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Chihuahua and bonding.

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Chihuahua and bonding.
  •  I got my Chihuahua about half a year ago, he was already a year old when I got him, and had belonged to two different owners (the first being the breeder). My family... dosn't like small dogs all that much. I hadn't had any expericance with them prior to my mother bringing him home (his previous owner was a friend of my mothers who couldn't keep him because he refuses to be put on a leash - behavior that means nothing to us since we live in a huge open area for him to run around as much as he likes), and I instantly fell in love with him. From day one he has been my dog, and everyone else in my family was fine with that.

     At first, Zel (the Chihuahua) shook all the time and hid in the corner. Then my brother and step-father both decided to get dogs of their own, and the new additions really helped to loosen Zel up and he became more playful... kind of.

     The root of my problem is here: Zel hates all people other than my mother, my step-father, and myself. If anyone other than my mother trys to pick him up he runs and hides under my mothers bed, or underneath the nearest chair if my mothers door is shut. If anyone walks near him, other than my mother or step father, (this includes me) he runs under the bed, and some certain people (such as two of my brothers) he will bark at and try to bite the ankles of.

    I know that Chihuahua's only tend to bond with one person (this case being my mother), but is there any way I could at least get him to stop barking and biteing at some people, and if possible, trying to get him to like me enough to pick him up?
     

  • DistinctlyBenign
    The root of my problem is here: Zel hates all people other than my mother, my step-father, and myself. If anyone other than my mother trys to pick him up he runs and hides under my mothers bed, or underneath the nearest chair if my mothers door is shut. If anyone walks near him, other than my mother or step father, (this includes me) he runs under the bed, and some certain people (such as two of my brothers) he will bark at and try to bite the ankles of.

    I know that Chihuahua's only tend to bond with one person (this case being my mother), but is there any way I could at least get him to stop barking and biteing at some people, and if possible, trying to get him to like me enough to pick him up?
     

    First off I want to response to this thread because I feel issues like this are the root reason why people hate little dogs. Every where I go with my Pom you can just hear it in people's voice "oh is that a Pom...? Don't they bark" UMMM NO actually she's never barked once in her life...

    When small dogs like this become vicious, it causes stereotypes.

    Chihuahua's are NOT suppose to bond with one person. no no no... this has been a toy dog myth in general for ages. "Oh my other dog is my dog's best friend. Oh he's just a momma's boy..." no no no...

    If you do not properly socialize a toy dog from DAY ONE it can cause a "mini monster" Toy dogs are the hardest dogs to socialize meaning they take the most dedication, the most patience, and sometimes the most time. BREAKING the habbits of an older dog get harder and harder the older they get.

    A dog should never be scared up, bite, or act in the manner that Zel does. If a larger dog did that? Guess what... animal control would be called and that dog would be put to sleep. I know two german shepards in my town that were put to sleep b/c they were "too unfriendly"

    The best advice I can give you is to seriously recognize this is a HUGE problem. That dog has a lot of issues and needs a trainer big time. If you do not solve this problem and that dog even "trys" to attack a stranger.... what are you doing to do if animal control knocks at the door???

    I'll tell you from personal experience... I have two Chihuahuas that live next door to me. If the "charge" at my Pomeranian one more time... I'm calling animal control. I haven't b/c I have a heart and I love dogs; but dogs that severely unsocialized deserve proper care & owners.

    I hate to be blunt but I want you to understand how serious of a situation this is... I hope some of the trainers here can offer you advice. My Pom is beyond amazing for being a toy dog BUT I don't feel my advice would help since I socialized her starting at 12 weeks old/as a puppy.

    TO ALL THE TRAINERS/BEHAVIORISTS OUT HERE; CAN YOU OFFER ANY REFERENCES OR TRAINING TECHNIQUES TO SOCIALIZE THIS DOG?? I feel the better we educate people about toy dogs the less times situations like this will happen....

