Chihuahuas are known for their big personalities and spunky attitudes, so yours may not always know his limits. Play biting is just one way that a Chihuahua can demonstrate this lack of understanding, so if your little buddy nips at your fingers, you need to teach him a lesson.
Play non-aggressive games with your dog. Play biting is a natural response when you play games like tug-of-war, so remove the temptation by not engaging in those games. This doesn't mean that you can't play with your pooch, though. Just focus on games that keep hands and mouths apart, like fetch.
Discipline your Chihuahua every time he bites, without exception. Dogs need consistency to learn, so if you only discipline sometimes, it won't work. If he play bites, withdraw your hand and give him a sudden, stern "no." The combination of removing your hand and disciplining him teaches him that play bites get a negative reaction.
Teach your dog commands, even ones that are not related to biting. For example, teach him commands like "sit," "roll over" and "drop it." These instill a sense of submission in your dog, and show him that following your lead yields rewards. All of this is helpful when it comes to stopping the play biting habit.
Speak sternly but calmly. Chihuahuas are small, especially compared to humans, so if you or someone else flips out on your Chihuahua by yelling excessively or using intimidation, he can take a long time to recover. He could even revert to defensiveness, turning play biting into defensive biting. While your disciplining tone should always be serious and commanding, you should never outright yell at your dog.
Play with your dog regularly. Unfortunately, a dog that feels he can't get your attention may turn to gentle biting or play bites, because negative attention can be better than none at all. Get your little guy plenty of exercise by walking him and playing games, and always lavish him with praise for good behavior. Positive reinforcement is as important to learning as discipline.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.