How to Train a Chihuahua to Not Bite

Medium
1-2 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Dogs use their mouths for many reasons. They use them for communication, for eating and drinking, for defense and protection, and sometimes just for fun. However, when you bring a dog home with you, the expectation is generally for your dog to not use his mouth inappropriately. This means eating the wrong things, making noise when he shouldn’t be, or using his teeth in the wrong situations. Most dog owners are opposed to the idea of letting their dog bite or mouth at their hands, as it can easily start to hurt or cause damage, even if the dog doesn’t mean to. Because of this, controlling or avoiding the dog’s bite is one of the more important aspects of owning one.

This aspect of dog ownership should even extend to the smaller breeds, including the Chihuahua. While a Chihuahua’s bite will likely not do as much damage as a larger dog, the behavior should still be discouraged. After all, smaller children or other small pets in your home can be at risk for bites too.

Defining Tasks

Chihuahuas can be stubborn and difficult to train. Much of a Chihuahua’s bad behavior is easily excused by the fact that they are small and don’t pose as much of a threat as larger breeds do. However, biting is generally a symptom of a larger problem. Whether that problem is fear, lack of bite inhibition, inappropriate play behavior, or outright aggression, a Chihuahua has a tendency to bite as they do not know other ways to cope or handle a situation. Because of this, not only is it important to address the bite, but to address the cause of the bite as well.

Addressing a bite response is best done as early as possible when a Chihuahua is still a puppy. However, there are still ways to correct biting behavior for adult Chihuahuas. Expect the training in either case to take a maximum of two weeks for your dog to understand what you want from him and what you will not accept.

Getting Started

Before anything else, determine the reason your Chihuahua is biting. Rule out the possibility of injury or illness by visiting a veterinarian beforehand and double check that your dog’s living environment is comfortable and not causing distress. Once you rule out these causes, you can begin training as normal.

Get some chew toys or tug ropes that your Chihuahua can use for biting purposes and gather up some treats to use as a reward for appropriate behavior. Sit down in a room free of distractions when you first begin and be prepared to utilize your training techniques whenever you choose to play with your dog.

The Redirect Method

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Step
1
Watch your fingers
Keeping your fingers away from your Chihuahua’s mouth is the first step in avoiding a bite response.
Step
2
Offer chew toys instead
When playing with your Chihuahua, provide him with a chew toy or a tug rope instead of your hand or fingers.
Step
3
Use treats for reinforcement
Offer treats from the palm of your hand to discourage biting and reward good behavior.
Step
4
Provide plenty of exercise
Chihuahuas may bite or nip if they have excess energy. Provide at least one walk a day or some running around time outside to wear your dog down before you play inside.
Step
5
Find productive activities
Use puzzle toys to keep your dog occupied. He will use his nose and mouth to figure the toys out rather than for nibbling on your hand.
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The Interrupt Method

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Effective
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Step
1
Keep an eye on your Chihuahua
If she is playing with a guest or someone else in your house, supervise play time between them and your dog. Separate her from your guest if she shows signs of discomfort or inappropriate playing.
Step
2
Catch a bite before it happens
Watch your Chihuahua’s body language. She will likely give off signs that say she is about to bite. This includes showing of teeth, opening of her mouth, or any other signs of fear or aggression including a tucked tail, ears all the way back, and wide eyes.
Step
3
Immediately stop if a bite occurs
As soon as the biting behavior occurs, whether its playful or aggressive, stop the play and turn away, or have your guest turn away, from your Chihuahua.
Step
4
Ignore your dog
Do not acknowledge your dog either negatively or positively for a few minutes. She will soon understand that a bite means the end of play time.
Step
5
Resume play after a time
Once your Chihuahua has calmed down, you may continue playing. Always interrupt play time when a bite occurs.
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The Mimic Method

