We got a request for All Things Chihuahua, and would love it if our chihuahua friends can help. Author Kim Campbell Thornton is a journalist, and dog author currently working on updating Chihuahuas for Dummies. She has a few questions she needs our help with. Here are her 4 questions (without my answers so you can readily copy and paste them into the comments.)

How does your Chihuahua like to play? (fetch, chase a ball, kill toys…). What are his/her favorite toys?

Does your Chihuahua enjoy going for walks? How long are walks for your healthy adult Chihuahua?

Does your Chihuahua enjoy learning tricks (what are they?) or participate in any dog sports? (agility, flyball, rally, nosework, freestyle, etc.)

Does your Chihuahua enjoy getting groomed? Do you brush their teeth? Any tips on making tooth brushing/nail trimming enjoyable? Best grooming tools to use on a Chihuahua’s coat (short and long).

Our answers:

How does your Chihuahua like to play?

If there’s anything we learned with having 4 chihuahuas, it’s that they love to play. Our dogs especially love small, soft squeaky toys. The tiny kong squeaky toys for example, are perfectly sized and squeakable. They enjoy chasing the toys, sometimes bringing them back, and tugging with them.

Does your Chihuahua enjoy going for walks? How long are walks for your healthy adult Chihuahua?

In their younger days, there was no limit to how long they could walk. They loved to go hiking, and walked as much as 8 miles without seeming bothered in the slightest. A more average daily walk for them was about a mile.

Does your Chihuahua enjoy learning tricks (what are they?) or participate in any dog sports? (agility, flyball, rally, nosework, freestyle, etc.)

It never ceases to amaze me how smart chihuahuas are. They can often learn a trick in just a few minutes, and retain it and offer it years later even if I never ask for it again. One of my dogs just recently got the AKC Novice Trick Dog Title, and most of them can do fun things like high five or shake hands. One of them can punt a football between his legs.

They’ve also dabbled in sports throughout the years and have tried almost everything. They have taken lessons in herding, rally, agility and obedience. They’ve dabbled in nosework and weight pulling. If you want to get an all around performance dog but need a sample sized dog, chihuahuas are perfect.

Does your Chihuahua enjoy getting groomed? Do you brush their teeth? Any tips on making tooth brushing/nail trimming enjoyable? Best grooming tools to use on a Chihuahua’s coat (short and long).

I used to work as a dog groomer, and most chihuahuas were referred to me because I liked them. Tooth brushing and nail trimming are probably the most essential grooming tasks that need done for your pet, but also their least favorite.

Part of this is because of how dogs are introduced to grooming. You would never dream of going out into the wild and sawing away on a wild bear’s claws. You’d expect a bear at a zoo to need a ton of training to be willing to let you even look at its feet safely–yet we expect our dogs to be passive with no training and no experience the first time they get groomed.

The best thing for your pet long term is to spend a lot of time touching your dog’s feet, claws, toes, etc. and rewarding them heavily for it. If they won’t let you touch their paws, start at their shoulders and reward there.

If your dog has had a bad experience with his feet, teaching them to use a scratch board allows them to do their nails themselves.

Tooth brushing can also be introduced by practicing touching their lips and mouth, and letting them lick meat our poultry baby food or other treats off the toothbrush. These introductory steps can make a big difference in how your pet feels about grooming.

My dogs wildly celebrate when it is time to do nails because it has been conditioned to be an exciting and fun event. As soon as the nail trim starts my husband is there popping hotdog bites in their mouth. The hotdog madness is over when the nail trim is finished.

The dog with trimmed nails usually then lines up again and pretends the nails weren’t done because they know nail trim = hotdogs.

It’s much easier and more enjoyable to groom a pet when they genuinely love the hotdo–er–attention.

Coat tools

Chihuahuas are easy to take care of, no matter which coat type you get. Long haired chihuahuas benefit from a soft slicker brush (Safari is a good brand) and a metal comb. Use the slicker brush first to break up any knots, and the comb to make sure you got them all. A little detangler such as showsheen is also nice.

Short haired chihuahuas do great with a zoom groom alone, but a sleekEZ can be a nice touch if they’re a heavy shedder.

