Help, my chihuahua nips ankles when visitors or workmen move!
If this happens it’s because your chihuahua is over aroused, worried, and anxious by what is happening.
When visitors enter the house there is likely to be a lot of excitement around the door. This excitement will have filled up your chihuahua’s emotional bucket and they are going to be in a state of high arousal. This will be making them anxious and worried. You may find as well that your male chihuahua will pee or mark workman’s tools or a visitor’s bags. This is overmarking as they smell different. It’s a good idea to be prepared for this and make sure your chihuahua does not have access to visitors’ belongings.
Chihuahuas are hyper vigilant to movement and a sudden unpredicted movement is going to cause them to start. Dogs like to run and bark at things that bother them and chihuahuas are no different. They want the visitor to go away or at least to stay still. When your visitor goes to move suddenly, say from sitting to standing, there is a sudden shift in energy. This will bother your chihuahua who then tries to control the situation by running behind and nipping at the back of their legs. They will often do this to children who are running about as well.
To a lot of dogs, not just chihuahuas, children are large, unpredictable giants. They lack the coordination and predictable body language of an adult. This will worry a dog and small dogs who could get trampled. It’s never a good idea to leave any dog alone with other people’s children. Even if your dog is reliable like Minnie, it can cause strained family dynamics if a child starts crying saying the dog has bitten them. You can’t prove they didn’t and it opens a world of trouble you don’t need.
There is a couple of things you can do if your chihuahua nips ankles.
Don’t allow your chihuahua to have access to visitors unless they are under control. People don’t like being bitten and it can get you into trouble. Put them in another room (the chihuahua not the visitor) or have them on an indoor harness and training lead. The minimum is to pick them up.
Never leave your chihuahua alone with children if they are worried by movement. Prince and Mika would both be likely to react badly to children charging around and I never leave them alone with the grandkids. I have witnessed Prince try and nip ankles when the grandkids are running about near him.
Reduce excitement around the door. Crazy excitement around the door pushes up your dog’s arousal. Grow a boundary so when the door goes your chihuahua is sitting down nicely and not charging the door. Doors are quite worrying to dogs as so much happens around them.
Scatter feed in the garden so when the visitor is coming in the front door your chihuahua is busy in the garden. Scatter feeding is an arousal down activity. Introduce your chihuahua to a visitor when they are calm and don’t leave them alone if they are likely to snap.
Put a calmness protocol in place so your chihuahua is in a calmer state overall. Calmness is the foundation of all dog training and is essential for these excitable little dogs who can go from 1 – 100 in a nanosecond.
In the UK the law is very strict and clear on dog bites, and you are legally required to always keep your dog under control. Just because they are small does not mean it’s different.