Dear Dr. Diane, I have a behavior question about my 2-year-old chihuahua. He is a great dog but one of his drawbacks is that he nips and is aggressive towards bigger dogs. He is only 6 pounds, and he enjoys playing with dogs around his size or dogs that are puppies because they play but with bigger dogs he tends to bark frantically. When I bring him up to greet them, he wags his tail but nips at their faces. It is very embarrassing especially when people pull back their dog and walk away. I understand that he is smaller so he feels the need to show the other dog who is boss but I would really like some advice on how to help him accept other dogs without being aggressive. I am just starting clicker training to teach him how to come so if it would help to incorporate the clicker I am open to any suggestions! I also spray him with water and he doesn’t like that but when I do it he will stop the behavior but it doesn’t seem to make the behavior go away in the longrun.
It is very common for certain breeds of dogs to respond in precisely the way your Chihuahua does. I would simply keep him away from larger dogs or utilize a gentle leader when taking him out for walks. It is nature to behave this way. However, you can make an effort to reward/praise him if and when he responds favorably to a big dog.
If you haven’t already done so, take your dog to obedience training classes and consult with a dog behaviorist to determine if his behavior can be changed. Your instructor may be clicker trained and may be able to help you use this method to help you alter your dog’s behavior.
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