Chihuahuas look like sweet and docile little dogs, but under that innocent face lies a potentially aggressive and challenging pet.
If you don’t understand the temperament of the typical Chihuahua, you might not realize what’s going on with all their attitude.
So why are chihuahuas so mean and aggressive?
Why are Chihuahuas so angry?
The answer isn’t as complicated as you may think.
Origins of Chihuahua Aggression
Chihuahuas are friendly dogs, but some situations can trigger aggression.
Since they are such small dogs, they often have physical issues that cause aggressive behavior, but many aggressive tendencies come from external circumstances, too.
If your chihuahua is in pain, it can be aggressive toward you.
They will show aggression toward a person or another dog if they come too close.
The aggression becomes a protective behavior to prevent the person from picking them up or the other animal from touching them.
Chihuahuas also learn to be aggressive, usually because their owners let them do things they wouldn’t let larger breeds do.
For example, an owner might let their Chihuahua jump on their furniture, but the day they scold the dog for doing it, the Chihuahua might respond with aggression.
Consider the behaviors you might allow if you had a Newfoundland instead of a Chihuahua.
Would you let the 150-pound dog jump on your furniture?
Dogs – no matter the size – need to have consistent rules, just like they would if they were in a pack.
If you don’t give dogs, even little dogs, consistent rules, they get confused and respond with aggression.
Just like people, animals have some temperaments from birth.
If you don’t know why your Chihuahua is aggressive, it could be a natural tendency.
Some behaviors, like aggression, aren’t specific to any breeds.
Instead, it’s all about the individual dog and possibly a brain issue related to bad “wiring.”
In some situations, dogs that have been abused or experienced physical trauma can also be more aggressive than other dogs.
Aggression can also be a result of careless breeding.
If you can’t untrain the aggression, then it could be a brain-related issue.
If you’ve adopted a Chihuahua from a previous owner or a shelter, your dog might have aggressive tendencies from interactions with its previous owners.
You may have adopted a dog that was mistreated by previous owners.
For example, your Chihuahua may have been mishandled by children, so your dog might act aggressively toward children now.
How Do You Stop Aggressive Behavior
Before you stop your Chihuahua from being aggressive, you have to figure out what is causing it in the first place.
Usually, Chihuahuas act aggressively for a reason, which is often related to an immediate circumstance, a physical ailment, or a resource.
Your dog might snap at someone who mishandles it.
Your dog might have a stomach ache (as Chihuahuas often do) and snap because it hurts.
Your Chihuahua might be protecting something of value – like a snack thanks to food aggression, a favorite toy, or a beloved person.
Immediate Response with Consistent Follow-Up
Fortunately, once you figure out the problem, you can train your dog to stop snapping – unless the aggression is hardwired into your Chihuahua’s brain.
As the owner, you are responsible for responding as the pack leader.
You should repeatedly respond consistently and safely.
Eventually, your Chihuahua will connect the response with the desired behavior.
Manage the Resource
If your dog is protecting resources, then you have to take away the toy, food, or person.
Your Chihuahua needs to understand that it must be nice to get nice things.
You can quickly train your Chihuahua to stop being so aggressive about resources with this technique:
- Find a toy that your dog likes but often ignores.
- Play with your dog and introduce the toy into your game.
- Then, direct your dog to drop it and offer your dog a reward.
- After giving the reward, take the toy and leave your dog for a few minutes.
- Then return the toy to your Chihuahua and repeat the process.
- If your dog gets aggressive, take the toy, leave the room and ignore your dog.
- After a few minutes, return and try again.
After a few weeks of this training technique, your dog should stop being aggressive about a favorite toy.
But, if it doesn’t work, then your dog might need professional training.
Use Positive Reinforcement
If your dog was traumatized by children, your dog needs positive interactions with children.
Your dog can learn that not all children are dangerous.
To help your dog get over its fear of children, you need a child or two and some treats.
This technique can remove the fear of children from any small dog.
- Ask your child to walk past your dog and leave treats on the floor.
- Then, the child leaves a path of treats to your Chihuahua’s dog bed.
- While waiting for the dog, the child sits under blankets near the dog bed, ignores the dog, and does a quiet activity.
- The goal for your Chihuahua is to eat the treats by the dog bed.
- If the dog does, then the next step is for the child to repeat the behavior but put treats on the child’s lap.
- Once the Chihuahua accepts treats from the child, the next step is for the child to directly feed and pet the dog.
- Eventually, your Chihuahua will connect the child to treats, comfortable blankets, and plenty of love.
If your Chihuahua snaps at you, you can use positive reinforcement to praise your dog for the good things it does.
To remove the bad behaviors, ignore them.
Since Chihuahuas love attention, ignoring them sends a powerful message.
See a Professional for Additional Help
Sometimes, owners feel helpless trying to untrain or retrain their aggressive dogs.
If this is the case, consider enrolling your dog in obedience school.
You could also take your dog to the vet to see if there is a physical issue that is causing aggression.
Some Chihuahuas are less aggressive if they get plenty of physical exercise, so take your dog for walks and play with it.