Coming home from a long day of work, there are few more distressing sights than the destruction created by a Chihuahua chewing on every piece of furniture, toy, rug, shoe, or piece of electronics it can sink its teeth into. Chihuahuas are a sensitive breed, more susceptible to behavioral problems such as chewing than other dogs, but their small size, feisty and curious nature mean that they should not be immediately written off as bad pets. Their shortcomings can be overcome with training, time and a dedicated owner.
Recognizing the Motivation of a Chihuahua Chewing
Like most other behavioral issues, chewing usually has its roots in a deeper problem the dog is having. Of the many possible reasons the owner might find his or her Chihuahua chewing, these are among the most common:
In certain situations it might be obvious which of these is the cause of the problem, but oftentimes the answer is more elusive. It is important to carefully consider the possible reasons for the dogs behavior and address each one individually. Is the dog left alone for long periods of time? If so the cause is probably boredom and/or separation anxiety. The Chihuahua needs a companion for its time alone or the diversion of a larger yard and more toys to play with . For those that work and live in an apartment, neither of these may be feasible options. It might be advisable to look into a dog sitting or dog walking service to allow the Chihuahuas more interaction and activity.
If a Chihuahua is exposed to prolonged loud noises, frequently changing environments or other discomfort it might develop a chewing habit to cope with the excess stress. Owners should take care to limit the dog’s time spent in difficult situations and provide other outlets such as playing, walking and petting.
Dealing with Chihuahua Chewing
Some dogs, no matter what we provide, will always have a desire to chew. In these cases it is important to take up a strict regime of obedience training to curb the habit. A dog that is properly trained can be contained, if not entirely stopped from chewing.
In curing a chewing habit, it is important to enforce the principles of positive and negative reinforcement. With time a dog will make strong associations and the owner can use this to his or her advantage. As soon as the dog begins chewing, the owner must firmly reprimand it and then try to distract it by issuing basic commands and rewarding it for performing them. This should simultaneously distract the dog from chewing and increase its obedience in the future. With time, chewing frequency should decrease and the owner will be left with a more manageable dog.
As the dog progresses towards a chew free lifestyle, it is important to take precautions that limit its destructive behavior. Thankfully, a Chihuahua chewing on a piece of furniture is significantly less serious than, say, a Golden Retriever, but they can nevertheless do a surprising amount of damage, particularly if given enough time. A dog that chews should never be left alone for extended periods in a room in with many vulnerable items. If the owner must leave their dog alone, a special area should be designated in which is placed a variety of toys and all valuables are removed. This way, if the Chihuahua does chew, it will hopefully be on toys.
Those that believe Chihuahua chewing is beyond fixing should not give up hope. It is simply a matter of the proper training and care that makes the difference between a difficult pet and a great one.