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

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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.
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The Establish Leadership Method

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1 Vote
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?

The Extinguish Aggression Method

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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?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Macho
Chihuahua
2 Years
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Question
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Macho
Chihuahua
2 Years

My daughters dog Macho lives in an apartment. she brings him to my home often to stay with my 15 year old border collie. he loves to be in our home as hes free to roam and has the yard. When she returns to take him home he gets very aggressive towards her and even attempts to bite her. what do we do ?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello Doreen, This sounds like an issue of lack of respect. If Macho has learned from past experiences that he will be left alone if he reacts aggressively, then he is probably trying to control situations to get what he wants, which in this case is to stay somewhere more fun. Check out the article that I have linked below and both she and you should follow those methods with Macho when he is at your and her home. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Also, spend time getting Macho used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle using lots of treats, and clip a drag leash on him when someone is home to supervise. Get him used to wearing the leash and the muzzle around, until they become normal to him. When he stays with you, occasionally put those things on him, and on the day when you know he will have to go home, clip the leash to him and put the muzzle on him, and then calmly let her lead him home. The goal is to show him that his aggression and avoidance do not work anymore. When he stops resisting and is compliant and calm, then she can reward him through the muzzle with small treats, or peanut butter, liver paste, or cheese on a straw he can lick. Practicing regular obedience with him at her house, giving him more structure at both places, getting him used to wearing a muzzle so that he cannot bite, and rewarding him when he cooperates. All of those things should work together. Practicing obedience with him at her home and leaving him with interesting puzzle toys, food stuffed chew toys, or automatic treat dispensing devices, such as Pet Tutor or AutoTrainer should also help him like her apartment better. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Marshmallow
Chihuahua
1 Year
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Question
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Marshmallow
Chihuahua
1 Year

My dog Marshmallow is unpredictable. Sometimes he will even bite us! He always barks at people coming over or at people walking past our house. When we have people over he will act innocent and then when someone tries to touch him he will attack.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello Leah, I suggest hiring a professional trainer in your area who can help you at your home person. It sounds like there are several things going on with Marshmallow's issues. First, you need to work on his respect toward you in general. He needs to learn that biting will not gain him what he wants by getting him used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle and desensitizing him to the situations that be normally bites in. He needs to be desensitized to touch with treats with other people once he will relax during your interactions with him. He needs to be desensitized to the appearance of other people through the window treats for his calm behavior around people, treats for seeing someone before he reacts at all, and through interrupting his bad behavior, combined with the rewards for the correct behavior. The corrections need to be done carefully and associated with his own poor behavior though and in combination with pleasant rewards that are associated with the people. Finally, he needs to be desensitized to people coming over to your home through practice, rewards, calm interactions where the people ignore him apart from tossing him treats, and finally touch desensitization while wearing a muzzle that has holes bite enough to receive treats through, while he is calm and relaxed. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Marley
Chihuahua
2 Years
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Question
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Marley
Chihuahua
2 Years

