In This Chapter
- Scheduling an appropriate arrival
- Protecting your puppy (and your belongings)
- Going shopping for Pepe
- Sailing through the first 48 hours
- Resisting the freedom fantasy
It’s almost dog day! You can feel the excitement in the air. I bet you can hardly wait to bring your puppy home, but first, you need to do a little organizing. This chapter helps you decide when to bring your Chihuahua home and tells you how to keep his curious tongue out of toxic things. It also helps you decide what your new dog needs and doesn’t need so you won’t be tempted to buy every toy and food option in the pet shop!
Are you wondering how to handle your Chihuahua when he’s the new dog on the block? How to guide your children or grandkids into a good relationship with their new pal? How to introduce your Pepe to your other pets? What you’ll do during those uncertain first couple days? How you’ll keep your Chi safe and free from escape temptation? Don’t worry. That’s all here, too.
Timing the Homecoming Just Right
The best time to bring home a new dog is when nothing new is happening at your place. Wait until the repair people are finished, the relatives have gone home, and the holiday season is over; this gives your Chi quiet time to get to know you and adjust to his new home.
If your Chihuahua is a holiday gift from your spouse to you or vice versa, settle for a photo of him under the Christmas tree or beside the Hanukah candles. If you have kids at home, gift-wrap a collar and leash, a food and water dish, and dog toys to go with the photo (see the later section “Shop till You Drop: Gathering the Chi Goods”). Bring the dog home only after the parties are over and the decorations have been boxed. A normal home has enough gizmos to tempt a puppy into trouble. Halls decked out for the holidays can be downright dangerous.
Don’t ever give a dog as a present unless you’re absolutely sure the recipient wants one and that the breed you picked is his or her favorite. Better yet, before you pay for the pup, invite the potential owner to meet him and check out the chemistry between them.
Dogs are social animals, so being alone in a strange place makes a Chihuahua feel lonely and insecure. It’s better if you can bring him home when you have a vacation or a long weekend so you can be around to help him settle in. Is a regular weekend the best you can do? Bring him home as early as possible on Saturday morning. Don’t opt for Friday night, because bedtime without his dam (mother) and littermates is the hardest time for a puppy, and he’ll feel better if he has a whole day to acclimate first.
Puppy-Proofing Your Chi’s Room
Until he’s housebroken (see Chapter Establishing Good Behavior and Manners
), the right place for your Chihuahua (when no one can supervise) is in one easily cleaned room of your home. Most people find the kitchen ideal, unless yours is exceptionally large. In that case, a bathroom may be suitable.
Your Chi’s room must be puppy-proofed for his safety. Puppies are curious, and because they don’t have fingers to feel things, they try to taste everything (no matter how yucky the things may smell to you). Keep all cleaning agents, pesticides, antifreeze, and other household and garden chemicals out of your puppy’s reach. Do the same with electrical wires. If it isn’t possible to eliminate every electrical cord your Chi can reach, coat them with a bitter spray (found at pet stores). The spray is a safe, evil-tasting liquid, formulated to prevent chewing.
Place a wire mesh baby gate across the doorway; this works better than a solid door, which isolates the puppy, adding to his loneliness and frustration, and leads to incessant barking, temper tantrums, and tiny tooth prints in the door. Make sure the mesh is strong enough to withstand sharp teeth and that the mesh pattern is too small for him to chew through or get caught in.
If you can’t give your Chi the run of a whole puppy-proofed room, a baby’s playpen with mesh sides is a good (and portable) alternative.
A rock in a hard place
When my Chi Manchita was a puppy, she earned the nickname Hoover because she behaved like a vacuum cleaner, inhaling everything in her path. One day while we were out walking, she snatched up a small rock and swallowed it before I could get it out of her mouth. The next day, she strained to eliminate, couldn’t pass the rock, and became sick. Luckily, the veterinarian was able to dislodge it by medicating her at both ends. Otherwise, our 2 1⁄2 pound puppy faced emergency surgery!
