Controlling Aggressive Behavior in Your Chihuahua

Chihuahua’s are typically loving and always adorable. However, these cute tendencies do not guarantee that they won’t snap at you if they feel the need. Just like other breeds, Chi’s are prone to acting aggressively towards us and other animals. Whether it is anxiety, territorial behavior, pain, or just plain dominance, Chi’s need training in order to control their aggressive tendencies. First, you have to establish why your Chi is acting out, notice the signs and symptoms and then make a plan of action.

Reasons for Aggressive Behavior in Chi’s

As tiny as the Chihuahua breed is, they still think they are the alpha dog and leader of all pets. This reason alone can cause a Chi to act out. Chihuahua’s are also very territorial and will not back down from a fight. If you are another animal comes close to their yard, food or bed, they may lash out and defend their domain.

Another common reason that Chi’s can show aggressive behavior is that they are in pain. Chihuahua’s that are in pain can bite, nip and growl because they are anxious and restless from an injury or illness. It’s a good idea to have your Chi evaluated by a professional to check for underlying medical conditions.

Depending on your Chi’s personal situation, their aggression could come from neglect or abuse. This cause of aggressive is extremely hard for older dogs to grow out of, but it is possible with love, care and proper training.

Signs and Symptoms of Aggressive Behavior in Chihuahuas

  • Growling at you (their owner)
  • Baring teeth/lifting their upper lip
  • Uncontrolled, aggressive barking
  • Snapping and nipping
  • Charging/lunging
  • Certain sights and sounds (such as a doorbell) triggers aggressive behavior
  • Territorial aggression

Stopping Aggressive Behavior in its Tracks

To help stop your chi from aggressive behavior, you have to determine the reasoning for their actions. If your Chi is acting out due to their mindset of alpha dog, then you and your family must give your fur baby ground rules. It’s vital you teach your Chihuahua that it is you who is in charge. Once your Chi learns to respect you, the aggressive behavior should stop. You do not have to be harsh to your Chi in order for this establishment to be made. Simple acts such as deciding when and where your Chi eats and what furniture they are allowed to lay on will help establish dominance.

Enabling aggressive behavior can easily be done if you do not pay attention. We all know not to give your chi treats if they are growling and snapping. However, promoting your Chi’s behavior can be picking them up when they snarl at a stranger. This action puts your Chi eye-level with their opponent and makes them feel dominant. If you are in an enclosed room and your Chi begins to yap or snap, remove them from the room. These actions will teach your Chi that bad behavior is not accepted and they will lose privileges.

Socialize is still very important for your Chi. They should go for a short walk one-to-two times a day on a guided leash. Your Chihuahua should also engage in interactive games such as fetch and tug-o-war. Plus, rope toys are a great way for your Chi to let off a little steam! You chi needs to be exposed to other animals at an eye-level. They do not need to be held everywhere they go.

All Chihuahua’s should understand simple commands such as no, sit, stay and come. If your Chi is aggressive, they may not take or learn commands very well. A simple rule to abide by is that for any meal or snack, make your Chi obey the “sit” command before they get their food. If your fur baby looks at you with no regards to sitting, show them how to sit by placing the treat/food in front of their nose and guiding it down their back. If you cannot teach your Chi “sit” then take them to obedience training. Basic commands are essential to Chi’s and their aggressive behaviors.

Provide Leadership

The origin of most Chihuahua behavioral problems is the lack of proper and well-established leadership. As your fur baby’s owner, you have to show your leadership. It’s hard to not treat your tiny Chi like a baby, but by treating them like babies encourages bad behavior.

Aggressive behavior is one of the most common problems in dogs, especially Chihuahua’s. A Chihuahua’s aggression usually stimulates from frustration and dominance. There are several different ways Chi’s can show aggressive behavior problems. It’s rare for a Chi to show extreme aggression such as biting. Any of the above symptoms you notice in your Chi, their behavioral issues needs to be addressed with strict training.

Your Chihuahua’s behavior depends on their personality and well as the type of training you provide them. It’s vital to your Chi’s health that they are taught how to handle the world around them. Socialization is a great way to get them used to noises, people and animals. Keeping your Chi well-trained will help their loving and cute personality’s afloat rather than exhibiting aggressive behavior.


Aggressive behavior can be frightening and worrying but the good news is, in most cases, it can be fixed. Start by trying to identify the reason for your Ch’s aggression, and look for the signs of aggression as described above. Make sure your Chihuahua knows that you are the leader of the pack and follow our guidelines for stopping behavior in it’s tracks.

Don’t be scared to reach out for help. Reach out to other Chihuahua parents and ask about their experiences. We have thousands of experienced Chihuahua parents in our Facebook group (

Speak to your veterinarian and/or look for a dog behavioral specialist in your area. If that sounds expensive then try an online dog training course first. For example, professional CPDT-KA certified dog trainer, Adrienne Farricelli, has a course designed to  eliminate bad behaviors in dogs and train well behaved, obedient, loving pets. To check out her course click here.

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