I was wondering what makes Chihuahuas so aggressive, which turns out to be a very interesting topic for dog lovers. So, here’s a detailed guide on Chihuahua aggression.
Why are Chihuahuas so aggressive?
Chihuahuas are aggressive because they are highly territorial. They aren’t afraid to confront anyone who walks close to their personal space. It also takes time for them to befriend people if they’re more than 1 year old. Owners and friends have to gain their pet’s trust slowly.
Are Chihuahuas more aggressive than Pit Bulls?
Chihuahuas are more aggressive than Pit Bulls. This is what a study on differences in canine aggression proved. The level of aggression Chihuahuas show towards their owners, strangers, and other dogs are higher than average. This aggression results in both bites and attempts to bite.
7 reasons why Chihuahuas are so aggressive
#1: It comes with the territory
Chihuahuas are more defensive than they are friendly. So, why are Chihuahuas so aggressive?
This means that if you come at them while they’re eating or resting in their favorite spot, they will snap at you. That’s one sign of Chihuahua aggression.
Thankfully, they often come with warning signals. Here are some things you need to look out for:
They will make a high-pitched “grr” sound. This is usually their first move, just before attacking. They can also do this if they’re afraid and want to sound intimidating.
It means that your pet isn’t just angry, they’re confident they can take you down. Stare in the other direction if you’re making eye contact and gently walk away.
When Chihuahuas get angry, they start to show their teeth as a way of telling you to back off. They’ll usually bite if you don’t comply.
Chihuahuas can “punch” the same way we do, but with their noses. Since they’re that close, they might also start biting if they boop you violently.
Their tail stops wagging
Dogs wag their tail when they’re happy. When the mood changes, it will stand still and move slowly from side to side.
Defensive Chihuahuas will also stay close to objects they’re protecting. They’ll stay near their bowl if they think you’ll grab their food.
They’ll even stay near you if they don’t trust your friend or relative!
#2: They might have been abused before
Dogs can have PTSD. They are able to recall stressful or dangerous experiences.
When adopting a Chihuahua, you may not have a full picture of their past life. Before getting a new pet, check in with their previous owners.
Dig up records from their previous vet. Inform yourself about potential triggers and avoid them. That’s how you will keep Chihuahua aggression at bay.
Note: If possible, make your house the complete opposite of those triggers. For example, if their tail has been stuck on a dog door, don’t get one.
#3: They’re meeting new faces
New faces can be intimidating and scary for your Chihuahua. They will try to repel them by being aggressive.
However, you should not give up. Chihuahuas take some time to get used to anyone after their 1-year socialization period.
Expose them to new people and visit new places. Have them play with other dogs and people weekly.
The more they learn that people aren’t scary, the less aggressive they will be.
Note: Go to tips #3 and #10 to find out more about daycare services and how to spend time with friends!
#4: Moving around makes them cranky
Chihuahuas want security above all else. Unfortunately, moving residences frequently does not reassure them.
They have to get used to new smells, people, spots, voices, and other pets. The faster you introduce new things, the easier they’ll be overwhelmed.
Thus, you need to have a special spot where they can feel absolutely secure. This is where crate training comes in.
Having a crate will keep your Chihuahua calm during your travels. Get one as soon as you can, so you avoid Chihuahua aggression altogether.
Note: Learn more about crate training on tip #11.
#5: They have dominant attitudes
Chihuahuas are courageous dogs that love to assume a commanding role.
This sadly means they love to prey on submissive animals or people. They’ll bully anyone who will easily bow to them.
However, this personality can be tempered. You can choose a less aggressive breed that can stand up to your Chihuahua.
You should learn to say “no” to your pet through your commands and demeanor.
Don’t giggle at them when they’re misbehaving. Be firm. You don’t need to indulge Chihuahua aggression.
Note: Check out tip #1 for basic commands and #8 for breeds that can take on your Chihuahua!
#6: Anxiety issues
Chihuahuas can be aggressive because they are anxious. They will bark to gain attention when something scares them.
