How to tame an aggressive Chihuahua?
Chihuahuas tend to have several behavioral issues but none as bad as aggression.
Yes, the breed is unfortunately notorious for being angry and aggressive and that can be bad for its pet parents and other house pets too.
In this guide, I will tell you exactly how to tame an aggressive dog. While I am not a dog behaviorist or a dog trainer, I have worked with an aggressive Chihuahua before and know exactly what works in taming one.
I am sure that with patience and hard work, you too will be able to tame and calm down your aggressive Chihuahua.
How to Tame an Aggressive Chihuahua – 25 Tips That Work!
As the owner of a Chihuahua, you are fully responsible for all that your dog does and also the consequences of its actions.
Many aggressive behaviors have a reason: a dog won’t turn aggressive without a root cause. Please check out our guide on ‘Why are Chihuahuas So Aggressive’ to determine the root cause of the problem.
Here are the key tips to keep in mind to curb aggression in your Chihuahua
1. Know the signs of aggression
An aggressive Chi will exhibit the following signs:
- Curled lips or baring of teeth
- Snapping at other people or dogs
- Barking excessively
2. Learn the causes aggression in Chihuahuas
As mentioned earlier, I have addressed the causes of aggression in Why are Chihuahuas So Aggressive’ but here is a list of reasons why some Chihuahuas show more aggression than others:
- Age and health
- Sex of the dog
- Reproductive status (whether it is ‘fixed’)
- Past trauma
- Dominance behavior
- Resource guarding
- Territorial behavior
- Inter dog aggression
- Predatory aggression
- Fear aggression
- Food aggression
- Maternal aggression
Knowing the causes can help you remove these stressors from your dog’s environment and help avoid many untoward incidents.
3. Take charge of your Chi at the first sign of aggression
Chihuahuas are small dogs and the slightest actions can make them feel insecure or threatened. The small dog syndrome is even more pronounced in this dog breed.
Being small and also being aware of it makes them believe that aggression is the way to show their dominance.
So, at the first sign of aggression, take charge. Otherwise your Chihuahua will use aggression every time because it will start thinking that it is the alpha and that it can ‘get away’ with growling, snapping, snarling, and other aggressive behaviors.
If left unchecked, you could actually become one of those Chihuahua owners that are afraid of their own dogs.
4. Keep a journal to note its aggression
Before you begin your ‘how to tame an aggressive Chihuahua training’, you can keep a journal of the dates and the behavior shown by your dog.
This will help you note down when your pet gets aggressive. For example, some Chihuahuas get triggered when someone rings the doorbell or walks past your yard. Note it all down. It will also help you discuss these behaviors with a professional dog trainer should you consider hiring one at a later stage.
5. Start basic obedience training
If your Chi has just recently started showing signs of aggression, train it in basic obedience commands.
In the case of a Chihuahua puppy, you can start its potty training.
A trained dog is easier to control and when your Chi listens to your basic commands it is the first sign that it accepts you as its master and that you have its respect.
Basic commands include:
- Sit – This will get your Chi to stay or sit when you have visitors. This will prevent aggression towards strangers.
- Quiet – This will put a stop to barking.
- Come – This is an important command and will call your Chi back to you to prevent it from attacking other dogs or humans.
6. Manage your moods
Dogs pick up on their owner’s moods so if you become loud or agitated or worried, your dog will pick that too. Stay calm throughout training.
7. Minimize stressors in your Chi’s life
The key to ‘how to tame an aggressive Chihuahua’ is to minimize the stress in your pet’s life.
For example: if your Chi gets aggressive because of an underlying anxiety, then you may want to try to keep your pet as calm as possible. If separation anxiety is the root cause, then avoid leaving your pet alone for prolonged periods.
If your Chi starts barking due to loud noises or fireworks, then you might want to give it its own room or a den.
Dogs are used to denning in the wild. The closest thing to a den for a domesticated dog is a crate as it helps create the same secure and safe environment.
Similarly, if your Chihuahua is aggressive towards kids, your house cat, or other dogs, then too you might want to separate them from each other and keep your aggressive Chi in the crate as far as possible.
8. Safety first!
If your Chihuahua is very aggressive towards you or others and even bites occasionally, then please practice safety first.
If needed, muzzle your dog or use a head halter to prevent it from attacking you or others.
9. Spay or neuter your pet
Many inter dog aggression cases can be prevented by spaying/neutering your Chihuahua. The ‘fixing surgery’ reduces sexual aggression that is seen in most unfixed dogs.
10. Treat underlying health issues
Aggression that comes on suddenly might have some health problems at its root.
Is your Chihuahua unwell? Perhaps a decayed tooth is bothering it? Has it shown appetite changes off late?
It is a good idea to schedule a health checkup at your vet even if your Chihuahua seems okay otherwise. A simple blood test might reveal the cause of sudden aggression. The best part is that vets often work with dog trainers so they can help pinpoint the exact cause of aggression too.
11. Avoid painful dog training tools and physical punishments
Many dogs become even more aggressive due to the use of harsh training methods like prongs, shock collars, etc. Avoid using such tools.
Never physically punish your Chihuahua. That means no hitting, slapping, or other harsh punishments as they will only make your little dog even more aggressive or, conversely, more timid/shy.
12. Use positive reinforcement only
When your Chihuahua behaves the way you want it to behave (such as not barking at a stranger who walks past your yard), treat or reward it right away. This will help ‘condition’ your pet positively and encourage more of the good behavior.