Can you answer these questions for her? Please comment below with your answers!

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15 thoughts on “Questions from a Dog Author”
  1. How does your Chihuahua like to play? (fetch, chase a ball, kill toys…). What are his/her favorite toys? • Small, soft squeaky toys are the best! I have three girls and they all love the small soft toys. I try to offer them kongs now and then but they’re not that into them.

    Does your Chihuahua enjoy going for walks? How long are walks for your healthy adult Chihuahua?
    • My oldest and second oldest LOVE walks but the youngest not so much. Sometimes it’s hard for the younger one to keep up since she’s the smallest one at 3lbs. My oldest can easily walk an hour or two but the other two only like short 30 min walks.

    Does your Chihuahua enjoy learning tricks (what are they?) or participate in any dog sports? (agility, flyball, rally, nosework, freestyle, etc.)
    • Oh gosh yes! My oldest has learned at least 14+ tricks/commands. All three enjoy doing indoor and outdoor agility at home. We don’t compete due to my oldest being dog aggressive to anything that isn’t a Chihuahua. I’m also not that much of a competitive person either, so we just do it for fun at home.

    Does your Chihuahua enjoy getting groomed? Do you brush their teeth? Any tips on making tooth brushing/nail trimming enjoyable? Best grooming tools to use on a Chihuahua’s coat (short and long).
    • Grooming is our daily ritual. I’m a stickler for clean teeth, shiny coats and trimmed nails! Two out of three are fantastic with grooming, while my youngest likes to be the trouble maker lol. I’m a spiritual person, so I like to incorporate it into our routine and so far, the girls enjoy it. Playing gentle sounds or music softly in the background keeps them pretty chill while I clip their nails. The tools I prefer to use on my girls other than nail clippers are, a good bristle brush works just fine for girls since they’re all smooth coated Chihuahuas.

    I hope this has helped you! 🙂

    1. We like advantage for our dogs, but prefer to check daily with a flea comb and treat that month only if a flea is found. Our vet also gave them a special type of advantage (advantage 2 maybe?) when we went on road trip because we were traveling through heartworm positive states.

    2. I’ve never used a flea treatment product on my dogs because I haven’t had the need for it. I bathe my dogs with 4legger shampoo which contains organic lemongrass, which is a great natural flea and tick deterrent.

  2. How does your Chihuahua like to play? (fetch, chase a ball, kill toys…). What are his/her favorite toys?

    – Dee-Dee loves the sound of any toy that squeaks! She perks her ears up at the sound and immediately goes to investigate. It has to be a higher-pitched squeak, because toys that have more of a honking sound scare her. The bigger/longer the toy, the more exciting it is for her! Her favorite is a pig with long arms and legs, with squeakers in all four of its feet and in its head. When it gets too destroyed, I have to replace it with a new one. It’s her go-to toy if I’m not giving her my utmost attention. She stands near the toy and barks until I pick it up and throw it across the room for her.

    Does your Chihuahua enjoy going for walks? How long are walks for your healthy adult Chihuahua?

    – Dee-Dee typically loves going for walks! However, if the weather doesn’t agree with her, she’ll refuse the trip, and will just do a quick business in the yard. When she is in the mood, she can go for over an hour sometimes, albeit we typically are not going too fast, since she loves to stop and sniff the world around her! She does have a fear of defecating, for whatever reason (she did have a slight protrusion of her rectal mucosa once when she was a puppy), and will mope around real slow until she cannot hold it any longer. After she gets her business taken care of, her pace greatly increases.

    Does your Chihuahua enjoy learning tricks (what are they?) or participate in any dog sports? (agility, flyball, rally, nosework, freestyle, etc.)

    – Dee-Dee never enjoyed obedience. She disliked her puppy classes, and would only follow commands if she was allowed to perform on a soft blanket, rather than on a hard, cold floor.

    Does your Chihuahua enjoy getting groomed? Do you brush their teeth? Any tips on making tooth brushing/nail trimming enjoyable? Best grooming tools to use on a Chihuahua’s coat (short and long).