My dog Marley definitely has little man syndrome, or only child syndrome. It’s cute when he’s an only child, but we are getting a new puppy that will be 8 weeks old and I’m worried about Marley being mean to the puppy. Any tips on what to do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello Casey, I suggest starting Marley on doggie boot camp before the new puppy arrives. Establishing respect through training with less confrontation will set a better tone for the puppy's arrival. You do not want Marley thinking that he runs the house. Have Marley work for everything he gets in life by doing a command before you feed him, pet him, take him on a walk, play with him, or give him anything else he wants. Work on teaching him "Place" and having him stay in place with distractions around for up to an hour. No being pushy. No climbing into your lap uninvited. No guarding furniture, people, objects, or food. Keep a drag leash on him when you are home, and when he gets possessive, pushy, or rude, pick up the end of the lead and make him leave the area calmly but firmly. Reward calmness and obedience with calm attention, but don't over do it. When there are issues between dogs in the same household, increasing respect for the humans in charge, creating rules for all the dogs, and being the one to enforce the rules so that the dogs do not have to is advised most of the time. If you are in charge, and you make and enforce rules and are the mediator between the dogs, there is less to compete for and expectations are clearer. When Marley is being tolerant of the puppy, you can reward him calmly with his own dog food or attention (keep space between them when you rewarding to avoid any food fights though). As soon as the puppy leaves, rewards and attention stops - you want to associate good things with the puppy's appearance. Also, I suggest crate training the puppy and setting up an exercise pen. Feed the puppy his kibble food in hollow chew toys as often as you can in the crate or exercise pen instead of only a bowl (where Marley can't steal it or bully him). This gives the puppy something to do, teaches him to entertain and sooth himself, and helps prevent boredom barking by keeping him busy. It also prevents him from wandering into Marley's space when you are not directly supervising him. The puppy and Marley should only be interacting while the puppy is young and still learning under your direct supervision. You want Marley to feel like you are supervising and in charge and the puppy is not something he ought to handle - it's your job. Create rules for all of the dogs and enforce those household rules for each. Some good rules might include: No dog is allowed to be pushy. No dog is allowed to beg. No dog is allowed to be possessive or people, objects, food or furniture. No dog is allowed to steal another dog's toy. No dog is allowed to bother another dog when they want to be left alone. No dog is allowed to block another dog from getting somewhere. No dog is allowed to stare at or intimidate another dog. No dog is allowed to steal or bother another dog while they are eating (I suggest feeding all the dog's in separate areas where no other dog can get to them - such as in crates). No dog is allowed to tell another dog what to do. Have consequences that are related to what the dog did, such as having to leave the room, when a dog breaks a rule. If another dog takes a toy, you be the one to take the toy back from the thief and return it to the dog who had it originally. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Maci
Chihuahua
7 Years
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Question
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Maci
Chihuahua
7 Years

We’ve had maci for 7 years and she has always been aggressive towards other people outside the family no matter what we did, we have recently gotten a new puppy and she is extremely aggressive towards her she attacks her every chance she gets. What could we do to stop her from doing this?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alexandria, You need to hire a professional trainer to come to your home and assist you right away. This sounds like a dangerous situation for your new puppy. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Colt
Chihuahua
6 Years
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Question
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Colt
Chihuahua
6 Years

My dog is very hostile towards anyone other than family members. He growls and snarls and sometimes will run and lunge in an attempt to bite. This happens to anyone outside of family members, I've tried to socialize him more and show him that it's okay and they mean him no harm. I thought it was a territorial issue but I even have problems taking him out anywhere. I'm supposed to be moving in the next few months and I want to try to get him to not be so hostile. I would like to be able to not have to crate him when anyone enters the house anymore, it truly breaks my heart. He's such a sweet dog when it comes to us. He's just so unpredictable when it comes to his aggressiveness.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello Austin, I suggest finding a trainer who works with several other trainers and can practice desensitizing him to a lot of different people using their staff as "strangers". Look for someone who specializes in aggression and reactivity. Also, work on structure and building leadership. Check out the videos linked below for some structure exercises and an exercise to get him more comfortable around strangers. Notice the safety measures taken in the final video for people aggression. At least part of structure exercises training needs to take place with you present and involved in the training to build his respect for you also. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo People Aggression protocol video- notice the back tie for safety (your guest should never be put at risk. Only train with the correct safety protocols to keep everyone involved safe. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Tucker
Chihuahua
2 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Tucker
Chihuahua
2 Years

