Just like the two German Shepherds I went to over the weekend, Buddy, a little scared Chihuahua this time, is very chihuahua Buddy doing his Meerkat actnoisy when someone comes to the house.

Because of this, like so many dogs I go to, they have few guests. Buddy may fly at one friend and bite his trousers. This then creates panic which only goes to confirm Buddy’s belief that this human is there to cause trouble.

Over the two years of his life Buddy has learnt that he always gets what he wants when he barks. So, here is another dog whose barking wavered between fearful ‘go away’ barking to demanding ‘do as I say’ barking.[divider type=”white”]

I filmed the scared Chihuahua daring to take food from me

If a dog is taking food from me, I know that he isn’t totally terrified. Animals won’t eat if they feel their life is in peril. So, to associate myself with something nice I gave him tiny pieces of cheese.

He was a very brave little dog, and eventually took a piece from my hand before rushing off and barking at me againĀ  – see this (back arrow to return here afterwards). When I took a break I could swear his barking changed to ‘give me cheese’ barking! Fifteen minutes later, after the odd spook, here he is (and my David Attenborough voice!).

The owners admscared Chihuahuait that this little dog knows how to get them to work for him! Barking always gets a result. One of his favourite tricks that always gets attention or food is to beg like a cute meerkat.

Being allowed to make most of the decisions and always being obeyed is actually a big burden for any dog to carry, as it would be for a child. Moreover, he is constantly in their company, virtually 24/7, and this can make a dog dependent and needy. Buddy needs some boundaries in order to increase his belief and trust in his owners to look after him.[divider type=”white”]

Problem can be symptom of a bigger picture

This is a good example of how the particular problem I was called out for – reactivity to guests in this case – is actually part of a much larger issue that needs approaching from several angles.

Buddy soon learnt to touch my hand with his nose – we used clicker technique using gentle noise with the tongue lest the sudden clicker sound spooked him. As a dog that is fearful of people and especially approaching hands, this exercise is good in that it encourages him to associate hands with something nice and it also gives him a choice in the matter.

The scared Chihuaha was soon touching my hand held out over his head, doing his ‘meerkat’, and a bit higher still so he had to stretch or jump to touch it with his nose. Simples!

I also managed to stand up for a short while with Buddy being quiet. It’s a start. When I had to get up to walk about, I found if they picked him up he was silent. He felt protected. The deal here is that they don’t talk to him or fuss him – they merely lift him out of harm’s way.

The bottom line is that Buddy needs less stress, less exciting play, less attention, less reinforcement for barking, less being obeyed, less stressful walks – and more proper nurturing.

Gradually, he needs to be exposed to more people (and other dogs) but in a controlled way.