    – I am a dog groomer, and am known as the “Chihuahua Lady” of the place. Dee-Dee has been getting groomed since puppyhood. She tolerates grooming very well, but I would say that it’s not an enjoyable process for her. I use a nail grinder for her nails, and can get her front ones by myself, but have to ask a coworker to hold her up off of the grooming table to get her hind ones. She does not bite or show any aggression, rather, she kicks for it. She is a smooth-coat, so I rely on a Kong Zoom Groom for brushing the excess hair off, and then go over it with a slicker after spraying her coat with a dog cologne. I take her to work once a month for a bath, and she gets a good brush-out once a week. Since I’ve been taking care of her teeth daily for the 8 years of her life so far, she is very used to having her mouth manipulated. She gets both rows of side teeth and the front teeth brushed with Virbac Enzymatic toothpaste. Her vet compliments her teeth at each visit, because they have not a drop of plaque on them.

  3. How does your Chihuahua like to play? (fetch, chase a ball, kill toys…). What are his/her favorite toys?
    -Snickers will only play when she’s feeling like a crack head doing zoomies. Her favorite toys would be soft, small things or anything with hard eyes and noses or prominent pieces on toys. For examples she likes to chew on scrunchies and play tug a war with them, she has to win, always! And cats toys are her favorite, mostly because tiny soft dog toys are hard to find so cat toys work best. Her favorite toy overall would be those generic mice that come in packs with the hard body and fur over top. She’ll chew on it’s face for hours!

    Does your Chihuahua enjoy going for walks? How long are walks for your healthy adult Chihuahua?
    -She’s 11 years old now and loves to walk! I don’t take her on “normal walks” like harness & leash round the block. I let her walk freely around while I work outside with my horses. On an average day she can cover 2 miles. Some days we reach 5 miles.
    -When I do take her for walks like a normal dog she gets bored easy so 30 minutes in she’s done and begs me to carry her. Those walks always end with me carrying her home while she smells the air.

    Does your Chihuahua enjoy learning tricks (what are they?) or participate in any dog sports? (agility, flyball, rally, nosework, freestyle, etc.)
    -She’ll only learn tricks when she’s begging for human food otherwise if you try to train on your account she gets timid and will lay there frightened no matter how sweet and gentle your are. Everything is on HER terms like my cats (This has earned her the title of honorary cat). She’s learned multiple tricks from her begging like spin, army crawl forwards and backwards, burpees (sit, lie down, jump up, repeat), stand on her hind legs, were almost twirling while standing, and my favorite is boing where she jumps as high as she can multiple times. She loves that one the most! Most of these tricks she learned within a few minutes, wasnt perfect at it but got the general idea of it! Other commands she knows are basics such as, sit, down, stay, wait, come, and kennel up. She learned her basic commands fast when she was about 4 months.
    -I have tried teaching her agility in the past but she didn’t like it. She flies when she jumps and would have done well but I didn’t want to force her into doing something she truly didn’t want

    Does your Chihuahua enjoy getting groomed? Do you brush their teeth? Any tips on making tooth brushing/nail trimming enjoyable? Best grooming tools to use on a Chihuahua’s coat (short and long)
    -She doesn’t mind it. Her favorite part of grooming would be right when she’s out of the bath. She gets so spastic and starts rolling on her towel and I have to sandwich her between the towel and vigorously rub her like I’m starting a fire with a stick. That’s honestly the only part she really lives for. Bathing she just sits there giving you a look of betrayal or puppy dog eyes. Teeth brushing she tolerates and trimming her nails, she dislikes. She’s not aggressive about it, just rips her paws away fighting your hands making sure you cant get her paws.
    -She has a coat that’s an in-between and she’s so small that brushing is kind of uncomfortable she’s rarely brushed. But her tail and ear fur (like Papillion’s ear fur) are brush monthly. Though recently I bought a grooming tool for my horses called “StripHair” and I decided to try on her since she was out with me. She loved it! It didn’t hurt and removed so much hair. Worked better than anything I’ve ever used on her! So come spring when her winter coats ready to leave I bring my “StripHair” home and brush her out.

    Hopefully this was helpful!

