How to deal with an aggressive chihuahua
Last month we published an article on why it is so important to socialise your chihuahua nice and early. We had some questions from readers about how to deal with an aggressive chihuahua. So we have written a series of articles on how to prevent or deal with chihuahua aggression.
Chihuahuas are truly lovely dogs and anyone who has a chihuahua will tell you how loyal and loving they are. But they also have a reputation for being snappy and noisy and it is possible for chihuahua aggression to dominate, spoil your relationship with your dog and possibly other people, as they might stop calling!
Originally Chihuahuas were bred as ratters, ideal because of their small size and agility. They are also brave, tenacious, more than a little wilful and very intelligent. Although they are the smallest dog breed they have the largest brain amongst dog breeds, making them highly trainable.
How do you end up with an aggressive chihuahua
Chihuahuas can be a handful, they can be stubborn and bossy. Chihuahuas are not always a good fit for the first time dog owner. But, because of their small size, cute looks and celebrity status people jump at the chance to own one.
Again because of their small size new owners don’t perceive their chihuahua as a ‘real’ dogs, don’t bother with any training and baby and spoil him by over petting and feeding unearned treats.
For a chihuahua this is the worst thing you can do. They are smart, intelligent and very wilful dogs and need a clear set of boundaries. Without them your chihuahua may start to display aggressive behaviour when he doesn’t get his own way.
How to deal with an aggressive chihuahua
If you get your chihuahua as a puppy, then it is vital he gets socialised with other dogs from an early age. This is even more important if you have brought home littermates!
So, step one is to get your dog socialised from day one, not just with other puppies but with adult dogs as well. Try not to interfere with their interactions unless puppy is in danger. There are a number of helpful things you should do with your chihuahua puppy from the moment you get him home.
You also need to make sure that your chihuahua sees you are their guardian. He needs to understand that everything he needs comes from you, and that you are top of the tree when it comes to hierarchy. If this has got this skewed in his head you will need to take back control.
Is your chihuahua barking and lunging at other dogs in the street? This is again down to how he has been socialised as a puppy. But if your chihuahua is a rescue you can get this alarming behaviour under control.
It could be possible that your chihuahua is guarding you as a resource and is trying to keep other people or dogs away from you. This is called resource guarding. It has nothing to do with guarding you in protective way. He is just trying to keep you for himself.
Don’t enable the behaviour
If look at how you react to his behaviour. You could inadvertently be enabling his conduct?
If you are talking to another person or petting their dog and your chihuahua starts with the curled lip then starts to snap and growl. Do you pick him up to soothe him and to stop any further nastiness? It would be perfectly natural to do this.
However, this rewards his behaviour as petting & cuddling him reinforces the idea that this is the correct way to behave, plus he gets your attention and he gets to be eye level with his target.
If you can, (quietly and without any drama), banish him from the room or put him down on the floor, in his bed and ignore him. Think naughty step for children. Chihuahuas are clever and will soon realise that this behaviour means no treats, cuddles and that no one wants to play with him.
The other side of this is ‘catch them being good’, praise them with gusto for good behaviour in a situation that would normally have made them snap. Divert them with a command such as ‘down’ if they start to display aggressive behaviour and reward them with a treat when they comply.
Basic training and exercise
Chihuahuas are small and it is possible to think that you don’t need to worry about basic training. After all, they are tiny what can they do? But this is a mistake, a badly-behaved dog is a pain in the butt. It limits their potential, stops you doing things and can jeopardise your relationship.
Don’t neglect exercise either. Chihuahua may be small but they are intelligent and need the stimulation of a good walk daily. Young male chihuahuas may need two walks a day.
Get Chihuahua barking under control