Do you have houseplants? Identify every one (not just the ones in the puppy-proofed room) and look them up to find out if they’re poisonous (or take a leaf to a nursery and ask). Many popular houseplants are deadly when ingested, including poinsettia leaves and those merry mistletoe berries. Placing all plants, even the safe ones, out of your dog’s reach is a good idea, because no puppy can resist playing with a plant. But extra precautions are necessary with the poisonous plants. They shed leaves and berries even though they may be hanging high, and your Chi is bound to pick them up. Your best course of action? Get rid of them.
If you like your nonpoisonous houseplants right where they are, and you want your Chihuahua to know that he needs to leave them alone, spray them with Bitter Apple leaf protector.
When young and unsupervised, your Chi will try to teethe on everything he can reach, from your bedroom slippers to your shower curtain . . . even a box of dishwasher detergent, if you leave the cupboard door ajar. But keeping his curious mouth out of mischief isn’t as hard as it sounds. You can secure closet and cupboard doors and flip the shower curtain up over the rod, for instance. After you have your dog for some time, these actions will become second nature.
Shop till You Drop: Gathering the Chi Goods
You’ve puppy-proofed your Chi’s special room and your home, and you have a long weekend coming up to welcome your new pet (see the previous sections). You’ll be ready for Chihuahua life as soon as you go shopping. Your Chi needs a few things right away.
Wait until you see the colorful display of dog toys, collars, leashes, food and water dishes, and even canine clothing in the pet store. It’s tempting to buy twice what you need. How will you know what’Technical Stuff necessary and what isn’t? By using a shopping list. In this section I explain each item so you can get the perfect one for your Chi.
Essentials for your new Chihuahua
The following shopping list contains the essentials you need for your new Chihuahua:
- Two dishes — one for water and one for food
- Puppy (or dog) food
- Collar and leash
- Grooming equipment
- Three or four toys
- Dog crate
- Dog bed (optional)
- Warm sweater (if you live in a chilly climate)
- An excellent veterinarian
What’s a practical dog dish? One that’s easy to clean and hard to tip over. Some of the nicer dishes are made of stainless steel, although acrylic, heavy-duty plastic, stoneware, and porcelain are good choices. Some dishes are wider at the bottom than at the top and others are weighted; these are good features because it makes them impossible to tip over, even if your Chi likes to play with his bowl.
If you buy ceramic dishes for your Chihuahua, make sure they were made in the United States. Some foreign glazes still contain toxic stuff, including lead. Look for ceramics that are well glazed (read: glossy).
Place your Chi’s dishes where they won’t slide around the floor while he eats and drinks. A corner usually works well.
Eating meals indoors is best for your Chihuahua, but if you decide to give him an outdoor picnic on a pretty day, pick up his dish as soon as he finishes. Otherwise, every bug in the neighborhood will be attracted to your yard and the bowl.
So many choices: What should your Chi eat?
Kibble? Soft-moist? Biscuit? Pellets? Canned? Chopped or chunky? Are you confused yet? Don’t be. Feeding your dog a good diet is easy and mighty important . . . so important that it has its own chapter in this book. So instead of giving Chihuahua chow your best guess, turn to Chapter What’s on the Chi Menu?
. It tells you what food to buy to meet your Chi’s nutritional needs during every stage of his life.
A collar and leash
Wait until you bring your puppy home before buying a collar so you can get one that fits his neck perfectly. Your Chihuahua’s collar should apply no pressure as it encircles his neck, but it shouldn’Tip be so loose that it slips over his adorable apple head. Don’t buy a collar that’s too large so your puppy can grow into it, either. Collars that are too loose are a choking hazard if they become caught on something.
Shop for a flat collar, made of nylon webbing or leather, that closes via a buckle and has a D ring for attaching a leash. Some of the newer nylon collars have a plastic clasp similar to those used on camera bags and fanny packs (but in miniature form), and they come in a variety of attractive designs.
Check the fit of your Chi’s collar weekly. Although he won’t grow much, puppies do grow fast, and you must replace his collar right away if it feels tight. It isn’t unusual for puppies to go through two or three collars before they mature, so keep that in mind when pricing puppy collars.
