Why Do Chihuahuas Bite Ankles?

why do chihuahuas bite ankles

Why do chihuahuas bite ankles? Chihuahuas are one of the most popular breeds of toy dogs due to their cuteness. However, you may not agree that their ankle biting habit is cute! Is it a learned bad behavior or an innate habit for them?

In this article, I’m going to answer a few important questions most chihuahua owners and dog parents have in mind. You will be enlightened as to why Chihuahuas bite ankles and feet, how to get them to stop the biting habit, and other facts about dog mouthing.

Why Do Chihuahuas Bite Ankles?

Chihuahuas bite ankles for many reasons.

Firstly, they inherited this trait from their ancestors as herders and animal guards. This root behavior is used to demonstrate authority. So, if you walk past them and suddenly get a bite on your ankle, understand that it’s part of their DNA-based instinct as a herding dog.

Secondly, when your chihuahua is anxious and showing signs of restlessness, it can become a little aggressive. Being a small dog breed, seeing human feet can cause them fears and anxiety. Thus,  their best defense is to bite ankles!                          

Thirdly, is your chihuahua bored? If it is, then biting your ankle is a sign that it wants attention or some play time. During playtime, it can feel so much fun when chasing that it finds your ankle a target of their play!

Lastly, your chihuahua puppy may be in the teething stage. As part of the growing process, they try to bite and chew anything they can see around them to soothe themselves.

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Biting My Ankles? 5 Easy Tips


There are practical ways on how you can get your dog to stop biting ankles such as the following:

1. Do not tolerate biting from the start.

Allowing your chihuahua to bite your ankle will encourage them to continue the habit and make it their practice for receiving attention or even playing. When your dog understands that biting is a bad behavior, it will gradually learn and find other ways to deal with its frustration and anxiety.

2. Practice positive reinforcement training with your dogs.

Whenever you train your dog to stop nipping and biting ankles, give it a reward when it follows and does a great job. Use this technique to encourage your dog to learn good behavior, such as bite inhibition.

3. Provide plenty of chewing toys

Give your dogs some chewing toys or bone when you see it approaching your feet or when it starts nipping on your ankle.

Teach them simple, but firm commands like “No” or “Stop”. If your dogs or chihuahuas bite ankles, you may probably need to buy some chew toys for it to try like Benebone Durable Wishbone Dog Chew Toy for Aggressive Chewers

Benebone Wishbone Durable Dog Chew Toy for Aggressive Chewers, Made in USA, Medium, Real Bacon Flavor

4. Avoid punishing your dogs

Punishing your chihuahua for bad behaviors will only make it a more aggressive dog. If it bites you, let out a loud yelp and make it perceive that you are hurt. Your dog will get startled when it hears a yowl. From there, teach your chihuahua to not repeat the act and give it a treat when it follows you.

5. Teach your dog how to play gently without biting.

Some bite inhibition training techniques will curb the behavior. It will teach your dog how to control and stop aggressive mouthing.

If you bring your dog to play with other dogs in a park, you will notice that they bite each other during play. Some bites can be hard, and the bitten dog can yelp loudly. If your dog is the offender, let it stop playing for a moment. This interaction can teach your dog to have control of its force,

Why Does My Chihuahua Bite My Feet?

1. Innate herding Instinct

Your chihuahua bites your feet not because it wants to hurt you, but one thing is, it’s an innate herding instinct of dogs.

2. Teething Stage

If your chihuahua is just a puppy, it might be feeling pain because it’s in teething stage so it bites to give itself some relief.

3. Normal Way Of Communication

It is not unusual for your chihuahua to bite even when it plays because it is your chihuahua’s way of expressing its excitement, frustration, fear, happiness, and other feelings. Your chi uses its mouth to explore things in its environment. However, your chihuahua could have been triggered by a certain act that signals or encourages it to bite.

For instance, if you swing your toes at its face or smack the side of its face in order to get him to play, you are provoking your chi to bite you. If your chihuahuas bite ankles habitually, focus on what it is trying to communicate to you.

4. Lack of mental and/or physical stimulation

When you don’t give your chihuahua some mental or physical stimulation, it can result in unwanted behaviors such as biting.

The lack of activity or bonding time with your chihuahua will make it a bored or moody pet.  You need to keep it active, busy, or feeling loved, so it won’t result in nasty habits of getting your attention.

5. Separation Anxiety

At times, when you’ve been away from the house for so long, your chi will experience separation anxiety. It bites your feet as soon as you’re back home because it longs for your affection.

Chihuahuas bite ankles or feet when they believe you are going to be away, which causes them anxiety or deep loneliness.

Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet?

Dogs lick your feet as a sign of respect for their owners.

