It's tough sometimes being the smallest dog on the block. If your Chihuahua growls at you or anyone he crosses paths with, it may be because he's unsure of his place within his world. Building up your Chihuahua’s confidence and making sure he understands his place is key in teaching him not to growl.
Chihuahuas have been bred to be companions for their owners. By nature, they are not automatically social dogs. They need to be trained to be social. Otherwise, they will come across as aggressive. Your Chihuahua may be growling at you or others because he needs training on how not to do this natural behavior. Teaching your Chihuahua to relax a bit around you and others will help to teach him growling is unacceptable.
Training your dog to relax isn’t as easy as simply telling him to relax. You are going to need to teach him that not growling is your expectation. Your Chihuahua will act aggressively and growl unless he knows other ways to act. The first thing you’ll need to do is socialize your Chihuahua. Once he knows his job is not to protect you and he is allowed to accept others in his world, people or pets, he’ll be better about reacting aggressively when around others. This is easier to train with a puppy, but you can redirect an adult Chihuahua as well. Training will just take more time and dedication with an adult. No matter the age, remember to reward good behavior and redirect poor behavior. Do not yell or hit your Chihuahua; these actions will only reinforce poor behaviors.
High-value treats are key in training your Chihuahua not to growl. Be sure to set aside some socializing time for your Chihuahua as well as short training sessions to build up respect and listening skills for your Chihuahua. Keep these training sessions short and only socialize at the beginning with people and dogs you know and are comfortable with. And always offer treats for your Chihuahua as well as the other animals you are socializing with.
Just got the dog and he growls at my husband and adult son
Hello Barbara, It sounds like pup may be fearful of men - possibly do to a lack of early socialization around men, a timid temperament, or poor experiences with a man. Watch pup's body language and your husband or son (starting with your husband, stay far enough away that pup stays relaxed. As the person passes pup and pup is reacting well (don't reward while aggressive or acting fearful), then have the person toss several treats gently toward pup's paws and continue walking; Do this in lots of different place - without your husband or son approaching pup after. You want pup to begin to associate the the guys with something fun happening and take the pressure of petting away at first before pup is ready for that part. As pup improves, have them gradually decrease the distance between them and pup. Once pup can handle the guys walking right by and dropping treats, practice the protocol from the video linked below, keeping pup's leash short enough that if pup were to lunge while practicing this, they won't be able to get to someone to bite. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJoEJfTS-E Choose a secure, front-clip type harness. Ideally, practice this in a fenced in area since pup may be a flight risk. Clip her leash on the harness and go on a walk with pup and your husband. If pup is nervous, have your husband stay several feet away while walking in the same direction at first - with you (or whoever pup is most comfortable with at that point, holding the leash). As pup relaxes during the walk, gradually have your husband get closer until you can hand the leash off to your husband and let him walk pup alone - without you. This might take several sessions before you can do that without pup stopping or tensing up when your husband gets close. Don't rush this - be aware of pup's body language and any tensing up. Definitely practice in a fenced area if available, even though that will mean walking back and forth a lot. Once pup will walk with your husband and get close to your husband and you to eat, practicr hand-feeding her the dog food and walk her regularly to develop trust. When you get that far, also teach her commands and tricks using positive reinforcement to further build trust. Check out the article linked below as well, and be aware of pup's body language and not putting her into situations that might lead to a fear bite. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ I highly suggest working with a trainer because additional training will be needed, but you need someone who can monitor how pup is doing and tailor the training plan based on that. Finally, during all of this, practice desensitizing pup to handling and touch using their food. As often as you can, feed pup their meals one piece at a time. Gently touch pup in an area while feeding a piece of food. Touch their should - feed a piece. Touch their back - feed a piece. Touch an ear - feed a piece. Touch their collar - feed a piece. Touch their paw - feed a piece. Touch their belly - feed a piece. ect... Do it gently and start with areas pup is most comfortable and work up to the other areas as pup improves. When pup enjoys your touches and is generally doing well around the guys in your family, add in other people pup knows touching, like your husband. When pup can handle your husband, add in your son very carefully once pup is no longer fearful or aggressive toward him. Only allow your son to do this with you help and watch for signs of tensing or aggression - wait to do this part of training until pup is not a bit risk due to other training that's been done already and pup being comfortable with your son now. Don't rush these things but do practice very often and with lots of different people. Watch pup's reaction and go at a pace where pup can stay relaxed - the goal isn't just for pup to act good but actually feel better about people - so pup staying relaxed and happy around people is what you want to reward, which will mean going at the pace or distance pup an handle. During all of this, keep your interactions with pup calm and confident. Don't pet or comfort pup when they act aggressive. Avoid yelling and overly harsh reactions, but give consistent boundaries, calmly enforce household rules, and provide calm leadership for pup. Calm leadership can actually boost a dog's confidence and building trust and respect can help with aggression issues - especially if pup is resource guarding you from your son or husband. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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