Actually, your dog will be more likely to give you his attention and respect if you set, and enforce, a code of conduct. Firm, gentle, humane training will help your dog relax and be able to “just be a dog,” because he will no longer have to worry about where in the family “pack” he belongs. Dogs with little or no training, no enforcement of training, or the wrong kind of training will be confused about their place in your family. This can lead to unacceptable behaviors, at best, or aggression, at worst–and both of these often lead to the owners having to get rid of the dog. Don’t allow this to happen to your beloved pet. He only knows what you teach him, so teach him well. Even little squirts need manners!
Some of the worst terrors of the dog world are small breeds who have not had any training because their owners don’t think small dogs need rules, and they are overly concerned about “winning” their dogs’ love (or having a dog as a fashion accessory). I have seen examples of small dogs who literally have the people walking on eggshells in their own homes! All dogs, like children, need consistent, firm leadership to be the best behaved. Just because your Chihuahua won’t be able to physically pull you down the street doesn’t mean he doesn’t need to be able to walk properly on a leash!
Regardless of breed, if your dog had “a hard life” before he came to live with you, he needs rules and structure even more! There’s no excuse for not training a dog properly. How long are you going to be willing to put up with problem behaviors that will stem from him being able to “do what he wants?” Our guess is, not very long…and then what will you do with him? Training enables you to keep your commitment to your pet for his lifetime. A trained dog is one who gets to be with his family more, to go places, to ride in the car, to visit friends, and to be a member of the family. This is what your dog wants more than anything else, so train him and keep him happy.