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Chihuahua Aggression

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Agressive Chihuahua

Chihuahuas have the unsavory reputation of being yappy, snappy little dogs. The breed as a whole did not create this behavioral cliché all on their own, but the much of it can be traced back to the owner! You can both stop aggressive problems as well as prevent them all on your own with some of the most common training methods that anyone can do!

Why Are Chihuahuas Aggressive?

The fact is that Chihuahuas are not aggressive, but they can be reserved towards strangers and other animals. Chihuahuas were bred for generations as loving and loyal small companions for humans, and were never really meant to be social butterflies or dogs that share their toys. Today’s Chihuahuas may bond with only one or two people, but they can be accepting and relaxed around other people and pets if taught properly!

A behavioral condition known as Small Dog Syndrome runs rampant among all small dog breeds, and is most prominent among the smallest of small breeds, especially Chihuahuas! Small Dog Syndrome is not a health condition, nor is it something that any dog, no matter his genes has ever been born with.

Many times Small Dog Syndrome is a direct result of improper or a total lack of basic obedience training, house training and boundary control. In other words, if your dog has developed Small Dog Syndrome you are the cause, however you are also the solution!

Symptoms of Small Dog Syndrome include reactive barking, resource guarding, leash pulling and over all bad behavior, including ignoring your commands! Reactive barking is most commonly seen when your dog barks his head off at the sound of a knock on the door or your doorbell ringing. He may also bark at the sight of strangers, other dogs, or other sounds. He is not being protective or cute, he is acting aggressively out of fear!

Resource guarding is the behavior you see when you try to take a toy from your dog. He will hold his head over the item he wants to keep, curl his lips and growl. He may even lunge to bite! Toys, food and treats are not the only things he may guard – he can guard over you, too! Again, he is not protecting you to keep you safe but he is acting out of fear of losing something he values as a necessity to survival. Resource guarding can be a dangerous behavior and dogs at shelters are often euthanized for fear of bites!

Preventing Your Chihuahua’s Aggression

If you have not yet adopted your Chihuahua, or are currently working towards properly and successfully raising your own Chihuahua puppy then you have the ability to prevent aggression and fear based behaviors through the use of socialization, basic obedience and boundary control. You have the opportunity to teach your dog to follow your command, and that he is safe. He will also learn to respect your commands and your requests, but not out of fear or domination. He will do it because he wants to do it!

Dogs of all ages can continue socialization, but puppies are exceptional as they go through two fear periods, one from 4 to 12 weeks and the other at 7 or 8 months of age. These fear periods help to “hard wire” their minds as to how they should react in situations that would normally cause fear.

If you can create safe and planned socialization experiences, most puppies only take about 5 minutes to learn! This doesn’t mean just meeting people and other dogs, but also learning about other floor types, objects like umbrellas or flowing coats and even loud noises. Let your puppy recover from the initial fear and provide positive reinforcement in the form of play or a treat!

Curing Your Chihuahua’s Aggression

If you have recently adopted an older Chihuahua, are fostering one or your little one already has the symptoms of Small Dog Syndrome and aggression, know that there is indeed hope! You can help your dog over come his fearful and aggressive tendency so that he may become a more comfortable and happier companion.

Two types of training can be involved. One is called counter conditioning which works best for reactive barkers in which they change how they feel about their trigger. For example, if your Chihuahua barks at the sound of door knocking then you can change his emotions from fearful to relaxed and calm. The other training method is called shaping in which you help to guide your dog into doing the right thing through positive reinforcement.

Shaping is best done with a clicker, but you can also say “Yep!” as a bridge between your dog’s good behavior and his reward. It simply lets him know that his did the right thing and he is about to get his treat.

Shaping works through building onto behaviors. For instance, if you want your dog to stop pulling on his leash you would click your clicker or say “Yep!” every time he did not pull, and reward him. Then, you would build onto it from a loose leash to rewarding only when he was beside you, and so on.

 angry Chihuahua

Shaping works for almost any behavior you want to train your train you Chihuahua to do from sit to letting you take a toy or treat away from him. When you are training your little one to stop resource guarding, you will work on what is called the trading game. You give him a treat in exchange for letting you take a toy from him. You start with a high value treat and a low value toy. He will want the treat more than the toy. Then, build up to using a high value toy and a lower value treat, like kibble. It takes time and practice, but remember to keep training sessions short and always end on a good note!

Counter conditioning does not require your dog to do much, but it requires you to be mindful of your surroundings. If your Chihuahua is barking reactively at the door when guests arrive, then you start in a calm and quiet situation on the floor with your pet. Knock on the wall beside you just once and lightly, and immediately reward him! You want him to learn that the sound a precursor to getting a treat, but you want to keep him under his threshold so he does not get carried away barking. Build criteria until you can knock on the door without making him bark!

Slow is Always Fast

If you are ready for your Chihuahua to lose his aggressive behaviors, then it is time to keep an open mind and accept that you are your dog’s one and only chance to change his ways! If you feel that you are not ready to tackle his problems on your own, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help from a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist. Making your Chihuahua feel relaxed and comfortable is the number one priority.

A Puppy Mill Survivor Story
A Puppy Mill Survivor Story
Stephanie's Chihuahua Story


Sunday 5th of July 2020

I have had an aggressive Chihuahua, who was just allowed to just run FREELY out of its home, (owners just stood at the door BLANK faced with no recall!), and this dog attacked baring its teeth towards my 2 Jap Akitas who were being walked, under effective control. My boy just pinned it down into submission. Mind you he is groomed with other dogs next to him - no reaction.

Now I have to deal with my council, as this off lead aggressive Chihuahua and owners have broken the law.


Sunday 5th of July 2020

Ugh, that's a pain JA. I wish people would take care of their dogs properly.

