How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Not Be Aggressive

Medium
1-2 Months
Behavior

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.

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.

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.

The Alternate Behavior Method

Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
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.
Step
2
Add distractions
Practice 'sit-stay' or 'down-stay' in a variety of environments until well established.
Step
3
Change reward
Replace treats with praise and affection for performing 'sit-stay'.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Extinguish Aggression Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
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.
Step
2
Distract aggression
When your Chihuahua behaves aggressively, distract him with a noise maker, or firmly say "no".
Step
3
Reward calm
When your Chihuahua behaves in a calm, friendly manner, provide praise and a treat to reinforce that behavior.
Step
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.
Step
5
Increase expectations
Increase the amount of time you expect your Chihuahua to be calm before providing reward or praise, attention, affection, or treats.
Recommend training method?

The Establish Leadership Method

Least Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Teach obedience
Teach your dog basic obedience commands like 'sit', 'stay', 'come', 'down', and 'heel'.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Roo
Chihuahua
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Roo
Chihuahua
1 Year

This is Roo we just adopted her from our local shelter and we took her to a pet store today and had a big reaction to other dogs there barking and growling to the point that we had to go to a different part of the store then when we got home she started to be a bit aggressive and nervous she started to bark at both of the males in our house hold and when they come over to pet her and let her know it’s okay she starts to kinda bite of their hand it doesn’t hurt it’s like love biting but she growls at them I don’t know what to do this behavior came out of nowhere please help!

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Question
Little Debbie
Chihuahua
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Little Debbie
Chihuahua
2 Years

I have a two-year-old Chihuahua mix that when somebody comes over she aggressively barks at him not in a bad way but what I am concerned about is that her bark or whatever it is is extremely loud and piercing it's at a point where her reaction that she gives him is completely for lack of a better word she goes balistik..

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
124 Dog owners recommended

Hello there. It sounds like you have your hands full. I am going to provide you with information on how to correct this behavior. You won’t be able to solve your dog’s overprotective behavior in one day. In the meantime, you don’t want to put your life on hold. You can still invite guests into your home as long as you prioritize managing your dog’s behavior. You’ll need a short-term strategy to start showing your overprotective dog what behavior is unacceptable while also keeping your guests safe. There are a few ways to do this. Leash: Keeping your dog on a leash while friends are visiting gives you control over your dog’s actions. Leash him up before the doorbell rings and keep him close as you greet your guests. During the visit, you can let the leash drag and only use it if you have to. Muzzle: If you feel his behavior warrants the use of a muzzle for the time being while you work on solving this problem, then it may be a wise choice. Separate Room: Your dog won’t get better without practice, but sometimes you have to weigh the risks versus rewards. If your overprotective dog is in the beginning stages of training, keeping him separated from guests might be best. You don’t want to put a friend’s safety at risk or needlessly stress out your dog. As long as you keep working toward stopping the behavior, separating an overprotective dog from company is a temporary management solution. Start Obedience Training Obedience training is a must for every dog, and it’s especially important for overprotective dogs. Working with your dog on things like “sit-stay,” “down-stay,” and “heel,” will help build his impulse control. He’ll start seeing you as a capable leader and will turn to you for guidance. A mistake many pup parents make is stopping obedience training once their dog masters the basics skills. Being well-trained is about more than knowing how to sit when a person holds a treat in front of their face. It’s a lifetime lesson, and even senior dogs need regular training. Commit to training your dog several times a day for short periods of time. Make Your Dog Work for Affection You can’t help but smother your dog with love every time he’s within petting distance, but that isn’t always what’s best for him. He will start to feel entitled to your attention, and that’s part of the problem. To remedy this, initiate a “work for it” program that allows you to show your dog affection as long as he earns your attention in appropriate ways. Make him sit, stay calm, and do whatever else you ask before doling out whatever it is he wants. If he’s excited for dinner, make him sit and leave it before digging in. If he wants in your lap, ask him to do a trick first. Never give your dog attention if he rudely nudges your hand or barks in your face. He needs to know polite behavior, and polite behavior only, is how he gets what he wants. You ignore everything else. Involve Other People in the Dog’s Life Most overprotective dogs choose to guard only the person they feel closest to. It’s usually the same person who fills their food bowls, takes them on walks, and handles training. They become obsessively attached, and a strong bond gradually mutates into overprotective behavior. Putting some space between you and your dog will help him learn to trust other people. Enlist the entire family’s help and take a step back in your role as primary caregiver. Have someone else feed the dog a few times a week, and encourage other people to engage her in playtime. This will help him be more comfortable with different people. Socialize Socialization is best done during the puppy stages, but even adult and senior dogs benefit from new experiences. Exposing your overprotective dog to new places, experiences, and people, will help him learn that not everyone is out to hurt you. Make sure each new experience is positive, and encourage your dog without forcing him to interact. If your dog is afraid, you don’t want to make things worse. Take socialization at the pace he’s comfortable with. If he seems overwhelmed, back up and try something a little smaller. These are some general ideas and they can be modified to fit your dynamic. These behaviors do take time, I am talking months, to correct. And sometimes the behaviors get worse before they get better. So just push through that time if that starts to happen. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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Question
Beans and Frankfurt
Chihuahua
9 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Beans and Frankfurt
Chihuahua
9 Years

My two dogs used to be good with other animals but now get really aggressive and aggravated by other animals. They started this when we moved out of an apartment with another dog and cat.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
92 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I am not sure if you mean you left another dog and cat, or if you now have another dog and cat. But either way, Beans and Frankfurt could be out of sorts due to the move. They are older and perhaps are not taking well to the change. Give them time and keep up allowing them to associate with other animals. If you are worried about the aggression, then take them to a location where there are plenty of other dogs (like an enclosed dog park) staying on the outskirts on the other side of the fence the first several times so they can see that the other dogs are okay. Enlist the help of a friend or neighbor with a dog and go on lots of walks alongside each other, keeping a distance but then getting closer on subsequent walks. After a while, they should be able to get along. These suggestions are all activities that take place at neutral locations, where territory is not an issue. Take a look here as well, even though your dogs are older the advice will help: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-rottweiler-puppy-to-not-be-aggressive. The Manners Method may do the trick. Good luck!

