There are many reasons why a dog may bite. These can include fear, stress, trauma, poor training, and just being playful. When your Chihuahua is just a puppy this does not seem too serious as their teeth are only little. If you do not train this habit out of them when they are young it becomes a learned and accepted behavior.
Older dogs have larger and sharper teeth. Even in dogs as small as a Chihuahua, a bite can be painful and potentially dangerous. It is absolutely vital that you train your puppy to not bite for the safety of them, you, and anyone else they come into contact with.
There are many easy ways to socialize and train biting out of your puppy. We have rounded up the 12 best methods to use to make the training process easier. If your Chihuahua is older, or just more difficult to train, we recommend taking them to a qualified professional dog trainer. They will know many more techniques and are well versed in dealing with behaviorally challenged dogs.
Why does my Chihuahua bite?
Chihuahuas, especially as puppies, explore the world using their nose and mouth. They put all new items in their mouths to play with them and see what they are. This means that they could be biting as a way to explore their environment and not because they want to cause you pain.
Another common reason why Chihuahua puppies bite is because they are playing. They may not realize that biting someone hurts them, and see it as a friendly way to interact. Many puppies will bite one another during play, and will not understand yet that this does not translate to humans.
Many puppies will also bite as they are teething. This will not be too painful as their teeth will only be small. Do not reward this behavior and they will grow out of it as they get older. They bite during teething as they think chewing helps to soothe their gums.
Chihuahuas may also bite to exert their dominance over you. You might laugh because they are so small, but their tiny bodies house an enormous personality. It always seems to be the case that the smallest dogs have the biggest God complexes, and Chihuahuas are no exception.
They will want to feel as though they are in charge and the Alpha. You must demonstrate to them early on that this is not the case, or they will continue to act as though they call the shots.
Sometimes your Chihuahua will bite because they are scared. This is rare, and will not often occur without some prior warning. Dogs will often growl and bark at you as a warning before they go to bite. If you ignore all of these warnings, they may feel threatened and lunge at you.
Commonly, they will expose their teeth by pulling their lips back before they attempt to bite. You should have plenty of warning if they are biting out of aggression. You must pay attention to your dog and are aware of their state of mind.
If your Chihuahua has been trained well and doesn’t bite you this is excellent work on your behalf. If they suddenly begin to bite you out of nowhere, this could be a sign that something is wrong. Animals do not have many ways in which to communicate and may bite due to pain or distress.
If your dog’s character suddenly shifts, we strongly recommend taking them to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. It is commonly an early sign that they are suffering from an injury or illness.
What are the dangers of a dog bite?
There are many different reasons why a dog bite can be potentially dangerous to humans. The first, and most obvious, is that this could cause you to contract a bacterial infection.
The most common bacteria found in canine mouths include staphylococcus, capnocytophaga, and pasteurella. You can also contract tetanus from a dog bite. All of these can cause infections if you are bitten by a dog. The danger levels are elevated if you are very elderly, suffer from diabetes, or have a compromised immune system.
If the bite penetrates deeply into your body, there is a risk of you developing muscular or nerve damage. Even if the bite only appears to be puncture marks in the skin, a deep bite will cause serious issues. Deeply penetrating dog bites are also likely to leave a visible scar on your skin.
If the dog that bites you is not up to date on its vaccinations then there is a chance that you could contract rabies. This is uncommon as many dogs are fully vaccinated at all times due to responsible owners. That being said, if you are unsure of the dog’s vaccination history then you should seek emergency medical attention to ensure you do not have the rabies virus.
If you do, you will need to be administered a rabies shot to prevent death. This will be issued as a series of 4 shots over the course of a few weeks, followed by a shot of a rabies immune globulin.
What should you do if you get bitten by a Chihuahua?
If the bite pierces the skin, you may well feel a little shocked. The first step that you should take is to apply pressure to the wound. This will likely force a little blood out of the wound site, but this will help to carry bacteria from your dog’s mouth out of your body.
You should then wash it well using a mild soap and clean water. Once the wound is clean, grab a fresh cloth and hold it over the bite. Apply a gentle but firm pressure and elevate the wound above the level of your heart. This will help to staunch the bleeding and prevent extreme blood loss.
