Chihuahuas are notorious for being one of the most aggressive dogs out there. While many individuals are afraid of bigger dogs like Pitbulls, it has actually been proven that chihuahuas show more aggression than them! Why are chihuahuas so aggressive and what can we do to help them to live happy, stress-free lives?
Why are Chihuahuas Aggressive?
There are many different reasons why a chihuahua might show aggression, from past trauma to health issues. Some of the most common reasons chihuahuas are so aggressive are:
Chihuahuas are prone to health issues like obesity, bladder, and kidney issues, hypoglycemia, tooth, and gum disease, luxating patella, tracheal collapse, spinal injuries, and much more.
When our little friends are in pain, they don’t know how else to communicate that to us and use aggression to show us that they aren’t doing well.
If your chihuahua has recently started acting aggressive out of nowhere or if you’ve had a dog for a while that became aggressive for no obvious reason, it may be time to go to the vet for a checkup.
Chihuahuas are small dogs and because of that, they are prone to trauma that may not be completely obvious to you. When we think of traumatic events in relation to dogs, we instinctively think of abusive past owners.
While this could be the case if your dog is a rescue, it isn’t always true. Smaller dogs are very prone to accidents like being stepped on, being dropped, etc. While something like this may not seem like a big deal to you at the time, it can be a traumatic experience for your chihuahua.
Trauma creates fear, which manifests as aggression. If your dog has been through a traumatic experience and is aggressive as a result, training is the only way to help them move past it. We will cover this more in depth later on in this article.
Anxiety in small dogs runs rampant as they live in a world where everything is much bigger than them.
Dogs like chihuahuas grow very attached to their owners and see everyone else as unknown and scary. Loud noises, new people, new places, all of these things can cause a lot of anxiety within chihuahuas.
They can also have severe separation anxiety, especially if your dog has grown used to you being around and suddenly, you’re not around as much.
Lack of Socialization
If you had a child and you kept that child in its room until it was 15 and then suddenly started taking it out to see the world, that child would have severe anxiety and have no idea how to socialize with anyone.
This is because they have been neglected and secluded. Dogs are the same way. If your dog stays at home all the time and has little to no interactions with other people or animals, the few interactions that it does have are not going to be pleasant because they’re all based on fear.
Dogs and people both fear the unknown, we both like things to be predictable so that we know what is coming. This makes reacting much easier for us.
If your chihuahua has not been socialized properly, it will become aggressive because it is afraid. That doesn’t mean that it hates people and other animals. It just means that it has not been exposed to them enough to see them as anything other than a scary unknown thing.
Lack of Training and Boundaries
If your chihuahua does not know who is in charge, they will become the one in charge. These little dogs have bold personalities, and they will become the king or queen of the house if given the chance.
A lot of people get smaller dogs because they assume that they’re less work and training, but then complain because they bark nonstop every time someone comes over.
Chihuahuas need just as much training as any other dog breed, big or small. They need clear boundaries, and they need to be taught mutual respect.
How to Stop Aggressive Behavior in Chihuahuas
Chihuahuas with aggression issues can be exhausting and embarrassing. You feel like you’ve done everything possible but they’re still barking their little heads off and showing teeth every time, someone walks in the door. It’s frustrating, but it’s not hopeless!
There are many ways to help your little friend work through their behavior issues.
Learn their Body Language
One of the first things that you need to do to help your chihuahua through aggression is to learn when they’re feeling uncomfortable.
Sometimes, we don’t realize that our dogs are feeling anxious or afraid until they have their teeth in something. This is not what you want.
Look for your dog’s body language to determine how your chihuahua is feeling. Common signs of aggression or fear in dogs include:
This is often one of the very first signs you’ll see that will show you that something just isn’t right. If your dog is standing frozen, the odds are that they are not happy, and they might be waiting for their opportunity to snap.
At this point, you need to remove yourself and whatever their trigger is from their vicinity to prevent an accident.
Low pitch growl
Dogs growl to warn us. Your chihuahua growling is them telling you, “I am uncomfortable, I want you to get away from me.” This is not the time to continue to expose them to their trigger, this is the time to realize that they are overstimulated, and they need a break.
This is not a friendly smile! If your dog is showing teeth, it is telling you that it is extremely upset and it wants to be left alone.
Dogs typically show teeth after you’ve ignored many other signals that they’ve tried to give you, so this is one of the last ditch efforts before lashing out. Give them space and remove whatever is upsetting them.
Train Chihuahua Not to Be Aggessive
So, you’ve learned their body language and you know when to remove their triggers, but how do you help them to work through their fear without becoming aggressive? This will take time, patience, and training.
It’s important to remember that dogs aren’t perfect and that the longer your dog has been showing aggression, the longer it’s going to take to train the aggression out of them.
There still may be days where they backslide, but this is okay! The most important thing to remember is that your chihuahua is being aggressive because they are afraid or in pain.
They are not showing aggression because they are just a mean dog. They’re afraid or they’re hurting, and they need you to show them that it’s okay!
If you’re ready to start training your dog, look into the following:
Working with a trainer
Aggressive dogs can be difficult to train, so it’s best to consult an expert until you get into a good routine. Be sure to research trainers that have experience working with aggressive dogs, as many trainers simply work on obedience training, and you need more than that!
Getting your chihuahua on a schedule
Consistency is one of the best things you can do for a dog that is working through anxiety. When they know what to expect, fear diminishes.
If you want to work at the park every day, work at the park every day. If you want your dog to sit and stay before they eat their food, make them do this every single day.
Showing your dog what to expect and when to expect it helps them to predict what’s coming next, which leads to lessened anxiety.
Listen to podcasts and watch YouTube videos
There are so many free resources out there when it comes to training aggressive dogs, utilize them! Podcasts and YouTube videos are great ways to access information readily. Just make sure you’re taking advice from professionals!
Patience is key when it comes to training a chihuahua, or any dog. This may take you doing some work on yourself first, especially if you’re already burnt out.
Take a few minutes before and after training sessions to meditate and get into a good headspace. If you find yourself getting frustrated, step away and breathe instead of taking it out on your dog.
Remember that they want to work through this as much as you want them to work through it. They’re just scared, and they need you to be the leader. Be that leader for them!
Incorporate positive reinforcement
Yelling and punishments do nothing but increase anxiety. The best way to train an aggressive chihuahua is through positive reinforcement. This means rewarding good behaviors!
Can Aggressive Chihuahuas be Trained?
Yes! With a lot of patience and hard work, even the most aggressive chihuahua can work through their fear and overcome aggression. All you have to do is identify what is causing their aggression and get them on a good training regimen while maintaining calm.
Do you have any tips for training aggressive dogs? Let us know below! Be sure to share this article with anyone that you think might benefit from these tips. And remember, your dog is not a bad dog. It’s just scared and when it is scared, it needs you more than ever!