The chihuahua family is generally associated with an instinctual characteristic of biting as a means of defense strategy. Their specialized canine teeth are there for killing their prey for food and defending themselves from predators. They have inherited these wild characteristics even though they have been domesticated. A chihuahua’s bite can be a danger to humans. Therefore there is a need on how to train a chihuahua not to bite. The training involves understanding the reasons that trigger them to bite.
Dangers of chihuahua Bites
Many people may ignore the fact that chihuahuas may cause immense dangers to their family and friends. Despite the fact that chihuahuas are nice all the time, their bite may cause extreme dangers compared to larger dogs. The most dangerous instance is when the chihuahua is not vaccinated against possible diseases like rabies. Because These diseases can be transmitted to humans. Unsterilized open wounds caused by chihuahua bites are at risk of getting germs and fungal or bacterial infections that will worsen the situation. In addition, the owners of chihuahuas may have some troubles with the law and some obligations to pay bills and fines to their dog’s victim.
Why chihuahua Bite?
Even the friendliest dogs exhibit biting behavior when they face extreme situations. Chihuahua owners must familiarize themselves with the trigger factors that may make their pets to be aggressive and dangerous.
1. Pain-Caused Aggression
Chihuahuas do react to danger by being aggressive when inflicted with the pain they do react by lashing out and biting the person who is nearest. The chihuahua does not lash at the person who inflicted the pain but just anyone around as a way of seeking comfort from their painful experience. The painful experience is the result of an injury or a medical condition and physical pain inflictions like beating.
There are a lot of health conditions that can affect this breed like patellar luxation. So when a chihuahua is suffering from one of those health issues he may react by showing aggressive behavior, especially when someone touches the dog in the area where the pain is located. For this reason, all the family members must hold the dog carefully when he suffers from a health issue or an injury.
Teething is painful to experience in dogs. The teething period is normally 5 weeks of age. Whereby the teeth start to grow to help them transition from soft to harder foods. As a way of seeking comfort in this painful experience, the Dog normally bites on anything they find. The dog will bite on any material around like shoes, mats, and utensils. And worse they may bite on babies or owners’ feet.
The puppy won’t stop biting until he has all 28 baby teeth. However, because of his young age and weak jaw, the puppy won’t bring any damage. Even so, you should teach him that biting is intolerable.
Here are some tips to help you control your dog’s biting during the teething period:
- Try to teach your puppy bite inhibition
- Give him some frozen food such as chicken or beef broth
- Provide proper toys dedicated to puppies who are in a teething stage like kong toys.
3. Reaction to Past Neglect
Have you ever been neglected by your parents? The situation triggers mixed emotions of anxiety, fear, and hate. The same happens to a neglected dog. The neglect and abuse from the past will trigger them to bite as a means of defense.
When you adopt an adult chihuahua from a shelter, try to have a full idea about his past, to expect and correct any unwanted behavior.
Dealing with a fearful or shy chihuahua is not easy, a dog who experienced negative experiences such as social isolation, verbal punishment, etc will take a very long time to trust humans again. However, it depends on the dog’s character because there are some chihuahuas who will recover quickly, and some who will keep their negative emotions for a long time. Patience, love, and affection are required in order to help your dog overcome these emotional scars.
Because of their small size, chihuahuas tend to protect themselves to avoid pain. So when a chihuahua displays aggressive behavior it doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog is suffering from something.
Some diseases may trigger aggressiveness in chihuahuas such as hypothyroidism and Lyme disease. When there is not enough production of the Thyroid hormones, a dog may display aggressive behavior.
Lyme disease is a disease responsible for aggressive behavior in chihuahuas. The main cause of this behavior is the bite of an infected tick. There are some symptoms of this disease such as swollen joints, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, etc.
In order to verify if your dog suffers from Hypothyroidism, a simple blood test can reveal if the dog is suffering from this disease. The vet may prescribe Thyroid hormone supplements such as Levothyroxine to treat this disease.
Concerning Lyme disease, the most effective way to prevent this disease from occurring in the traditional tick prevention methods. However, there is also a vaccine available for this disease.
Way of Self-Protection
The chihuahua family is territorial in nature, they live defending their boundaries. And they will thus react to anything that seems to violate their territories. For instance, if one tries to temper their sleeping or feeding zones, the chihuahua will react aggressively by biting the intruder. Holding the dog in a suggestively harmful position, for example, grasping their necks, triggers an instinct of danger to them and thus reacts aggressively.
To stop a chihuahua from biting caused by territorial aggression, teach him that you are the leader of the household and he can trust you. In the case of a stranger show the dog that is ok using the tone of your voice and non-verbal cues.
YOU CAN ALSO CHECK: Chihuahua Territorial Marking
Female chihuahuas could be aggressive after 2-3 weeks after delivery. This unwanted behavior is the result of changes in the body hormones of the dog. As there is an increase in the production of oxytocin and prolactin and a decrease in the production of progesterone.
The oxytocin is called also the “love hormone”, emitted by the hypothalamus, a brain part responsible for nurturing, attachment, and maternal bonding. This hormone also encourages contractions during labor, in order to help the fetus to move easily through the birth canal.
When a chihuahua female is about to give birth, there is a decrease in the production of progesterone hormone. Which results in an increase in the production of prolactin hormone. This latter has so many roles in the body of a female dog, such as stimulation of milk production, nesting, and maternal instinct. Some experts believe also that prolactin is responsible for some of the behaviors of a chihuahua female dog during pseudopregnancy. These powerful chemical alterations occurring throughout her body can make a chihuahua female more aggressive during pregnancy.