What’s a collar without a lead? Simply an accessory! The length of your Chi’s lead should be between 5 and 6 feet. Leather, nylon, or other flexible fabric leads are preferred. Expandable leads that allow a dog to get several feet away from its owner also are available. They give dogs a feeling of freedom while still allowing owners to maintain control, but they should be considered optional. The traditional lead is still the safest choice in crowded places. (To find out how to lead break your puppy, see Chapter Socializing Your Chihuahua
Don’t buy a leash or collar made of chain. Chain is too cumbersome and can hurt your Chihuahua’s legs if he gets tangled in it. And don’t buy any type of training collar (they also come in nylon and webbing) with a ring at both ends that tightens up when you or your dog pulls away. Commonly called choke collars, these training devices should be used during obedience training only (never for everyday wear), and Toy dogs (like your Chi) don’t need them at all.
Smooth Chis have easy-care, wash-and-wear coats, so for their grooming, you can get by with purchasing the following:
- A quality shampoo that’s pH-balanced for dogs
- A natural bristle brush
- A toothpaste formulated for dogs
- A soft toothbrush made for small dogs or human babies
- A doggie nail clipper
Other items like cotton ear swabs also are useful in grooming your Chi, but you probably have most of them in your medicine cabinet already.
Long-coated Chis are also easy to maintain, but they require a few more things (in addition to the previous tools):
– Both you and your Chi will appreciate a coat conditioner formulated for dogs. Besides making his coat a cinch to comb after his shampoo, it will keep it soft and silky.
– A hard rubber comb is a must for keeping mats out of a Chi’Technical Stuff coat — especially behind the ears.
– If you don’t use the comb often enough (don’t worry, it takes only a minute or two), you’ll probably need a mat splitter to put your Chi’s coat back in good condition.
Don’t buy a nylon or metal comb or a brush made with anything but natural bristles. Natural products do the least damage to a dog’s coat. If you comb your dog during the winter with a nylon or metal implement, you’ll probably zap him with static electricity. He’ll hate it and won’t want to be groomed anymore.
Toys for Toys (Dogs, that is)
Think of your Chihuahua’s toys as essentials, not extras. He needs something safe to gnaw on while he’s teething and a couple of toys available to play with the rest of the time. Although your Chihuahua continues chewing after he grows up, he won’t wrap his fangs around everything he can reach the way teething puppies do. Be glad your mature Chi still likes to chew (for example, see Figure 5-1). Besides keeping him content, chewing promotes healthy gums and teeth.
Toy dogs need chews and playthings that are small enough for them to manipulate but big enough that they can’t swallow them. Rawhide chew toys are a traditional favorite, but on rare occasions, dogs have accidentally choked to death when pieces of rawhide got caught in their throats. You don’t have to boycott rawhide altogether; instead, let your dog enjoy it when you’re with him and replace it with something safer when you leave him unsupervised.
Figure 5-1: She may be pushing 12, but Manchita is still serious about her chew toys.
Chew toys made of hard nylon are safe in a Toy dog’s mouth even when no one is home. Chihuahua puppies, and many adult dogs, prefer the softer and equally safe gummy-nylon chews. Solid, hardrubber toys also are safe and fun.
On the other hand, squeaky toys (featherweight rubber or plastic critters with squeakers inside) are popular with pups but are safe only when you’re supervising — or better yet, when you join in the fun. Squeaky toys are easily chewed open (yes, even by a Chihuahua), and the squeaker inside is mighty dangerous when swallowed. Like rawhide, you don’t have to deprive your Chi of a squeaky toy. Instead, buy him one but keep it out of his reach. Get it out once every few days as a special treat, and watch the fun when he play-kills it.
Don’t use old leather shoes, purses, or wallets as dog toys. Sure, your dog likes sinking his teeth into the well-worn leather, but this teaches him that leather objects with your scent on them are chew toys. That won’t do any of your new accessories any good.
Flat, fleecy toys (shaped like gingerbread people or other animals, for instance) are popular, and dogs like cuddling up to them. They’re machine washable and safe as long as your Chi doesn’Tip shred the edges and swallow some of the material. Just keep an eye on fleecy toys and throw them away if they ever become worn enough to worry about.
