chihuahua/dachsund mix showing aggression

Posted by Tamera-Sophy
Dec 1, 2007
I have a chihuahua/dachsund mix who is 7 months old. As she gets older, she is much more leary of people she does not know. The other day she snarled and snapped at a lady's face because she reached for her, because she wanted to hold her. I have heard the chihuahua can have these problems, but what do I do to get her to stop.

She has really taken a disliking to young children. She snarles and snaps at them often. They can't even come within a couple of feet of her.

It's hard because she's only about 5 to 6 pounds, and therefore most people think she is just a puppy. Then they think she is going to be really sweet and they all just reach for her. Well of course she doesn't like that and snarls and snaps at them.

Posted by MartyEd
Dec 2, 2007
Hi there Tammy,

Thank you for the email regarding 7 month old Chihuahua/Dachshund cross puppy. I guess the first place to start is whether your puppy has any physical health related problems. If you haven’t already talked to your Veterinarian about this particular aggression problem that only really seems apparent upon picking her up and putting her down, I think it would be a good idea to on the next visit their since this may help focus upon a particular aspect of her health. There are several disorders that can affect young puppies that lead to a general soreness – including mainly bone related problems. Your Veterinarian will be able give you more information on these and rule in/rule out a potential problem like this. Having ruled out a health related problem, the next step is to progress with training your Chihuahua puppy to accept that being man-handled is to be part of her life that he must put up with, WITHOUT growling or getting aggressive about it.

From the detail of your email, it sounds as though your young dog is otherwise happy, healthy and relatively well behaved in all other areas. Because of the slightly aggressive nature he has been showing to you recently with regards to being picked up I would urge you to and any other family members, to read the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". This book will give you a good understanding of the hierarchical nature and behavior of your dog. Follow the tips in this book as much as possible and you should get good results within a couple of weeks.

If you treat your dog as an equal it may well see it as an opportunity to challenge your position. For example, be aware that allowing your dog onto the couch, bed, etc will give it the leeway that it needs to be able to challenge your position as the alpha dog in the relationship. This behavior change may occur quite gradually, without you even noticing it, until your dog starts showing aggressive tendencies when you try to move it!

Adolescent Dog
Most dogs go through an adolescent period when they reach 6 months old and this usually lasts until they are 14 months of age. However, the exact age of adolescence does vary between breeds and individual dogs. Be aware that this adolescent period can be characterized by behavior changes in your dog. Further to this, leaving a dog unsexed can also lead to behavioral problems that would not have arisen should the dog have been de-sexed. For this reason you should consult with your Veterinarian about the possibility of getting your puppy neutered if this has not already been done.

You should reprimand your dog for unacceptable behavior, no matter what that behavior is. If you do not reprimand your dog’s poor behavior then it will feel that it has the right to behave that way and it will take much longer to correct the behavior. What I recommend you do, is the next time your dog acts poorly and exhibits dominant tendencies (growling) if it is inside, throw a heavy blanket over your dog and be sure to reprimand it. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on the dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

Please enforce the following techniques to reinforce your status as alpha dog

If you come across your dog while he is sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making her move so that you can pass by.
Generally I do not recommend people give their dogs bones as this encourages the aggression, because in the wild the alpha dog would be the only one to have the privilege of chewing the bones. The reason your dog growls at you when you approach it with a bone is because it believes that it has the right to the bone and is trying to discipline you for challenging your dog for its dominant role.
Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first. At mealtimes make sure that your dog or dogs eat after all of the humans have.
Do not feed your dog tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.
Do not greet your dog straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.
When your dog wants to go outside for a walk, make it sit and wait until you are ready to go.
When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.
It is vitally important that your dog has good all-round obedience skills. Regular training sessions are key to improving your dog's obedience responses and keeping it used to answering your commands. Concentrate on the sit and stay, down and stay, heel and wait commands.
Do not inadvertently reinforce poor behavior from your dog. You must be consistent in your attitude to your dog. For example, if your dog is allowed to jump on you when you are playing with it but is not allowed to jump up at any other time then how is it meant to know the difference?

With enforcing the above techniques, you may well notice a distinct difference in your dog’s behavior relatively quickly. I believe this is probably the crux of this particular problem if a health problem has definitely been ruled out by your Veterinarian. Your dog may be acting the way it is because of an event in the past in which you either annoyed or hurt the dog. Theoretically if you were alpha dog, this event shouldn’t have caused your dog to act this way, but your dog may well currently think he is alpha dog. If you have in fact done something in the past for your dog not to trust you in picking her up you need to gain her trust back. This can be done by being very gentle and just touching and patting her for starters over the period of a few weeks. This is backed up with the use of food rewards for good behavior and no growling or biting. If you believe he could hurt you via biting during this sort of training, you should invest in a muzzle from your local pet store. Continue to pet her and then, after a couple of weeks of continuing this, simply lift her front end up keep her hind legs on the ground with the rewarding for good behavior as before. After a further two weeks of this, try slowly and gently picking her up and onto your knee if you are sitting on a sofa or couch. Be sure to reward all good behavior with vocal encouragement and food rewards as well as reprimanding bad behaviors.

Best of luck with your puppy. I believe you will be able to relatively quickly solve this problem, providing it isn’t a health related problem. Consult with your Veterinarian for further advice on anything that has been mentioned in this email you are unsure about – particularly the health related issues. As you say, it isn’t normal for Chihuahua’s or Chihuahua crosses to have this much attitude! For these reasons, I would also definitely recommend a quick consultation with your local Veterinarian for a check up and advice.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

Kind Regards,

Mark Edwards
Kingdom of Pets Team