During the pregnancy or shortly after the delivery, do not try to correct the dog’s aggressive behavior, instead, you have to stay away from your dog until her hormones go back to normal. If you want to check the puppies wait until she moves for food, water, or bathroom. Don’t worry her aggressive behavior will vanish after 3 to weeks.
YOU CAN ALSO READ: Chihuahua Pregnancy
Because of their size chihuahuas are always afraid of other people and animals. A lot of chihuahuas suffer from what we call “little dog syndrome”. It is normal for a chihuahua to become fearful of unfamiliar people and situations.
As a chihuahua owner, you should understand your chihuahua’s behavior and temperament very well. So if your chihuahua is not familiar with strangers, don’t let them touch or pet her as it is uncommon for people to stop and pet dogs in the streets.
Socialization is the solution to stop your chihuahua from biting strangers.
How To Train a chihuahua not to bite
Before starting any training you have to reveal the real reason behind this behavior. However, the following tips may help you reduce many instances of biting.
Don’t Punish your chihuahua for Growling
A lot of chihuahua owners punish their chihuahuas for growling. This is a wrong idea because growling is considered a key warning sign that comes before biting. When a chihuahua learns that growling is not accepted, she may bite directly when she is forced to. You should put in mind that growling is a sign you can use to prevent biting from your dog.
In fact, some chihuahuas can’t bear children, so when a chihuahua starts growling in front of a kid, you can ask the kid to back away from the dog to avoid damage caused by the dog’s biting.
Growling is always associated with a situation. For this reason, you can use it to reveal the cause of the dog’s aggressive behavior. For instance, when a chihuahua growls when a child approaches him, maybe your dog needs the be socialized, or if your dog growls when you pick up him, perhaps he has a painful injury or a health issue, etc.
According to some experts, spaying or neutering may reduce chihuahuas’ aggression. Because neutering decreases testosterone levels, as a result, all the unwanted behaviors related to this hormone may vanish, such as territorial marking, running away, hyperactivity and aggression.
On the other side, spaying, a female chihuahua deletes her heat cycle, as a result, the behaviors connected with going into heat are eliminated too.
Long-ago people believe that neutering dogs before puberty is a must, to stop a dog from developing bad behaviors. However, according to American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA), neutering dogs after puberty is ok and functional too.
YOU CAN ALSO READ: chihuahua Spaying/Neutering
Teach Bite Inhibition
Bite inhibition is teaching your chihuahua how to control his bite’s force. In this case, your dog must learn that he must not bite your hand using the entire strength of his jaw. When your dog knows bite inhibition, you can give them treats or play with him with your hand without any fear of getting injured. The purpose here is not to stop your chihuahua from biting, but rather to teach him to hold his bite’s force.
Bite inhibition is a process that all puppies learn at a very young age while nursing and playing with their littermates. Following their instinct, they learn that they must control their bites when they play with their littermate and while nursing. Because biting the mother too harshly, means that the mom will walk away.
For the above reason, it is advisable to let a puppy with his mother at least for eight weeks. If a puppy is removed at a very young age there is a very high probability that he will not develop bite inhibition out of playing and nursing.
To teach your chihuahua bite inhibition, your should follow these steps:
- When you notice that your chihuahua bites you hard, pull your hand away and use a serious voice to tell your dog that his behavior is unacceptable.
- Repeat your training the same way and use the same voice in order to not confuse your dog, be consistent.
- Training your dog when he is a puppy is a must, however, you must continue teaching him even when he becomes an adult.
A chihuahua who is not well socialized may develop some aggressive behaviors. When the dog didn’t meet strangers or other pets when he is a puppy, he is likely to display fear-induced aggression, like biting a stranger’s hand.
According to some experts, unsocialized puppies are more likely to show aggression issues when they become adults.
A dog who is socialized when he is a puppy, especially between the age of 3 and 16 weeks will learn that everything is under control. People are not that bad, and other pets could be nice. While socializing your puppy you should keep a very close eye on him in order to guarantee him positive experiences with his environment, this way he will be more relaxed towards strangers and other pets.
Following these tips may help :
- Make certain that your dog has all the necessary vaccinations before introducing him to strangers and other pets
- Introduce your chihuahua gently to some of your friends
- Take him on the car ride
- Play fetch with him outdoors
- Take your dog to a pet store
- Go on walks with him
- Reward the dog after each experience by giving him a treat
Control Tips to Avoid chihuahua Bites
Training your chihuahua needs consistency in activities that you expose them to, some of the control tips include :
- A chihuahua that likes biting on items as a way of playing. Should have suitable toys to play with. The toys should be strong enough, training them this way will divert their biting habits.
- For the teething dog, ensure that you provide them with hard foods such as carrots or frozen foods that are hard to chew. Besides the nutritious value that they will acquire, the foods will distract them from biting.
- In the case where the chihuahua bite. held on his or her back neck firmly, this is a submissive position. Make sure you hold it firmly for some time then let go when it stops moving. The owner uses This trick alongside other training methods to instill discipline.
- The task of training the chihuahua to stop biting should be a repetitive action. All the members of the family should do it. This will ensure that the chihuahua has no refuge whenever it bites. The training reaction should shock the chihuahua.
- Another tip that has proved to work, is to ignore the chihuahua whenever it bites. Dogs like attention from their owners, therefore disengaging them will act as punishment. In most cases, you will find the dog retreating to a silent and harmless position whenever abandoned.
It is important to train our chihuahuas in good manners, by consistently training them. This will enable us to interact with them well and more importantly protect ourselves from the dangers of bites. Chihuahua training needs a lot of attention as the owner needs to watch its behaviors to predict possible control mechanisms. However, When you tried everything but nothing works as expected, you should ask the help of a professional for your dog’s behavior.
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