Discipline Your Chihuahua. Should You? How?


There is a great debate among dog trainers and dog owners alike about what method is best to use to train your dog. That debate is dominance based training vs positive reinforcement training.


There are those that are adamant that the dominance, alpha dog approach is best. This method is based on the belief that dogs in the wild have always had a pack leader and that the other dogs in the pack submit to him. In a home, you must establish that you are the pack leader and assert dominance over your dog. This method often uses choke chains, shock collars and what is known as “flooding” or holding a dog down on his side until he submits to you.


There are also those that believe the positive reward based method is the best. This method is based on the belief that dogs want to please and if you reward them for good behavior they will learn what they need to do to please you and that at some point they will no longer need a treat or reward to perform the desired behavior.

Some say they use a blended or balanced method to train their dogs. This method includes some of both types of training.

The New York dog trainer that trained Ronald Reagan’s dogs says he doesn’t believe in a one size fits all training method. He considers breed-specific behaviors when training dogs. For instance, was the dog bred to hunt, pull, fight, guard, or do they have a strong prey drive. He notes that it is important that the owner is a good leader.


I believe it’s balanced. Don’t you think positive reinforcement is often misused? Have you seen owners that praise their dog for doing anything they believe to be positive behavior? They may praise him when he barks at the mailman, or tell him to “calm down”. According to trainers on both sides using too many words becomes meaningless to the dog and confuses him. As I’ve said many times, training is very important for raising a healthy and happy Chihuahua. I think Chihuahuas respond best to positive reinforcement. Who would want to dominate these tiny little loving dogs anyway? What do you think?

It should be noted too that The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior says they are concerned about training programs based on dominance. That it can be ineffective and possibly dangerous, especially when done by an unskilled trainer. I believe the bottom line is balance and I lean more toward the positive based training. The most important thing, no matter which training method you prefer, make sure the trainer you use is knowledgeable and skilled regarding animal behavior.

Here are two videos regarding the two different methods



Questions? Send it in the comments below, and I will do my best to answer it.

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