• By Kathy McRoberts
  • 17 Feb, 2013


The Chihuahua (pronounced chih-wah-wah) is a tiny, toy sized dog, the smallest of the dog breeds. Sometimes referred to as a Chi. They have rounded heads with short muzzles, large, round, dark ruby eyes and erect ears. Tears are often formed in abundance to keep the large eyes lubricated. The tail is long and either curled over the back or to the side. The coat can be either short of long wavy or flat. Colors include black, white, chestnut, fawn, sand, silver, sable, steel blue, black and tan and parti-color. Puppies have a soft spot on the top of the skull called a "molera", which usually closes by adulthood. Sometimes the long coated Chihuahuas go through "puppy ugglies", the awkward teenager stage between their puppy and adult coats. Chihuahua breeders often use terms like miniature, teacup, tiny toy, apple headed, or deer headed, to describe puppies, but these terms are not recognized by the breed standards and may be misleading,

Chihuahuas are well known as "purse dogs" like the famous Bruiser in the movie   Legally Blonde   starring Reese Witherspoon.


The Chihuahua is native to Mexico and received its name from the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The Chihuahua was sacred to the Pre-Columbian Indian nations, was used in sacred rituals, and was also popular as a pet to the upper class.

There are many theories surrounding its true origin. Analysis of the Chihuahua's DNA suggests that it is of Old World origin, such as from a European toy dog, and many believe that it was brought to Mexico from China over 200 years ago. The Toltecs, and later the Aztecs, had a small dog named the Techichi and it is possible that the fathers of the Chihuahua could have been the Techichi. This is the most common and most likely theory. The Aztec believed that the Techichi held mystical powers and the little dogs were used in religious ceremonies to expeate sins and as guides for the spirits of the dead. The present day Chihuahua is much smaller than the Techichi, a change thought to be due to the introduction of the miniature hairless Chinese dogs.

The breed was discovered in Chihuahua state in the 1850s, rose to prominance in the United States in the border states of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico and was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904.


The Chihuahua is a strong willed lively, proud and adventurous little dog, often noted for its nervous temperament. They are loyal and become attached to their owners, often being fiercely loyal to one particular owner. They make a good companion dog but need firm leadership and training. Without proper training and discipline, the Chihuahua can assume the pack leader role and develop many behavior problems such as jealousy, aggression, and suspicion. A Chihuahua that is pack leader in the household may snap at children. This breed is generally not recommended around small children, unless proper training and leadership has been established.

Because of its small size, the Chihuahua tends to be babied and allowed to have its way far more than a larger dog would. They also tend to be walked less because their owners assume they get enough exercise running around the house. But by not being walked they miss the mental stimulation and other factors a walk provides. Because of this, Chihuahuas and other small dogs tend to become yappy, snippy, protective and unstrustworthy around children and humans they do not know. They can also be dog-aggressive. Chihuahuas tend to like other Chihuahuas and dislike dogs of other breeds.

The Chihuahua needs a lot of human contact in the form of touching, petting and general attention. And they give a lot of love and affection in return. They make great lap dogs and will lie beside you for hours or next to you in bed.

Chihuahuas are the Jekyl and Hyde of the dog breeds. Your friends may see the worst side of them and never believe you when you tell them how sweet and gentle natured your Chihuahua is. With the proper training and leadership (just as a larger dog would receive), as well as early socialization, the Chihuahua can be a wonderful little dog.


The smallest dog breed, the Chihuahua weighs in at a mere 2-6 pounds and stands 6-9 inches tall.


This breed is prone to patellar luxation (dislocation of the kneecap), otherwise known as weak knees. They are also prone to colds and gum problems and sometimes neurological anomalies such as epilepsy and seizures. The large, protruding eyes also can lead to secondary glaucoma and corneal dryness. They can be prone to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). The Chihuahua tends to gain weight easily. The Chihuahua is susceptible to fractures and other accidents in puppyhood. They have a tendency to wheeze and snore due to their short muzzle. This breed is prone to stress, mainly due to the way their owners baby them.

Chihuahuas are sometimes prone to hydrocephalus, a disease characterized by an abnormally large head during the first several months of life. Puppies exhibiting hydrocephalus usually have patchy skull plates rather than a solid bone and typically are lethargic and do not grow at the same pace as their siblings.