Some anxiety issues include:
Memories of past accidents can scare and anger your pet. It’s easier to answer why are Chihuahuas so aggressive when you take that into account.
Your pet is scared of loud noises like thunder or excessive rain.
This is triggered when your dog is left alone for extended periods of time.
These issues can also lead to destructive behavior, such as breaking glass, ruining toilet paper, chewing furniture, scratching the door, and so on.
Note: Read tips #5 and #14 to know more about how to deal with anxiety in dogs.
#7: Health issues
Dogs evolved to not show weakness. This has allowed them to survive generations of predation.
Sadly, this is a nightmare for dog owners. It becomes harder to notice diseases until your pet’s in extreme agony.
This is why you need to be aggressive on health issues. If your Chihuahua becomes aggressive while you pet them, it likely means they’re injured.
When Chihuahuas are obese, they can mess up your home while scouring for treats. Keep special treats hidden while you arrange an appointment for them.
Your pet can experience swelling in its teeth due to poor dental hygiene. Their bellies can also swell from bloat, which requires immediate care.
Hip dysplasia, arthritis, and kneecap dislocations are among the most common problems of a Chihuahua.
Note: Read tip #4 to find out more about the finer details of visiting a vet!
19 tips to stop aggressive behavior in Chihuahuas
#1: Train them
Although Chihuahuas are aggressive, you can help keep them calm by training them. Give them these commands to help them out:
When your dog gets angry, you can distract them by saying “come.” If they’re far, raise your hand so they can see and smell the treat. When they come to you, give them the promised treat. This is one way of minimizing Chihuahua aggression.
Note: Trained Chihuahuas will return to their owners even when angered. Make this one of their first commands if you can!
To give this command, have your dog “speak” and reward them for it. From there, issue the “quiet” command and reward them for being silent.
This is useful indoors when you need to keep your dog quiet around strangers.
“Sit and Stay” Commands
If you’re having visitors over, “sit and stay” will allow you to keep them within their space of the house. Have your dog “sit” and give them a treat if they start lowering their hind legs. This will make them not think about Chihuahua aggression.
Tell them to “stay” afterward, and treat them if they don’t move for 2 seconds. Alternate between the two commands until your dog understands the difference.
Note: For obedience training, use special treats with meat flavor. You can also use leftover meat from your breakfast (if there are no spices in it). Place the treats in a resealable bag to preserve taste and texture.
#2: Play outdoors more often
Like most dogs, Chihuahuas have a socialization period of 1 year after they’re born. During this time, it’s a good idea to go outside so they’re introduced to worldly stimuli.
Take your pet to the park. If it’s near your home, avoid commuting and walk the rest of the way. They will be more oriented with car sounds and people talking.
If you go to a dog park, talk to fellow dog owners or bring a friendly dog owner with you. Introduce your dogs to one another and give them space to play around.
However, be sure to follow dog-playing etiquette. Behavior can change rapidly during play. This way, you teach your pup not to show Chihuahua aggression every change they get.
Keep in mind the following signs:
- Excessive barking.
- Your dog is being overpowered during tug-of-war.
When you start seeing these signs, get between the two dogs and break them up before your Chihuahua gets injured or develops Chihuahua aggression.
#3: Take your pet to daycare
Daycare is an excellent place to give your Chihuahua more exposure.
They have the facilities, dogs, and trainers who can cater to every breed.
The more they hang out with other dogs and practice, the less angry they’ll be.
Here are some of the things that your pet can do while they’re in daycare:
Chihuahuas are quick, making them great for the sport. Obstacles will help make their legs stronger. They will also prevent Chihuahua aggression.
Note: It also helps them deal with or prevent obesity.
Daycares will often make dogs mingle with and tolerate one another.
Note: This is also useful if you’re thinking of adopting another dog. Their exposure to daycare will help them adjust to new pets quickly.
Personalized sitters will offer training for your dog during their stay.
If possible, feel free to ask their staff for pointers. Daycares are great at controlling aggressive behavior, so prepare your pen and paper!
