Tiny Dog Life
July 15, 2014 6:44 AM   Subscribe

I adopted a 6 lb chihuahua from a rescue organization about two weeks ago. How can I celebrate living with with this ridiculous, tiny creature?

I have already received a little flack from a couple friends for my "purse dog." I sort of get where they are coming from, I have been soaked in the same culture of girly things are frilly and impractical and dumb and tiny dogs are certainly girly and who are you? Paris Hilton? and whatever, but two weeks with tiny dog and I am thoroughly convinced that purse dog life is fucking awesome. I can pack her up and take her pretty much where ever. She either sleeps or follows me giving me tiny calf licks or goes in the tote like a champion. She is so far shy but tolerant of strangers and other not huge dogs.

So, what is there to do with tiny dog that I maybe have not thought of? I have read conflicting things about the amount of activity tiny dog can sustain, so I'm interested in what others have done with the toy breeds in terms of activities, exercise, trips, special tiny toys, etc.

What gear do you have for your tiny dog that makes everything better?
Have you taken your tiny dog on a hike? How far can they go?
How do you decide when to pick them up vs let them battle out life at the 1ft off the ground level?
Any links to training materials/ideas you found especially helpful?
posted by skrozidile to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
To celebrate, your dog needs a tiny hat. That's all.
posted by xingcat at 6:48 AM on July 15, 2014 [20 favorites]

The biggest thing I can ask is that you treat your small dog like an actual dog, and not a toy. So many ill-behaved small dogs are that way because their owners think their behavior is cute instead of actual aggressive dog behavior that will need training.

Other than that, my co-worker has 3 chihuahuas. She recommends harnesses over leashes because of their size, and small sweaters, since hers at least, get cold more easily. Also steps.
posted by PearlRose at 6:59 AM on July 15, 2014 [16 favorites]

Definitely a harness. It's helpful if she will tolerate a bell on her collar too. My co-worker brings her little 3lb pomeranian to work, and she unfortunately wouldn't tolerate a bell, so when she's roaming in our closed space you have to watch under your feet.
posted by Crystalinne at 7:09 AM on July 15, 2014

How do you decide when to pick them up vs let them battle out life at the 1ft off the ground level?

I mostly let the dog decide that, unless she's getting herself in trouble on the ground! She's pretty independent and usually only asks to be picked up if she wants to see what's cooking on the stove.

Have you taken your tiny dog on a hike? How far can they go?

I've heard of small dogs that can happily hike for miles, though mine can't. The nice thing about a six pound dog is that if the dog gets tired, it's no problem to carry it.

I find that the most important part of tiny dog ownership is to revel in the dog's ridiculousness. You will never lack for adorable entertainment again!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:09 AM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Well I don't have a truly tiny dog, but I do have a 12 lb poodle. My advice is enjoy everything that a smaller dog entails (taking the dog everywhere you can, clothes if the dog doesn't mind, being extra cute!), but also, do legitimate dog training and treat the dog like a dog, because that's what it is! Take an obedience class, not just for the training alone, but it's an excellent way to bond with a rescue for sure (or any dog). Don't let your tiny dog get away with things that a larger dog couldn't with respect to training-that's what gives small dogs a bad rep among people who have never had one (I grew up with big dogs and am a small dog convert!, but really, I just like dogs!). Teach the dog tricks, which are made cuter by the smallness!

Agree that a harness is better than a collar on a little dog.

Also, small dogs still need exercise and stimulation, so small dog sized tennis balls, smaller chews, small kongs, etc. are all great for little dogs. I've found that most pet stores that cater to dogs have toys that fit every size breed. One more thing, which may or may not be a concern for you, but because your dog is smaller, and is less expensive to feed, why not really get the highest quality, best foods possible? I'd say this for any dog, but small dogs do cost less comparatively, so take advantage of this as well-I like foods from Prairie, Blue Buffalo, and Solid Gold, but there are other good ones out there as well.
posted by PinkPoodle at 7:21 AM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Like everyone else says, treat the dog like a dog. It's not cute when they bite, it's aggressive, and that behaviour can get out of control so quickly with smaller dogs. Obedience training is essential. Animal Planet has a new show called My Tiny Terror that addresses this. I've never watched it, only seen the promos (since I don't have a tiny dog just a small one), but it's supposed to be along the same lines as My Cat from Hell. Maybe you can pick up some pointers from there? I know that latter has helped me with some of my kitty issues.
posted by patheral at 7:26 AM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