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Step
1
Keep puppies with the mother if possible
Puppies will often learn bite inhibition from their mothers and littermates. This teaches them how to play appropriately with others and to not bite too hard during play. Separation before eight weeks can mean that they do not develop this crucial social skill.
Step
2
Mimic the sound of a puppy
Whenever a bite occurs, give a high pitched yelp or say “ow!” loud enough to catch your Chihuahua’s attention.
Step
3
Stop play time and ignore
Step away from your dog and focus on something else. Play time stops when a bite happens and your Chihuahua will need to learn this.
Step
4
Resume play time after a few minutes
When a few minutes have passed, you may continue to play with your dog as long as he is well behaved and continues to play appropriately.
Step
5
Reward for good behavior
Offer lots of fun toys, treats, and praise when your dog behaves during play time. Any biting should be immediately responded to with the yelping sound and then stopped. This will require repeating for at least a week or two in order for your Chihuahua to understand the consequences of biting.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Reuger
Chiweenie
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Reuger
Chiweenie
6 Months

Biting, barking

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Linda, If the biting is puppy play biting - mouthing, then check out the Leave It method from the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite I would also teach Place and Out and gently build respect. 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/ Respect and listening: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you For the barking, check out the article I have linked below, and the video series I linked also. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Romeo
Chihuahua
12 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
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Romeo
Chihuahua
12 Weeks

Romeo jumps bites a lot and needs to calm down

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Virginia, Check out this article on jumping: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Check out the Leave It method from this article for the biting: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite I would also teach Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ You can also practice something called "Jazz up and Settle Down". Which is a bit like red light, green light for dogs. Practicing this exercise can help pup learn self-control too. During training, get him a little excited, then command "Stop" or something he knows like "Sit", and freeze. Wait and completely ignore him until he calms back down. As soon as he gets calm or sits, praise and give a treat. Tell him "Let's Play!" again, and start playing and getting him a bit excited again. As soon as he starts to get a little worked up (not too much at first), command "Stop" or "Sit" again, then wait, reward with a treat when he calms down, then continue the game after he is rewarded. Repeat this a few times each training session, then end the session (have lots of frequent shorter sessions throughout the day at his age). As he improves, and can really calm down quickly, let him get a bit more excited before calling Stop. Gradually work up to him becoming more and more excited and having to calm down quickly from a higher level of excitement as he improves. Also, understand that this will take some time and practice. Puppies have to learn self-control just like any other skill, while young. This game can help him develop it sooner though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Stella
Chihuahua
15 Weeks
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Stella
Chihuahua
15 Weeks

My dog keeps biting my clothes or trying to bite me

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jen, Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when she attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if she makes a good choice. If she disobeys your leave it command, use the Out command from the second article linked below to make her leave the area as a consequence. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The Out method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just playing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area, is also a good command for you to use if pup bites the kids. Check out the section on Using Out to Deal with Pushy Behavior for how to calmly enforce that command once it's taught. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Another important part of this is puppy learning bite inhibition. Puppies have to learn while young how to control the pressure of their mouths - this is typically done through play with other puppies. See if there is a puppy class in your area that comes well recommended and has time for moderated off-leash puppy play. If you can't join a class, look for a free puppy play group, or recruit some friends with puppies to come over if you can and create your own group. You are looking for puppies under 6 months of age - since young puppies play differently than adult dogs. Right now, an outside class may be best in a fenced area, or letting friends' pups play in someone's fence outside. Moderate the puppies' play and whenever one pup seems overwhelmed or they are all getting too excited, interrupt their play, let everyone calm down, then let the most timid pup go first to see if they still want to play - if they do, then you can let the other puppies go too when they are waiting for permission. Finding a good puppy class - no class will be ideal but here's what to shoot for: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ When pup gets especially wound up, she probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help her calm down and rest. Practicing regular obedience commands or having pup earn what they get by performing commands like Sit and Down before feeding, petting, tossing a toy, opening the door for a walk, ect... can also help stimulate pup mentally to increase calmness and wear them out. Commands that practice focus, self-control, and learning something a bit new or harder than before can all tire out puppies. Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Oscar
chuawah
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Oscar
chuawah
5 Months