It is their way to show their affection and appreciate you for the love you give to them.

Your dogs communicate in ways they are used to, such as licking. Your dog will lick you on your feet to show its esteem, just as a mother dog will lick her babies on any part of their bodies to show love.

If your dog desires affection, it will also lick your feet.

Licking is a natural way for animals to deliver their messages to their masters about their needs or wants. If they find your feet very soothing to them, they lick them to relieve themselves of anxiety, or they are happy doing it because of the endorphins being released that make them calm or joyful when they do it.

What Does It Mean When A Dog Licks You?


When a dog licks you, it’s a sweet way of your pet telling you how much it likes you.

It’s also a straightforward way of greeting or expressing affection for you.

Some people refer to a dog’s licking as kisses. And when they do it, it only means that your dog loves you!

Licking is a canine behavior that starts with newborn puppies. The mother dog will lick her puppies to clean, calm, and bond with their newborns. In the same way, puppies will lick their mother’s mouth to get her to bring in some food or breastfeed them.

So when your dog licks you on your face, it also wants to tell you that it wants food or your skin has some leftover flavors from the last meal you ate!

What Does Dog Mouthing Mean?


Dog mouthing is when your dog puts his teeth and mouth on your skin effortlessly or using small pressure from its jaw. Your dogs will exhibit two types of mouthing.

One is play biting or play mouthing, in which it mouths your hand when it is excited to play or greets you, accompanied by jumping and tail wagging.

The groom mouthing is the other one, where they use their incisors to nibble on your hand or their own toys. When a dog does this to you, it means that it is devoted to you and wants to show its fondness or love.

It is part of their natural instinct to explore their surroundings and the humans they interact with. It is not an aggressive behavior nor something that resembles a dog bite.

However, if your dog feels that you don’t reciprocate or ignore its mouthing, it could lead to a hurtful bite. That is why bite inhibition should be taught to your dogs, so they won’t develop bad biting behavior.

Is Dog Mouthing A Sign Of Affection?

Dog mouthing is definitely a sign of affection from your furry best friends. When your dog is mouthing, especially playful mouthing, you can see that it is relaxed and gentle. You can also tell that mouthing does not display aggression or won’t show any tension on your dog’s face and body.

Some dogs who cannot control their bite intensity can irritate their dog owners. They are likely to be trained not to repeat their behavior. Mouthing is very natural in a dog’s world, but if you feel that you cannot tolerate its way of affection, you can teach your dog what habits are acceptable and not.

Why Does My Dog Gently Mouth My Hand?

When your dog gently mouths your hand, it is exploring its surroundings and learning to communicate with its owner.

Perhaps you just got a new puppy or maybe your adult dog has become affectionate lately-know that this gesture is normal and from to time, your dog craves your undivided attention.

You may feel their teeth on your hand, but as long as it doesn’t hurt or it is not displaying any form of aggression, it is only exercising its instinctual habits to understand certain things about their surroundings.

Since dogs only use their mouths to learn social cues and comprehend human language, gentle mouthing is a simple way of showing their liking and affection to you.

Why Does My Dog Open His Mouth When I Pet Him?


When your dog opens his mouth when you pet it, it signifies a strong bond between the two of you. Your dog trusts you enough, so it displays this behavior, called mouthing. Your dog has several ways of showing its affection and this is one to make you feel its appreciation!

If your dog loves petting, it will open its mouth and show other body movements, like pulling your hand with its paws or putting its head and body under your hand.

You will also notice that they open their mouths when they are engaged or enjoys an activity. Usually, when it wants to solicit and seek affection, it nuzzles your hand and gives you licks. Each time you pet your dog, it relieves them of any anxiety, and opening their mouth is a good way of destressing.

Are Dogs Aggressive By Nature?

Some people think that dogs are aggressive by nature but basically, aggression in dogs is often a result of operant behavior.

Another reason is some breeds are intentionally bred to become aggressive.

There are certain factors that can influence dog aggression and most of them are beyond their control.  These factors include genetics, training, early socialization, diet, lifestyle, age, etc. The way a dog is raised from the beginning, as well as the environment in which it grows up, all contribute to its aggressiveness.

Dog parents sometimes wonder why a dog that is trained to become friendly and submissive suddenly becomes aggressive. You may think it is their genetic predisposition to become hostile but apparently, there are other determinants that cause your dog’s aggression. Some of which are dominance, possessiveness, illness, fear or trauma, and stress. Resolving this frightening problem can be hard. The very first step to take is to figure out the contributing factors to manage and resolve the behavior.

Why Is My Little Dog So Aggressive?


There are several reasons why your little dog is aggressive.

