International Chihuahua Appreciation Day

International Chihuahua Appreciation Day

International Chihuahua Appreciation Day

Tiny and feisty, we’re all familiar with the famous Chihuahua breed of dog. Depending on temperament and training, the chihuahuas you’ve encountered could be adorable, sociable lapdogs, or tiny little packages of rage. While chihuahuas are an immensely popular dog, there are also many myths surrounding this breed. Some people believe that chihuahuas are more inclined to bark, or to be bad-tempered.

Another common misconception around chihuahuas (and other small breeds of dog) is that they somehow require less care and attention than a larger dog, specifically less exercise.

Let’s address this myth, as well as more information and advice concerning these courageous, pint-sized little dogs. Should you consider adopting a chihuahua? More importantly, how can you properly care for a chihuahua?

What’s a Chihuahua?

Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed on earth. They’re so small, in fact, that you can comfortably carry one in your purse. (This doesn’t mean that you should)

However, this lapdog conception can actually be somewhat harmful to chihuahuas. They can be treated like toys or accessories, and often don’t get the kind of exercise and mental stimulation that they need. These dogs live for around 14 to 16 years, considerably longer than some larger dogs.

Named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua, this breed of dog has been around since the 1800s. Officially recognized as a breed in North America from 1904, the chihuahua has been one of the most popular dogs in the States for decades.

Breed Standard and Appearance

The average chihuahua weighs three to six pounds. However, these dogs can quickly become overweight, particularly if they don’t get enough exercise and are overfed.

Chihuahuas are generally split into two categories: long haired and short haired. They have small, neat paws, and measure around 15-22cm in length. Both long and short haired chihuahuas need weekly grooming, likely in the from of a good brush!

Temperament and Personality

Chihuahuas are very intelligent dogs. They learn quickly, but because of this, a poorly trained chihuahua can be somewhat self-willed. While some chihuahuas are outgoing and feisty, they can also be shy and timid. Remember, this is a tiny dog in a large world!

Chihuahuas tend to bond strongly with one member of the household. They are loyal, affectionate, and playful. Chihuahuas aren’t known as an aggressive breed, but they do tend to forget how small they are. Because of this, your chihuahua may try squaring up to much larger dogs in a misguided attempted to protect their family.

Health Care and Social Needs

Chihuahuas are very social dogs and shouldn’t be left alone for hours at a time. A regular, healthy meal schedule is essential for a growing chihuahua. However, once they’ve reached their full growth (at around 12 months) it’s important to avoid overfeeding.

It can be tempting to sneak your dog extra treats and snacks, but chihuahuas can quickly become overweight, which can lead to further health problems. Always feed your dog good-quality dog food and pay attention to the portion size recommendations. An extra handful of food a day can quickly mount up for a dog as small as a chihuahua.

Caring for a Chihuahua

While smaller dogs may require less exercise than larger dogs, that doesn’t mean you can neglect your chihuahua’s walks.

The traditional, unflattering view of a chihuahua (or other small dogs) is that of a yappy, badly-behaved dog, bouncing around uncontrollably.

An experienced dog owner will recognize this behaviour as a sign that the dog is not burning off their excess energy and is simply bored and pent up.

Chihuahuas need around 30 minutes of exercise a day. On top of that, they need mental stimulation, social interaction, as well as love and attention, just like any other dog.

While leaving your dog alone for short periods of time is unavoidable, chihuahuas are social animals and don’t like being alone. Be sure to leave some toys for your dog to play with while you’re gone. If you’re going to be out for more than a few hours, it’s a good idea to ask a friend or neighbour to look in while you’re out.

Just like many other dogs, anxious, distressed, or bored chihuahuas can become destructive!

Adopt or Shop?

While there are plenty of dog breeders who care for their animals and genuinely love that particular breed, this is far from the norm. Unfortunately, there are far too many “career” dog breeders, who consider the animals as little more than commodities and useful tools.

Puppy farming is a growing epidemic, with hundreds of breeding females being kept in appalling conditions and bred repeatedly until their health gives out. The puppies are then sold, earning the breeders a small fortune.

Certain breeds are more prone to puppy farming, and chihuahuas are one of them. Buying puppies from puppy farmers fuels the industry, meaning that even more dogs will suffer. Aside from the cruelty towards the breeding dogs, this can result in higher animal deaths, inbred defects in the puppies, and serious health conditions.

While there’s nothing wrong with buying a chihuahua puppy from a reputable breeder, be sure to do your due diligence, and ensure that you really are buying a puppy from a happy home.

Alternatively, you could consider adopting. Since chihuahuas are one of the most popular dogs around, this unfortunately means that there are many of them up for adoption and rehoming. Giving a dog a second chance at a new life is one of the most rewarding things a person can do.

Chihuahuas: Are They Right for You?