You should then apply a topical antibiotic lotion. This could be something like povidone iodine, which helps to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Around half of all dog bites will infect the human with a bacteria that could potentially be harmful, so do not skip this step.
If you choose to apply a bandage or dressing, ensure the area is completely dry and sterile. We recommend bandaging any bites that break the skin, to prevent external contaminants from entering the wound. You should change the dressings daily to further reduce the risk of infection.
Keep an eye on the bite for any changes that could signal an infection setting in. These include swelling, redness, and itching. Another clear sign of an infection is a build-up of pus surrounding the wound site. Signs of an infection can appear up to 14 days after the initial bite, and so it is vital to continue monitoring the wound for at least this length of time.
If you notice any signs of an infection, we strongly advise visiting your doctor as soon as possible. If there is an infection, you are likely to need some kind of antibiotics. These will be administered orally or intravenously, depending on the severity of the infection.
The doctor will often issue you a course of antibiotics lasting 1-2 weeks. It is absolutely vital that you finish the course of antibiotics even if you feel better before they run out. This will prevent the infection from coming back and settling in again.
How can you stop a Chihuahua from biting?
Some of the easiest and most effective methods to use to stop your Chihuahua from biting are listed below. It is important to teach them not to bite to prevent them from hurting you, your family, and those around them. Teach them to only bite on appropriate objects, such as their toys, bones, and food.
Make sure to use a lot of verbal praise and positive reinforcement when your puppy is behaving well. It is a good idea to practice hand-feeding them some treats, as this will teach them the level of pressure and force to use near human hands. It will also teach them some control over their jaws.
Method 1: Use verbal commands
When puppies play with their littermates they will inevitably be bitten. This is a normal part of young puppy play and socialization and is not to be concerned about. You will notice, however, that when a puppy is bitten they will make a kind of yelping squeal. This indicates to the biter that it is time to back away, and the biting will cease.
As an owner, you can imitate this squeal to stop your puppy from biting. This is a method known as bite inhibition and is well recommended by dog trainers. You can also use firm verbal commands such as “stop” or “no”. This is an effective method as the puppy believes you are hurt and will back away.
Your dog will look for some form of reassurance after this sound has been made, but hold off for a minute or so. We recommend turning away from them briefly to really hammer home the message.
Method 2: Do not use corporal punishment
Many people will still hit their dogs when they do something wrong. We do not recommend this at all.
Physical violence is never a good means to an end and will only hurt and scare your puppy. This could even lead to them biting more out of stress and confusion.
Method 3: Don’t make it a game
If your puppy nips you, do not start playing around with them. Pushing them away gently and playfully makes the biting seem like somewhat of a game, meaning your puppy will keep doing it.
Young dogs love playing with humans and will take all of the chances that they can get. We recommend firmly shutting the behavior down and refusing to interact as soon as your puppy begins to nip you.
Method 4: Grab some chew toys
When you first get your puppy they will not have big teeth and so being bitten is less of an issue. It is tempting to play with them using just your hands as there is no real pain. This leads to problems down the line when their adult teeth come in.
By using your hands as toys when the puppy is young, you are socializing them to believe that human hands are fair game. We recommend purchasing some chew toys and using these as playthings. This will teach your puppy that hands are off-limits and only certain things can be bitten.
Focusing their attention on a chew toy creates positive associations in their brains. Laying the foundation for these ideas early on means that you will have far fewer problems as your puppy grows into an adult dog.
Method 5: Teach them to allow your hands near their mouth
It is important that your Chihuahua becomes socialized to handle hands near their faces and mouths. This will be commonplace in their life and they must get used to it. You will need to take foreign items out of their mouths when they eat something they are not meant to. You will need to perform health checks on their gums and teeth, and they must not bite you.
There are many ways you can do this but the best is by using a small treat. Hold it between your fingers and show the puppy. Keeping hold of the treat, place it gently into their mouth, and then remove it. Repeat this a few times a day. Over time, your dog will become used to having your fingers in their mouth without feeling the need to bite you.
