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Aggression with Dogs

Chihuahua Aggression toward Other Dogs

Overview

Having such a small pet, an owner of a Chihuahua might be a little surprised when their little dog shows aggression toward other dogs. Since each dog has their own personality, this behavior does happen even with this little toy breed.

Aggression, such as barking, nipping, biting and even preparing for a full on physical fight with another dog is a sign of territorial protection. A Chihuahua with this behavior can be trained to tolerate other dogs and at best, become friends with them.  

When a Chihuahua shows aggression toward another dog, a cat or a person, socialization training is needed. The dog is outwardly expressing fear that what they consider their territory is being taken over or they may feel threatened by the presence of the other animal or person. Because a Chihuahua is so small, instinct will take over and he may use what he has: his teeth. The teeth may be bared along with a growl or the Chi may actually attempt to bite. 

How to Socialize Your Chihuahua With Other Dogs

Socialization must be done in small steps. You cannot expect a 4 pound Chihuahua to know how to react to a 70 pound German Shepard. This method works best if you have a friend, family member, neighbor or other who has a dog that is already well behaved and socialized with other dogs.

Set up a meeting in a neutral area so that your Chihuahua does not feel territorial and is not encroaching upon another dog's territory. The space between your yard and a neighbor's or a small area of a quiet park will work best.

Prepare ahead of time, you want your Chihuahua to feel as comfortable as possible. Make sure your dog is not hungry and does not have any bathroom needs. Do not rev your Chi up by playing a lot or over exercising him or her. Put a harness on him or her (NOT a collar, for this breed, a collar will put too much pressure on the neck and could lead to collapsed trachea- a health issue common with toy breeds), them put a leash on your dog and hold on to it tightly.

When the other dog is introduced, keep all voices calm and peaceful. Your Chihuahua will pick up on the tone of your voice. Allow the dogs to smell each other and have time to figure out just who the other one is.

If your dog immediately barks, nips at or goes for the other dog in an aggressive way, immediately pull back on the leash. (Be sure you are using the harness, so force is safely displaced over the chest, shoulders and back). Give a strong and firm command of "No!". Keep your Chi at your side with the leash short and taut so that he or she may not leap or run.

If your Chihuahua continues to bark or jump up, give the command word of "Sit" or "Down". If he still continues, bring him into another room of the house or if outside, back up several steps.

During this time of distance, both owners should 100% complete ignore the aggressive dog. If the aggression seems to be riling up the other dog, it may be best to call of the session and try again another time. 

In many cases, after being completely ignored - while owners are chatting to each other in a friendly manner - the Chihuahua will calm down.  If so, in a happy and pleasant tone tell your Chihuahua that you are going to try again. Walk your Chi over to the dog and try again.

Whenever your dog is calm and behaving well with the other dog, give both of them a treat. Do not just give one dog a treat, as this may trigger a negative response in the dog that is being ignored.

If the dogs are getting along well, try to not get involved. They need time to interact and "speak dog" to each other. If owners keep stepping in to pat the dogs and act excited that they are getting along, this will excite the dogs and confuse them. What are they supposed to do? Play with each other or pay attention to their owners?

It is important that negative behavior be dealt with immediately. This should always be the same actions. Your Chihuahua must be pulled back from the dog. He must hear your strong and commanding "No!" and he must be ignored for several minutes.

It is just as important that good behavior be rewarded. Your actions should always be the same. Small treats can be given to the dogs at random intervals when they are getting along, your voice should be showing approval and happiness and when the dogs are done with their meeting you should shower your Chihuahua with praise for getting along with another dog.

As you do some introductions to other dogs in this control way, you may notice that your Chi takes to some, but not to others. While it would be ideal for our pets to get along with all other animals, this is expecting too much for a dog prone to aggression.  There are many reasons for a pair of canines to not want to interact, including a difference in age and gender.  Be pleased if your Chihuahua learns control with some and do not push or force interaction with others.

If your dog does appear to become tolerant of certain dogs, you can progress to arranging play dates.  Do keep an eye on both your Chihuahua and the other, for any signs of aggression. If they learn to get along, you can move these sessions into your home, to show that accepting the presence of another in the house is expected behavior as well. 
Bringing a Chihuahua into a Home With Dogs

This is a touchy situation. You will not know how your new Chihuahua will react to other dogs until you have them all together. If possible, it would be best to bring your current dog along to meet your potential new Chihuahua. This should be done several times. Take notice of how the dogs get along. If with training, you see that the dogs are ready to fight this is a big red warning sign that there will be trouble in the household if the two dogs are forced to live under one roof.

Intense socialization training may be done; however do keep in mind that having 2 dogs in 1 home that do not like each other from the beginning equals a long and exhausting journey for you to train them both.

If you are bringing a Chihuahua home and you already have another dog but your Chi seems to tolerate him or her, do take steps to ensure that neither dog feels threatened.

Each dog should have their own personal retreat. While everyone wants their dogs to be best friends, each dog should have their own dog bed, their own area to go to the bathroom and their own area to eat and drink. Picturing 2 dogs lapping up water together and then cuddling in a doggie bed is a cute idea; but the reality is that the dogs will feel that they need to protect their food and water and they will become frustrated if they do not each have their own spot to lay down in peace.
It should go without saying, but each dog must be given the same amount of attention. It is easy to forget and lavish attention on the new dog while believing the dog you had for years knows how much you love him.

Both dogs need the same amount of care, grooming, play time, hugs and kisses. This will keep jealousy at bay.

Note: Never leave your Chihuahua alone with another dog until you are 100% positive that your Chi is completely tolerable to the dog and there is no chance of sparked aggression.

When a dog has a history of aggression toward other animals, one cannot be sure of possible triggers that may provoke aggressive behavior. Once a Chi has proved himself to have tolerance many times and in many environments, the reigns may be loosened a bit.
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