Caution: Daycares can be stressful for Chihuahuas over time. Only let them stay 2-3 days within a week.
#4: Make regular trips to the vet
When you pet dogs at a sore spot, they will likely react with aggression.
Hence, it’s always a good idea to bring your dog to the vet once every year. Ask your vet for full checkups – especially X-Rays.
This is because Chihuahuas are small and inconspicuous. They can wander around the house and get stuck in places.
When they do, they risk all kinds of injuries including:
- Hip Dysplasia.
- Kneecap dislocation.
- Osteochondritis (swollen joints).
Many of these tend to be injuries dogs hide. As an owner, you need to be the first to notice these.
Note: You may need to make more trips for such injuries. Don’t self-medicate, and always consult an expert.
#5: Check for signs of fear
Dogs don’t just get angry because they’re enraged. Sometimes, they’re afraid and just need their owner to be with them.
If they get hurt while eating, they might get more defensive. Play loud noises and they may get angry.
Take your dog to a trainer for evaluation. They will recommend desensitization sessions for your pet, so they slowly remove Chihuahua aggression.
Expose your dog to the stimuli/sound they’re most afraid of. Normalize it until your dog realizes there is no harm.
Note: Give them treats for every progress they make (going nearer or not reacting as severely). This will let them know that facing their fears brings rewards.
#6: Give them more personal space
Chihuahuas are dogs that love to explore. If their space is too small, they will squeeze into odd places and disobey.
Buy crates twice their size. Use the extra space to put food dispensers or chew toys.
Expand the area where they can roam around the house. They will start marking new spaces as territory and feel even safer. This prevents aggressive barking.
Note: If you’re in an apartment complex, ask for permission to walk them on the hallways. Grant them the entire room if they refuse.
#7: Consider spaying/neutering your Chihuahua
Dogs are impulsive by default. They can get angry because of hormonal changes that can shorten their temper.
For female Chihuahuas, spaying (removing the ovaries) will help keep your Chihuahuas still.
For males, neutering (removing the testicles) will stop them from roughhousing other dogs. It also lessens their dominant streaks.
It’s also a good thing to do if you have multiple pets. They may get upset with you if you try and stop them from reproducing.
Note: Spaying/neutering also eliminates the risk of having a surprise litter at home.
#8: Don’t get too many pets
Dogs getting friendly with other dogs is a good thing. However, they can also develop a pack mindset.
When this happens, they might gang up on strangers or even other pets. This can result in injuries.
Avoid getting too many pets from the same breed. Chihuahuas will often clash with other dominant pets.
Balance it out with more neutral but strong breeds such as Basset Hounds or Bulldogs. They will help with your Chihuahua’s temper.
Keep their circle small and don’t adopt more than 3 dogs at a time.
#9: Clean up the house regularly
Dogs get angry when smells get mixed up. It makes them think someone is invading their home when there’s no such thing…
Remember that Chihuahuas are defensive dogs. They will frequently mark undiscovered spots.
Prevent unnecessary pooping and urination by cleaning your house daily. Vacuum the floors to remove fur.
Wipe off the urine and remove poop that doesn’t belong to their pooping space. Cover the smell with alcohol.
Caution: Keep your dog in their space for 8 hours after cleaning. This will help you sterilize your place. Clean up during crate time.
#10: Make them spend more time with your friends
Chihuahuas need time to get used to people. If your Chihuahua is still less than a year old, bring people over once or twice a week.
Dogs can remember people’s scents for a long time. Your Chihuahua will recognize them if you bring them more often.
Note: This doesn’t mean your Chihuahua won’t be aggressive next time, but calming them down will be easier.
Have them play your games and go on walks together. If your dog likes it, have them give treats!
Otherwise, simply having them around and exposing them to their scent and voice will do.
#11: Give them a crate
One way to stop aggression is to give them a place to feel safe in.
Dogs who feel unsafe will bark at anything. Make the crate training your Chihuahua your first goal.
Here’s what you can do:
- Prepare a crate. Make it large and comfortable.
- Place comfort items like chew toys, foam, and food bowls.
