What To Expect
4 Month Old Chihuahua Puppy
We welcomed Ripley into our family a few weeks ago now and I just wanted to update all the progress, problems and proud moments we have experienced. I’m not sure if Ripley is a typical 4 month old Chihuahua puppy, this breed are all very individual, but hopefully, some of this information will be useful to other Chihuahua owners.
Why Did I Choose The Chihuahua Breed?
I have had previous experience with Chihuahua’s and I love their playful, loving and feisty natures. I wanted a small dog who would hopefully become a companion to a very anxious and sometimes grumpy rescue dachshund.
A new puppy needed to be confident, assertive and playful.
Ripley was chosen because he came from a loving household with many dog companions (both small and large) I watched him interact with the other eight dogs and could see that he really enjoyed being part of a large pack. He greeted me enthusiastically with no hint of shyness or mistrust. All his companions, including his parents and siblings, had the same laid back but extremely playful nature, which is exactly what I was looking for.
Actually, most of it is a complete blur if I am honest. I felt a huge weight of responsibility caring for such a tiny dog. He weighed under 1kg and I was extremely conscious of treading on him, shutting a door on him, losing him under the sofa, the list was endless.
My aim in the first few days was to make Ripley feel welcome, safe and secure in his new home.
I was conscious of the fact that he had come from a busy household and now he had to settle in a much quieter home. We knew he would be missing his parents and littermates and for a tiny thirteen-week Chihuahua the world could be a very scary place.
I wanted to maintain his outgoing, confident personality at all costs and knew, at this age that everything he experienced, either positive or negative could have massive consequences in his later life.
At this time I made a special effort to give loads of attention to my two other dogs so that they didn’t feel left out. When a puppy comes along the dynamics change and it is important that they viewed the new addition as a positive change. I kept to their routine and made sure that the puppy respected the older dogs space and toys.
Introducing a 4 month old Chihuahua puppy to the outside World.
My aim in the first weeks of Ripley’s life was to introduce him to family, friends, children and other dogs. This was a great success, everyone wants to meet a Chihuahua puppy and he met six other dogs belonging to my family during that time.
We couldn’t go for walks yet but I still felt it was important for Ripley to spend time in the garden. At first, he didn’t want to venture off the patio, but he would happily sniff around, feeling the wind in his fur for the first time.
Within the first week, he began to explore the lawn and would follow the other dogs further into the garden. To be honest I was paranoid that he would find a tiny space under the shed or a gap in the fence so we double-checked that the garden was totally secure.
During the first weeks, we wanted Ripley to experience as much as possible. To get him used to the noise of thunder and fireworks we played the sounds occasionally. The volume was quiet at first and we increased gradually and he didn’t react at all. (YouTube have loads of videos with these sounds or there are phone apps that you can use)
To Crate or Not To Crate?
Previously Ripley had not been crate trained and I wanted to keep everything as normal as possible for him. However, although his bed was placed close to mine, he refused to stay in it! Every night we had a battle of wills, he would jump out of his bed, I would calmly put him back in and so it went on…
I was concerned that if he had the freedom to do as he pleased he could get hurt. Also, a crate would enable me to have a shower or nip to the corner shop, knowing that he was safe.
The crate was placed close to the bed where Ripley could see both his human and canine friends.
I made his crate warm and cosy with a couple of special toys and placed him in it for just ten minutes at first. He was fine as long as he could see me but cried if I left the room.
I spoke to him softly, carried on doing chores and opened the door so that he could come and go as he pleased. After a few days, I noticed that he would go to his crate voluntarily and he settled down well at night too.
I’m hoping the crate will be a temporary thing. My other dogs sleep in beds, but I’m happy to see how we progress for the time being.
House training in winter is not for the faint-hearted!
As I said before, I encouraged Ripley to spend time with me in the garden. If he did a wee or poo in that time I praised him to the moon and back. He also observed that the other dogs went outside to toilet and puppies will always follow their older companions.
Some days the weather was so bad that I had to resort to puppy pads in the house. It was too frightening for Ripley to go outside in high winds that could easily knock him over.
After a nap, playtime or a meal I would take the puppy outside, or place him on a puppy pad.
I had a reasonable amount of success with this and it gave me a chance to show Ripley how pleased I was if he used the garden or pad.
However, at four months old there are still accidents, almost daily. I look out for the signs that Ripley needs to empty his bowels or urinate and direct him to the garden or pad as quickly as possible. The signs are easy to spot, he sniffs frantically, circles and looks for corners. If an accident occurs I clean up instantly, without speaking to the puppy and move on. A puppy wants to please and by praising good behaviour and ignoring bad, he will soon learn which actions get the best rewards.
