Dog & Puppy Training Frederick, Urbana and Clarksburg, MD

One of the most aggressive dogs we ever worked with at FluentDog…was a five-pound dog named Loki, a long-haired Chihuahua in Gaithersburg.  He would not let anyone put a collar on him, and he would not wear any coats to protect him in freezing weather–basically, anything going over his head was met with 5 pounds of fury and biting with the intent to cause damage. His owners were very stressed about going out of town. How could someone else take care of their dog without being bitten?

aggressive long hair chihuahua

They had already completed a basic puppy class using positive reinforcement only, so Loki has an excellent foundation in obedience commands like sit, touch, and coming when called. However, he would not do these commands amid distractions and he would often hide under the bed and not come out. 

 At FluentDog, our goal is to create dogs who do their commands happily, with motivation, but also with reliability. There must be good consequences for good behaviors and bad consequences for bad behaviors. 

In Loki’s case, unintentional positive reinforcement led to him becoming an aggressive dog. This happens quite frequently. At some point Loki felt uncomfortable enough to growl and bite. After all, he lives in a world of terrifying giants, 20-30 times his size, who often invade his space. When he bit, the “threat” (someone getting in his space ) went away. Who wants to stay near a biting dog? Now, Loki felt better–the “threat” went away because of his aggressive behavior. Dogs just do what they feel is in their best interest. Aggression worked for him to feel more safe–and so the aggressive behavior got stronger. 

Given the severity of his bites, if he was a larger dog, we would be having a very different conversation in terms of Loki’s future. He was biting HARD. However, we decided to take him on. Even little dogs deserve an education. 

We taught Loki to tolerate and even like wearing a muzzle so we could work with him safely–and so his aggressive behavior would no longer result in people retreating from him. It no longer had the desired effect.  We also implemented more rules and structure in the house and so it was easier for Loki to make the right choices. Just these little things made a big difference. 

We also taught Loki how to heel nicely, walking on leash without pulling. It may not seem like a big deal to have a 5-pound dog that pulls, but it really impacts the dog’s state of mind and ability to follow a leader. Remember, even a 5-pound dog is still a dog. Treating them like little babies in fur coats does them a huge disservice because their biological needs are not being fulfilled. 

Loki’s owners were so happy with his progress in private lessons that they upgraded to a board-and-train program where we introduced offleash obedience to bring the reliability of his commands to an even higher level. Every day, we post videos of the dogs currently in training to our private Facebook group so owners can follow along and learn what their dogs are learning. Now his owners could enforce the commands that Loki knew and enjoyed doing. Motivation AND reliability.

Recently I taught Loki’s owners how to trim his tiny little nails safely, and groom him, using the stairs in their house as a sort of grooming pedestal. Training dogs of extreme sizes forces you to be creative! I was very happy to hear that he recently stayed with one of their family members successfully while his owners went out of town.

Do you have a small dog with aggression or problem behaviors like excessive barking or pulling on leash? At FluentDog, we have a strong understanding of why dogs do the things they do–and we can help you get the control you need. There is nothing more charming than a tiny dog with great manners. Contact us today to start enjoying your dog again!

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