A friend of mine has a ridiculously tiny dog--a Miniature Pinscher--and he loves wearing his Dog Goggles. They protect his eyes from debris and sunlight, and make him look totally stylin'. You'll need size X-Small.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:37 AM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Chihuahua's tend to be possessive of their person and aggressive of other animals and people who threaten the dog's perception that you're her charge. So be sure to let her know that you protect her, not the other way around, so get some obedience training for you and for the dog.

Harness is better for little dogs as are appropriately sized toys.

I used to tote my friend Joe's little dog around in my purse. Sparky loved to go out and see and be seen.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:39 AM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Even in urban areas you need to be mindful of birds of prey.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:41 AM on July 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have taken my ridiculous chihuahua on a hike, but I brought an Outward Hound front carrier for when his little legs got tired or the terrain was too rough.

nthing a harness for leash-walking, but please have the dog wear a collar with tags as well. I know so many people who have lost their small dogs because their dogs never wore collars with tags, only harnesses.
posted by erst at 7:43 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

You should check out Trixie + Peanut; they have everything a small chihuahua could ever want. My chihuahua's favs include:

Chewy Vuiton
Bada Bling Collar

I also recommend bully sticks (they stink but my dog loved them) and the Kong Extreme; my dog killed several of the regular Kongs, only the toughest will do!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:56 AM on July 15, 2014

Kudos to rescuing your dog. An 8 pound Yorkie totally rocked our agility class, fyi; it is definitely a sport your dog could do.

Just a note for when you are out & about: please do not try to have your dog interact with larger dogs you do not know extremely well. Some larger dogs may chase and attack tiny dogs, while remaining perfectly social and mellow around less-tiny dogs. Their instinctual prey drive just kicks in ("small moving object - must chase").
posted by apennington at 7:57 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Definitely a tiny sweater. And get ready for lots of snuggles once the weather cools off and she's chilly all the time (even wearing a sweater)!

The chihuahua in my life loves to go hiking. We've done 2-3 miles before, and with plenty of breaks to stop and sniff things, drink a little water, etc. It's just such a delight to watch her try to keep up with us and move her tiny legs at light-speed.
posted by magdalemon at 8:24 AM on July 15, 2014

Response by poster: Forgot to mention I am already firmly committed to helping my dog be as polite a dog as possible. First appointment with the trainer is tomorrow, I'm signing her up for 8 weeks of beginner level obedience classes, and I'm trying to cut problem behaviors off firmly using the standard withdraw attention for bad behaviors copious praise/treats for good behaviors strategy.
posted by skrozidile at 8:39 AM on July 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I have an 11 pound chihuahua (which is huge for a chihuahua) and I've been fostering chihuahua puppies that went from 2 lbs to 6-7 lb over the past few months. You're making me want to go home and snorgle everybody.

Here are some adventures we've had that probably would not be possible with a Boxer.

-I bought a bicycle with an integrated front rack and I can bungee cord his dog carrier (actually, it's a cat carrier) to it and bike around with him for miles. If it's cold, I put one of those microwavable pillows in the carrier with him, then use extra bungee cords to secure blankets over the carrier.

-I'm not comfortable with doing this for trips over a mile (because if I get hit by a car there's almost no protection for him), but I've found that if I open up my messenger bag and ignore my pup while creating a luxurious blankety bed inside my messenger bag, he hops right in. Then I close the bag with his little head poking out the end of the bag that's highest/near my head, put him carefully on my back, and ride my bike.

-During Chicago's recent Polar Vortex winter, I would swaddle him in blankets and button him into my coat and take him places on the bus.

-When you cut the legs off jeans to make shorts you can make a tiny punk rock jean vest with the excess fabric! You can also make sweaters out of the arms of human sweaters/jackets or some socks!