If you would like more information on house training a puppy, there is a blog post here which has some great tips. Also, take a look at this post which shows how to permanently remove stains from Puppy Accidents.
Going For Walks
Now that Ripley is fully immunised it is time to start going for lead walks.
I had trouble finding a harness small enough for him at first but eventually I managed to find one that fits correctly and we practiced wearing the harness around the house.
At first, Ripley hated the lead and would refuse to move, biting the lead and trying to wriggle out of his harness. It took patience and treats to persuade him to take a few steps forward but gradually he is getting better.
We choose walks in quiet areas away from loud traffic. Due to weather conditions, we are only outside for ten minutes at one time. As the weather improves, the walks will get longer and I will take Ripley to some busier areas so that he gets used to traffic, other dogs, pushbikes and children.
I chose a good quality dry puppy food to give to Ripley. At four months old he is growing rapidly and needs good nutrition to stay healthy.
Chihuahuas are renowned for being fussy eaters so I was pleased to find a brand he likes straight away. He has three meals a day which I give to him when we are alone in the kitchen away from other distractions. I keep myself busy and he eats slowly, usually clearing his bowl.
On the whole, Ripley has been a dream puppy. I have however seen a very strong-willed side to him regarding not staying in his bed at night.
I am conscious of not treating him like a baby and desperately want him to retain his outgoing personality into adulthood.
This is an honest account so I have to mention something here that may be stomach-churning. However, it is common in all puppies.
One very unsavoury problem I encountered was that he was compelled to eat his own poo! I mentioned it to the vet who was neither surprised or concerned about the behaviour. The method I am using to stop this is a firm ‘No’ and to remove the poo as soon as possible.
I have been told that putting pineapple in the poo makes it taste awful and the puppy stops this behaviour, but it is by no means foolproof!
I have encountered this problem before and find that it is a short phase that some puppies go through.
Here is a blog post I wrote about dogs eating foreign objects including Coprophagia (which is eating faeces).
About The Chihuahua Breed
If you are thinking of adding a chihuahua to your family, here are a few breed characteristics which may be helpful.
The Kennel Club states that the general appearance of a chihuahua is small, dainty and compact.
Their temperament is spirited and intelligent.
They can weigh up to 2.7kg (6lbs).
They are described as:-
An Alert little dog; swift-moving with brisk, forceful action and saucy expression.
They can live up to 18 years old.
A Chihuahua needs 20 minutes of exercise a day.
They are considered moderate fur shedders.
Here are a few items to make life easier with any puppy, which I purchased myself and recommend.
I got this crate in 24′ which is a great fit for a 4 month old Chihuahua puppy. I put his donut bed inside to make sure it is really comfortable for him and cover with a blanket. I’m hoping this will be fine for him as he gets bigger too because there is plenty of room.
There is loads more information about Crate Training here. This shows how I had my mind changed about using a crate (with my previous puppy).
I bought these donut beds for my other dogs and loved them so much I had to get Ripley one. These beds wash beautifully, they keep their shape and dry quickly. The high sides are designed so that dogs feel safe and secure. The small one fits nicely into a 24′ inch crate.
Here is my full review of The Donut Bed
A 4 month old Chihuahua puppy will want to chew everything. His teeth are sharp and these Nylabone puppy teethers are really small, just the right size for a tiny mouth. I bought three of these so I could always offer him one when he started chewing slippers, buttons or fingers!
Here is my step by step guide to Overcoming Puppy Biting. It explains why puppies have the need to chew and why it is such an important part of their training.
If You Are Thinking Of Adding A Chihuahua To Your Family
The breed is often considered a ‘lap dog’ and used as a fashion accessory. These are high energy and fast-moving dogs who hate being left alone. They are intelligent dogs that need to be mentally stimulated, or they will make mischief! A chihuahua does not perceive himself as a small dog and can produce a big attitude if not trained correctly.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the life of a 4 month old Chihuahua puppy. I’m sure that there will be many more updates from myself and Ripley.
Rescue A Chihuahua
Please consider rescuing a chihuahua if your circumstances allow. I have fostered and rescued previously and it is so rewarding and fulfilling.
For US please visit Chihuahua Rescue and Transport
For UK please visit Chihuahua Rescue UK
Here are a few links to other posts on this blog which may be useful if you are thinking of buying a puppy. They show how to avoid puppy farmers and how to recognise signs of illness in a very young puppy.
Finally, we all suffer from moments that I call ‘Puppy Overwhelm’. A new puppy in the household is not easy.
However, I wrote this blog post to help anyone who is feeling stressed with their new addition. I have taken care of many puppies as a fosterer and a parent and I have felt overwhelmed at some stage, every single time.
I hope it helps.
Thank you for reading.