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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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 and Success Stories

Question
Ella
Chihuahua and Boston Terrier
6 Years
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Question
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Ella
Chihuahua and Boston Terrier
6 Years

I rehomed Ella from her previous owner when she was two years old. She’s a super sweet girl but very attached to the people she knows and has been very spoiled and sheltered with us. Not much socializing outside our hone. She doesn’t like strangers and gets very protective of our home when we have people she doesn’t know (aggressive barking) She hasnt attacked or bitten anyone though. Just barks aggressively and then very cautious. I’d like to know how to get her more socially behaved. But the most difficult is when I take her the vet, groomers or somewhere she has to interact with a stranger. She gets very fearful about someone new touching her and has snapped at a few vets and techs. I also am going to be taking her on a long plane ride for the first time as we are relocating. What can I do to help her be less fear aggressive around strangers. I stress every time we go to the vet and I’m really stressed how she’ll behave at the airport. Help and thank you!

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

Hello! Your best bet to correct this fear based behavior is to create positive association with the people/situations she is having negative reactions to. The best way to create these positive associations is to provide lots of tasty treats in these settings. Ella will quickly learn that when people are around it's a good thing because she gets treats!

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Question
Josie
Chihuahua
3 Years
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Question
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Josie
Chihuahua
3 Years

She's getting more and more aggressive. She will bite you if you try to clip her nails. If I try to take something away from her she shouldn't have she bites me.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I recommend working with a trainer in person for this. First, I would desensitize pup to wearing a basket muzzle using food rewards. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s Second, I would work on desensitizing pup to touch also using food rewards, with pup possibly wearing a basket muzzle that you can pass small treats or licks or peanut butter on a straw through (avoid Xylitol sweetener- it's extremely toxic to dogs). Start with an area of pup's body they don't mind being touched like their shoulder. Touch and give a treat. Repeat with different areas of pup's body daily using pup's meal kibble as treats each time you touch somewhere, such as collar area, shoulder, chest, paw, ear, back, ect.. Only progress to harder touches as pup becomes relaxed with the current amount of touch - this should be a fairly relaxing and fun exercise for pup to build trust, not something super confrontational. Third, I would work on the Drop It command by trading pup treats and better toys for a long toy that you can encourage pup to grab then let go off. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-to-fetch/ I would also keep a drag leash on pup while they are loose in your home, and you are there to supervise to make sure it doesn't get caught on anything, so that when pup grabs something they shouldn't have you can calmly walk over and pick up the end of their leash then work on enforcing your obedience without having to grab pup's body or chase them - this helps things be calmer for pup but also more consistent with the training. Finally, I would generally work on building pup's respect and trust for you overall through methods and commands, such as the Working and Obedience methods in the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Hazel
Chihuahua
3 Years
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Question
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Hazel
Chihuahua
3 Years

How do I train my dog to not bite people?

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

Hello, I apologize for the delay in reply. Make sure that little Hazel is well socialized by giving her lots of experience around people and other dogs. Practice outside at the dog park with both people and other canines - she'll be on neutral ground and won't feel a need to protect her territory. I would also teach her the Leave It command, which is well described here in the Leave It Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite. Once Hazel knows "leave it", you can use the command in many situations besides instructing her not to bite. It's one of the most common methods. There are also excellent tips here: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-bite-2. Read the whole thing through, paying special attention to the Positive Encouragement Method and the Do's and Don'ts Method. Good luck!

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Question
Ravyn
Chihuahua
9 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ravyn
Chihuahua
9 Weeks

She won't stop biting. She won't listen. Having some issues with potty training.

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

Hello. Here is information on puppy nipping/biting. Information on potty training will follow. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior.

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