We rescued Tucker a year ago and then rescued a Rhodesian (Nala) about 7 months later. They get along fine, unless Nala is getting attention from my 10 year old daughter. Tucker loves to snuggle and begs for attention from anyone who will give it to him. But it is clear that when the two dogs and my daughter are around, Tucker goes straight to her to "claim" her. He has even urinated on her things. He will stand on her and growl at Nala and try to bite me if I try to remove him from her. Also, we crate them when we aren't home and if my husband or I try to put Tucker in the crate he pees. My daughter has no problem getting him into the crate, but recently he has become very aggressive toward her when she is locking the crate. My husband and I are trying to decide if we should regime Tucker to someone without kids and other pets.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello Amy, The decision to re-home a dog is very personal one that only you can make, knowing what you feel would be best for your family. If you decide to keep him, I suggest starting a boot calm with him. It sounds like there are dominance and insecurity issues. You need to build respect and trust, especially for your daughter. Have him work for everything he gets, especially pets and cuddles, by telling him to do something like lay down first. Teach him the Out, Off, and Place commands and keep a drag leash on him without a handle so it won't get caught, when you are home. If he disobeys a command, you can enforce it by simply picking up the end of the leash and leading him to where he ought to go. If he attempts to bite, he should be wearing a muzzle while you are home and he is relearning the rules of the house, especially around your daughter. A muzzle does not have to be harsh if you introduce it gradually using his dog food as treats and reward him for sniffing it, touching it, putting his face in to it, and letting you buckle it. You can use a soft silicone basket muzzle so that he can open his mouth while wearing it and you can pass treats through the holes. To get him to put his face into it hold the food through the holes so that he has to willingly poke his face into the muzzle to get the treat. How to teach Place: https://youtu.be/omg5DVPWIWo Crate Manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ How to teach Out (use a muzzle with this command if needed): 1. First call him over to you, then toss a treat several feet away from yourself while pointing to the area where you are tossing the treat with the finger of your treat tossing hand and saying "Out" at the same time. Repeat this until he will go over to the area where you point when you say "Out" before you have tossed a treat. 2. When he will do that, then whenever you tell him "Out" and he does not go to where you are pointing, walk toward him and herd him out of the area with your body. Your attitude should be calm and patient but very firm and business like when you do this. 3. When you get to where you were pointing to, then stop and wait until he stops trying to go back to the area where you were standing before. 4. When he is no longer trying to get past you, then slowly walk backwards to where you were before. If he follows you, then tell him "Out" again and quickly walk toward him until he is back to where he was a moment ago. Repeat this until he will stay several feet away from where you were when you told him "Out" originally. 5. When you are ready for him to come back, then tell him "OK" in an up beat tone of voice. 6. Practice this training until he will consistently leave the area when you tell him "Out". 7. When he will consistently leave, then practice the training with other areas that you would like for him to leave, such as the kitchen when you are preparing food, a person's space when he is being pushy, an area with a plant that he is trying to dig up, or somewhere with something in your home that he should not be bothering. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Pepper
Chihuahua
2 Years
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Question
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Pepper
Chihuahua
2 Years

Our dog gets unpredictable, like recently, me and my cousin gave pepper a bathe then later he just growls. And also, whenever he goes inside our house and I am attempting to carry him to put him back in our yard, he then growls again. What do I do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kyle, I suggest working on the Obedience method and Working method from the article linked below. When you train him, treat him like you would a 60lb dog, so that he is responding based on obedience training, relationship with you and respect for you, so that you do not have to physically move him as often to get him to do what you need him to - you can simply tell him and he will respond. Check out the respect/listening article linked below. Follow the "Working" and "Obedience" methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Also, work on teaching him to like being handled. At his meal times, from a baggie (not his food bowl) feed him his dinner one piece at a time as rewards for tolerating touch. Gently touch him somewhere like his ear and give a piece of food. Touch one ear - give a treat. Touch the other ear - give a treat. Touch his paw - give a treat. Touch his tail - give a treat. Put a hand on his belly - give a treat. Gently lift up on his belly give a treat and put him back down... Practice this gradually with every area of his body, being gentle and going slowly while you do it. Start with the areas he is most tolerant of being touched on first. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Jack
Jack Russell Terrier and Chihuahua
Seven Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Jack
Jack Russell Terrier and Chihuahua
Seven Years

