Getting involved in a dog altercation is not funny, especially when your dog starts it by showing aggression towards other dogs. It makes you feel wretched when you know people are making horrid comments about chihuahuas being vicious and they stalk off giving you hard stares.
Making a Statement
Why are chihuahuas so prone to taking on the big boys and what can we do to prevent this?
People who don’t have chis do tend to see them in a different light, not understanding that all the noise and barking is front, and that at home your chi is an angel. The aggression towards other dogs comes from a place of fear or anxiety.
Chihuahuas are very territorial, brave and spirited, but they are ‘fear biters’ and if they feel threatened they will act first using their only weapon available. Looking at it from your chis’ point of view it must be easy to feel under pressure when a huge dog giant shows an interest. It’s a matter of perception.
Socialization socialization socialization
The key to resolving aggression towards other dogs is socialization, desensitising him to the presence of other dogs and helping him understand that not all other dogs are a threat. Chihuahuas do tend to prefer the company of their own breed, but there are plenty of chihuahuas who live happily with other dog breeds.
Enlist the help of friends that have stable dogs, all breeds and sizes and meet up with them on regular basis in the park or on neutral territory. If your chi is going to nip and bite keep him on a leash until he is under control.
When you meet your friends and their dogs, keep the tone light and pet their dogs in a friendly way. If your chi starts to become aggressive by barking or growling pull him away from the other dog until he is out of the way. (Use a harness and not a lead*), give him a stern “no” or another signal he understands, then ignore him.
Keep him on a short leash so he can’t go back and start again. Continue your lovely conversation with your friends and their dogs.
Chances are your chi won’t like being ignored and will calm down, re-introduce him to the group. If he is more positive let him interact with the other dog without you interfering. If he starts being aggressive then repeat the exercise.
If the other dog starts to get upset by your Chihuahua’s behaviour, then abandon the exercise until another day. You may need to try this more than once and with several different dogs, until your chi gets the idea that being aggressive does not have any positive outcomes. He should learn to at least tolerate other dogs and may even start to play.
If your chihuahua aggression towards other dogs is beyond this level of intervention, then we suggest that you invest in some 1:1 with a dog trainer who can observe you and your chi together. They would put together a tailored plan to help your chihuahua overcome his issues with other dogs.
It is tempting to think that because a chihuahua is small that training doesn’t matter. But you have a duty under the Dangerous Dogs Act to keep your dog under control and to make sure he is a good citizen. Chihuahuas are no exception. An 11-year-old Chihuahua was one of 12 dogs destroyed by Dundee City Council last year and in Twickenham a chihuahua was taken into custody and faces destruction after being deemed ‘out of control.’
The other side of this is another bigger dog could become very agitated and attack your chihuahua, this is not an altercation that is going to end well and could even end up in the death of your chi.
*Chihuahuas should be walked on a harness rather than a collar, especially if they pull. Chihuahuas can suffer from a collapsed trachea, so it is better to use a harness around their chest.
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