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Question
Lucky
Male Apple Head Chihuahua
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Lucky
Male Apple Head Chihuahua
4 Years

He would not let us put a leech on him and he uses the bathroom in the house

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
92 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I apologize for the delay in reply. Is Lucky new to your household? Take these steps to get him used to the leash: https://wagwalking.com/training/accept-a-leash This guide also has very good pointers on dealing with Lucky; please read it through to see if any of the tips work for you. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-pitbull-puppy-to-be-obedient. Also, the Establish Leadership Method may help here:https://wagwalking.com/training/not-be-aggressive. Have Lucky sit before every event (going outside, getting his food bowl put down, before a treat) to establish respect. As for the toileting inside, is it because he won't let you take him for walks to do his business, or is it because he needs potty training? This guide has excellent tips on potty training: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside. Take Lucky outside every 30 minutes; I know it seems like a lot but once he gets the idea it will be worth the effort. It is essential to take him out first thing in the morning, after meals, after a nap, after playtime, etc. Be sure to clean all accidents with an enzymatic cleaner. This is the only thing to remove the odor. Despite your best efforts, Lucky will still smell the odor from the pee and poop when a regular cleaner is used. Good luck with Lucky and happy training!

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Question
Chloe
Chihuahua
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Chloe
Chihuahua
3 Years

Aggressive to men mainly and certain female friends. Constantly barking and lunging and snapping at them. Constantly barking even when I put her in her crate while company is around.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
124 Dog owners recommended

Hello there. It sounds like you have your hands full. I am going to provide you with information on how to correct this behavior. You won’t be able to solve your dog’s overprotective behavior in one day. In the meantime, you don’t want to put your life on hold. You can still invite guests into your home as long as you prioritize managing your dog’s behavior. You’ll need a short-term strategy to start showing your overprotective dog what behavior is unacceptable while also keeping your guests safe. There are a few ways to do this. Leash: Keeping your dog on a leash while friends are visiting gives you control over your dog’s actions. Leash him up before the doorbell rings and keep him close as you greet your guests. During the visit, you can let the leash drag and only use it if you have to. Muzzle: If you feel his behavior warrants the use of a muzzle for the time being while you work on solving this problem, then it may be a wise choice. Separate Room: Your dog won’t get better without practice, but sometimes you have to weigh the risks versus rewards. If your overprotective dog is in the beginning stages of training, keeping him separated from guests might be best. You don’t want to put a friend’s safety at risk or needlessly stress out your dog. As long as you keep working toward stopping the behavior, separating an overprotective dog from company is a temporary management solution. Start Obedience Training Obedience training is a must for every dog, and it’s especially important for overprotective dogs. Working with your dog on things like “sit-stay,” “down-stay,” and “heel,” will help build his impulse control. He’ll start seeing you as a capable leader and will turn to you for guidance. A mistake many pup parents make is stopping obedience training once their dog masters the basics skills. Being well-trained is about more than knowing how to sit when a person holds a treat in front of their face. It’s a lifetime lesson, and even senior dogs need regular training. Commit to training your dog several times a day for short periods of time. Make Your Dog Work for Affection You can’t help but smother your dog with love every time he’s within petting distance, but that isn’t always what’s best for him. He will start to feel entitled to your attention, and that’s part of the problem. To remedy this, initiate a “work for it” program that allows you to show your dog affection as long as he earns your attention in appropriate ways. Make him sit, stay calm, and do whatever else you ask before doling out whatever it is he wants. If he’s excited for dinner, make him sit and leave it before digging in. If he wants in your lap, ask him to do a trick first. Never give your dog attention if he rudely nudges your hand or barks in your face. He needs to know polite behavior, and polite behavior only, is how he gets what he wants. You ignore everything else. Involve Other People in the Dog’s Life Most overprotective dogs choose to guard only the person they feel closest to. It’s usually the same person who fills their food bowls, takes them on walks, and handles training. They become obsessively attached, and a strong bond gradually mutates into overprotective behavior. Putting some space between you and your dog will help him learn to trust other people. Enlist the entire family’s help and take a step back in your role as primary caregiver. Have someone else feed the dog a few times a week, and encourage other people to engage her in playtime. This will help him be more comfortable with different people. Socialize Socialization is best done during the puppy stages, but even adult and senior dogs benefit from new experiences. Exposing your overprotective dog to new places, experiences, and people, will help him learn that not everyone is out to hurt you. Make sure each new experience is positive, and encourage your dog without forcing him to interact. If your dog is afraid, you don’t want to make things worse. Take socialization at the pace he’s comfortable with. If he seems overwhelmed, back up and try something a little smaller. These are some general ideas and they can be modified to fit your dynamic. These behaviors do take time, I am talking months, to correct. And sometimes the behaviors get worse before they get better. So just push through that time if that starts to happen. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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