Tug-of-war toys — such as ropes or thick bands of rubber with loops at both ends — look like fun, but resist the temptation and don’t buy them. Playing tug games with your dog teaches him that fighting you for objects is a cool game. After he gets that in his head, it won’t be long before he initiates a tug game by grabbing and shaking the hem of your pants. Also, playing tug-of-war games is known to cause aggression with dogs. Many behavioral issues can be tracked back to these types of games. For plenty of safe and fun games you can play with your Chihuahua, head to Chapter Chirobics: For Fitness and Fun.
Don’t let your Chi have all his toys at once. Instead, put a few away and rotate them every couple days. That way your dog won’Tip become bored with his belongings. Keeping at least three toys (but no more than five) in service at one time is a good rule of thumb. Put one in his crate, one or two in his playroom (if he has one), and one or two in the room where the family gathers. Althoughindulging an older dog is okay, an overabundance of toys scattered throughout the house may lead a puppy to believe that whatever he can reach is his to chew.
A cozy crate
Dogs descend from denning animals that spent much of their time in the relative security of their lairs, so it won’t take long before your Chihuahua feels comfortable and protected in a dog crate. Some new dog owners imagine that crate confinement is cruel, but crates have saved dogs’ lives and owners’ tempers for decades.
If you can’t give your Chi his own puppy-proofed room, a crate becomes even more essential. It keeps him from stalking snakes (that’s electrical cords to you) while you’re away. Because they’re so curious, many dogs are bound to get into mischief (or danger) when left at home alone. Besides, coming home to a safely crated puppy is much nicer than coming home to teeth marks on table legs and a soiled carpet. Because dogs don’t like to soil their beds, a crate is a big help during housetraining. It also keeps your dog out of trouble while you’re asleep. (For more info on introducing your Chi to his crate and using it to housetrain, see Chapter Establishing Good Behavior and Manners
Buy your Chi a crate that’s only big enough for a full-grown Chihuahua to stand up and turn around in comfortably. Bigger isn’Tip better for two reasons:
- Chihuahuas enjoy the cozy comfort of a just-the-right-size den.
- A too-large crate loses its potty-training potential.
Most crates are made of wire or plastic (with a wire door). Both types have their benefits, but I’d advise that plastic is the best choice for smooth-coated Chihuahuas. The solid sides (except for ventilation holes) keep a Chi draft free.
The inside of your Chihuahua’s crate is his private place within your home, as well as his home away from home, so you should create a comfortable den. Include bedding that’s easy to wash or change andnot dangerous if chewed or swallowed. An old twin-bed sheet works nicely. If you don’t have one, you can use several thicknesses of newspaper (black and white, not color or glossy like the comics or ads). For extra coziness, rip one section into long, thin streamers and place them in the crate on top of the whole sections (Chis love having something to burrow under). When you’re sure that your Chi can keep his crate clean (which doesn’t take long if you follow the schedule in Chapter Establishing Good Behavior and Manners
), you can give him a nicer “mattress.” A fleecy crate pad or soft rug sample are two possibilities.
The best place to put your Chi’s crate is in his puppy-proofed room (if you have one). When it comes to crate placement, caring for your puppy works on the same principle as caring for a human baby. Just visualize his puppy-proofed room as his nursery and his crate as a combination crib, playpen, and car seat. Of course, you may opt to use a real playpen or a made-for-dogs exercise pen in addition to his crate.
For the ultimate crate toy, buy the smallest sterilized bone you can find (available at many pet supply stores) and stuff it with cheese. This concoction will keep your Chi occupied for hours.
For safety’s sake, always crate your Chihuahua when taking him for a drive, and secure his crate so that it won’t slide or roll over during turns or quick stops. A crated dog has a better chance of surviving a car accident. Not only that, but you drive better without your Chihuahua vying for your attention.
A snug bed
If a crate doesn’t satisfy your concept of interior design, you can let your Chihuahua graduate into an attractive doggie bed after he’s housebroken (see Chapters Socializing Your Chihuahua
and Establishing Good Behavior and Manners
). Most beds are made of wicker and come with a nice mattress. Be sure to place the bed in a draft-free area and top it with a snugly blanket.