  • I suppose I should be more specific, he only barks at and runs away from strangers. Theres only two people he bites at, he never bites them just bites at them. Both of which don't like small dogs, and I've seen purposfuly try to scare him because he barked at them in the past. Both of which are my brohters, who should know enough to be nice to the dog (ages 15 and 30). 

     People who walk by him he'll bark at, and if they pay any attention to him, he simply runs under the bed. Myself, my step-father, and my mother are the only people he won't bark at, be he still runs from my step-father and I.

    He loves being around the other dogs, and seems fairly impassive about any other type of animal.
     

  • I would say get in touch with a trainer or behaviorist. If the dog is scared of strangers then it wasn't socialized properly in the beginning. Many small dogs are but this doesn't make it right, ya know?? 

  •  Distinctly,

    Welcome to the board!

    One of the first things I would do with respect to this Chi is ensure that everyone in the family knows the established rules and follows them with regards to what is and what isn't allowed with respect to the dog's behavior.  This establishes good boundaries and dogs feel more secure when there are boundaries in place.

    I would also take time to work with and train this dog separately from the rest of the dogs.  Work on basic things like "Sit" and "come" and "stay."  Teach the dog that obedience means good things.  That the rewards for listening are much greater and more fun than the rewards for running away or doing his own thing.

     With regards to barking/biting at strangers I would work on desensitization techniques.  Have trustworthy strangers come over and ignore the dog, not making eye contact, or acknowledging the dog at all.  When the dog gets the least bit curious, tiny pieces of roast beef fall on the floor around the stranger, who still ignores the dog.  After a few sessions like this, the dog should start to look forward to strangers coming over, after all to the dog, strangers mean roast beef!!!

     
    Picking up the dog:  Some dogs don't like to be picked up.  It may hurt them.  More common though is that it makes a dog feel vulnerable.  This you want to start very slowly.  Food + petting, then food + putting hands around the dogs midsection.  Reward for all good behavior, ignore for all bad behavior.

    Chi's definitely can become "one person" dogs, but a well balance Chi is gregarious, fun loving and has a confident walk. 

     

  • Thanks to all for the replys, I think I'll try what Xerxes suggested.

     As to his reaction to getting picked up, he absolutly loves it if my mother pays attention to him or picks him up. He'll sit on her lap for hours while she works on her laptop, and as long as theres not a bunch of people around her, he likes to follow her around the house. He has definitly chosen her as the one person he wants to bond with, if he was to be a one person dog.

    Unfourtunatly, I'm only 19 and don't set the rules in my house. I have asked both of my brothers to stop treating Zel the way they do, but they both ignore me as I am not the figure of athority. Fortunatly, however, one of the brothers does not live with us, and the other is away for half a year or longer, so I'll do my best to make Zel socilable by the time he returns. :D 

  • DistinctlyBenign

    Unfourtunatly, I'm only 19 and don't set the rules in my house. I have asked both of my brothers to stop treating Zel the way they do, but they both ignore me as I am not the figure of athority. Fortunatly, however, one of the brothers does not live with us, and the other is away for half a year or longer, so I'll do my best to make Zel socilable by the time he returns. :D 

    Can you have a sit down chat with your mom and step-dad and get them to back you up and enforce the rules?

    In the meantime, you can work on boosting your chi's confidence.  Start working on some basic obediance skills, begin teaching him some fun tricks, etc.  Ed's advice for working on his socialization was great.  Another thing -- I would teach him to walk on a leash (it can be done) :-), and start taking him for daily walks.  Dogs benefit from exercise and from having structure in their lives.

    I would also begin implementing NILIF, with ALL family members participating.  And a book I like and often recommend for small dog owners is this:  "Little Dogs:  Training Your Pint-Sized Companions."

