• Home
  • Training
  • How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Not Be Aggressive

How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Not Be Aggressive

How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Not Be Aggressive
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-2 Months
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Chihuahuas are cute little dogs, but they are dogs nonetheless. It is easy to not take them seriously when they behave aggressively. A snarling, snapping Chihuahua may be thought of as “being cute” and the behavior dismissed as not important. This is a huge mistake. Your Chihuahua is a dog, and if he is behaving aggressively, he is not respecting your leadership or other people. Although a Chihuahua may not be as dangerous as a larger dog, a Chihuahua is still capable of biting and causing damage, especially to a child or older person. Chihuahuas are prone to acting aggressively for the same reasons any dog may behave aggressively, due to anxiety, territorial behavior, or to show dominance. It can not be stressed enough that Chihuahuas are dogs like any other dog, and should be treated similarly with regards to expectations for training and behavior; they should not be allowed to behave dominantly. Obedience expectations and positive socialization should not be allowed to slide as a requirement when caring for a Chihuahua.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Defining Tasks

If your Chihuahua is behaving aggressively, try to determine what is behind his aggression. Is your dog experiencing anxiety that needs addressing and requires confidence and experience to be developed? Is your Chihuahua acting dominant, trying to establish himself as a leader? If so, you need to make sure your dog views you as the leader and behaves respectfully toward you, family members, and friends by respecting other people's space and submitting to having toys or food removed. Some Chihuahuas become possessive of their owners, biting and snapping when someone else approaches them and their owners. If this is the case, replacing territorial behavior with appropriate, well-socialized behavior is required. Your Chihuahua should not behave aggressively but allow others to approach him and yourself and to take toys or food without a fuss. A Chihuahua should know basic obedience commands like 'sit', 'stay', 'down' and 'come' the same as any other dog. This helps establish who is the leader and what is expected, which also helps reduce anxiety and territorial behaviors.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Getting Started

If your dog suddenly starts acting aggressive and they were not aggressive before, you should consider taking your Chihuahua to a veterinarian in case he is experiencing medical problems. Pain or discomfort can cause aggression that can be addressed by relief of the condition. Once a medical condition has been ruled out, make sure all members of the household are on board to counteract aggressive behavior, as consistency is important. Avoid punishing or yelling at a Chihuahua that is behaving aggressively, as this will only contribute to anxiety and aggression. Instead, be prepared to reward alternate behaviors and provide opportunities for positive socialization and to establish yourself and members of your household as leaders that need to be respected. This will require time, patience and consistency.

arrow-up-icon

Top

The Alternate Behavior Method

Most Recommended

4 Votes

Ribbon icon

Most Recommended

4 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Teach 'sit-stay'

Teach your Chihuahua basic obedience commands like 'sit-stay' or 'down-stay' in a quiet place, free from distractions. Ask you dog to 'sit-stay' and provide a treat for compliance.

2

Add distractions

Practice 'sit-stay' or 'down-stay' in a variety of environments until well established.

3

Change reward

Replace treats with praise and affection for performing 'sit-stay'.

4

Use when aggressive

When your Chihuahua starts to behave in an aggressive manner, growling or snapping, or takes an aggressive stance, distract him and provide the 'sit-stay' or 'down-stay' command.

5

Reward alternate behavior

When your dog complies, praise him, this will provide a distraction from aggressive behaviors and provide your dog with a different response.

The Extinguish Aggression Method

Effective

2 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

2 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Change situation

If your dog behaves aggressively when sitting on your lap and approached by other people, do not allow your Chihuahua to sit on your lap while others are present.

2

Distract aggression

When your Chihuahua behaves aggressively, distract him with a noise maker, or firmly say "no".

3

Reward calm

When your Chihuahua behaves in a calm, friendly manner, provide praise and a treat to reinforce that behavior.

4

Remove when required

If your Chihuahua behaves aggressively, ignore him. Remove him from the situation if behavior is out of control. You can put your Chihuahua in a crate or another room.

5

Increase expectations

Increase the amount of time you expect your Chihuahua to be calm before providing reward or praise, attention, affection, or treats.

The Establish Leadership Method

Least Recommended

2 Votes

Ribbon icon

Least Recommended

2 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Teach obedience

Teach your dog basic obedience commands like 'sit', 'stay', 'come', 'down', and 'heel'.

2

Be food provider

Establish that you are the food provider. Make your Chihuahua sit and wait while you prepare food. Put his food down on the floor and wait with your dog while he eats to establish you are the provider. Practice removing and returning food so your dog knows what to expect and accept it.

3

Socialize

Socialize your Chihuahua. Introduce your Chihuahua to other people, other dogs and other animals in a positive non-threatening environment. Reward positive interaction, remove your dog if aggressive behavior occurs while you continue to interact with others. While socializing, keep your dog at floor level. Avoid picking your dog up or keeping him on eye level with yourself or others.

4

Do not reward agressiveness

Do not soothe your agitated dog when he is behaving aggressively, as this is just reinforcing anxiety and aggression. Do not pick your dog up or hold him close when he is acting anxious or aggressive.

5

Reward appropriate behavior

Reward your dog with praise and treats for behaving positively in a situation that previously made him anxious or aggressive. Increase his experiences, expose him to new sights , sounds and places slowly, at a pace that is comfortable for your Chihuahua.

By Laurie Haggart

Published: 12/14/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Nash

Dog breed icon

Chihuahua

Dog age icon

3 Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Nash is aggressive towards me sometimes when I go to pick him up or move him hes aggressive towards all my other animals he is a rescue dog

July 4, 2022

Nash's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Robyn, I recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression to work with you and pup in person for this training need. I would start by desensitizing pup to wearing a basket muzzle with treats. I would work on gently building pup's respect and trust for you using obedience practice and structure throughout pup's day. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you I would work on counter conditioning pup to your presence by rewarding pup when you enter the room or do anything pup finds suspicious currently BUT pup stays calm when you do it - don't reward the aggressive responses. Once pup trust and respects you more through your other training you have done, I would very gradually work up to desensitizing and counter conditioning pup to your touch using treats, by practicing touching pup gently in various spots and at the same time giving a treat with each gently, brief touch, starting with areas pup doesn't mind being touched in as much and progressing slowly to areas pup is more nervous and unhappy about as pup improves and trusts you more. Pup might need to wear a basket muzzle that has holes for treats to be passed through, if touches can't be done at all without the risk of a bite at first. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 4, 2022

Dog nametag icon

Annie

Dog breed icon

Chihuahua

Dog age icon

3 Months

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

I have a four year old pug and Annie starts out playing and then they start fighting and neither of them will back down. I have to grab Annie from my pug while she’s graveling and biting me because she’s so mad! She’s not even three pounds yet but can become viscous when mad. What can I do especially while she’s young?

July 1, 2022

Annie's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Dee, You need to hire a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression to come to your home, and I would do this immediately! In the meantime, I would work on desensitizing both dogs to wearing a basket muzzle, facilitating them giving each other space by teaching Leave It, Out, and Place, feeding meals in separate closed crates or rooms away from one another. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Muzzle desensitizing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 1, 2022


Training assistant
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.