So You Got a New Chihuahua
Congratulations! A new dog is a lifetime of joy, responsibility, and sometimes frustration. If this is your first Chihuahua then hopefully, you did your homework first and you know the responsibility and commitment involved.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and children are the most likely victims. Yes, Chihuahuas are tiny and may not seriously injure a child, but NO CHILD should EVER be bitten by a dog, period.
Children and Chihuahuas
That’s why it is very important to teach a child to respect a dog’s space. To teach them to always ask the owner before reaching out to pet a dog. The owner should know that dog and its temperament. Small children tend to be overly exuberant when encountering a tiny dog. It can be very scary for a Chihuahua to see this giant (to a Chihuahua, everything is giant) unpredictable strange human running toward them. Teach your children to never ever try to pick up a Chihuahua they don’t know and to never approach while he is eating or sleeping.
Bringing Home Your New Bundle of Joy
If it is at all possible, try to time the homecoming when your home is calm. Not on a day when you expect the repairman or company or your long lost relatives from California. Not a holiday or birthday. You Chihuahua, whether a puppy or an older dog your new Chi needs quite adjustment time.
Dogs in general, are social creatures, so being left alone in a strange place will make him feel lonely and insecure. Not a good way to start out a brand new life with you. It would be ideal if you could bring him home while you are on vacation or on a long weekend, so you can be around to help him settle in and begin to feel comfortable in his new surroundings and his new humans.
If you are bringing home a puppy, please don’t bring him home at night, right before bedtime. The first night without momma will be the hardest time for him. He will need a whole day to acclimate.
Introduction To Children
Don’t have any children, you say? Do you have grandchildren? Friends with children? Plan on taking your Chi with you places? There’ll probably be children. You want your Chihuahua to be comfortable around children and children to be comfortable around your Chihuahua.
Rule number one. Never leave a child and a Chihuahua alone together. Careful and calm supervision every time they are together will help keep the child and the Chihuahua from fearing each other. Teach your children (or visiting children) these simple rules.
- Sit on the floor to play with the Chihuahua
- Never put your face close to him
- You may pet him, but never close your hand (with very young children this will prevent them from grabbing some fur or an ear)
- Don’t tease or poke him (with very young children you may have to explain what teasing is)
- Never feed or play with him without permission
- If the dog wants to leave, let him go. Don’t try to hang on to him.
Introduction To Other Dogs
To introduce your new dog to other dogs, whether yours or friends, it’s best to introduce them on a nutral territory. That is territory that neither dogs see as his or hers.
- A good place to meet is at a park. Put both dogs on a leash. A couple of suggestions:
- Do it when both dogs are tired. If both dogs are tired, or physically satisfied dogs they will be less likely to have an unfavorable reaction.
- Start with them at a safe distance from each other to gauge how they will react when closer. Gradually move them closer if they remain calm until they are together. Then let them sniff each other and check each other out.
- After a few minutes, pull them both apart for a breather, then together again.
- If both dogs are yours, follow the same procedure in the yard, then the house.
Some red flags to look for are:
- trying to get away
- tucking his tail between his legs
If there are no red flags and they seem very chill around each other, then and only then, take the leashes off. Keep in mind though, they may play fight. If the younger dog is jumping and being exuberant, the older dog may growl, but this is normal. It’s the older dog’s way of telling the younger one to “chill out”.
If the dogs start to play extremely roughly, break them up and let them relax. Just like children, they may start out playing nicely, but things can escalate into a squabble. It doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t play together again, like children, they just need time to cool off a bit.