Chihuahuas are the only breed of dog to be born with an incomplete skull. They have a molera, or a soft spot in their skulls, which normally fills in with age, but great care needs to be taken during the first six months until the skull is fully formed. Occasionally the soft spot remains, making them vulnerable to even a light bump on the head.


The Chihuahua generally has a long life expectancy, at 14-18 years, and is one of the longest lived dog breeds.


The Chihuahua requires minimal grooming. Regular brushing with a soft bristle brush should be done with both the short coated and long coated Chihuahuas. Bathe about once per month, taking care not to get water in the ears. Check the ears regularly and keep the nails trimmed. This breed is an average shedder.

Chihuahuas tend to shiver often, due to either stress or cold. Their higher metabolism dissipates heat faster and you'll often see Chihuahuas wearing coats or sweaters in the cold. They enjoy snuggling down into blankets to sleep.

Take care not to overfeed your Chihuahua as they can gain weight easily.


The Chihuahua is a good dog for apartment life. But keep in mind that they need space just like any other dog. Just because they are small does not mean they can be kept in small spaces. They are active dogs who need daily walks just like any other dog, although many people find it tempting to carry them about in purses or other carriers. Play can fulfill much of their need for exercise, but they still need the other things that walks provide, such as the primal instinct to walk, the mental stimulation and the bonding and leadership that a proper walk provides. Without regular walks, the Chihuahua can develop many behavior problems and neurotic issues.


Many Chihuahuas fall into what is known as "small dog syndrome" and are allowed to get away with things that a larger dog would not be allowed to do. It seems like a 5 pound dog can't do any harm by jumping up, and their antics can be cute, so it is usually allowed. Allowing such dominant behavior leads to the Chihuahua taking on the position of pack leader in the household. The reputation Chihuahuas have for being yappy, suspicious or aggressive little dogs is largely due to a lack of proper training. Chihuahuas tend to be treated like little toys instead of dogs. It is important to train the Chihuahua in the same manner you would train a larger dog, and establish the same rules and discipline.


Chihuahuas can be wonderful small companions, can adopt well to apartment living, and are extremely loyal and loving to their human. Because of their diminutive size, they are easy to transport and take along with you just about anywhere, and most Chihuahuas love outings. Chihuahuas need firm and consistent leadership and discipline in order to prevent behavior problems, and are typically not good with children. They are a long-lived, lively little dog. A Chihuahua who is treated like a dog rather than a cute little toy will grow into the most well-behaved member of the family.

A side note:   There is a disturbing trend in Southern California sometimes referred to as the Paris Hilton syndrome. Hollywood and the media have made it so desirable to own one of these cute little dogs and carry them around as a status symbol, that Chihuahuas and other tiny dogs are being bred at alarming rates by backyard breeders and puppy mills. Once the novelty wears off and the owner realizes that what they have is a living, breathing creature, not an accessory, they tire of them and the Chihuahuas are left to suffer various fates. Most Los Angeles shelters report approximately 30% of their dogs are Chihuahuas and the dogs are being euthanized at staggering rates. Many are being transported out to other states for help with adoption. Check for a Chihuahua   rescue   nearby or check   if you are looking to adopt a Chihuahua!


Cincinnati Dog Knowledge Center

By West Chester Pet Resort & Spa 20 Jun, 2017
Now that summer is just around the corner, family vacations are about to be in full swing. While traveling with your pet certainly has its benefits, there are things that you need to know before jet-setting with Fluffy in tow.

First and foremost, having your pet as your co-pilot completely alleviates the worry of who is going to care for them while you're away. This question is always an anxiety for pet owners. The option of traveling with them is especially beneficial if your pet has behavioral issues such as separation anxiety.

Crating your pet while driving to your destination is never a bad option. They're confined and safe, and you as the driver are less distracted. Just be sure to remove collars and leashes to prevent a strangling incident and keep the air flow on them.

If your pet has never been crated, you can find a great video here  by "Dog Guru" Cesar Milan on tome tips and tricks to crate training.

While the car is in motion, feeding your dog is one big "Don't!" If you are on an extended road trip and your pet needs a meal, the next time you stop, feed a small snack- preferably high in protein. And remember to never leave your furry friend in the car, especially during these warm months!