A useful sweater
Some canine couture is created just to look cute; fortunately, other clothing actually serves a purpose. Because Chihuahuas chill easily, your Chi may need a jacket or sweater that actually helps him stay warm — some even need a sweater in an air-conditioned room. Look for one that covers his chest, part of his neck, and as much of his belly as possible (see Figure 5-2). If your Chi is a female, the more of her bald belly the sweater covers, the better. When fitting your male, remember that he’ll wear his sweater outdoors when he goes potty, and you won’t want him to wet the material. Most canine clothes are machine washable, but read the labels just in case.
Figure 5-2: Manchita’s coat is functional and stylish, as she shows with her pose.
Poop-scoops are available in a variety of styles at pet supply stores. A scoop is convenient for cleaning up your yard and for cleaning up after your Chi when you take him on walks. Most scoopers have long handles so you don’t have to bend down to clean.
If you don’t mind bending down, you can get by without a pooperscooper. Instead, stock up on plastic sandwich bags. Put a couple in your purse or pocket before walking your dog. Turn one inside out for a quick pick-up, pull the mess back through to the proper side, close the bag, and toss it in the nearest garbage can (not someone’s recycle bin!).
A trusted veterinarian
Your Chihuahua’s veterinarian is his other best friend, so you need to choose one before bringing him home. How will you know which dog doc is best for your puppy? Check out Chapter Visiting the Vet
, which covers the details of the pet/vet relationship.
ID for dogs
You new dog should “carry” identification on him all the time. The puppy ID can take the form of a tattoo, a microchip, or a collar tag. The best ID is a collar tag plus either a tattoo or a microchip. Chapter Visiting the Vet
tells you all you need to know about identification and its importance.
Surviving the First Two Days
Time to go! You have everything you need, and now it’s time to pick up your Chihuahua! Get off to a smart start by taking yourcrate along so your puppy can ride in it on the way home. The crate is his safest sanctuary in a moving vehicle.
When you arrive home, give your Chi an opportunity to relieve himself outdoors before going in (see Chapter Establishing Good Behavior and Manners
). Then take him to his puppy-proofed room, give him fresh water in his dish, and let him explore his room
to his heart’s content (see the earlier section “Puppy-Proofing Your Chi’s Room”). You’re not depriving him by keeping him from investigating your whole home right away. Too much new territory is confusing, and besides, if he’s teething and isn’t housebroken yet, more space simply means more trouble. If you don’t have a puppy-proofed room, keep a close eye on him as he inspects his new digs. And use a crate when no one is supervising.
Make sure extra warmth is available whenever your Chihuahua needs it. Whether you use a crate, playpen, a dog bed, or all these options, his space needs to be equipped with a sheet or blanket that he can burrow under.
After your Chi has a drink (and some food if it’s feeding time), take him outdoors again. Then put him back in his puppy-proofed room, give him a toy, and play with him quietly. No matter how excited you are, this isn’t a good time to overstimulate your puppy. Chances are, he’s tired from the trip home and seeing so many new places and faces. When he gives out (some puppies go from playing to sleeping so quickly that they appear to have passed out), crate him or put him in his bed and let him take a nap. He’ll love sleeping on your lap, of course, and it helps both of you bond, but don’t put him on your lap for every nap. Your Chi has to learn to sleep alone, too.
For the first couple days, try to keep household activity normal . . . even low key. This isn’t the time for Junior to jam with his band or for Julie to invite her friends over to practice for cheerleading tryouts. Don’t start your spring-cleaning, either. And remind enthusiastic family members and friends not to rush at your Chi. Unfamiliar surroundings and strange voices are enough for a puppy to get used to during the first 48 hours. After that, household activity can gradually return to normal.
Because consistency is the key when training a puppy, and because your Chihuahua arrives full of curiosity with a brain like a sponge, the ideal time to start housetraining is day one. See Chapter Establishing Good Behavior and Manners to find out how.
How to pick up your puppy
Sure, puppy Pepe fits into your palm; but you need to use two hands to pick him up anyway, right from the get-go. One hand goes under his chest and the other cups his rear. Check your hands thefirst few times to make sure your fingers don’t apply pressure to his front legs — either spreading them too far apart or squeezing them together. Habitual spreading can cause permanent damage to your puppy’s elbows, and repeated squeezing can harm the legs and shoulders. Best bet? Place your thumb on one side of your dog and your little finger on the other, supporting his chest with the middle three fingers. After you try this method once or twice, it should become automatic. Hold him gently but firmly (puppies wiggle) against your body with both hands so no part of him dangles.
