Chihuahua Leash Training

Many people think that Chihuahuas (and other toy breeds) can’t be trained with a leash and collar.  It’s not true: If you use the equipment correctly, they are perfectly safe.  The following dialogue is a good example of a smart dog owner who has been given bad advice:

Chihuahua Leash Training

I. Littman writes: My almost six month old male chihuahua is a pretty well behaved puppy, overall. He has typical puppy behavior with some teething and male hormones acting up at times (he will be neutered next month). My biggest issue is getting him to walk nicely on a leash. All the methods of using a pinch collar or choke chain aren’t feasible for him because of his size (4 lbs.) and the dangers of putting anything around his neck that could cause a collapsed trachea, which is an issue with small breeds. So I safely use a harness on him and attach his leash to that.

Chihuahua Leash Training

My problem is that he is not very cooperative on a leash and I try to be very patient with him, but it does get frustrating. He’ll just stop or sit down, he’ll try to run ahead, pull in whatever direction he wants to go and seems he always wants it to be play time. In the midst of all this, he sporadically walks fine (at my side, at my pace)… but there is no rhyme or reason to it. I’ve tried coaxing him with treats, but that doesn’t work because when there is no treat, he doesn’t listen and I can’t give him that many treats! lol I also read that the natural instinct for a dog when held back with a harness is to want to move even faster ahead. So is the harness making it even tougher for me to get him to cooperate when he is pulling ahead and I’m pulling him back?

I just want him to consistently walk nice on his leash and enjoy the walk. I need to break this bad habit and I don’t know what to do to accomplish this. All the traditional training methods that seem to work for larger dogs aren’t an option for him. What is the remedy for tiny dogs? How do I teach him to just follow my lead while wearing the harness? Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated. I’m stuck, please help!

Adam Replies:
“Only If You Use The Slip Collar Incorrectly…”

Where are you getting this nonsense about “little dogs not being able to be trained with a collar”?

If you’re using the training collar as I advise in the book, it’s not putting any pressure on the trachea. Only if you use the slip collar incorrectly (by choking the dog) then you might have a problem.

Plus: If you’re really that concerned about it, order a micro prong collar from the internet. If you’ve read my book, then you know that the prong style collars do not focus the correction at any one point on the dog’s neck. They just pinch the skin, the same way the mother dog does when she corrects the puppies.

Please download and read my, “Secrets” book. I have more information in it. I’ve personally used my techniques on hundreds of toy breeds (probably 80 or 90 Chihuahuas, at that!) and have supervised the training of thousands. Never had a problem. There is a lot of propaganda out there against training collars– usually created by the same people who believe it’s better to euthanize a dog than train it.

I. Litman: “Just So You Know…”

Thank you very much for your reply. Yes, you’re right, I was told that I can’t put a training or prong collar on my chihuahua. I am happy to hear that you have had so many cases in which you successfully used these collars on chihuahuas.

Just so you know, I did read about them briefly in your book but dismissed the idea due to what I was told…so thanks for clearing that up because it seemed that there was nothing left for me to do to correct this problem!

Toby, my 6 mo. old chihuahua, is pretty small with about a 7 – 8″ neck. Which are the best brand of collars that are manufactured this small and which type of collar do you think I will have the most success with while ensuring I won’t harm him?

Boy, what a relief! I look forward to your recommendation. Again, thanks so much!

Adam: “I Hear A lot Of Nonsense From Breed Enthusiasts…”

I’ve never had one problem, nor talked with any trainers who have.

But it’s predicated upon using the collar correctly. You can not allow the dog to pull and pull and pull, keeping the collar tight. It needs to be a tug and release.

Like any tool (and with any dog) if you misuse it, it can cause damage, I guess. Even so, I’ve still never seen it, and I’ve been doing this for over 21 years.

For toy breeds, I’ll usually just use a chain slip collar (commonly called a “choke chain”). It’s a misnomer, as it doesn’t chock the dog unless you’re using it incorrectly.

Get one at your local pet store. It should be sized so that when it’s pulled tight, there is only about an inch of excess. When you use it, give a tug and release (loose-tight-loose) as I advise in the book and in my videos.

I hear a lot of nonsense from breed enthusiasts– even veterinarians. I think they hear stuff, and then just repeat it without actually thinking it through. Many breeders, for example, get an ego boost out of being the “expert”. But when their own dogs are completely out of control and won’t listen, they have to make up excuses, like: “You can’t use a training collar on a little dog.”

It’s a problem for trainers like me, because then– even when you do get the owner to use the collar– the owner’s body language is overly apprehensive. And of course, the dog picks up on that and starts to freak out, not from the collar but because he’s reading the owner’s body language and cuing off that.

I hear the same thing from Husky owners, who try to tell me that, “Huskies can’t be let off leash, because they’re bred to run.” Or that they can’t be trained to walk on a loose leash, because they’ve been bred to pull. LOL.

Some day I’ll get a pack of Huskies and Chihuahuas and every other breed that people make up reasons for why they can’t be trained, and put a video up on Youtube of me working with all of them… at the same time.


I. Litman:

All sounds good. And that was pretty funny about the Huskies. LOL I will re-read the loose leash training section of the book again (paying much more attention) now that I know it is relevant to training my Chihuahua pup. Then I’ll go get him a chain slip collar at Petco. Should any more questions/issues arise, I will be back in touch. Thanks again and wish me luck!


Good luck!

You’ll be fine.