How do I stop my chihuahua puppy’s aggressive behavior?

I have a 8 month old Chihuahua, we have had her since 8 weeks. She has always been a lover until recently. She comes to my gift shop with me everyday, so she is around peoples constantly. She has just started barking at everybody that walks in the door. And one day she lets everybody pet her the next she snaps and tries to bite. She has also recently bit my husband twice and my daughter once. What can I do to stop this behavior before it gets to the point where I can’t take her to work and my daughter gets to be afraid of her? Please help!!

Your chihuahua is developing a dominant personality. You must nip it in the bud asap or it will get worse. I had a puppy that was very sweet in the beginning and then gradually got more and more assertive and aggressive around 8 or 9 months. It wasn’t until he bit a stranger that I got the wakeup call that I had to do something, but by then he was almost 2 years old and the pattern had already set in. Since this is just the beginning, I think it’ll be relatively easy to change.

Your chihuahua is around people constantly, but it doesn’t mean that she’s interacting with people the right way. Since you work in the store, she probably senses that you have some authority in that space and she has taken that cue from you. Also, your close relationship with her (being with her day in and day out) has made her feel very territorial towards you. Do not hold her while she’s interacting with people, let her stand on her own so she is not concerned with protecting you. Everyone who comes into the store is potentially a danger to you and she’s trying to protect you. You must teach her to give up the defensiveness. You are in charge, not her. You can do this with basic obedience. I suggest that you enroll her in a puppy obedience class as soon as possible and teach her some basic commands such as sit, stay, heel, and down. After she learns this, whenever a customer comes into the store, you give her a command and let her concentrate on that task instead of the customer. If you want, you can give a treat to the customer and ask them to give it to her if she does a “sit” for them.

She must learn that everything you’ve allowed her to do is a privilege. Going to work with you is a privilege, eating is a privilege, getting on the couch is another one, and so is sitting on your lap, getting a toy, a treat, going outside. Before she does any of those things, she must get your permission. This means, you should ask her to do a “sit” before you allow any of those things. If she jumps on the couch without doing a sit, you put her back down on the floor and ask her to do it again. If she’s sitting in your lap and she snaps at your husband, then she has lost that privilege and must be put in her crate. Your husband and daughter have to follow this too. All of you must establish that you are leaders of the pack. Ask your husband or daughter to do the feeding and ask Lucy to complete a command before giving the food to her.

This will not be easy at first and change will not happen overnight, but I am confident that your chihuahua can be trained.

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2 Comments

August 11, 2008

Sandi Vance :

My dog has always growled but now is biting. No one can walk up in our yard or house without being threatened by him. I am raising a young grandchild and there are friends in and out constantly. Some times he is terrific with the kids and others he is aggressive or bites. He recently bit my grandchild severely and it would kill me to have him put down. But I can’t allow him to bite. I have isolated him, growled at him, every kind of advice given, I have followed. What can I do? He is two years old. Also, he sucks his back feet, like he is nursing, when he is sleepy, and that’s the only time. What’s up with that?

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August 23, 2013

T. Robert :

Well thank you sooooooooo much for giving us some ideas as to how to deal with a young Chihuahua that is showing signs of aggressive behaviour like the info you posted for the lady with the 8 month old Chihuahua. I have a 14 month old purebred Chihuahua who was so sweet and let anyone pat him and after neutering (a few months after) he turned into a little ‘cujo’ around some people and most dogs. It was heartbreaking to see him like this.

From reading your notes though I have him with me all the time as I am disabled and am home all the time. I’m sure that one of the issues is that he is protecting me and while, like the girl you just commented on with the 8 month chihuahua I thought he was being socialized with lots of people when we were out but I had him in a front pack, on me, so I was in fact holding him. I just thought that since he was so small he would get hurt on the ground in crowds. Besides he really seems very afraid of leashes and collars (not like my other dogs I have trained before) so I didn’t feel comfortable trying to force it on him.

I asked around and have done a long questionnare on behaviour from our Vet who works in animal behaviour as well so hopefully she can suggest things too but I know I have to get him into obedience sooner rather than later. His socialization period was interrupted during prime time because he came with a parasite so I needed to protect other dogs by keeping him up off the ground so they wouldn’t catch it. Then he had to be neutered so that took awhile. But like I said he was fine with people even right after neutering but a few months later this bad behaviour started.

I have been looking for something I can do in the meantime to get him to stop snarling at people and thank you for helping me to at least start to make things right. No one ever had any ideas that I found until I came across your site.

I decided the other day when he snarled at someone else in my apt building that I am first going to cut down on his exposure to others in the front pack for one thing and try again with the leash but keep him out of close quarters with the public til some of this is under control. I will start the ’sit’ before all priviledges as you said. I have already taught him to sit, down, stay(kind of) but not heel because he is scared of the leash for some reason.

Thank you for at least giving me some tools to use with my dog. It’s appreciated.

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