|I am going to stop youwith the phrase you used "tried to train him in 2010"
Why did you stop?
Training is a lifelong venture. The reason dogs seem untrainable is because people are not consistent with it. Let me tell you about Foxxy. She loves everyone, she gets along with other dogs, she's safe with children, not food aggressive. She is very much like you describe, calm, happy, and loving in her territory, and a neurotic mess on lead.
Why? Because she is very anxious! Every time we have had a bad experience we have been walking on leash. We live in a dog friendly apartment complex, and unfortunately, people take too many liberties with their dogs, and the complex does not crack down in a way that trains people to obey the leash laws. We've now been attacked or harrassed by a pair of boston terriers, 2 different pairs of german shepherds, a mutt that an older lady could not control, and an amstaff that someone was keeping despite restrictions.
It is hard enough for me to remain calm while walking my dogs. I have to be hypervigilant. Feral cats are everywhere, opossums and raccoons roam the night, hawks, falcons, eagles, and owls hunt the epidemic levels of rabbits that live on the property. Bats flutter in the trees. I have to watch for the rabbits because of prey drive. Foxxy will do anything to catch and kill them. She has lived feral in her life, and she knows how to dispatch vermin with a ruthless efficiency, but on leash, her frustration at being prevented from her prey is released in a fit of barking and straining that we would rather avoid. More than once big black dogs have melted out of the darkness, their owners calling for them in the distance.
But I have to remain calm for my dogs. That is my own challenge. It's part of the responsibility of living with Foxxy that she and I must learn to be calm despite bad experiences. She is not as good about it as I am so I have to help her with tools and tricks.
The world is a big and scary place when you are under 10 pounds. It is even more scary when your mind has all sorts of instincts that are developed for the survival of a creature 10 times your actual size. Chihuahuas belong to the pariah clan of dog breeds. The thing to remember about that clan is "survivor." They have strong primitive instincts, and they will readily act on them. They are smart, agile, creative, adaptable and usually loyal to their families. They are greatly affected by their environment. This means for you that you have to give your chihuahua or chi mix structure. It needs to be assured that you, as its family, can protect it. Chihuahuas crave rules and structure, even though they can seem stubborn about them. They are stubborn about them because they need to be absolutely sure that events are in their best interest.
Anyway, if the dog is old, and you got him when he was 9, there is a good chance that he has developed his own rules, and he is trying to survive with them. To make him let go of his own rules and accept yours you need to be firm, loving and gentle with the Chihuahua. Muzzles are not a long term solution for them. You are removing it's ability to defend, and that will make it more anxious. If you have it on a leash, and it does not bite you then don't use one. Just tell people no, you can't pet your dog. No, you can't come close with another dog. No, your dog is afraid of children. That's OK to say. Other people need to Respect your boundaries. Treat your dog around others the way people with service animals treat theirs. When the dog is on leash, it is doing it's job. Nobody is to handle it, pay attention to it, and it is not to interact with anything other than you. Assert that. Who cares if they think you're being rude and snobbish. your dog is not here to amuse their every whim. It is here for your pleasure.
I would reccomend a thundershirt and a halti. I would also use calming oils on the collar, like lavender oil, chamomile, and valerian. The halti alone does wonders for pulling, straining, and barking. essential oils and the thundershirt help with anxiety. The idea is to prevent extreme emotions from being trggered. Exxtreme emotions provoke fight, flight, or prey drive instincts. The big ones for a dog are Fear, excitement, and anger.
This starts in the home. don't let your dog gaze out the windows. Don't let it bark at the door. Don't let it greet people at the door either. Don't let the dog charge out the door. Make a ritual out of pre walk. Sit calm, put on the halti, stay seated at the door, wait until you go through, then allow the dog to come. Pause at the top of every staircase and make the dog sit. Never yell at your dog. Trust your dog and be worthy of your dog's trust.
Walks should be calm, orderly, happy outings. If you don't feel safe, the dog will feel exposed. With Chihuahuas, this means time to look for the threat and fight it. It will go for kill more often because it knows that it cannot run faster than a threat that a human is worried about. If you are always worried about what the dog is going to do, you will wind up making a neurotic mess out of your dog.
Consider finding a behaviorist if you just feel that you can't trust your dog. Chis and chi mixes have a 16-20 year lifespan. There is no reason to put it down because it is anxious and reactive about the outside walk.
Edited by author Tue Jul 31, '12 9:14pm PST