My Chihuahua Bites

One of the most common statements we hear from Chihuahua owners is: “My Chihuahua bites!”. Then they tell us how their Chihuahua is snapping or aggressively biting towards hands or other pets. It is true that this is a common trait, but it is a trait that can’t be allowed and must be controlled immediately. Allowing a Chihuahua to continuously act this way could cause serious harm and it could also cause your chihuahua to be forcibly removed from home in the even that your loving doggie bites someone outside of your home.  Also, you’ve likely seen your Chihuahua around bigger dogs.  While it might look cute to see how rough and tough they act when they get “Big Dog Syndrome” it’s really very dangerous for your little guy.  Your Chihuahua may trigger an attack in retaliation that creates serious injury to them.  I’ve personally seen a Yorkshire Terrior pick up a chiuahua and shake it like a rag doll.  The chihuahua wasn’t harmed because I was right there, but if this had occurred while I was away, who knows.  

When Your Chihuahua Is Teething

Ideally, it is better to start teaching and instilling the principals that biting is NOT acceptable when your Chihuahua is still a pup. When you are playing with them and you allow them to “mouth” your hands in play, it is easy to overlook that to them you allow them to playfully “bite” you.  Providing them with boundaries, such as, they can bite only soft or hard toys, needs to begin very early. It is doubly difficult when you are an owner who has rescued an adult Chihuahua from a center. You have no way of knowing if this part of their training was missed. Happily, however, even mature Chihuahuas can be instructed to not bite. It may take somewhat more time and effort, but you’re still able to teach them the borders of what’s okay and what is not in regards to biting.

Like all dogs, Chihuahua puppies will undergo a teething phase where they are going to chew or  bite on anything they see. There are good treats you can provide for them to gnaw on and this will help. 
If you have a pup going through the teething stage, here are a few things to remember:

  • Don’t enable your Chihuahua to bite or gnaw on your fingers.
  • Kong toys are great and they make small ones for suitable for Chihuahuas
  • Keep your Chihuahua confined to your crate or gated region of your home when you aren’t able to supervise them.
  • Rope-type toys will also be long-lasting and make great toys for a Chihuahua that is teething.

In terms of punishment and reward you must always punish the biting behavior each time it occurs.  Whether they are a young pup or an doggie senior citizen, this must happen.  So, when your Chihuahua bites, gnaws or tries to lash out at you in aggression, say “NO” in a firm manner.  Your tone should convey scolding or displeasure.  Under no circumstance should you physically hit your Chihuahua or “spank”, as this is only going to make it more difficult to teach the difference between right and wrong to them.  Instead, a “I mean business”, “NO” followed by putting them in a passive position (laying them on their back) is all that is required to get the message across. Keep eye contact to communicate your dominance.  When your dog defers to you, and willingly relaxes into your dominance, then you can again show your regular amount of affection to them.

It’s also VERY important to be rewarding all their good behavior. One way to do this is with small treats when they do something you like.  Also, Chihuahuas will oftentimes make an effort to show their affection by licking you a bit or “nosing” you.  Even if you don’t particularly appreciate being licked by your Chihuahua, it is a way that your dog is trying to show you affection. It is a friendly act on his part.  You should always be receptive to his efforts at being gentle, so give him some love back.

Don’t Forget The Toys
If there aren’t any toys about for your Chihuahua to play with, they will naturally try to play inside your home with whatever is available to them. Sadly, many a rug or shoe has been destroyed needlessly. Take a trip to your local pet supply store and pick up several different toys for your Chihuahua, in case you haven’t done so already.

My personal favorites would be the stuffing-less furry squirrels that have built-in squeakers. They will gnaw and chew on these for countless hours, offering them a gratifying and safe method to relieve some of the tension and need to chew. This was the first toy our baby Chi played with and it’s his favorite still. We taught our chihuahua to fetch using the word “Squirrel!”…and then tossing his toy.  To this day, all I have to say is “Squirrel!” and he will go find his toy and bring it to me for me to throw for him. 

Another common reason why Chihuahuas bite is just due to boredom. When owners don’t take their Chihuahuas outside enough, they will attempt to let out their energy in other ways, one is through biting. I know it is hard for some owners to take their Chihuahuas out every couple hours, but you want to get into the habit of allowing them to run free. Your dog will get to let out his pent up energy.  

Just remember stay consistent with your training efforts and you will see improvement in your Chi!

Up Next: My Chihuahua is coughing!

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