Don’t you feel flattered when your dog is head-over-heels happy to see you – even if you’ve only been gone for an hour?
It’s one of the best parts of having a dog. You always have someone waiting for you, happy to see you, never holding a grudge, even if it was just bath day. It may sound silly, but it’s great fun to give that love back.
When your dog comes inside, whether they were just hanging out in your yard, or spending some time outside the home with another family member, throw a party.
“You’re home, you’re home, you’re home!” I like to say, with the same enthusiasm they show me.
If they have just come inside from playing in the yard, there might be a treat in it for them, or I might bring out the toys for some playtime. This is a great way to improve recall, and make escaping your yard less appealing to your dog.
Over-the-top greetings are fun for the humans in your life, too. Whenever someone you love comes home, let them know you’re happy to see them. This is a lesson we should all learn from our dogs – don’t take your loved ones for granted!
Step 3: Sleep Together.
Dogs seem to really love snuggling with their favorite humans, littermate-style.
Research shows that dogs deeply enjoy the scents of their people. I’ve got no doubt that, while sleeping beside us, submerged in a comforting, familiar aroma, they have a better sleep.
I always feel closer to Matilda after a night of sleeping with her pressed against me. I feel more connected to her, and I can tell she feels the same way.
If you can’t sleep with your dog, try to set aside some time for naps, or at least let her snooze in your lap while you watch TV.
Step 4: Cover The Windows.
Growing up, my childhood dog would spend endless hours staring out windows. Occasionally, someone would pass by, and he would go into a barking frenzy.
At the time, I wondered why he found the window so entertaining. I thought he enjoyed it, the same way humans enjoy watching television. I thought that, when we were not home, he could at least have something to do, and a way to watch out for us as we came home.
Now, I realize that window-watching is not like television for dogs, it’s more like listening to a police radio scanner. Every stranger that passed caused my dog stress. It lead to him being reactive towards people who visited our home. Every time he reacted to a stranger passing by, his heart raced, and he barked until he was hoarse… multiple times a day. He couldn’t have enjoyed that at all, but my family and I, not knowing any better, rarely discouraged it. Sorry, old dog.
I allow my dogs to look out windows, but call them to me if they’re on the verge of an outburst. They rarely become impassioned, because I avoid letting them boil over.
Avoid having furniture close to windows, in such a way that causes your dog to stare out windows and bark at strangers. Use window film to remove the temptation to window-watch.
Your dog won’t be deprived. They’ll be much, much happier.
Step 5: Take Her Out.
When you give her limited window access, you can control how your dog sees and experiences the outside world. Chihuahuas are sometimes anxious and yappy because they don’t have many opportunities to see strangers and new environments in a positive light. More happy outings = a happier world for your pup.
Visit dog parks and beaches during off-peak hours. Take your dog for a walk downtown and dine at restaurants with a dog-friendly outdoor patio. Hit the pet store and let your dog pick out a new toy.
Outdoor car shows, fairs and festivals can all be fun places to take your dog. They can be too loud, crowded and overwhelming at peak hours, however.
Going out with your dog does mean making sacrifices. You may not be able to enter stores, and you’ll have to be watchful of uncomfortable situations, like other dogs, children, even adults who may rudely approach. You may have to leave suddenly if your dog is no longer having a good time.
For the most part, outings are fun. Walking your dog around town is a great way to socialize her, help reinforce her training in different environments, and make people smile.