Chihuahuas are beautiful, loyal, affectionate, and fun dogs. They make a wonderful addition to any family. This breed has a rich history and a personality of its own. Chihuahuas are dogs with a big personality stuffed into a tiny frame, but don’t worry – their bark is often worse than their bite. If you think this kind of dog would suit you down to the ground, you should definitely consider bringing a chihuahua into your home.

- 10 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safe On Bonfire Night - Peak Pets

10 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe on Bonfire Night

10 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe on Bonfire Night

Bonfire night is a dreaded night for many pet owners.

The sensory overload for your dogs can cause a multitude of problems. It can often lead to days of anxiety, messed up eating habits and refusal to engage with walks and exercise.

Although bonfire night is hardly going to be your dog’s favourite night of the year, there are numerous small changes you can make to ensure the night is as comfortable as possible for your companion.

There are many clear signs that your dog is distressed, which can be particularly prominent on bonfire night. These signs include:

  • Shaking and trembling
  • Refusing to eat
  • Pacing and panting
  • Cowering and hiding, attempting to reach places in the home they usually would not
  • Soiling or having accidents in the house

Play the Long Game

It is no quick fix, but giving your pet exposure to loud sounds can help on overwhelming nights such as bonfire night.- 10 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safe On Bonfire Night - Peak Pets

Playing the sounds of fireworks or thunderstorms, initially on a low volume, will help your pet get used to loud sounds that they otherwise would not have heard. You need to be extremely careful to gradually build up the sounds to prevent overwhelming your pet.

This is a long term solution, which can greatly help your pets tolerance to loud sounds.

Consider Your Own Energy

Dogs feed off our energy and emotions. If they feel that you are anxious about the night, they probably will be too. Try to remain calm and follow their lead as much as possible. If you can keep the night to as similar as possible to any other night, it will help relax any pets you have in the home.

Allow your dog to cuddle you if they should wish and enjoy some time relaxing together.

Keep Them Inside

Although it might sound obvious, many dog owners simply leave the back door open or even use a dog flap. This gives their dog independence to use the garden as they please and reduces the chances of accidents happening in the home. Some owners even choose to have kennels outside, where the dog will happily spend most of their time.

However, on bonfire night it is important that you keep a close eye on your pet and keep them indoors as much as possible. Even if the noise does not seem too loud near your home, a single loud bang can spook your pets and leave you with days of anxiety to deal with.

Use Other Sounds to Distract

Using other sounds, such as the television or radio can be great if the fireworks are not too loud. The familiar noises of the home will help them feel relaxed and hopefully help block out some of the explosions.

There are many playlists across all popular streaming platforms catering specifically for soothing nervous dogs.

Another distraction tactic is to use their favourite toy and involve them in a game inside the house. This will help with tiring them out as well as providing a distraction.

Shift Everything Earlier

On bonfire night, it is important that you both feed and walk your dog earlier than you usually would. This is because once the fireworks start, it is likely your dog will begin to feel anxious and will be reluctant to go outside. They may then not get the opportunity to relieve themselves after dinner.

Anxiety can also often put dogs off their food, which may result in them missing their evening meal altogether.

Additionally, a long walk before the fireworks begin will hopefully tire them out and result in a more peaceful sleep that night.

Calming Supplements

Calming supplements may be a worthwhile investment if your dog displays particularly anxious tendencies, especially around bonfire night. They can be added at mealtimes in the lead up to bonfire night to reduce the stress that your dog endures.

Create a Safe Haven

It is important to create a safe den in the home where your dog feels protected.

Create this den a while before bonfire night and encourage the dog inside as regularly as you can, rewarding them for doing so, yet making them feel as relaxed as possible.- 10 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safe On Bonfire Night - Peak Pets

If possible, make the den somewhere in the centre of the home, away from doors and windows. This will limit the amount of noise the dog can hear. Using a large crate is ideal and cover with blankets to allow an extra level of noise protection.

Having a safe place to take refuge will work wonders for calming their nerves.

Invest in an Anxiety Coat

There is evidence to show that dogs find gentle pressure soothing, and it can help with anxiety, especially on hectic nights such as bonfire night. You can purchase shirts, coats and even head wraps that apply a small amount of constant pressure to your dog.

Give Them Space

It may be that your pet hides themselves away from the rest of the household out of fear of the strange noises. It is important not to try to force the dog out from the safe space they have created. This will only increase anxiety and massively decrease the chances of the dog settling down.

Black out the windows

It is not only the loud sounds that spook our dogs but the intense flashes of light also. Drawing the curtains and using blackout blinds in the room your dog will be in, is a great simple way to shield them from the light.

Seek Professional Help

Dog phobias are very real.

