How to Train a Chihuahua to Not Bite

How to Train a Chihuahua to Not Bite
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-2 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

The Redirect Method

Most Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon

Most Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon
1

Watch your fingers

Keeping your fingers away from your Chihuahua’s mouth is the first step in avoiding a bite response.

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.

3

Use treats for reinforcement

Offer treats from the palm of your hand to discourage biting and reward good behavior.

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.

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.

The Interrupt Method

Effective

1 Vote

Ribbon icon

Effective

1 Vote

Ribbon icon
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.

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.

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.

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.

5

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

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

By TJ Trevino

Published: 02/22/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Ziggy

Dog breed icon

Chihuahua

Dog age icon

3months

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

He backs away when I go to pick him up, he comes if I sit down. He also goes to bite my hand when I reach to pat his head, not an aggressive bite but turns his head towards my hand and won’t let me pat his head, when he’s asleep I can pat him but if he’s been active that’s when he bites and play bites

July 4, 2023

Ziggy's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Work on getting puppy used to touch and handling. Use puppy’s daily meal kibble to do this. Gently touch an area of puppy's body while feeding a piece of food. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold his collar and give a treat. Touch his tail gently and give a treat. Touch his belly, his other paws, his chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. At the same time, I would also work on the Leave It command by following the Leave It method from this article: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 10, 2023

Dog nametag icon

PRINCE

Dog breed icon

Chihuahua

Dog age icon

Eight Weeks

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

MY CHIHUAHUA BITE ME\

Dec. 6, 2022

PRINCE's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, 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 he attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if he makes a good choice. If he disobeys your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told him not to. 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 pressure 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 roughhousing (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 I would also work on teaching the Out command, and then use the section from the article on How to Use Out to Deal with Pushiness, to enforce it when pup doesn't listen, especially around other animals or kids. 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. 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, he 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 him calm down and rest. 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/ Know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep working at it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Dec. 6, 2022


Wag! Specialist
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.


© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.