Cheeky Chihuahuas don’t have their nickname for nothing. Your new little Chi-girl is probably a feisty, determined character, full of self-confidence. While this makes her a fun companion, you need to introduce her carefully to the rest of your pack if you want them all to get along well.
Most dogs are territorial about their homes, particularly males. Before you bring home your new little Chi-girl, plan your introduction of her into the household as carefully as if it’s a military operation. Hide anything your existing dogs might guard, such as toys, bedding or food bowls. Water is usually OK. Tidy up any cluttered areas, to prevent crowded spaces where the dogs might get backed into a corner and feel under pressure.
The same territorial instinct is what prompts dog experts to recommend you introduce the dogs in a neutral space, such as an enclosed dog park. The Chihuahua’s towering personality and supreme self-confidence could let her believe she is queen of all she surveys, including you, and cause the other dogs to feel threatened or become possessive. Let your dogs run around the park without your Chi-girl at first, then remove them while she makes the rounds. She will be able to detect their scent before she meets them face to face, and when you bring them back into the space they will greet her without being possessive.
Take Them Home
If the public meeting went well, take your new baby home separately from the other dogs. Put them in a room or outdoors in your yard while she explores the house, getting the scent of the dogs she met in the park. Then put her in a room or a crate while your old dogs explore to see what she has been up to. Once they have all calmed down, if everything seems friendly, let your Chi-girl meet your oldest, biggest or most senior dog on his own first. If the pack leader accepts her the other dogs will likely follow suit, and you can bring them in one by one until all of them are in the room together.
Treats are Tops
Positive reinforcement through treats can help with the processing of introducing your new Chihuahua, as long as your dogs are not competitive over food. Be careful not to favor the new baby in front of the others, because this could lead to jealousy. Observe the pack hierarchy at all times, giving the senior dog his treat first and letting the new baby wait until last. Chihuahuas don’t like being on the lowest rung of the pack ladder, so she may try to muscle her way to the front. If that happens, ignore her or reprimand her gently and focus your attention on making your lead dog feel special and secure.
- Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images