Reluctance to Train My Dog

Question from Bobbi:

I find it hard to discipline my Chihuahua especially when he pees where he’s not supposed to.  He suffers from epilepsy and it breaks my heart to have to scold him.  Is there a way I can stop him from peeing where he wants?  ALso, sometimes when I’m holding him on my lap and I try to pat him he tends to bite.  I love my puppy so much and want him to be cuddly all the time.  Any advice would be great. 

Advice from Cheri Lucas: 

In their natural world, dogs seek balance.  In the competitive, “survival of the fittest” animal kingdom, dogs focus on the moment: what must they do to create order? Who’s in charge of the pack?  Who leads, and who follows?  Dog’s don’t get their feelings hurt if they’re not the leaders of the pack – all that matters to them is that the pack survives. 

So, how does the concept of “balance” apply to your Chihuahua’s behavior?  You stated that you love your puppy and want him to be cuddly all the time.  But giving and receiving affection all the time is not a balanced existence.  Even for humans, a healthy relationship must involve more than one component.  Keep in mind that your dog doesn’t know he has a health issue.  He doesn’t feel sorry for himself or expect to be treated in a special way because he has epilepsy.  He still requires rules, boundaries, and limitations as well as exercise and discipline.  But because your approach to your dog has been “soft,” you have inadvertently caused him to perceive of himself as YOUR pack leader.  Because he is neither equipped nor capable of being in charge, his behavior has become inappropriate. 

Only when you begin to establish yourself as your dog’s pack leader will you be able to turn his unwanted behaviors around.  Urinating or marking as well as biting is more than likely your dog’s response to feeling dominant over you.  These behaviors are symptoms of the unbalanced dynamic between the two of you.  Taking the position of leadership with your Chihuahua will be the best gift you can give him.  Your dog is hardwired to know that the most coveted position in the pack is the one of subordinate pack members.  I’d like to challenge you to read Cesar’s best-selling book: “Be the Pack Leader”.  This is the definitive, most comprehensive book you can study to learn about becoming a pack leader.  This book will help you begin the process of creating the best relationship you can have with your dog – one of balance and fulfillment!