Never leave your puppy alone in a place where he could fall. For example, if you and your Chihuahua are watching television in the recliner and you get up to check out the fridge, place your pup on the floor until you return. When he matures, he becomes able to jump on and off the furniture by himself, but that’s a dangerous leap for a puppy.
Blending dogs and kids
Please don’t skip this section just because you don’t have any kids at home. You may have grandchildren or friends with children, and what you discover here will ensure that visiting kids and your Chi will have pleasant (and safe) visits.
Chis and young children typically aren’t a good combination. Sometimes kids and dogs scare each other without wanting to. Tiny dogs fear shrill sounds and fast movements (especially swooping down on them), and youngsters come well equipped with high-pitched voices and jerky movements. When dogs feel threatened or cornered, they usually growl, warning the offenders away. But many young children don’t recognize the warning or simply ignore it, and that’s how bites happen. On the other hand, children fear shrill noises, too, and a Chihuahua’s piercing puppy bark may make them cringe.
The truth is, kids and dogs can hurt each other. But many people have surmounted the obstacles and succeeded in raising children and Chihuahuas at the same time. How? By being vigilant and never leaving little children and Chihuahuas alone together. Using careful and calm supervision every time a child and puppy are together keeps the child and the pup from fearing each other.
From about the age of 3 or 4, children — depending on their individual self-control and emotional maturity — can help you care for a Chi. Provided that you have patience and won’t freak out over spilled food or water, kids can do many things, such as picking up your Chi’s dirty dishes and bringing them to you and giving your Chi his water or food after you fill the dishes. Kids also get a kick out of giving dogs an occasional treat.
When children are young, helping to take care of a pet should be fun — a privilege, not a responsibility. Do it yourself when you’re in a hurry. Chubby little fingers sometimes spill stuff.
Children who are ready to help care for a puppy also are ready to follow some simple rules. Here are a few rules that work on your own kids and visitors, too; you may have to create others to fit your situation:
– Always sit on the floor to play with the dog.
– Don’t put your face close to him.
– You may pet him, but don’t close your hand when doing so. This keeps children from squeezing or grabbing a leg, ear, or tail.
– Don’t tease or poke the dog. You may have to explain what teasing is.
– Never give him anything to eat or play with without permission.
– When he wants to leave, let him go. Don’t hang on and try to stop him.
Matching older children and Chihuahuas
By the time they’re third- or fourth-graders, some kids become attuned to animals. In fact, older children often have better relationships with their pets than grownups do because they take the time to discover the animals’ body language. Responsible older kids can share in your Chihuahua’s care by feeding, grooming, and walking him. And they may surprise you by teaching him a few tricks!
Kids learn the most valuable lessons about pet care when it’s a family affair. Don’t expect a child (or teenager) to take full responsibility for your Chi, even if she promised she would when she begged you to buy him. Instead, give kids an excellent example (yes, that’s you) to follow. Most important of all, never make threatening remarks — “If you don’t do those dishes right now, I’m giving that dog away!” A dog isn’t a disposable object like outgrown skates or a broken barrette. Yours deserves affection, care, and a permanent home, and threatening to give him anything less sends your child a sorry message.
No matter how good your children are with the family Chihuahua, keep an eye on the situation when their friends visit. Other children with little or no experience with tiny pets may want to experiment (“What would happen if we fed him this?”) or may even harbor a mean streak. And the best of kids (like yours) may find themselves helpless in the face of peer pressure.
Introducing dog to dog
The best way to introduce Rover to your new Chihuahua is on neutral ground so Rover doesn’t feel the need to defend his territory from an intruder. Just half a block down the street does fine if both dogs know how to walk on a leash. Your Chi must stand on the ground (not in your arms) to participate in a proper doggie introduction, so if he isn’t leash broken, borrow a fenced-in yard for the opening ceremony.
The easiest way to accomplish a successful meeting is to ask a helper to take your Chihuahua to the designated place. Then you take Rover for a walk, on leash, and meet them there. Follow these steps as you approach the meeting place:
1. As the dogs near each other, start a conversation with your helper, but watch while the dogs go through the motions of meeting.
