Chihuahuas are energetic dogs who love to play games. They are also smart little dogs who pick up new things very quickly. You can use these fun games to teach your Chihuahua obedience skills or to set up future games and tricks more appropriate for when they are older.
Roll the Ball (Fetch)
Your tiny Chihuahua puppy might not be mature enough to play a real game of fetch at the age of 5 months. But he can definitely chase a ball. Start with the size appropriate miniature tennis balls, available at many pet or department stores, and get other tennis balls or solid rubber balls as your puppy grows. Get on the floor with your puppy and gently bounce the ball in front of you. If your puppy does not understand what you want, start speaking to him in a high-pitched, excited voice. When your puppy starts to lunge at the ball, or at least take interest in it, try rolling the ball from side to side on the floor in front of him. Start by rolling the ball between your hands. When he starts to chase the ball, roll it a bit past him. He should quickly begin to chase the ball. Call him back to you, again using a high-pitched voice to attract his attention. “Trade” him (bribe him with!) a treat for the ball, never grab the ball from him, since he’ll hold on tighter to it in response. Pretty soon he should understand that it is more fun to bring the ball back to you instead of running away with it. This game is easy to translate into “fetch” or a formal obedience retrieve as he matures, simply by throwing the ball instead of rolling it when he gets the idea of the game.
“Tickle” and Massage
Your puppy needs to be able to tolerate handling. Make learning to be handled fun for him by sitting on the floor with him and playing a “tickle” or “gotcha” game. Use your forefinger to gently touch or tickle your puppy’s nose, paws or any other body part and say “gotcha!” in a silly voice. Keep it fun, keep it affectionate. Don’t let your puppy get too excited. If he does, tell him to settle down and pet him quietly. Between “gotcha” games, cuddle your puppy and gently massage his feet and his ear leathers to relax him. You can try cradling your Chihuahua puppy on his back in the crook of your arm to rub his tummy, as well. Once he relaxes in your arms and begins to enjoy his tummy rub and body massage, give the game a name, like “snuggle time” or “sleep like a baby.”
Find the Treat
Your Chihuahua has an inquisitive mind. Help him work his mind by hiding his favorite soft treat for him to find. Start by holding him as you put his treat on the floor in front of him. Let him go to it and eat it. After the third or fourth time (but before he is full!) tell him to “seek!” or “find it!” After he has “found” the exposed treat a few times, cover it with a paper towel or a small washcloth. It should not take your puppy long before he understands that he has to seek/find the treat under the covering. If your puppy paws or whines at the covering without pushing his nose under it, pull one corner back until he can see the treat. Allow him to remove it himself. Once he understands what he has to do, put out two washcloths or paper towels, but cover only one treat. Increase the difficulty by adding coverings or by teaching him to seek/find treats or toys hidden in different locations. This game will help your dog learn skills needed for the advanced obedience scent discrimination exercise or lay a foundation for tracking.
Give your Chihuahua permission to chase something and not get in trouble. Purchase a “fishing pole” type cat toy from a pet store. Replace the feather or tassel at the end of the string with a stuffing-free dog toy -- he'll just shred the feather anyway and may choke on the tassel. Rest the toy on the floor, while holding the pole beside you or behind your back. As your puppy investigates the toy, twitch the pole slightly to make the toy move a few inches away from him. If he becomes nervous let him investigate again, twitching the toy away again as he relaxes. Keep the toy out of your dog’s reach, dragging the toy along the floor, as he expresses interest in chasing it. When his confidence (or his body) grows, you can purchase a lunge whip from a feed store to increase the distance he can chase the toy. Your puppy will not only have a good time, he will also learn skills he can later use in lure coursing!
- Dog Training Central: How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch or Retrieve
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