What to do if your chihuahuas don’t get along.
If your chihuahuas don’t get along then it causes disharmony in the household and upsets everyone.
Not getting along can vary from mild resource guarding, snapping & growling at key points during the day (food, walks, cuddles) to full on contact fighting where there is danger that one chi will injure the other.
If you find yourself in a full contact situation then it is important that the dogs are kept separate. You don’t want to find yourself trying to separate two fighting chihuahuas that results in everyone being bitten.
Why can’t they just get along?
Some chihuahuas just don’t like other dogs. They are solitary souls who are better as the only dog of the family. But before you make any decision to re-home one of your chis there are some things to try first.
Did you buy littermates?
Well, did you? It’s easily done. You go to the breeders and see you chosen chi with his little fluffball siblings and your heart breaks. So, you make an on-the-spot decision to take two puppies or even three.
A responsible breeder will probably not sell you more than one pup, or a least try and dissuade you. The reason is ‘Littermate Syndrome’. This can cause the puppies to bond only with each other or, as they get older, to fight. Read more on littermate syndrome here.
Littermate syndrome may be the reason your chihuahuas don’t get along and is a key reason behind re-homing decisions.
If the problem is two adult dogs that are not related, the fighting may well be down to vying for the top spot. Chihuahuas are very hierarchical and they like a well-ordered pack so, if they feel there is a vacancy then they will happily promote themselves.
You must be in charge. Read you in charge = happier chi. You are the top of the pack and all the dogs in the pack must look to you for “strong and stable” leadership. Now, you know who’s in charge but don’t assume your chihuahua is getting that message. If he is a bit pushy or spoilt he may have well decided that you are working for him.
Please note that being in charge does not mean being aggressive. There is never any need to pin your dog down, turn him on his back, tap his nose or squirt him with water. All these things will frighten your dog and make him snappy and afraid. Being in charge is about your chihuahua understanding who is supplying his needs, taking care of the day to day running of things and making decisions that keep the pack safe.
To re-address this balance, make sure you have polite dogs who don’t get something for nothing. Make sure they are trained and follow: sit, stay, come and leave it commands. Good basic training will mean they look to you for leadership and guidance and understand who is the main provider.
Make sure they get plenty of exercise and outdoor time. So they burn off any excess energy that may result in fighting.
Feed them at regular times during the day rather than let them graze. Be the one who gives the food, dish it out and make them wait a few moments while you eat a biscuit or something.
Serve the food, give them a set time to eat it then remove the bowl. (This is where home cooking or raw is better as they look forward to it and are more likely to eat it in one sitting). Read reasons to home cook.
In a pack situation they would not get first dibs at any food, the pack leader decides when they eat. If dinner time is a nightmare then read food fighting.
Once you have re-established who is in control you may find the dogs are more relaxed and less inclined to fight about the top position. But if you are still having problems then you may need to ‘promote’ one of the chis. This might sound unfair but chihuahuas understand pack hierarchy.
It is probably fairest to pick the most senior chihuahua. Make sure, after you, he is given any treats first, is greeted first and gets his dinner put down first. You should find your other chi accepts the ranking.
If your other chi is still grumbling or snapping at the others them remove him temporarily, put him calmly in another room for a couple of minutes. He will soon start to realise that aggressive behaviour means time away from the pack and he should settle down. But make sure it is timely. Dogs live in the moment, removing him after the event will just confuse him.
If your dogs are being physically aggressive with each other keep them separate to start with. Once you have taken back control they may calm down.
Walk them separately to start with then, as they appear to get on together better walk them alongside each other.
Put them closer together in the home and observe their behaviour (keep them on a training leash if you are not sure). If they are not fighting then let them spend short periods of time together.
If they start to play keep an eye out to make sure it doesn’t escalate into full on fighting as they get more excited.
If none of this works and your chihuahuas don’t get along after everything you’ve tried then you may have to make the decision to re-home one of the dogs. But it before you resort to this it might be a good idea to talk to a dog behaviour expert locally who can observe you together and give you tailored advice.
Also read I want my own way for more help and advice on chihuahua behaviour.