Bitting too much n asking for food from everyone who is eating

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Vineeta, I recommend teaching Out, Leave It, and Place, and working pup up to being able to do those commands even around distractions like food, through regularly practicing them. 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 Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s I would use Out and Leave It to deal with pup's biting. When pup won't obey Leave It in situations where they are either biting or you know getting excited and wanting to bite, then use Out, herding pup out of the area if necessary, if pup doesn't Leave It when told. I would also crate train pup and crate pup when they over getting really rambunctious and need to calm back down. Give pup a dog food stuffed chew toy when you do so. Don't treat the crate like a punishment. That's not as likely to work. The crate is simply a space where pup can take their excitement and frustration out on the chew toy while calming back down again. When you let pup out of the crate, require pup come out calmly instead of bolting out. Opening and closing the door until your dog is not rushing out, then letting pup come all the way out when you can have the door open and pup will wait inside for permission to exit, like "Okay!" or "Free!". You want him to be calm when he comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore him when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. For the begging, you can also use Leave It and Out. I would also get pup into the habit of going to Place during mealtime and food prep times. Giving pup a treat when pup stays there, at first, periodically throughout the meal or food prep, working up to giving just one treat at the end of the meal or food prep when you get up to be finished with your meal. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Coco
Chihuahua
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Coco
Chihuahua
2 Years

I just got him. He had a different owner but it’s hard for him to not bite. We could be having good time and out of no where he will just start biting me. How can I train him since I’m his new owner

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Junior, A lot of the answer to your question depends on why and how pup is biting. Is the biting rough play, fearful, aggressive? Is it in response to being touched, you telling him to do something, you leading him somewhere, taking something from him, ect... If pup is breaking the skin when biting, it's aggressive, or you feel unsafe in anyway with pup, I would start by desensitizing pup to wearing a basket muzzle (which is a good thing for all dogs to be used to just in case anyway). To introduce the muzzle, first place it on the ground and sprinkle his meal kibble around it. Do this until he is comfortable eating around it. Next, when he is comfortable with it being on the floor with food, hold it up and reward him with a piece of kibble every time he touches or sniffs it in your hand. Feed him his whole meal this way. Practice this until he is comfortable touching it. Next, hold a treat inside of it through the muzzle's holes, so that he has to poke his face into it to get the treat. As he gets comfortable doing that, gradually hold the treat further down into the muzzle, so that he has to poke his face all the way into the muzzle to get the treat. Practice until he is comfortable having his face in it. Next, feed several treats in a row through the muzzle's holes while he holds his face in the muzzle for longer. Practice this until he can hold his face in it for at least ten seconds while being fed treats. Next, when he can hold his face in the muzzle for ten seconds while remaining calm, while his face is in the muzzle move the muzzle's buckles together briefly, then feed him a treat through the muzzle. Practice this until he is not bothered by the buckles moving back and forth. Next, while he is wearing the muzzle buckle it and unbuckle it briefly, then feed a treat. As he gets comfortable with this step, gradually keep the muzzle buckled for longer and longer while feeding treats through the muzzle occasionally. Next, gradually increase how long he wears the muzzle for and decrease how often you give him a treat, until he can calmly wear the muzzle for at least an hour without receiving treats more than two treats during that hour. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s Using the muzzle to keep you safe while interacting or training as needed, check out the article I have linked below for ways to build respect through things like obedience command practice. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you If pup is fearful, check out this article and specifically the section on shy dogs and humans. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ If pup is playing roughly, I would teach self-control through things like Leave It, and Out - which means leave the area. 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 If pup isn't comfortable being touched, I would desensitize pup to being touched. To work on getting pup used to touch and handling use pup's daily meal kibble to do this. Gently touch an area of pup's body while feeding a piece of food. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold their collar and give a treat. Touch their tail gently and give a treat. Touch their belly, their other paws, their chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. Pup likely needs a combination of things addressed, so if things aren't improving, get worse, or you feel overwhelmed or unsure, I would consider hiring a professional trainer who can learn more about the situation, evaluate pup in person, and show you in person how to train with pup, tailoring the training to pup based on what they learn about pup. Look for someone who specializes in behavior issues and has experience with things like fear and aggression. Who comes well recommended by their previous clients for their work with behavior issues in dogs. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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