2. Give Rover just enough slack in the lead so he can sniff your Chi all over, but maintain complete control of the situation.
Act nonchalant so the dogs don’t sense any anxiety in you, and don’t pet either dog.
3. As soon as Rover displays gentleness toward your Chi, praise him verbally.
In most cases, dogs will be civil — even friendly — to each other. However, if Rover appears threatening or overly excited, give an immediate jerk on the lead and walk away with him. Try again when he simmers down.
4. When the dogs seem comfortable with each other, walk them home together if both dogs walk on leash.
Otherwise, let your friend carry your Chi while you walk Rover, praising him occasionally along the way.
5. When you get home, try to make Rover think that inviting his little friend in was his idea by praising him by name for being gentle (“Gooood Rover!”) and giving him more than his share of attention.
6. Inside, put your Chi on the floor in the same room with Rover and supervise closely.
Most dogs treat little puppies gently as long as they don’Tip suddenly feel unloved. Give Rover at least as much attention as you ever did. Ignoring Rover creates the canine equivalent of sibling rivalry. And if ol’ Rov is a big boy, the situation may be dangerous. Just imagine how a 3-year-old child would react to her new brother if she’s suddenly shoved aside while the baby gets all the attention.
Don’t leave the dogs alone together until you’re sure that they get along. Use their crates, or keep them in different rooms, when no one is home.
If you have more than one dog, introduce them to your new dog or puppy one at a time. Start with your calmest canine and work up to your most excitable.
Why cats get the last meow
Dogs and cats in the same household usually get along, and some even become best buddies. At first introduction, if your Chi isn’t especially agitated at the sight of Tabby, he may become curious and try to sniff noses with her. If she sniffs back, that’s a good sign. Chances are they’ll be friends in no time (see Figure 5-3). While waiting for that to happen, keep a watchful eye on them when they’re together. Some dogs, even little ones, have an undeniable urge to chase cats. And although some cats run from Chihuahuas, others may take swipes at the tiny tormentors, which can damage your Chi’s eyes and nose.
When a dog and cat live together, the cat always has the advantage. Why? Because Kitty can leave an area whenever she wants to. All she has to do is jump on the bed or chair out of your Chi’s reach, and he can’t annoy her or cuddle her until she decides to come near him again. This may not seem fair to you, but don’t interfere. When your cat has had enough of your Chi (even if that happens in less than a second), let her go. You can’t force friendship; it will probably occur on its own after Kitty gets used to the interloper and they learn each other’s limits.
Living with furry, feathered, and scaled critters
Furry, feathered, and scaled caged pets — such as hamsters, birds, rabbits, lizards, turtles, and mice — may appear to be prey to your Chihuahua. Dogs (yes, even little ones) instinctively catch and kill prey. The best solution is to keep these critters out of his reach and correct everything from too much interest to a menacing growl with a firm “No!” Your Chi doesn’t have to make friends with these animals. You can rest easy when he learns to ignore them. Most dogs lose interest in caged pets after they get used to seeing and smelling them on a daily basis. But until then, supervise your Chi every time he’s in the same room with your caged critters.
Figure 5-3: If you’re wondering why Boudreux the cat’s bowl is up on a stool, it’s because cat food isn’t good for dogs.
Suppressing That Dangerous Fantasy of Freedom
Some dog owners think their dogs somehow miss out on a facet of life if they never experience absolute freedom. In fact, millions of dogs die every year from accidents encountered while roaming free. A loose dog can be crushed by cars or picked up by animal control officers, or he can lick poisonous substances like antifreeze (it’s sweet) or lawn herbicides.
Besides being a menace to your neighbor’s flowerbed, a loose Chihuahua also faces dangers like being stolen, attacked by a bigger dog, or even snatched by an owl or hawk (it happens). He may also be handled roughly by a small child. And if the child frightens or hurts your Chi, your dog may bite during his efforts to escape. Now you’re in danger of a lawsuit.
Putting your Chihuahua in a position to become a statistic isn’t doing him a favor. A Chihuahua is more than a domestic animal — he’s the ultimate house dog. Rather than freedom, give him what he really wants: your companionship.
by Jacqueline O’Neil