Tuesday 16th of June 2020

I have a 1year old chihuahua/jack Russell terrier, and she is no stop barking at people who pass by our house. Sometimes she has tried to BITE the pepole in their ankles (the place that is closest) ! I need a bit of help on calming her down , since we don't have a fence around our house(yet) . She is also a really scared dog, anything or anyone new, she is gonna get scared of it or them. If you would please have a way to help me and my doggie, please do, i don't want her to be put down! Thanks for reading and or helping me. God bless!


Tuesday 16th of June 2020

I can offer some suggestions but some of that is just her breed and she won't change no matter what you do. CBD oil may help calm her down and they do have it for dogs. Also some socialization. A dog training class where she is around other people and dogs would help too. Here are a few articles to get you started:

Jennie Wiseman

Thursday 14th of November 2019

I have 5 smaller dogs, 3 chis, a Papillion and a MultiPoo. My oldest chi is 13 1/2 yrs. The problem one is about 8yrs. They are all girls. Sasha, the 8 year old has always loved Lil'Bit the oldest. Washed her face, ears and cuddled with her. Lately she growls at and acts mean toward Lil'Bit when Lil'Bit gets tired of her cleaning, etc. I have had them both since they were babies. Sasha has even started chasing the larger dogs. There have been no changes in her life so I do not understand this and what to do ???


Thursday 14th of November 2019

That's weird that the behavior just started. She could be trying to establish herself as the alpha. Or there could be an underlying medical problem that is making her grouchy. I think I'd get her checked out by the vet to rule that out. Sorry not to be more help. If you want, I can post your problem on our facebook page to get some more ideas for you.

Linda Moats

Tuesday 21st of May 2019

Hi ive been searchin for some answers n hopin i can get some. We recently adopted a chi from our humane society, she was found along a highway where she was dumped , she was very scared as u can imagine! We took her to the vet cause she had major hair loss on her back from fleas n also has a fatty tumor on her side. Vet said her age is around 3 to 4yrs old their thinking. Shes had her rabies n nexgaurd treatment, our problem is we have 6 other dogs three of them bein chis n all very lovable, we have had her a week n she seems to get along with all of them but but she has attacked one chi cause he jumped up in my lap she was layin beside me, i didnt think much about he i just assumed he scared her, well this evening she attacked another one for no reason except she was walkin past her. We no nothin of her background so dont no what shes been thru but i cant have my other babys treated like this what can i do for her??


Tuesday 21st of May 2019

It sounds like she's trying to be the alpha of your pack. She will probably continue to do this until one of your dogs (the current alpha) puts her in her place.

This is somewhat normal when new dogs come into a multi-dog household. They are trying to figure out where they belong in the pecking order and if they have a dominant personality, they will try to take over.

Usually the dogs will work it out among themselves.

If you know which one of your dogs is currently the alpha, I would cater to her first before the other dogs to help the new one figure it out. For instance, give the alpha a snack first, put her food bowl down first, etc.

If the new dog does try to attack any of the other dogs, say "no" in a firm voice, immediately pick her up and give her a time out away from the rest of the dogs (and you) for 15 minutes or so. She has to learn that's unacceptable.


Thursday 24th of January 2019

I don't have a reply, but I do need help with my 4 year old female Chihuahua. The two of us are together 24/7. She is killing me with her barking at any truck noise like UPS, or Fed X truck, plus, she barks at anyone who passes my windows or doors. She knows she is doing wrong and acts it, yet I have spent more money than I can afford on "stop your dog from barking" items that work wonderful on large dogs, but does not stop my 8 and 1/2 pound Chihuahua. I am a patient person, but at times she drives me totally crazy. I have tried praising her when she is not barking and thanking her for being a good dog not barking and at times this works, but most times does not. My neighbors hate me because of my dog's behavior. I would never put anything on my pet that would hurt her and wondering why big dogs react to items I have bought, but my Chihuahua could care less. What is the answer to my problem? I love this little girl more than I can say, and we play a lot, and we go out and sit in the sun together, plus, she gets one great snack a day. She is very loving to people she knows, but hates strangers until she gets to know them. Is there any help for me and my baby girl?


Tuesday 14th of May 2019

Carolyn~ I had my now 11 year old aggressive male Chi, Gordo,3 years ago we lived n a Village. I tried everything to stop his barking, attempting to bite everyone, except my husband and myself. Everyday for 7 years he freaked out when the mailman put the mail in the slot.He would then want to rip the mail to pieces. 3 years ago, I moved to a new location. I decided I was not going to tolerate his behavior here. From day one I started,I walked him in a safe harness and socialized him with my other dog. If he was aggressive to strangers,I said very little. I put the muzzle on him. Said “No” and just visited. He hates the muzzle & soon he stopped, just at the sight of me having the muzzle. I have found if People CAN walk in my house and not be afraid. He responds like a great dog.But if people show fear, they are done.And its really hard to get people to walk in with an aggressive Chi, and stay strong! The few People who have been able to do it, have made & stayed friends with Gordo. It’s been a long road for us, but he is calming down. It’s taken a lot of patience on my part. ALOT OF PATIENCE on my part! I go back and watch Cesar Milan a lot of times for reminders of what to. I research the internet all the time. It’s just so worth it. He’s a scared little dog & needs to know his Mama will protect him always & I am the Boss of him & his other pack member! Good Luck,I hope it helps you even a little bit!??


Thursday 24th of January 2019

We have an article on barking here Carolyn but it sounds like you have tried about everything. There are a couple of videos in there you should watch that may help. One thing that seems to be helping my puppy is I have been dropping a small taped can of coins on the floor when he barks. It's loud enough that it seems to distract him and he stops. Of course, it's an ongoing process but it's been working pretty well.