Make sure you reward right away since your pet needs to associate the treating with the good behavior.
Use healthy treats like these – they are low in calories and won’t fill up your pet too much.
13. Expose your dog to different triggers (socialization)
Socialization ideally works in preventing aggression and mostly is geared towards training young puppies. By exposing your Chihuahua puppy to different situations, people, other dogs, etc., it will feel more confident to deal with them. This can reduce its fear and anxiety which, in turn, can curb aggression.
For an adult dog, you could expose it to low-intensity triggers but always follow safety first and muzzle your pet.
An example of low intensity trigger is having a friend walk across your yard. If your Chi does not bark at him, then reward and praise your Chi profusely.
Other methods of socializing your Chi:
- Make them spend time with your friends
- Take them out to the beach, mall, on shopping trips, and weekend getaways
This will increase your Chihuahua’s confidence and reduce its fears.
14. Slowly increase the intensity of triggers
Once your aggressive Chihuahua is slightly better with low-intensity triggers you can move to higher intensity triggers.
For example, if your Chi is food aggressive or a resource guarder and hates having its food bowl taken away or its toys handled by other dogs/humans, then slowly start doing the actions until your pet does not respond with growling, snarling, etc.
15. Repeat training for each trigger
Taming your aggressive Chihuahua is a slow process. You will have to use the above steps for each of your dog’s triggers.
So, be patient and consistent. You will want to incorporate all this training in your dog’s daily routine.
16. Keep training sessions short
By now you know that the key to ‘how to tame an aggressive Chihuahua’ is to be consistent. Train daily but take care to keep sessions short.
Always end each sessions with plenty of cuddling, playing, and patting. This will create a positive environment and make your Chi look forward to the sessions.
17. Enroll your pet in obedience school
Very aggressive Chihuahuas need consistent training. You can take it upon yourself to do the job but in case of severe aggression, you might want to seek professional help.
The advantage of obedience training with professional dog behaviorists or dog trainers is that they teach you how to use reward-based and positive-reinforcement training only.
Also, they work with you and your dog and that is why there is greater chance of success as you can implement the principles even outside of the training sessions.
18. Consider doggy day care
A doggy day care will help your Chihuahua socialize with other dogs. Many daycares have socialized playtime which will allow your Chi to meet other dogs.
You can also speak with the trainers at the center and mention your Chi’s aggression problem. Many might offer pointers for you to use at home for curbing your pet’s aggression.
Over time, your Chihuahua will definitely make friends and be more tolerant towards other dogs.
Doggy daycare is an important consideration if you are planning to adopt/buy another Chihuahua.
19. Feed it a healthy diet
A simple change like feeding your Chihuahua a healthy, balanced diet can overcome nutritional deficiencies and curb aggression.
20. Exercise your pet
A well-exercised dog will be too tired to show aggression, unwanted barking, etc. So take your Chihuahua for walks (2-3 times a day) for 15-20 minutes each.
Exercise can also prevent obesity which is one of the root causes of aggression, food stealing, resource guarding etc.
21. Clean your home
Defensive dogs like Chihuahuas get upset and stressed if your home has too many smells or scents. So clean up your home frequently while you have crated your Chihuahua. This will also help prevent territory marking, potty accidents, and unwanted urination indoors.
22. Use calming herbs or medicines
Speak to a holistic vet and administer calming herbs like chamomile to your Chi. You can also use OTC calming chews .
Certain drugs like Amitriptyline Hydrochloride (for separation anxiety), and Fluoxetine (for stress and anxiety) can also help.
23. Provide plenty of toys
Toys can be a great addition to your Chihuahua’s daily routine. They can distract your pet and also keep it occupied while preventing unwanted barking, destruction of furniture, etc.
24. Know that Canine Aggression is a complex issue
Some forms of canine aggression like idiopathic aggression have no known causes. It is best to contact a certified dog trainer to work with such dogs otherwise, it could make matters worse.
25. Keep a positive attitude
Believe that you can tame an aggressive Chihuahua. A lot can be done as we have wonderful tools and training aids these days, so be positive!
Can an Aggressive Chihuahua be Cured?
Many cases of dog aggression are completely curable. With consistent positive training, reinforcement, and plenty of love, even the most aggressive Chihuahuas could turn over a new leaf.
Sometimes there are cases of aggressive Chihuahuas that ‘cannot be cured’ and the best one can do is limit their exposure to aggression triggers such as stress, anxiety, or fear.
For example, when you know your dog bites if you take away its bone, then the best thing to do is not give it the bone in the first place.
Can you Trust an Aggressive Chihuahua that has Bitten?
A dog that bites will probably bite again. However, there are cases where a dog has bitten once but never repeated the behavior again.
It all depends on the individual dog and the situation. Always remember that training an aggressive Chihuahua is very much possible.
However, in some cases, it is best to work with a dog trainer or a certified canine behaviorist to find right the solution to the issue.
Depending on the severity and number of bites, some vets recommend euthanizing very aggressive dogs.
Conclusion – How to Tame an Aggressive Chihuahua
The key to training an aggressive Chihuahua lies in patience and consistency.
Start by identifying the cause of aggression. That way you can take the steps to remove the triggers of aggression and make your Chihuahua feel safer and calmer.
Slowly, you can introduce certain low-intensity triggers and reward your Chi each time it does not show aggression. Use only positive methods of training since punishing, hitting, or hurting your pet could worsen the aggression.
If needed, seek the help of a canine behaviorist or a dog trainer.