Body language signs that tell you your chihuahua is unhappy

We love our chihuahuas and think we know them. But can you read her body language? Would you be able to tell if your chihuahua is unhappy, stressed and about to bite? A chihuahua can hop from fear aggression (avoiding a threat) to defensive aggression (biting threat to get it to stay away) very quickly. But before they bite or snap, they have often given off many messages that tell their people that they are stressed and not happy with the situation.

Learning to read your dogs body language helps you de-escalate the situation before anything negative happens. You need to be able to tell if your chihuahua is unhappy and stressed, not only to protect yourself but also to protect others. If you chihuahua bites someone,  both you and your chihuahua could be in serious trouble. But by learning to understand your dog’s behaviour, you can help to avoid such situations.

Here are some of the main body language signs to look out for that could give you an idea that your chihuahua is unhappy and stressed and not coping with a situation.

Licking of lips and nose

All dogs will lick their lips and nose, but if they are doing this because of stress they will do it repeatedly. Minnie does this in the car and it is often followed by vomiting.


Again, all dogs will yawn from time to time, but if you put this in context with some of the other signs it can be an indication of stress. For instance, if you are at the vet he may yawn as well as lick his lips while on the table.

Dog yawning could mean he is feeling stressed.

Ears flat

When Minnie is upset, her ears can go horizontal to her head. While she does look cute, she looks like Dobby from Harry Potter, she is doing it because she is unsure and lacking confidence. Other dogs with different shaped ears may draw them back flat against their head. Ears down is a sure sign that your chihuahua is unhappy.

Ears Flat = Unhappy.


Dogs will pant when they want to cool themselves, if it is a hot day or they have been charging around in a game. But if your chihuahua is panting for no obvious reason then look at the situation she is in and remove her. Mika will pant if all the grandchildren come around and start rushing about. A sure sign that given provocation he is going to snap at one of them.

Avoidance and whale eye

If your chihuahua is unhappy about meeting another dog or people she may turn her head, tuck her tail, avoid eye contact and maybe try to hide. She is telling you she is unhappy so don’t force the situation on the dog.

This dog is very unhappy about the situation he is in.

If your chi is head down and showing the whites of her eyes (Sometimes referred to a whale eye) do not approach her as this is a sure sign that she is about to explode and you are likely to get bitten. Remove the source of the aggravation and leave her alone to calm down. You can often get this whale eye when dogs are being over hugged. Hugging is a human thing, dogs don’t really enjoy it.

Full body shake

When your chihuahua gets out of the bath she will give a shake to get rid of the water. But if she does it when you are out or going somewhere then she is finding the situation stressful. The reason could be as simple as feeling vulnerable in the new environment.Tail down

You can get a lot of information about how a dog is feeling from the position of his tail. A tail tucked down between the legs is the easy one that most people recognise. But their tails give a lot more information than that. It is perfectly possible for your chihuahua to be wagging her tail but still be stressed enough to bite. Read about tail wagging etiquette.

Micro Freeze

If a dog finds itself in a situation that it’s not happy with they will sometimes stand stock still with their head down. This ‘freeze’ is your dog shutting down, either as a warning to people/other dogs or as a coping mechanism because he is over stimulated. Remove your dog from this situation, if it’s because he is near a larger dog then move him back until he is under his fear threshold.

Behaviour changes that say your chihuahua is unhappy

Stress is not all about being in an social situation, your chihuahua may show signs of stress because of things happening at home. He could be struggling with loneliness because he is left on his own too long, or the addition of a baby. It might just be too noisy. Understanding why your chihuahua’s behaviour changes can help you pin point whats upsetting him and put it right.

Destructive behaviour

Your chihuahua may start to frantically chew or bite the furniture or maybe even himself. He may start to obsessively lick or chew his leg or paws. Again, look at what is going on when he does this and think about how you can resolve it.

Accidents in the house

This could be a tough one for chihuahua owners to spot as chihuahuas are notoriously difficult to toilet train. Partly because they have tiny bladders, don’t like going out in the cold and because they are stubborn. But if your chihuahua suddenly stops being toilet trained the a trip to the vet is the first thing to do.

Poo eating

Long time left alone or lack of exercise and boredom may lead to a dog eating his own poo. This can be very distressing for the owner but in general won’t cause any harm to the dog. Get your dog out on a daily exercise routine and make arrangements for him if you are out all day.

Ill and lethargic

Like people, stress can manifest itself in other ways, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, skin issues, lethargy and excessive sleeping. If there are no obvious reasons for these symptoms, then stress may be a factor.

Excessive shedding

All dogs may shed, but when they are stressed it may increase, look next time you take your chihuahua to the vet, is more hair coming off when you stroke her?


Another tough one, as chihuahuas are know for their barking and watch-dog attitude to everything. But if your chihuahuas are normally well behaved and then start barking, try to spot a pattern.

Change in behaviours

This could be aggression to other dogs or people when she is normally placid, hiding away when she is normally sociable. If your chihuahua’s behaviour suddenly changes you need to look at what is going on in her life, do you have workman in, is there a lot of shouting and noise suddenly? She could also be ill or in pain so take her to the vet for a check-up.