Part IV, The Mechanics of Training

Welcome to part IV of our series on training your Chihuahua. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from you that this series of posts have been very helpful. I am so honored by your wonderful encouraging comments! Thank you all

In Part IV we will be considering:

  • What is a release word and why is it important?
  • Should I use hand signals or words?
  • What words should I use or can I make up my own?
  • Can I make up my own tricks?
  • What does it mean to “chain” commands?
  • How long does it take to train a dog?
  • What expectations are realistic?

What is a release word and why is it important when training your Chihuahua?

When training your Chihuahua, a release word is one that tells your dog that he is no longer under your command. If for instance, you are teaching your dog to “sit”, using a release word lets him know that he no longer has to “sit” or that he is free to go run and play.

“ok!” is the most common release word and is also used to release him to jump out of the car, to pounce on a toy, or to go and greet a visitor at the door.

Should I use hand signals or words?

It is acceptable to use either or to use both. Hand signals can be useful when showing off his awesome intelligence. For instance, if a child asks him a question, a subtle “bark” hand signal will delight both the child and your dog.

brown smooth coat chihuahua with a tiny soccer ball in his mouth sitting on grass and a human finger pointing down at the ground
Use verbal or hand signals

Some dogs respond better to hand signals. To test your dog, try giving the verbal word for one behavior and a hand signal for another behavior. Often the dog will perform the behavior you requested with a hand signal.

What words should I use, or can I make up my own?

Training your Chihuahua is not a critical situation, so of course, you can make up your own words or signals. However, if you want to at some time enter you Chi in agility training, standardized words and signals are used. So, really, it’s best to use the standardized ones. Later in this series, as I show how to teach each command or trick, I’ll also show you the standardized hand signal.

Also, if you teach your dog a lot of tricks, you may find that you soon run out of verbal or hand cues. For instance, it is tempting at the beginning to use “left” or “right”, but soon you may wish you had used some other word.

Can I make up my own tricks?

Sometimes the best tricks happen accidentally! I can’t think of an example at the moment, but you will recognize it when it happens. When it does, elaborate on it.

a pretty girl in a dress squatting down and performing a high-five with a tan smooth coated chihuahuaIn obedience class, you teach your dog the correct behaviors and it’s his job to do them exactly as you teach him to. Trick training is a whole different story. When trick training, you and your dog are a team and it can be a collaborative process.

What does it mean to “chain commands” when training your Chihuahua?

Chaining commands are when you add one command on to one he has already learned. To teach your dog to roll up in a blanket, for instance, involves; “come”, “down”, “take it”, “roll over”, “head down”, together these commands can create one pretty impressive trick.

How long does it take to train my dog?

How long does it take a child to become an educated adult? Think of training your dog the same way. It really is a lifelong process. Even after your dog has learned a trick well, he will need repetition. You know the saying, “use it or lose it”? It’s the same for your dog. Unless your dog is asked to perform a trick he has learned on a regular basis, just like humans, he will forget how to do it.

Realistic Expectations

Ok, by now you’re probably envisioning your dog doing all these cool tricks and totally amazing and entertaining your friends and family. Maybe you’re thinking of going on “America’s Got Talent” and winning a million dollars!

Although a Chihuahua riding a skateboard would be really cool, it’s probably not a realistic expectation

I’m so sorry to have to burst your bubble or rain on your parade, but, that’s just not going to happen. If you have any kind of life outside of your dog, it’s just not possible.

My confession

I have a confession to make. “sigh” I have three Chihuahuas and none of them know any super cool tricks. “What”? So here’s where you may be asking. “So what makes you think you can teach me how to train MY dog?” I’ve asked myself that a few times.

Here’s my honest answer

How many great hairdressers do you know that fix their own hair? Or maybe a more appropriate example would be: How many really good house painters do you know whose own house needs painting?

This is my favorite thing to do with my Chihuahuas and they are SO good at it!

Like I said, you have to spend hours and hours training. I know the “how”, but I don’t have the time. My dogs are my babies, not show dogs. My life is spent on the computer writing, making videos, taking photos so I can share them with you. I also have a life outside of that. I do volunteer work and spend my time doing many other things, including playing and cuddling and enjoying my three fur babies.

With that being said, every dog should know the basic commands and that is where we will start. First, potty training and then on to the basic commands. After that, I’ll show you how to teach your dog some cool tricks.

After you have taught your dog the basic commands (remember, use it or lose it), then you may have the time and want to teach your dog a cool trick or two to show off your dog and entertain your friends and family. You won’t be able to teach him all of them, but you will have the ability to choose the ones you want to teach and will learn how to do it.

Jokingly I sometimes think of myself as “the crazy Chihuahua lady”. Life with Chihuahuas can indeed be fun, frustrating and sometimes “crazy”. Subscribe to my brand new YouTube Channel where I will soon be uploading videos of my life as the “crazy Chihuahua lady” and my three wonderful and totally “normal” Chihuahuas!

Part V, How to Housebreak a Chihuahua

Did you miss:

Part I, Introduction to Training

Part II, Your Job as a Trainer

Part III, The Number One Reason People Fail


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