Small Dog Syndrome
The most common of all is because of its size. Being small makes them susceptible to fear, so being aggressive becomes their way of self-defense. As a result, they develop behaviors that can assist them in overcoming whatever is causing them to believe there is a threat due to being small. This is referred to as Small Dog Syndrome

Lack Of Attention
If your little dog is aggressive, it could also be the result of how you treat them. For example, denying your pet’s basic needs, such as food and shelter, or failing to show affection for them, causes it to become aggressive in order to communicate its frustrations and anxieties to its humans. Lack of training, such as physical and mental stimulation or socialization, can also lead to aggression.

It is important to figure out what’s causing your little dog’s aggression. Is it illness or pain? Could it be a fear of their surroundings? Is it trauma? You have to identify these factors so you can come up with a plan for how you can deal with your little dog’s aggressiveness. 

Why Are Small Dogs More Aggressive Than Big Dogs?

Small dogs are more aggressive than big dogs because humans treat them differently. In the dog’s world, small dogs do not see themselves as cute or toys. However, humans find small breeds as defenseless, obedient, charming, can be easily convinced but stubborn and immature. Unlike big dogs, humans see them as mature, easy to train and well-behaved.

Because of the small dog’s cuteness, some of their actions are misinterpreted by their owners. For example, if a small dog is barking at a larger dog, it is trying to show its dominance. The small dog does not understand that it cannot be the “pack leader” nor the large dog, but rather, it’s its owner who is! However, its owner does not recognize this as bad behavior, so he or she may not correct these aggressive tendencies in his/her pet. 

What Causes Small Dog Syndrome?


Small Dog Syndrome is caused by the overlooked and misunderstood perception of humans of a dog’s natural behavior. Over time, small dogs misbehave because they think they can control and rule over other pets and humans. Sometimes, the kind of affection and attention they receive encourages them to develop negative behaviors, such as the following:

  • Nipping/biting
  • Whining
  • Resisting leash
  • Growling and barking at other dogs/pets/people
  • Jumps on people
  • Begs for treats or food anytime they like
  • Not listening to commands and becoming disobedient
  • Goes to any part of the house like the bed or furniture anytime it wishes to

How Do You Stop Small Dog Aggression?

To stop small dog aggression, you need to understand the different types of aggression.

Possessive aggression where they guard their food, toys, and bed or personal space.

Fear aggression is when they react to what seems scary and fearful to them by biting, growling, barking, and showing teeth.

Defensive aggression is when it tries to attack because of its fear over something.

Social aggression is when the dog feels it is above someone in the household and shows aggression when the person crosses its boundary.

Predatory aggression is when you see your dog chasing a running or walking person, cars, or other pets.

4 Steps to Curb Small Dog Aggression

As soon as you figure out what type of aggression your small dog is showing, you can try the following to stop the bad behavior:

1. Stop your dog’s dominance by using a leash even when outdoors or putting it in a crate. Your dog should understand and respect your dominance and that it should obey you and be under your control.

2. Avoid a toxic environment by giving harsh punishment to your already aggressive dog. Instead, use a positive reinforcement where your dog will know it will be rewarded when it behaves properly and shows a good behavior. Also, allow them to explore their environment by giving them short walks or quick outdoor exercises. 

3. Train your dog using physical and mental stimulation activities. Give your dog some toys like puzzle or tug toy. These toys will help your dog  enhance their mental abilities, making them less fearful but make them confident and calm. You can try this dog parents’ top choice- Interactive Puzzle Game Dog Toy

Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Puppy Smart Blue Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy

4. If your dog’s aggression is becoming uncontrollable, you  need to bring it to a vet for proper treatment and training recommendations.

Do Dogs Instinctively Protect Their Owners?


Certainly, dogs instinctively protect their owners. Once their relationship with their masters is established, they have a clear understanding of who their family is. As a result, a dog will do everything it thinks is needed to protect their human owners.

The reason why dogs are known as “man’s best friend” is because of their love, loyalty and being safeguarding to their masters. This means that anyone who poses a threat to their own human family will face harsh consequences. How you protect them and treat them as a member of your family is the same way it will protect you from any harm.

Also Read:  10 Reasons Why Chihuahuas Are Very Protective To Their Owners

Conclusion: Why Do Chihuahuas Bite Ankles?

Do you get annoyed when your chihuahua bite your ankle?

Now that we have explained what this behavior is, you will know why do chihuahuas bite ankles and how to manage your chihuahua’s biting habits.

Not all biting is a sign of aggression. A gentle mouthing only indicates affection and appreciation from your little buddies. However, if your chihuahua gives you puncture wounds, you need to see a doctor for a bite evaluation. We hope you learned a lot about why do chihuahuas bite ankles!

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