- Tell your dog to “go crate.”
- Give them a treat for going inside.
- Have them “stay” in the crate with the stay command.
- Give them a reward inside the crate for staying.
- Keep the crate open at all times. Rinse and repeat until they’re used to it.
You can also watch this video for perspective:
#12: Stay calm
Being aggressive is not helpful for your pet. Yelling only encourages them to bark louder. In fact, studies have shown that punishment hurts your dog’s overall development.
Before approaching your dog, calm yourself. Take deep breaths and sit down before giving commands.
If your dog disobeys, try a different command. Remove any distractions gently and keep trying.
If stress is keeping you down, let a sitter take over. It’s better to stay away from your dog at your worst. Make up for it later.
#13: Buy a muzzle
Muzzles are a quick fix to Chihuahua aggression. That is if you’ve given your Chihuahua muzzle training previously.
If not, here’s a video that will show you how to get your Chi used to a muzzle step by step:
They are often placed as mouth covers to prevent biting.
Muzzles can be useful in emergency situations such as having strangers over on short notice. Use a muzzle if you’re in a hectic situation.
Caution: Don’t use it for anything other than emergencies. Most muzzles prevent dogs from panting. This makes them unable to process heat, causing heatstroke. Muzzles can also cause injuries if your dog resists.
If you’d like to have a muzzle that allows your dog to drink, get treats, and pant, take a look at the Baskerville Ultra Muzzle. It comes in 6 sizes and is made out of rubber which makes it comfy for dogs to wear.
#14: Get anxiety medications
Dogs can also deal with a variety of medications for their aggression.
Benadryl can help your dog on the spot. It can make your dog sleepy and less aggressive.
Your vet may also recommend stronger medication, such as antidepressants. However, be aware of side effects such as diarrhea or tremors.
Caution: Always ask your vet before introducing new medication. The risk of overdose is not worth it.
#15: Block their view
Aggression can be controlled by messing with your dog’s vision. This is useful if your dog’s personal space is windowed or near your front door.
Cover the decorative holes on your house’s gate. Get your windows tinted to lessen light and encourage sleep.
When playing together, get in the middle of things literally if necessary. Body-block your dog to keep its distance.
If they’re still a puppy, give them a space with doors and windows. This will let you control the things they see and hear.
#16: Organize your schedule
Dogs are organized creatures. They do things at precise points during the day. That’s why they also love to take part in routine activities.
They may feel stressed if your time’s not the same. Feeding them spontaneously can cause aggressive behavior.
Thankfully, you’re the owner. You have the power to decide your dog’s daily schedule.
Construct a timetable that accounts for both your dog and everything else you have to do within the day. Manage your time well. This will keep your dog happy.
#17: Distract them with toys
Toys are literally lifesavers. They distract dogs and prevent them from biting other people.
If you’re having friends over, prepare a squeaky toy. When they make an aggressive move, squeeze the toy while giving the “come” command.
Put your Chihuahua and the toy close to your lap. You can also use the same toy to lure them back into their space.
Caution: If you put them on your lap, don’t let strangers touch them. They might not sit on your lap happily again if you do it too often.
#18: Don’t spoil your dog
Obesity can be a cause of aggression. Chihuahuas that weigh more than 1.3-2.7 kilograms (3-6 pounds) may steal food or be defensive of their food bowls.
It’s also possible for them to nibble at anything your friend brings to your home. As such, you should not pamper your dog too much.
Make them work for your treats by keeping up on obedience training. Go out more often and get more exercise with your dog. They will be less aggressive the fitter they are.
#19: Be in charge
Dominance is your Chihuahua’s primary trait. One reason why owners can’t stop them is that they simply give in.
When your Chihuahua barks at you, ignore them. Don’t let their eyes or anger intimidate you.
Let neighbors know you’re just training them and they will understand. Stick to any schedule you have for your dog.
Keep them within their personal space. They will relent after a period of time.
Be stern when giving a command. Take a deep, forceful tone while you do so. Don’t be loud, just give your voice more authority.