My dog is friendly towards other people but not at all to other dogs outside. If we take him to a dog park he's standoffish and happy but not aggressive. Just recently he's starting to talk back when getting punished and refuses to listen to commands that he's known since he was a puppy. When he barks at dogs outside he goes into a trance and does not listen to us(my mom and I) telling him "no" but when we enter the house again, he knows that he's done something wrong. I don't know what to do because sometimes it's like he has no guilt whatsoever.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello Asia, I suggest going back to the basics with him again. Spend time regularly having training sessions with him where you practice the commands that he already knows. Doing this will help build his motivation again, encourage his respect while avoiding physical confrontation, and help him focus back on you. I also suggest having your vet check for arthritis or something else that could be effecting mood or causing him discomfort. At his age he could have something like arthritis beginning and may be feeling grouchy because of that (I am not a vet). When dogs bark there are actually certain chemicals released in their brain that reward them and increase arousal. The longer you let them bark, the harder it can be to get them to calm back down again. I suggest teaching him a Quiet command and rewarding him for quieting down and for staying quiet when he is around something he would normally bark at. Check out the article linked below and the "Quiet" method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark It will be important to tell him Quiet before he starts barking are as soon as he begins, rather than waiting until he is really worked up. The more you practice, the better he should get at refocusing toward you. You may also need an interrupter to help him refocus on you when he disobeys. Something like a remote controlled vibration or unscented air collar can create just enough of a surprise to help him stop and refocus but then it needs to be followed up with teaching him something else to do that's good instead, and rewarding him for obeying the command you want instead. The point of the correction or interrupts would simply be to give you the opportunity to teach him how to do something else instead, like be quiet or look at you. He then needs to be rewarded for doing the correct thing so that he learns to automatically do that instead. Without pairing the correction with positive reinforcement for good behavior, he will likely just learn to ignore the interrupter eventually. Do NOT use citronella spray collars. Only use unscented air. The citronella scent tends to linger too long for dogs and because of how sensitive a dog's nose is, it can be very punishing and the punishment does not stop when the dog stops barking, instead the dog continues to smell the scent for a long time, which can be very confusing and bad for training efforts. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Piper
Chihuahua
8 Years
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Piper
Chihuahua
8 Years

Piper was a rescue dog .We have had her for about 4 years now. She is often aggressive with other dogs and almost 100 percent of the time to strangers She is deaf. She is not highly motivated by treats or food she has recently become very aggressive to the person,who is my dog Walker when I am,at work. I witnessed this agressI've behavior today. I thought my dog was going to bite her for real. I do have to tell the dog Walker person lives down the hallway from my apartment Also she's really weird and maybe a little crazy. She can control herself but often gets mad and rants and raves in her apartment or the hall way.
So I think piper picks up on the craziness and I assume I act a little more uncomfortable when Sheena is around But I have never seen her behave so aggressively towards strangers much less someone she sees almost daily.
How can I motivate a deaf and non motivated by food dogs behavior
I also recently adopted a mini golden doodle (who had to learn better behavior and not jump on piper trying to play. Piper of course is flipping out over the puppy but I have begun to have riley behave by having him come to me and sitting. He's the opposite of piper he IS TOTALLY MOTIVATED BY TREATS AND HE CAN HEAR TOO. I think before I got my 9 week old puppy he was better socialized then piper ever was. I don't know if piper was ever properly socialized when she was young. Maybe that's why she flips out with stranger and goes into her angry ongoing to kill you mode just when a stranger is looking at get (people think she's zoo cute and little that they act stupid and try to bend down to pet her.) I always discourage that because of how she reacts. She has never bitten anyone yet... but she may. Sometimes people wait until I'm not looking and try to let her and temporary hell breaks loose behind me with piper snarling and going to the end of the leash.
So can you help me?
Thank toy
Betsy Gee

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello Elizabeth, Was she fine with the dog walker in the past and the aggression toward your wvalker specifically is new? Based on your description of your dog walker, if she used to be fine with her, I would be concerned that something happened between them to escalate the aggression. With her current lack of socialization it may not have taken something severe, just something a bit too rough, scary, or weird to cause her to distrust her. Her aggression now could be related to fear. It could also be related to a lack of respect. If the aggression toward your walker is new, based on your description of your Walker, I suggest looking for a new walker. There can only be improvement in their relationship if her relationship with your Walker also improves. If your Walker I still doing whatever it is that originally triggered aggression there will not be progress. If your dog has always been suspicious of your Walker and has simply gotten worse as she has gotten older in general in that area, then a different walker could be beneficial, but it is likely not specifically related to the walker. I suggest training with hand signals and a vibration collar to help build her confidence. Work on pairing the vibration collar with something she likes (such as food, toys, a random object she loves, petting...anything she loves that is safe). Experiment with different things to see what she enjoys. Whenever she looks at you, make it rewarding and teach her to look at you so you can then give her a hand signal command. Right now if she is not trained in hand signals there is probably very little communication between you, and thus not a lot of trust, respect or dependence on you to trust you to handle situations around strangers. Start the process of teaching hand signal commands, then I recommend hiring a professional trainer who is very experienced with aggression and is creative enough to modify the training for a deaf dog, to specifically work on the aggression with you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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