From ‘chippy chihuahua’ into ‘I got this!’

Arlo  (pictured above) is a funny chap and has the loudest bark you have ever heard from a small dog! He came to us through a rescue having been surrendered at 19 weeks because of his aggression towards his sibling. We thought it was just excited play.

But the truth is he can be chippy and aggressive. It’s something that’s kind of crept up on us until one day we realised we had a real problem. For a chihuahua he has a long muzzle and a big bite, so it was something that had to be taken seriously. Last week I took Arlo and little Macy out for a walk on their own. I like to mix up the groupings a bit. We went to some fields that are separated by a large ditch. Arlo is perfectly able to jump the ditch and has done on more than one occasion. Anyway, Arlo was on a long line and Macy was off lead.

A walker with two dogs came into our field behind us. I bent down to secure Macy, and was momentarily distracted. I just didn’t see the other dog in the next field. Separated by the ditch but still only 2 yards away was a little black poodle. It was staring at Arlo. My heart leapt and I went into panic mode until I realised that Arlo had seen the dog and was ignoring it. He just shrugged it off. Nothing happened! I couldn’t believe it. Not so long ago he would have turned himself inside out, barking and lunging, basically, a full-on meltdown. It was amazing. He was amazing!

Honestly, I was so proud I cried. Only someone with a reactive dog will understand this. 

How we got our transformation

Arlo’s transformation has taken time to achieve. But it’s not an accident. We have been playing training games to help change his perception of what he considers a threat. We’ve played games to build his confidence, a solid proximity and recall. But one of the most important things he’s learnt to do is disengage. This is the power to see another dog and ignore it. It really is a superpower and is huge for Arlo, before he would have chased the dog hard just for looking at him.

Chihuahuas are hyper aware of movement and will see another dog (or something that worries them) and refuse to let it be. Escalating things until you have a crazy chihuahua spinning and barking on the end of the lead. Completely over threshold and unable to think or engage with you.

Through games we have rebuilt Arlo’s confidence and kind of rewired him so he can make better decisions.

Building in proximity so he stays by our side unless we say it’s Ok to ‘walk on’. The incident in the field made me realise how far we had come.

If your chihuahua is reactive and goes off like a rocket every time it sees another dog, or a bird or even a bag blowing in the wind it can be frustrating and embarrassing. People tut and point, and it makes you stressed when you take out your dog.

This is why I am starting the Chihuahua School Membership. So, I can take you and your chihuahua through this transformation. It doesn’t matter if you are lead on or lead off, imagine taking your chihuahua out for a walk and not being embarrassed or worried about a meltdown when another dog comes into view.

You are not under any obligation to do anything, I will just let you know when we open next.