Since Chihuahuas are small, this can result in some safety hazards for them. All it takes is one bite or swipe from a larger dog to send the Chi to the vet. Here are some tips for socializing your Chihuahua by introducing her to new people and dogs:
Puppy play. If possible, introduce your Chihuahua to other dogs while he is still a puppy, ideally between eight and twelve weeks of age.
Pay attention to your dog's demeanor. She'll let you know if she's intimidated or uncomfortable when meeting others. If that's the case, you'll need to introduce her more gradually to new places, people and animals.
Enforce consistency and patterns. If your dog does well meeting other people and animals at the park, establish a routine. Dogs adapt well to their owners' routines and your Chihuahua will enjoy the brief exercise and socialization. Find out what works and make it consistent.
Paws, claws, rear and teeth. Dogs are particularly protective over certain parts of their bodies. As puppies are pet, they become accustomed to people touching them around the sensitive eyes and ears. When your Chi is young or new to the family, make a habit out of touching his mouth, rump, paws and nails. If he is reluctant, reward him with a small treat for behaving while you do this. This will help with visits to the vet and can prevent an accident in case a child ever reaches for the dog with quick movements. Your Chihuahua's vet and groomer (if you have a long-haired Chi) will also be grateful.
Larger dogs and children. Chihuahuas should always socialize with larger dogs and children under supervised conditions only. It's easy for larger creatures to step on a Chihuahua or unintentionally initiate play that is too rough for the dog.
Introductions on leash. Always introduce your dog to other animals while he is leashed. This reinforces your leadership role and makes your Chihuahua feel comfortable. Larger dogs should also be leashed during introduction for safety and control.
Positive reinforcement works very well with Chihuahuas since they love attention! Reward your dog's positive social behavior with affection and treats. If using treats frequently, be sure to adjust your Chi's meals; you don't want her to become overweight and develop health issues.
This post was originally published on Examiner.com as Chihuahua Examiner. Republished with permission of the author.