-I have been meaning to take two thrift store sweatshirts, cut a semicircle/crescent out of one of them, and sew it to the belly of the other shirt as a kangeroo pocket to hold my dog when I'm out in social situations where he wants to cuddle/be held but I want to still have my hands.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:45 AM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a seriously tiny 3 pound yorkie. She is awesome and I love her.

Seconding getting steps or something else to help the dog on and off furniture so you are not constantly bending down to scoop her up.

Sweaters and such a a definite must have for cold weather.

Toy dog food is a good way to go so their tiny mouth can actually chew the food.

As for walking, I find that my Bug will go for quite the distance, and when she's tired she'll let me know and then I put her in a tote.

Be prepared for total strangers to try and pet and hold your dog. Tiny dogs get a lot of attention. It can be annoying.

And keep an eye out for injuries. Tiny things get hurt more easily.
posted by aclevername at 9:17 AM on July 15, 2014

Best answer: I think you should celebrate by setting up an instagram account and making her an internet celebrity. Hats and jean jackets will help of course, but just many adorable photos of her going all kinds of places with you should do it. Then when your friends give you shit you can just raise one eyebrow and say 'she has more friends than you do'.
posted by shelleycat at 10:24 AM on July 15, 2014 [6 favorites]

I've owned slightly larger dogs, but still toy dogs for much of my life, they have all enjoyed agility, though in some cases have taken a little longer than the big dogs to get the idea, but watching them zip around a course is a hoot. Though my current Silky Terrier can do all the obstacles but cannot see the point when there is a perfectly good human there to carry him over or around them, so your mileage may vary.

If you are concerned about long walks or hikes you can get mesh backpacks so if he gets tired you can pop her in to enjoy the view & smells & still have a rest and they are easier to carry than totes long distances.

Keep her on a harness & lead even in a tote, I've seen dogs freak out and leap from open purses/bags. Luckily nothing happened to them but better safe than sorry.

You can get the cutest teeeny tiny tennis balls, kongs & other dog toys now a days if you have a hunt at a local pet shop. They like all the things normal dogs like they just need size appropriate ones, and those tiny tennis balls are so cute to watch them chase.

Take her places and keep her meeting people, even if shy, chi's are very bonded dogs and can get a little antisocial with strangers so lots of good experiences meeting people will help with that.

If your friends give you too much schtick you can teach Chi's all the tricks you can teach any other dog, they can be stubborn so it can take a little work, clicker training is your friend here (youtube is full of great videos of the basics). If your girly purse dog can high five, play dead and do "big dog tricks" while looking all tiny & cute what sort of dead hearted person would not find that adorable.
posted by wwax at 10:28 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

We've got a 9 lb pomeranian (and a 70 lb dalmatian mix) and we've taken the pom on hikes of up to 6 miles. The only real issue is keeping an eye on his temperature when it's warmer. He got a little hot a couple of weeks ago and so we let him hitch a ride for the last mile. The Cabin John dog park has a small dog area if you want a place where you can socialize your dog with other small dogs off leash. Some dogs find it easier to socialize off leash than on.
posted by drlith at 1:13 PM on July 15, 2014

Our chihuahua is about 7 pounds, and her favorite thing in the universe is her heated dog bed. Even in the dead of summer (it was 90+ degrees out today), she will chill on the heated part of her bed all day long. (And it's a big bed, with heated & unheated parts, so she's definitely choosing to hang on the heated part.) In the winter she practically lives on the heated bed.

Also, a warning: when we rescued our chihuahua she was upwards of 11 pounds (when 7 is a healthy weight for her). She's down to a good weight, but now she's a lifetime of joint problems from carrying that much weight on spindly little legs and jumping up/down off furniture and stairs and such. So be careful to watch your dog's weight very carefully; it can be shocking how easily a dog that tiny can gain weight, and even a couple ounces can be a significant percentage of their body weight. We've had big dogs and small dogs, but never one that tiny before, and adjusting her tiny caloric needs was still an adjustment.
posted by lilac girl at 6:24 PM on July 21, 2014

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