Why Do Chihuahuas Growl & Bite?

by Amy M. Armstrong, Demand Media Google
    A Chihuahua's tendency to bark at any strange noises makes him an excellent watch dog.

    A Chihuahua's tendency to bark at any strange noises makes him an excellent watch dog.

    This spunky little canine from south of the border has a well-established reputation as a feisty, yappy defender of his territory with little or no hesitation to bite as well in making his case. It's problematic when company comes by or you've got a headache and need some quiet.

    Poor Puppy Training

    While the importance of appropriate puppy training applies to all breeds, its role in raising a Chihuahua is quite different from a larger dog. As the Puppy Place notes, a Chihuahua is a little dog with a big attitude. A Chihuahua is a dichotomy -- wriggly and defiant with a short attention span, but also a fragile and sensitive critter, says the Pet Place. If not carefully guided, this type of cute puppy can easily become a spoiled brat.

    Small Dog Syndrome

    Because they are so small -- most Chihuahuas tip the scale well below 6 pounds -- we as humans tend to treat them differently than larger dogs. The Dog Breed Info Center points out that humans tend to tolerate inappropriate behaviors such as jumping, growling, excessive barking, begging and blatant disobedience of known commands in smaller dogs because it is "cute." In reality, it is the dog asserting his dominance and will over that of the human who should be controlling the relationship. It is like the canine version of small man syndrome -- someone feeling like they constantly have to defend their existence by claiming their place in their environs.

    Human Companion Mistakes

    Aside from being more tolerant of inappropriate behavior from the dog, human companions often cross the line in their relationship with the dog. Dog Breed Info Center tells us that many small dogs -- Chihuahuas included -- are often treated "like a baby" instead of a dog. Their status as lap dogs often earns them an undeserved level of protection from life's reality. We let them sleep in our beds -- often taking over the spot where our head should be on the pillow. When a smaller dog gets upset, human companions tend to cuddle the dog. For a human, a cuddle is a great comforter. For a dog, a cuddle signals weakness, according to the Dog Breed Info Center. As you -- the human -- are supposed to be the leader, the dog perceiving you as weak only brings on further instability for him.

    Growling and Biting

    Growling for a canine is akin to a snake's rattle -- it serves as a warning. In the case of dog, that growling can mean a variety of things, from being threatened by the presence of strangers, being concerned for the safety of his human companion or not feeling well and simply wanting to be left alone. Biting for dogs is a defense mechanism. Chihuahuas resort to biting -- particularly nipping at heels of other animals and humans -- because it is a tender spot they can reach.

    About the Author

    Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.

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