  4. Thanks, everyone. I’m working on training now. Do you have any tips for teaching Chihuahuas not to bark at the doorbell or teaching “Leave it”?

    1. Leave it is super easy!

      To teach leave it when they already have it in their mouth, give them the command and stick a really awesome treat up against their nose. They’re going to drop it to take the treat. Good job doggo! Keep doing this, especially with low grade things your dog finds easy to give up, like a play toy etc.

      Gradually you can make it harder, but they’ll eventually automatically drop it at the word.

      Teaching them to leave something they see and want but haven’t picked up yet is a little bit harder. Wear shoes for this one! Drop the most boring treat your dog isn’t wild about but will still eat on the floor. This might be a piece of kibble or bread. Say, “leave it.”

      If your dog goes for it, cover it with your foot. Ignore it if they scratch at your foot to try to get it free. If they look up at you as if to say, “What the heck?!” Give them a high value reward such as roasted chicken instead.

      They’ll quickly learn to look up and at you instead of at food or toys when you ask.

      I’ll write some barking tips later, but that’ll be much longer so it’ll take a minute.

    2. For the barking: This is a bit more complicated because you need to sit down and think of what you want your dog to do. I personally want my dogs to bark at the doorbell because I often don’t hear it, but I can hear the dogs. In my situation barking is appreciated, but I want an off switch.

      To teach this, I taught my dog to speak, so I could get barking on a verbal command. You know you’ll be able to lure barking with the doorbell, so you can use that to trigger the dog. Say the verbal command, trigger barking, reward the dog.

      If you’re worried about the neighbors in an apartment, many dogs will bark for a recording of a doorbell too. You can take it to somewhere less annoying to practice.

      When your dog will bark on command, you’ll teach a new command—quiet. Ask for speak, wait for them to stop barking (most dogs on command just give a bark or two anyway). When they are quiet, click and treat.

      Now you need to pair it to the doorbell (again if you have neighbors who might be annoyed, let them know you’ll be doing this training, perhaps paired with a gift of ear plugs.)

      Ring the doorbell. The dog will bark. Ask them for “Quiet.” When the dog stops barking, give them a reward. Once they do this consistently, add putting your hand on the doorknob, and then opening it, and finally your most boring friend on the other side.

      Eventually, you’ll be able to limit barking no matter what or who is on the other side.

  5. Thanks! Great tips. Any issues with possessive behavior you’ve dealt with–toys, or places on the sofa or bed, or being possessive of a person?

    1. All of my dogs start young with resource guarding training to prevent that. We spend a lot of work doing trading games, adding food to a bowl while they’re eating so they know my approach is a good thing, and giving special treats in private.

      That being said, I’ve helped my friends with a few dogs who started resource guarding. I recommend anyone with a resource guarding dog get the book, “Mine! A practical guide to resource guarding in dogs” because it breaks down how to help a dog who resource guards to stop the behavior.

      It’s really best to prevent the behavior completely, but if your dog starts doing it, some great management is to get the dog to do something incompatible. If your dog is on the couch and resource guarding it, call the dog to you rather than trying to make it get off. Reward the dog for coming. Both of you benefit because you got the dog off without getting bit, and the dog gets a treat.

      If your dog worries about you coming near his food bowl (you’re gonna take it away!!) try throwing treats into the bowl from a distance, and gradually working closer. Your dog will eventually realize you’re adding good stuff and not taking it away.

      Bones and chews are another common item to resource guard. You can try only giving these in a kennel, and if you must take the bone away, calling the dog out of the room before retrieving it.

  6. For any of you who responded to my questions and would like to be included in the acknowledgments, please email me your full name and your dog’s name (or dogs’ names): kthornton@cox.net. I am also looking for some high-quality color photos of Chihuahuas to include in the center section. They don’t have to be professional–just sharp and high resolution–and can be of anything: playing, with people/kids/other pets, ears up or down, just Chihuahuas being Chihuahuas. Shorthaired and longhaired welcome. If your photo is used, you’ll need to sign a release, and I will need the photographer’s name (if it’s not you). Please also include the dog’s name, age, color, what’s happening in the photo, and any other pertinent info. Thanks again for all your help.

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