Jump to section
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.
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.
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
Watch your fingers
Keeping your fingers away from your Chihuahua’s mouth is the first step in avoiding a bite response.
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.
Use treats for reinforcement
Offer treats from the palm of your hand to discourage biting and reward good behavior.
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.
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.
The Interrupt Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
Resume play after a time
Once your Chihuahua has calmed down, you may continue playing. Always interrupt play time when a bite occurs.
The Mimic Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By TJ Trevino
Published: 02/22/2018, edited: 01/08/2021