Method 6: Train them to not fight over food
Puppies are incredibly protective over their food, a learned behavior from when they were in their litter. If your Chihuahua growls or snaps at you when you move your food bowl this is something that must be addressed.
Place the food bowl in front of your puppy and then move it away. If they growl or bite, then say “no” firmly and keep hold of the bowl. If they do not react, then give them a lot of praise and a treat. Repeat this process until your puppy doesn’t react.
Method 7: Introduce gross tastes
This is a similar concept to nail polish designed to stop people from biting their nails. You will need to wear gloves to use this method. Spray a bitter spray designed for use with dogs (such as this) onto the glove.
When the dog bites your glove they will taste the spray. They will not like it and will quickly let go. Over time, they will begin to associate biting with that taste and will stop doing it.
Method 8: Exert your dominance
As we mentioned earlier, one of the reasons dogs bite is to exert their dominance over you and other animals. Another cause of biting is jealousy – like a small child throwing a tantrum. In both instances, showing your dog that you are the Alpha will fix the issue.
Being the alpha gives you a level of respect, as you have the role of leader of the pack. Lower pack members will not bite the alpha. To secure this position, be firm and assertive with your dog. Ensure you reward any good behavior too.
Method 9: Allow your Chihuahua to make friends
Dogs are naturally pack animals and require a level of socialization to lead healthy and fulfilled lives. They will also learn from the behavior of their friends. This will allow them to understand which behaviors are acceptable and which aren’t.
Hopefully, their friends will not bite anyone and this will help your puppy to understand that too. If nothing else, playing with their friends will tire your puppy out so they don’t have the energy to bite you.
Method 10: Teach your puppy to become used to loud noises
There are many points in your Chihuahua’s life where they will be exposed to loud noises, busy areas, and other intimidating experiences. These can cause your puppy to become scared and stressed. It is at times like these that dogs are most prone to biting.
By gently introducing your puppy to situations like these from a young age, they will not be as scared of them. This will mean that they are much less likely to lash out and bite when they are in new environments.
It is very important that you keep your puppy on a leash when you are exposing them to these new situations. You do not know how they will react out of fear. They may bite, or worse, run off and get lost. Do not let them off of the leash until you are confident that they are not going to panic.
Method 11: Supervise!
One of the best ways to prevent your Chihuahua from biting is to monitor and supervise their behavior. This is particularly important when young children are present, as they are not as capable of picking up on warning signs and behavioral cues from your dog.
If a dog bites a young child, there could potentially be very serious repercussions. In extreme cases, the parents may be able to make a case for euthanasia of your dog.
While Chihuahua bites are rarely serious, they can be traumatic for everyone involved. Keeping an eye on your dog and any children nearby should be sufficient to prevent anyone from getting bitten. Young children who are just learning to walk can easily be knocked over by an excitable dog which can be scary for them.
As well as this, happy and excited dogs tend to go straight for faces, which can scare young children, particularly if they are not used to being around dogs.
Method 12: Pinch their chin
This is not our favorite method as it makes the puppy uncomfortable. We only recommend doing this as a last resort with puppies that are biting persistently. When your puppy goes to bite you, make a loud squealing noise and slip your thumb into their mouth. Place it under their tongue and put your fingers underneath their chin. Squeeze gently for 10 seconds.
When should you seek help?
If you have tried all of the methods that we mentioned above, but have been unable to stop your Chihuahua from biting, it is time to seek professional help. Your first port of call should be a veterinarian. They will give your dog an overall health check to ensure the biting is not a result of health problems such as teething or an injury.
Teething in Chihuahuas can last for up to 8 months, so take this into consideration when trying to judge how much of an issue the biting is for your dog.
If they decide the biting is a purely behavioral issue then they will likely recommend you visit an animal behaviorist. There are many of these across the world and many that specialize in treating fear, aggression, and biting in Chihuahuas specifically.
If you are in the United States then we recommend visiting the Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists website where you will be able to find local professionals to help you and your pet. If you are in the United Kingdom, the RSPCA website is a useful place to begin your search.