Teaching tricks for dogs, is really easy, especially when you’re dealing with a Chihuahua. Chihuahuas love showing off, and it will surprise you how fast your Chi will learn tricks when you start teaching her. So what are you waiting for? Put some dog treats in your pocket and call your Chi.
The benefits of trick training
Chihuahuas like learning tricks. After all, during training, they have what they want most-your full attention, plus praise and treats. A Chihuahua thinks trick training was created just to make her feel special, but you reap rewards, too. Besides giving you a chance to have fun and impress your friends, teaching tricks for dogs encourages closer bonding and leads to better behavior.
Another advantage to trick training is that it makes your Chi an impressive ambassador for her breed. Many people believe tiny dogs are brainless and lack character, but a Chi that waves and barks on command changes their thinking in a hurry.
Besides, after a shy Chi learns how to pull off a trick or two, she’ll have something other than fear to focus on in social situations. And making people laugh improves her confidence.
Pushing your dog’s performance buttons
When it comes to motivation, the happier your Chi is about learning a new move, the faster she’ll perfect it. So, if you’re a good motivator, your dog can be a terrific trickster in no time.
What’s the key to effective motivation? Praise. But praising your Chi works only when your tone is sincere and maybe a little silly-okay, mighty silly with some dogs. Praising your pet in a drab monotone won’t turn her on. It will sound similar to elevator music.
How can you make the praise so powerful that your Chi wants more? Give it with gusto. Give your Chi a big smile when you say, “Good girl!” If she’s a little lethargic, accentuate your praise with a little applause. Use joyful words that come naturally to you, and say them in an excited voice every time she willingly gives a trick a try. Don’t become boring by using the same praise words and treats every time. You can surprise her with new words like: “Way to go, girl!” “All Right!” “Yes, Yes!” Scratch her back. Give her a taste of cheese, a sliver of hot dog, a bite of burger, or toss her a toy.
Read your Chihuahua’s reactions to rewards. Your praise should make her eager to continue the lesson. Don’t make it so shrill that it scares her or so invigorating that it distracts her.
Soon, you’ll discover which phrases inspire your Chi to try harder, which treats she finds most tempting, and whether she’d rather chase a squeaky toy or have a back rub. In other words, you’ll identify your Chi’s buttons. Pushing them makes her happy, and when she’s happy, she’s willing to try the trick again.
Putting her in the mood
Because treats are important part of teaching tricks for dogs, try to train your Chihuahua when she’s hungry-before, not after her meals. Before beginning a training session, take her outdoors and give her an opportunity to relieve herself. When you get back inside, let her watch you prepare and pocket some treats. When you have her undivided attention, start with something she knows. Have her Sit for a tidbit. That sets the tone and puts her in a cooperative mood to learn her first trick.
Don’t try trick training until your Chi can sit on command. Sitting is a prerequisite to most tricks.
Using praise and treats wisely
When teaching different dog tricks, use praise and treats to motivate your Chi, and don’t bark out “No!” when she makes a wrong move. When she does something right, reward her. When she does something wrong or does nothing at all, don’t reward her. It’s as simple as that. Neither force nor punishment should ever be involved.
Reward every correct move, no matter how tiny or tentative, when your dog is learning something new.
Shaking Hands or Gimme Five
If the Sit command is second nature to your Chi, you can teach her to Shake Hands or Gimme Five. Just follow these simple steps:
- Kneel down to your Chihuahua’s level after telling her to Sit and say the cue word you choose. Be creative. It doesn’t matter what verbal cue you use as long as you use the same one every time.
- Pick up one of her forelegs, lift it from underneath, and gently release it. Praise her as soon as you drop her leg, and give her a tiny treat.
- Repeat the process five times and then try it again later or tomorrow.
- After she’s comfortable with you picking up her leg, gently move it up and down before releasing it. The big breakthrough comes one day when your Chi lifts her leg as soon as you say the cue word. When she does, let her know how happy you are!
Waiving Hi and Bye
- Use your cue words and ask your Chi to shake hands.
- Just as she lifts her paw, pull your hand away while repeating your cue words in a happy voice. Most dogs wave their paws in the air in an effort to make contact with their humans’ hands.
- The instant your Chi waves even a little, say “Wave” and give her a treat.
Keep at it, making her wave just a bit longer each time before she gets her reward. When she starts to master the wave, you can eliminate asking for the handshake by going directly from Sit to Wave. Finally, you can wean her off the treat by giving it only once every few times. But continue praising her for every wave.
It’s also fun to hold your Chihuahua at chest level in both hands and ask her to wave at someone. You can teach this trick the same way, except that you need a helper. Hold your Chihuahua while your helper walks up; he or she should ask her to shake hands and then pull the hand away to elicit a wave. Some Chis will wave with both front legs when in their owner’s arms.
Use the command Wave rather than the more obvious “Hi” or “Bye” because it’s more versatile. You can cue your Chihuahua to wave hi and wave bye, and you can personalize the trick by telling her to “Wave to Aunt Amelia,” for instance.
Teaching your Chihuahua to speak
Here’s your chance to teach your Chi how to speak with the following steps:
- Start by showing your Chihuahua her favorite treat. Wiggle it right in front of her, but don’t let her take it.
- Get her all wound up by teasing her with the treat.
- As she prances around, say “Speak” excitedly, over and over. The object is to get her to make a sound.
- When she makes a sound (even if it’s a wimpy squeak), give her the treat and plenty of praise. After she eats the treat, try again. Stop after five tries no matter how much fun she’s having.
Some Chihuahuas anticipate this trick and begin barking before you can say the cue word. Every time your Chi tries that, tell her “Shhhh” and don’t give her the cue (or the treat) until she quiets down. Have her stay quiet for several seconds. After repeating this process, she’ll learn that Shhhh means hush-an extra bonus trick that can really come in handy if your dog is a problem barker.
Dancing the salsa
Chihuahuas make marvelous dancers, with moves that are the envy of larger breeds. To teach your Chi the salsa, turn on your favorite tune or hum a few notes. Hold a treat several inches above her head and say “Let’s dance!” The object is to get her to walk a few steps on her hind legs, so move the treat forward slightly after she rears up.
When she realizes what you want, it still may take several weeks until her leg and back muscles are developed enough to let her dance on her hind legs for several seconds. As soon as she can balance on her hind legs rather well, start moving the treat back and forth above her head to teach her to do the steps. If you want to teach her the tango, start moving the treat in a circle above her head to teach her to turn.
What do you do with a dancing dog? Join in, of course! As your Chihuahua swings and sways on her hind legs, start moving to the music along with her. Having a partner encourages her to make up steps of her own. She may soon add hops, skips, and jumps to her dancing repertoire.
Here’s a funny video with a Chihuahua dancing salsa.