When I was in my late teens, early 20s, my parents had this male Doberman, named Murphy. He was beautiful. They got him as a puppy, and I remember how feisty and how furiously he would grab your pant legs, attack anything that moved, and when he was a puppy it was cute, but he was stubborn, he was a real challenge. Highly intelligent, high-strung, and fast as lightning.
As he got older, it only got worse. Dad and him were always duking it out over who was Alpha, as Murph was not convinced he shouldn’t be the one in charge, and he could be very vicious.
Now, from what I have observed, read and researched, Chihuahuas are a big guard dog in a small dogs body, and treating them as mere accessories makes for a very ill-adjusted doggo. Because they are so small, a lot of folks do tend to cater to their size, ignore their intelligence and cocky protective character, and that is a mistake.
So, my own wee daemon ninja weasel turned 5 months old January 1st, and the dance of dominance is in full swing, establishing my leadership with the little sh!tstain.
“Discipline isn’t about showing a dog who’s boss; it’s about taking responsibility for a living creature you have brought into your world.”Cesar Millan, Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar’s Way to Transform Your Dog . . . and Your Life
Frankly, I’m tired of dragging her round the apartment on my pant leg. When she’s in this mode, NO nor OW work, she is obsessed.
When I try to detach her deadly little teeth from whatever pants I’m wearing, snarly dog comes out, and that doggo I don’t like, want, nor will tolerate.
Walk anywhere, do anything, and she is right there, trying to attach herself, nipping at my shins, pinching the backs of my knees, in all out ankle biter on crack mode.
So, that’s where we are, a battle of wills.
These little dogs are stubborn, cocky and smart, and wield their cuteness strategically, and that is not just hyperbole, they are intelligent and resourceful.
Same as Murph used his size and great big nasty teeth to his advantage, its instinct in some breeds of dogs, if you allow them to think they need to be Alpha, they will challenge you.
Convincing a cocky lil’Chi that you da boss can be a challenge.
“I believe it’s our loss of connection with our instinctual side that prevents us from being effective pack leaders for our dogs. Perhaps it’s also why we also seem to be failing at being positive guardians of our planet.”Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier
I strive to remain in a calm frame of mind, even if I do sometimes wail in pain.
One thing I’ve been doing lately is holding her little body aloft when she’s hell-bent for leather. I hold her up with both hands like I’m presenting a cooked Turkey, which I find totally puts her off kilter, and I wait until I can feel her adrenalin begin to slow, and then I put her on the floor and ignore her for a bit.
More than anything else, dogs do not like to be ignored, so ignoring them can be very effective at getting them to see it your way.
Another thing is when she is at her most vicious and high octane, I pick her up and turn her on her back, rest her on my legs, and stare her down.
I would do this with Murph, and it always worked. I don’t say anything, just make and keep eye contact, turn her head back if she tries to turn away – sometimes I growl.
To gain the upper hand with her I don’t react, establishing not my dominance, but more significantly, my ability to remain in control of the emotional barometer. Basically I am telling her that she does not have the upper hand, she does not move me to react, I am the master, and she would do well to accept this.
This is the groundwork, the early days, and it is very important to a healthy dog and human relationship that she has faith in my leadership.
I am the pack leader, and she takes her cues from me, not the other way around. I need to establish this for her to have confidence in me, and then I in turn can have confidence in her, that she and I can work together, as a team, a pack.
Yeah, so, the dominant role is not generally my modus operandi, therefore there is a bit of a learning curve for us both. I have learned first hand that they are stubborn little doggo’s, in some ways more than Dobermans, and I find the key is, as always, always consistency.
“Mother Nature’s ruthless to the weak, but isn’t arbitrary cruel or negative. Mother Nature saves aggression for extreme situations, and instead uses consistent leadership–to help keep things running smoothly. Mother nature doesn’t rule by fear and anger, but by calm strength and assertiveness.”Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier
And speaking of consistency, one way to get the little vicious one in line is to exhaust her with walks and play time.
Now, play times is easy, with games of fetch and such, teaching tricks to focus her mind.
Yet, walks get her out in the fresh air, she gets lots of new experiences, like strangers and their dogs, socializing her to this big bad world out our door.
So, one hiccup is that Chihuahuas are not so keen on our Canadian winters (have to say, I totally agree with her on that), so, walking has not been as, um, successful, necessarily, and on some days when the temps dipped well below freezing, walking is a complete no-go… she wants NOTHING to do with it, stands stalk still on the sidewalk and will not budge till I pick her up.
However, she is coming around, and yesterday it was sunny, while not necessarily mild it was not below freezing, and so she had a lot of fun prancing around in the snowy field down at the local park exploring.
And, after a nice walk, new things, meeting new strangers on the sidewalks, doggo’s in abundance, and though she is still somewhat shy, she held her own.
Afterwards we stripped off our snowy gear and I with my pot of tea, and she snuggled up on my lap… WINNING.
And a lovely, calm evening was had by all, no ankle biting, no dragging her little brown body around, just playing and licks and snuggles.
I used to watch Cesar Millan when I had TV, and one thing I liked about his methods is he stressed the psychological, the mind-set of the master and dog relationship. How dogs react to our emotions, read our gestures, and that dogs take cues from very subtle actions we may not even be aware we are giving away.
Therefore, dogs help us to be more well-adjusted, as much as we are helping them.
Also, walking, play, and the joy that brings, learning new things together, all these are good things for us, for me. These companions we bring into our lives, they give us so much more then just company.
Those random acts of smiling that she has given me are so valuable, and she enriches my life.
Em, and speaking of pack leaders, here’s another Cesar quote for the sycophants and toadies in Washington, just sayin’.
“animals don’t follow unstable pack leaders; only humans promote, follow, and praise instability. Only humans have leaders who can lie and get away with it. Around the world, most of the pack leaders we follow today are not stable. Their followers may not know it, but Mother Nature is far too honest to be fooled by angry, frustrated, jealous, competitive, stubborn, or other negative energy—even if it is masked by a politician’s smile.”Cesar Millan, Be the Pack Leader: Use CESAR’S WAY to Transform Your Dog . . . and Your Life