Even though a Chihuahua is a very small dog, he still has the same instincts to protect as larger breeds.
A female Chihuahua will snap or bite to protect her puppies, this is completely normal behavior. A dam will bite your hand in a second if she feels you are a threat to her litter.
A dog may also display this behavior if he is protecting his territory, another normal canine instinct. It is done to protect what he considers his own personal space. This can be fixed by proper training (more ahead).
How to Stop a Chihuahua From Biting
Once a behavior like biting has been established, it will often continue until owners step in with clear, solid and consistent training.
One problem that often occurs is that dealing with a Chihuahua that bites and nips can be so exasperating that owners fall into the mistake of yelling or slapping the dog. This rarely works and in most cases will only make things worse.
If a dog is yelled at or intimidated, this may stop him from nipping temporarily as he retreats in fear but rarely resolves the core problem. Yelling or hitting will be detrimental to what can be a wonderful friendship and rewarding relationship.
Time and repetition are the key to stopping any dog from nipping or biting. When beginning this training, it will be importation for all member of the household to be on the same page. If one owner tries to train a Chihuahua to stop biting, but that dog can simply jog over to another human who pats and gives attention, this will rarely succeed.
So, the first element will be for everyone - including children - to understand the goals and what will be needed.
Once everyone is on board, there are the rules:
Any time that the Chihuahua bites, there should be an immediate reaction of being shocked - even if this must be faked. This is done simultaneously with one loud and firm 'No!".
Immediately change positions. The goal will be to position yourself into one of authority. For example, if you were sitting on the floor with your puppy, stand up. If you were both on the sofa, place him on the floor and sit back down or rise up.
All humans are to immediately ignore the puppy. Some owners shy from this and wonder if non-action can truly work to stop nipping. It must be understood that to a dog, the family represents his 'pack'. In the canine world, to be ignored by the pack is akin to a serious and grave event.
When done the right way, ignoring a dog sends a stern message of temporary banishment. And that banishment is only rescinded when acceptable behavior is displayed.
Ignoring must be done in the whole sense of the word. With zero talking and no interaction at all, the dog must be ignored as if he is invisible. Any yipping or attention seeking behavior should be absolutely disregarded.
It can take a puppy
anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes to even notice that he is being overlooked. He may retreat to play with his toys or leave to get a drink of water. When he does indeed notice, he will begin to act uncomfortable and uneasy. He may lie down and remain quiet, looking at his humans or he may begin to bark in an effort to be noticed. At this point, allow a full 10 minutes to pass.
During a moment of calm, the owner can then begin to speak a bit but withhold physical contact. With good behavior, after another few minutes, return to the exact position that you were in when the bite occurred.
For example, if you were both on the floor playing, return to the floor with your Chi. If you were both sitting on the couch, gently pick him up and return to sit with him.
If he does not nip at you, immediately give praise. If he continues to behave well, a treat can be given. The key to this, is that if the Chihuahua bites once again, the process goes back to the beginning: Feigned shock, a loud "No!' and the isolation from the pack.
Done religiously and without wavering, this type of training can be successful within just a week or so.