Now, traveling with your pet in an airplane is a much more complicated process as you will more than likely want to book a direct flight. Communicating with the airline prior to travel dates is absolutely imperative. Many airlines have strict regulations for canine and feline travel and their regulations may vary based on the airline and the destination.

However you decide to travel, always remember that if you are taking a not-so-pet-friendly vacation, we would love your pet to stay with us while you are away.  West Chester Pet Resort offers a variety of services to make your pets stay a fun- filled adventure. Call to book your pet’s adventure today!

-West Chester Pet Resort & Spa
By Kathy McRoberts 03 Dec, 2014

Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine

When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.

But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.

At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.

So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.

When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.

We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth:  The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.

Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing  earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.

“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.

So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:

  • You hear your Husky howling, and immediately storm in to reprimand her. How is this reinforcement? To many dogs, having a beloved human present (even a beloved yet annoyed human) is better than feeling lonesome. Your dog begins to think her howling is prompting you to chime in.
  • Your Lab whines pitifully as you begin to leave the house, so you return to take him with you. Over time, your dog starts believing that his whining causes you to come back for him (Pavlov’s theory, anyone?).
  • Your Westie mix cowers and growls behind the sofa whenever company arrives, so you pick him up and coo “Ohhhh, you’re fine, what a gooooood boy….” Soon, your dog begins to equate hiding and trembling with oodles of TLC.

“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.

Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.

The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”

Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.

Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress

The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( )

Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.

Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.

By Kathy McRoberts 11 Jul, 2014

Original article by Virginia Simpson, Unleashed Canine Obedience

“You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”
“Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive” - Johnny Mercer

If you are interested in training your dog, you will quickly find that your pup will more than likely respond and learn more quickly through praise for good behavior versus punishment for inappropriate behavior. Seems obvious, but it all starts with how we think about behavior. When people come to me for training advice, they usually start out telling me what they don’t want their dog to do. “I don’t want my dog to jump on people, bark at the mailman, run away, pull on the leash, poo or pee on the floor, etc.” In other words, the definition of a good dog is - not a bad dog.

What I try to do is get people thinking about what they do want their dog to do instead of what they don’t want their dog to do. What does a good dog look like in their mind. For example, “I want my dog to sit on a place mat when people first come over until they are in enough control of themselves to politely say hello.” “A good dog goes to the bathroom outside in the back yard and tells me when they have to go.”

It is easier (and WAY more fun!) to train a dog when you are focusing your attention on what you want your dog to do instead of what you don’t want them to do. This will help you come up with alternatives to “bad” behavior. You can’t just say no all the time; no fun for you, no fun for your dog! You have to redirect and teach appropriate behavior. And it all starts with a positive outlook!  

So, make a list of all the things you don’t want your pup to do and then write down the opposite of that. What would you like your dog to do instead? Feel free to contact me if you would like any help!

Virginia L. Simpson
Certified Dog Trainer
Unleashed Canine Obedience, LLC  
IACP Member #3141
Phone: 513.317.7484

By Kathy McRoberts 17 Jun, 2014

Original article by Tails Magazine

It’s a terrifying feeling to lose your pet, and an experience that no pet parent ever expects to go through. According to the ASPCA, nearly one in five pets goes missing in the summertime due to triggers like fireworks, thunderstorms, and loud noises. Fortunately, 93% of missing dogs and 75% of missing cats are eventually returned to their homes.

The first step to keeping your pet safe and at home is prevention––make sure your pet is microchipped, that his tags are up to date with your current information, and keep him crated while you’re out if you’re concerned about escaping. If your pet does get loose, these tips from Paul Mann, the founder and CEO of Fetch! Pet Care provide helpful advice for bringing him home safely and quickly:

  1. Contact or visit your local shelters and animal control organizations. File a lost pet report with every shelter, dog pound, and animal control office within a 60-mile radius of your home and visit (or at least call) the nearest shelters daily.
  2. Get the word out to all veterinarians in the area. Sometimes people pick up a stray and drive it to a distant clinic. 
  3. Search your neighborhood. Walk or drive through your neighborhood several times each day. Enlist friends, family, and others to help you. Ask neighbors, letter carriers, and delivery people if they have seen your pet. Hand out a recent photograph of your pet and information on how you can be reached if your pet is found. 
  4. Go door to door and speak with your neighbors. The more people who know you have lost a pet, and that you are upset, worried and desperately trying to find your pet, the more people will call you if they see an animal in the woods or on the road, or in their backyard. 
  5. Place posters and flyers throughout the neighborhood. Post notices at grocery stores, community centers, veterinary offices, traffic intersections, pet supply stores, and other locations. Also, place advertisements in newspapers and with radio stations. Include your pet’s sex, age, weight, breed, color, and any special markings. To avoid scams, when describing your pet, leave out one identifying characteristic and ask the person who finds your pet to describe it. 
  6. Post info about your pet on all pet recovery websites and services. Sites such as, and allow you to broadcast your missing pet info quickly. National pet care providers can be hired to assist you in your search for your lost pet. 
  7. Consider using a lost pet recovery service. There are now numerous lost pet alert services, such as, that will contact homes, veterinarians, shelters and animal control organizations for a reasonable fee. 
  8. Place food and water outside your home. Your pet may eventually return to your home when they get hungry or thirsty. Consider placing the food in a rented or purchased humane pet trap to capture them. 
  9. Tell everyone you see about your pet and ask them to keep their eyes open for her. The more people you alert about your missing pet, the greater the chance someone will recollect seeing your pet in their area. 
  10. Don’t give up. Be aggressive in your search, get lots of help, get the word out right away – don’t wait a few hours “to see if she’ll come home on her own “– you need those early hours to put up posters and start your search. 
By Kathy McRoberts 01 May, 2014

Original article by Jordan Walker,  Tails Magazine

Approximately 10% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety, and if your dog is one of them, you know the stress it can cause on both of you. Disruptive and destructive behaviors are typical of separation anxiety, and are signs of a dog in distress. Read on and find out the causes of separation anxiety and some ideas for dealing with it.


So how come canine pals are bound to suffer from it in the first place? This question is still considered a puzzle to experts. However, there are suggested theories as to why it occurs:

1. Shaky background. Dogs acquired from shelters sometimes had tough beginnings. Neglect or abuse from previous caregivers could be at the root of anxious behaviors. Sometimes just the act of being left at a shelter is enough to spur separation anxiety.

2. Lack of conditioning. When left alone, some dogs are able to make themselves comfortable with their own toys. However, others have been conditioned to rely too much on their caregivers for entertainment and struggle to keep occupied when alone.

3. Unexpected changes. Establishing routines for dogs is very important as it helps foster feelings of comfort. When things suddenly take a different turn (such as with a new work schedule), your dog may act out in response.

What You Can Do

The good thing about separation anxiety in dogs is there are ways to treat it. Consider the tips below for helping your dog get over his separation blues:

1. Let him warm up to being alone. Don’t shock your dog into leaving the house for extended periods. What you can do instead is to gradually get him used to the idea of being left alone. Start at five minutes, extending it to twenty minutes and then increasing it every time you notice he has gotten comfortable with the previous allotted time.

2. Make leaving not a big deal. Touching, eye contact, and talking to your dog before leaving the house and when you arrive could make separation anxiety worse. Make it a rule to leave the house without fanfare. This way, your dog will get the message that your leaving the house is not that big of a deal.

3. Be confident yourself. You are your dog’s pack leader. If he senses you are not confident about him being okay when left alone, he will be inclined to act the part. Stay calm and confident and you have a better chance of your dog following suit.

4. Get his energy out first. Try to walk your dog before leaving him alone. Burning his excess energy will put him in a resting mode, making him calmer for the rest of the day.

If your dog is acting particularly unusual or out of character, a visit to the vet is probably in order. Some of the signs of separation anxiety––such as urinating or defecating inside––can have medical causes and should be treated immediately.

Most importantly, remember that anxious behaviors are a sign of an underlying issue, and punishment is not a helpful tool for fixing the problem––in fact, scolding or punishing will probably just make the issue worse. Instead, be your pet’s best friend and stay calm and consistent. He’ll thank you for it.

Jordan Walker is the lead content curator for Coops And Cages as well as a couple of other pet related blogs. His passion for animals is only matched by his love for ‘attempting’ to play the guitar. If you would like to catch him, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @CoopsAndCages

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