If you suspect your dog has moved past anxiety and has a clear phobia of the loud noises then it may be time to seek professional help. Your vet should be able to put you in touch with an animal behaviourist in your local area.

Anxiety in dogs can present a huge array of problems, not only on bonfire night.

- Keeping Your Dog Entertained When You’re Not Home - Peak Pets

Keeping Your Dog Entertained When You’re Not Home

Keeping Your Dog Entertained When You’re Not Home

Have you ever wondered what dogs do when we’re not home?

For some of us who return home to chewed shoes, shredded cushions, and general chaos, we don’t have to wonder. You might even hear from a neighbor that our dog has been barking or howling in our absence.

Leaving our beloved pets alone at times is unavoidable, but since we are their whole world, it’s not surprising that our dogs will get bored when they’re alone.

If your dog shows exceptional distress or destructive behavior when you leave, they might be suffering from separation anxiety. If that’s the case, you could try using a calming supplement for dogs to help soothe your pet while you’re gone.

However, for many dogs, it’s simply a case of boredom (and the occasional tantrum that you’ve gone out!). Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your dog entertained when you’re not home.

1.  Make Sure Your Dog is Comfortable

Dogs often sleep when we go out, and providing a comfortable spot will encourage this. If you’re crate-training your dog or puppy, make sure the crate is well-padded and comfortable. Whether you keep your dog in a particular room or let them have the run of the house, it’s good to have a specific spot where your dog can sleep and feel properly safe. If there are certain areas of your house you want your dog to stay out of, close the doors or install dog gates.

To prevent restlessness, it’s a good idea to take your dog for a long walk before you go out, if you can. Getting sufficient exercise makes it more likely your dog will nap later, and reduces the chances of “accidents”.

Always make sure your dog has access to fresh water. However, bored dogs can have a habit of tipping their water bowls and causing a small flood. To prevent this, try using a weighted dog bowl.

For anxious dogs, try leaving an old item of clothing for them to cuddle up with. The item will smell like you, and it can help soothe your pet and make them feel safe.

2.  Leave Toys for Your Dog

Leaving toys for your dog to play with is especially important for younger, more energetic dogs. Mental and physical stimulation is essential to prevent boredom. Bored dogs tend to get destructive. If you’re not there to keep your dog entertained, leaving a toy is a good way to keep them busy.

 Your dog likely has a favorite toy that can entertain them while you’re not home. Rotate the toys, as your dog’s favorite will likely suffer more wear and tear than the rest!

However, not all toys are suitable for a dog to play with unsupervised. Certain rope toys as well as rubber and fabric toys could be easily destroyed and your dog could swallow or eat small pieces. It’s a good idea to check that a toy is safe before leaving your dog alone with it. Hard bones and antler bones need to be taken away from your dog if they get too small or if they break.

3.   Leave Treats

Food is always the absolute best way of distracting your dog. If they get distressed or clingy when you prepare to go out, a tasty treat can calm them down and keep them busy while you leave.

If your dog has a habit of wolfing down their food in a matter of seconds, try making it a little harder for them. You can use rubber Kong toys, which can be filled with treats or food for your dog to chew. If you pack the Kong well, it can take your dog some time to work out all the treats, keeping them busy. The rubber is durable, and you can buy various sizes to suit your dog. You can also play games, leaving some treats hidden around your dog’s area for them to find.

Of course, leaving a large handful of treats every time you go out might not be particularly good for your dog. There are healthier options, or you could use some of your dog’s regular dry food in a Kong, sealed in with a modest spoonful of peanut butter.

4.  Give Your Dog a Room with a View

Many dogs like to look out of the window and watch the world go by. If this is something your dog enjoys doing, why not give them access to a window, and provide a comfortable spot for them to sit or lie down? Keeping an eye on the premises can help soothe nervy dogs, and this means they can also watch hopefully for your return!

This might not be a suitable activity for all dogs. You certainly don’t want them to spend all their time barking at passers-by!

5.  Dog TV

For dogs that are part of a large family, noise can be the norm. This means that when you go out, your dog might be unsettled by the quiet environment and lack of stimulation. This can lead to anxiety in your dog, and subsequent separation anxiety.

Leaving the TV or radio playing can help relax your dog. Specific TV programs such as DOGTV might entertain and stimulate your dog. It’s a good idea to play some of these programs while you’re in the house too, to see how your dog reacts and get them used to it.

Remember, dogs are just like people – each one is different. What entertains one dog might not work for another. Try different ideas and see what works for both you and your dog. You know your pet best, after all!

While leaving your dog alone sometimes is unavoidable, it’s best not to leave them for extended periods of time. Younger dogs and puppies especially shouldn’t be left for too long.

When you are at home, try and spend quality time with your dog. Playing with your dog, walking, and training them is all part of the bonding experience. While our beloved dogs might be just one part of lives, we are our dog’s whole world.