    Good luck, I hope you are able to find some solutions.  Smile

  • Oh, he looks very cute!  If there is one thing I have found to be true about my own rescue Chihuahuas it is that there is a big myth about little dogs not recognizing size and bonding with only one person.  I believe little dogs DO know their size and that they are in fact fearful.  Sometimes this comes across as perceived aggression sometimes as fearful running away and barking.

     The best way to befriend your little dog is to have sit quietly and let him come to you.  I bet you that with time he will learn to trust that you (and visitors) are not going to come after him.  I do not allow anyone to try to pick up my dog.  Most little dogs do not respond well to someone trying to pick them up when they are scared.  It is much better to wait until he comes to you, and if your Mom is busy and not sitting, my bet is he will because Chi's love nothing better than a warm lap.

    Do recognize that it can be mighty scary to a little dog to suddenly find himself in a new home, with new people, new dogs and new rules.  It may take him time to warm up, but if you are patient and kind I am certain he become better with time.  The most important thing is to never put him in a postition where he feels he needs to defend himself or where he is scared.  No one is allowed to try to pet my dogs unless the dogs come up to them and feel comfortable.  That is just the way it is while they develop confidence.  In time they have learned to trust strangers, but only because they have been allowed to build that trust slowly.

    Both my chi's love me and my husband.  My little girl dog loves new people who visit, but the boy who was a bit older when I got him, used to be terrified.  Now with love and attention, training, and confidence building, he now greets people and will sit in their lap.  Quite an accomplishment for a once fearful and shaky little guy!

    Good luck to you!

  • What I have found that really helped my fear-aggressive, people-hating, little dog, was the dog park. He loves other dogs, but is not so fond of people. When he's at the park, he's playing with his buddies. And hey! Look! A human, he's playing with my friends too, he must not be so bad! Socialize him, little by little. I guarentee you will see an improvement.

    Ask your parents to make Zel sit before anything happens to him. Before a walk, before getting to snuggle. Don't allow him to just jump up on the couch, make him sit, and ask to come up. Teach him off. Make yourself in charge.

  • While I thoroughly believe training can go a long ways into helping situations such as this, one has to remember that many of these little guys are tramatized as young pups, and sometimes all the training in the world will not change their *fear*.

    I for one have 3 little dogs whom all have come from abusive situations; and let me tell you, it can be a very trying experience upon yourself to take on and can take years, if ever, to get the dog passed what fears him.

    My chihuahua is 8yrs old, I've had him since he was a year old...best dog in the world in terms of having tought himself very good manners, except he is deathly afraid of the word *come* and taking him to the dog park with a gozillion bigger dogs around....forget it. He had been chained in a backyard his hole first year of life and had bigger dogs constantly picking on him, that doesn't mean he can't tolerate them one on one, as long as they know their manners as well.

    2nd dog is a 5yr old female pomeranian who lives life as a cat, literally. She's deathly afraid of ALL kinds of noises, does not like to be picked up, shakes and hides terribly. BUT, she LOVES to eat, play with the chihuahua (when no one else is around) and go for car rides...she came from a horribly neglected/malnourished home as a puppy whom was thrown in a playpen and ate nothing but cottage cheese her whole puppy-hood.  She weighs 3#, but only weighed a little over a pound when we got her 4.5yrs ago. ...we've had her for 4yrs, and have made VERY little progress because she is not very easy to train, she's delicate, not food motivated (though she does like to eat), and is a nervous freight train. Vet does not care to put her on a sedative or other medication for longterm cause she's too tiny.  This dog has been a testimate to our patience trust me....cause if the house is not quiet enough she will not eat, will not come back inside, and it gets WAY too cold for a 3# dog to sit outside too long, plus we live on a couple of acres, so we always have to go out and find her in the dark.....you know what it's like looking for a 3-4" dog in an open yard/field of yucca plants, evergreen trees, sage bushes in the pitch darkness??

    Mind you, this dog not only came neglected/malnourished to us, but she had also been abused physically, already had an emergency hysterectomy at her less then 1yr of age because she was carrying pups that she was too small to deliver without dying herself.

