Are Chihuahuas Good With Kids?
When most people decide to get a dog as a pet for children, they often consider small breeds. Most of us understand that a child can hardly be fully responsible for the pet. Therefore, grown-ups have to take over from time to time and somehow fit a new family member into their daily routine.
With the growing popularity of Chihuahuas, no wonder so many people today consider them as perfect playmates for their children. Chihuahuas are known to be active, sassy, and playful dogs. They also easily get attached to a particular human and, being companion dogs, are ready to follow the owner to the edge of the Earth. Moreover, due to its small size, the dog itself and its whole "infrastructure" such as sleeping places, food, toys, and other things are not supposed to take much business in the house.
All those features seem to make a Chihuahua a perfect dog for families with kids. Unfortunately, most of the time, when this is the way people see a Chihuahua, they get disappointed and regret getting a Chi for their children. However, a Chihuahua is indeed a perfect companion dog and can become a lifetime friend for any owner, including children. The trick is to build a proper approach to the dog, have adequate expectations, and prepare for getting a new family member.
In this article, we shall describe the most common Chihuahuas traits that can make them both perfect and worst pets for children. We shall also discuss the essential steps you will have to take if you are absolutely determined to get a Chi for your kid.
Chihuahuas' Temper and Character
Unfortunately, along with being among the most popular dog breeds, Chihuahuas are notoriously known for their particularly short temper and pretty explosive character. Even if you have never been "attacked" by a Chi in your life, you might have definitely seen those memes on the Internet claiming that this adorable dog consists of anger and fear.
Most of the time, this is the reason why so many people will strongly recommend you against getting a Chi for your kids. Now let's go over the facts and common knowledge about the breed and dogs, in general, to understand whether those claims are true and you should consider another breed.
Are Chihuahuas Particularly Aggressive Towards Children?
The first thing you should understand is that there is no such thing as a particularly aggressive breed or otherwise a friendly and mellow one. It is our attitude, prejudice, and, sometimes, pop culture that form a specific image for certain breeds and force us to follow certain patterns seeing dogs as aggressive, friendly, active, or mellow, mostly according to the breed.
However, canine behavior experts claim that this attitude is absolutely false and may be considered "dog racism," if you will. Pit Bulls are not vicious killers as well as far not all Labradors are sweethearts. The same is true about Chihuahuas. Those are owners who determine dogs` behavior.
Being a pack animal, just like any other dog, your Chihuahua will seek leadership in the family. As long as none of the family members appear to behave as a leader, or a mentor, who is setting strict rules, controls the food, and fixes misbehavior, your Chi will feel obligated to take the position.
Now, let's be fair, not each grown-up would feel it necessary to educate and train a Chi puppy properly. How much damage can a misbehaving Chihuahua do after all? And of course, hardly can any child, especially the one who got a Chihuahua as the first pet, would comprehend the necessity of boundaries, limitations, and training for this dog.
That is why Chihuahuas often don't see their owners (especially young ones) as true pack leaders. They obtain this position themselves. Whatever people are used to calling aggression is mostly a behavior issue based on the attempts to set the dog's leadership and correct the pack members that don't behave accordingly.
Just like all other dogs, Chihuahuas are extremely observant animals. They comprehend the roles in the pack and start following the patterns pretty fast. However, like all animals, they don't have the same age concept as people. In fact, after the mother stops feeding the cubs, they are officially considered as grown-up brethren. That is why your Chihuahua will hardly see the difference between you and your 5-year-old and will apply the same rules and behavior patterns to your child.
At the same time, parents often fail to explain to their children the difference between a puppy and a stuffed toy. If a child was born and grew up in a household that never had animals, his or her word vision is pretty straightforward: there are humans and non-humans. And just like it is pretty natural for your child to see his or her teddy bear as a living being, it is normal that a Chihuahua puppy would obtain the same position.
Unfortunately, such a course of events often has pretty harsh outcomes. Tending to see Chihuahuas as toys, children don't only get attached to them on the same level but often think that they can treat a dog the same way. A child can try to grab a puppy roughly or even through the pet, forget about the puppy locked in a box or wardrobe and harm the animal unconsciously in many other ways.
That is why it is the parent's primary responsibility to make sure that the child is mentally ready for the pet.
Chihuahuas Are Great Pets For Children!
There is a reason why Chihuahuas are among the most popular breeds worldwide. In fact, with a proper attitude, enough training, and, of course, love, Chihuahuas may be considered perfect dogs for children.
Here are only several benefits of getting a Chi for your child:
- A perfect companion. Initially, lap dogs, Chihuahuas, are extremely attached to their owners. Moreover, their natural instincts tell them to keep an eye on their humans, seeing them as the most valuable vital resource – food, shelter, and comfort. That is why a Chihuahua puppy would be a perfect pet for a child that seeks companionship
- A compact dog. Although most people are concerned that due to their small size, Chihuahuas are too fragile for children, this feature can be a decisive argument for families with the right attitude. As long as you explain to a child all the precautious measures, a small dog would become a perfect addition for families that live in apartments or small houses
- A perfect playmate. When your child is asking you for a pet, it is obvious that it is supposed to become a fun and joyful playmate. Although there are millions of children out there who are happy with their tortoises and goldfishes, nothing can be compared to playing fetch with your furry friend or running down the street in the search for adventures. Being particularly active, Chihuahuas are perfect playmates for children. Moreover, Chihuahuas are dogs that require lots of exercise. Lack of physical activity is the most common reason why they develop behavior and health issues.
At Which Age is the Best to Get a Chihuahua for a Kid?
Most experts claim that getting a pet goes most smoothly at the earliest age or after the kid can comprehend the whole level of responsibility. If you take a Chihuahua puppy to your family when your child is a newborn or an early toddler, having a dog in the house will be a natural course of events. A kid will learn the difference between living beings and toys at the earliest age, and the overall process will be most smooth and natural.
At the same time, all children have the so-called "grabbing" phase, which is an essential and natural development phase. However, it can be a problem for a delicate Chihuahua. In this case, your kid may unconsciously injure the dog, or your Chi may traumatize, bite or scare your child simply trying to protect himself.
Also, children tend to get interested and give up on various topics pretty frequently. It is also an important development phase that helps a child to determine his or her personality. However, a Chihuahua who joined the family at the time may become a victim of such spontaneous attitude and turn into another unwanted toy.
Therefore, age is crucial when you decide whether to get a Chihuahua for your kid or no. Experts usually recommend either introducing a dog to the family when a child is 0-1 y/o or wait until the age of about 10 when he or she is familiar with terms like responsibility for a living being.
Just like any other dog, a Chihuahua can become a perfect pet for your kid. The key to success lies in your attitude and readiness to accept the new family member. Have a heart-to-heart talk with your children; ask them why they want a pet and what their expectations are from experience. Make sure to explain to your children the ground rules of treating a Chihuahua and, of course, follow them yourself. Eventually, a Chi can become a righteous family member and a devoted friend for your child that will teach him or her about responsibility, mercy, and unconditional love.