    We have done EXACTLY what trainers have suggested. Close the door to her crate so she can't *hide* all the time, slowly make increasing noises as time goes on, in other words, 4yrs ago we were told not to bombard her all at once, but to make slow changes in her life so she could learn to become a normal dog. 4yrs later, we've managed to turn her into a physically healthy dog, she's gorgous, she's outgoing with our other 2 litte dogs, and she comes out of hiding when she wants to go for a walk or a car ride...but that's it!

    She even hates tile and linoleium flooring, which makes it very difficult to making sure she's drinking enough water, most of the time I end up putting water in her food to make sure she gets it.

    3rd dog is a 6# Pomeranian who was 9mnths old when we found him abandoned in a truck stop dumpster. He IS a fear biter, but only if you make too sudden of a move or if you startle him, he also has very mild seisures from some type of injury that caused bone spurs on the edge of his spine near his neck...his biggest fear is of someone touching that area. He is on supplements to assist with luxating patella's, and to hopefully prevent serious neck arthritis when he ages. Per 3 vets and an orthepedic surgeon he is not experiencing pain, but can experience discomfort if moved wrong, jump wrong,etc....BUT he does have a fear of anyone ever touching him there, my guess is someone severly abused him prior to throwing him in the dumpster.

    He knows how to sit, lay down, etc. ...but to ask him to *get over* his fear biting of when someone moves too fast, or too close will take years to overcome...AND also the responsibility of making sure (on our part) that he ONLY comes into contact with people who understand NOT to push their limits/luck.

    I highly understand if he were a bigger dog it would not be acceptable, nonetheless, one can still be held accountable for a small dog too. For this reason, we do NOT allow anyone outside of the household to even touch this dog, exception is friends/family who is aware of this dogs situation.

    Socializing him at a dog park is not possible, there are too many big dogs that could gravely injure him. And, many problems that ARE brought on from unsocializating many of these small dogs is because lack of dog parks for SMALL dogs....Not anyone of my 3 little guys could ever be walked into our local dog parks, most of the parks are real nice, with nice dogs, for the most part....but bigger dogs just love to cuddle the small dogs so much that they can't breath.

    Prior to these guys...we had a 17yr old pomeranian whom we got when she was 2yrs of age. She too had been chained in the backyard, beaten constantly, had an injured front leg, seisures, had to fight for her food, etc. My Mom used to be a school bus driver and would pick up kids at the rear corner of the lot to this house where Amber spent her 2yrs hooked to a chain that weighed more then she did. For MONTHS my Mom would walk to the doorstep and ask the owners if she could take the dog, she even offered to pay money for her...they wouldn't allow it, and kept insisting that the dog would be used for breeding. My parents contacted animal control SEVERAL times, of whom would only make stops by the house to make sure the dogs were being fed and had water....see animals were not looked at the same way in terms of their *rights* in the late 70-80's like they are now.

    My Mom watched this dog suffer for 2yrs, finally my Dad told her to offer them $300 for her. We got her at that point....however, it was a VERY trying time for the first 2yrs of her life with us. She had seisures so bad from being abused that she remained on deaths door for months, she got sick at the slightest drop of a hat, always coming down with some type of bacterial infection cause her immune system from having lived her first 2yrs in the Colorado's winter cold temps with NO shelter and only concrete to lay on really put a factor in the whole slew of things. It wasn't until she was nearly 6yrs old that we could really start working with her, as it took her quite a number of months to get her seisures under enough control that she could live life and eat, let alone train her to not be afraid of us.

    She remained seisure free from about 7yrs on, after thoroughly bringing her health back in order, but she never did take to men...in fact, she would ONLY go to my father on HER request, never his own. He just learned to accept that and knew it had nothing to do with him personally.

    Your brothers are traumatizing this dog by trying to scare it and that should NEVER be allowed...I don't care what people say, dogs do NOT forget.