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Right, I'll start by describing the situation. The chihuahua in question does not belong to me, but to a friend's family. It is currently 6 months old, and it shows signs of aggression and anxiety (though I'm inclined to believe the aggression comes from fear rather than out of malice). He'll bark unstoppably at anything that comes near his territory, and is prone to snap at people if they attempt to handle him. He is 6 months old, and no, he has not been treated ill by his current family (this I will vouch for).

At a recent visit to the veterinary to ask for advice, they were simply told to go put the little blighter down, and I can partially understand that they are close to the point where they want to give up and go for this option. Thanks to my dad however, I have a soft spot for troublemakers and believe no dog is beyond redemption. Now, I am no expert. But I am a dog-owner, and I do have first-hand experience with "less than perfect" dogs, as most of our family dogs have been troubled individuals that had faced euthanasia if my aforementioned soft-hearted dad hadn't taken them in.

Seeing as this situation might head in the direction of euthanasia, I'm quite honestly thinking about offering to let the dog come to me for a few weeks so I can work on it. Yes, I am well aware that would not be "perfect". I am however not a complete stranger to the chihuahua, and he knows both me and my own dog (a Shiba Inu) well enough to relax around us. The pro here is that he seems to be less anxious with other dogs nearby, so having a dog he already trusts around might be good. The con is that my dog has a temper and tends to deal with young upstarts the "shiba-way", which can be very rough, so I'll have to keep an eye on them when they're together and crating of one at a time will likely happen.

Now, as you can see, this is not optimal, but it's a shot in the dark and while I'm not an expert trainer, I believe I can make enough progress with the chihuahua to save him from being put down. Giving his family a few weeks of respite might also allow them to gather the energy needed to deal with him.

But, what I am looking for here is advice and experiences with similar dogs. If anyone happen to have a particular way of training that their own dog chi responds well to, or happen to have been in a situation with a dog that happens to be a small bundle of fear, please let me know. Because anything you can contribute with might help me get him on the right path.

And just to repeat it. Yes, I know that taking him away from his home for a few weeks is not a brilliant idea. But with the vet's needle an inch from his neck, I believe that particular risk is overshadowed by the chance that I might have some progress with him. And again, his family have been good to him and they are not entirely inexperienced with dogs, so please understand that they have been brought to the breaking point here as many before them, and an overeager vet is not helping. So no flames are needed.
 

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Some (or possibly even most) of his problem is going to be genetic. Some is going to be due to a lack of proper socialization (if he was always anxious then he would have needed an insane amount of socialization). Some is due to the fact that he is reacting to the family's anticipation of bad behaviour. And some might be due to hormones (is he neutered?).

My suggestion would be to introduce him to things with your dog in tow if your dog is a friendly, outgoing dog who enjoys people and is not put off by new situations. Allow the chi a loose leash and insist that he is on the ground when people approach. Give a firm verbal "No!" if he starts doing so much as quivering a lip but reinforce positive behaviour (even avoidance at this stage is positive) with soft, gentle, speaking and calm petting. Though it will be very difficult, try your best not to anticipate bad behaviour in situations that have previously been triggers... Don't look at him or talk to him, keep your body relaxed and your hands loose.

Without being there it's impossible to really know what's going on so you may want to enlist the help of an experienced and balanced trainer who has worked with fear aggression before. I think it's admirable that you've stepped in to save the little monkey and I hope things work out for the best.
 

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I think it is great that you are willing to help the dog. I don't have any advice on his agression. Is it possible the dog is in pain? Dogs are sometimes snappy and aggressive when they are hurting and someone tries to handle them.
 

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I have one of these dogs, and she is now on phenobarbital medication. There are lots of simple meds out there that may take the 'edge' off this poor little guy. My pup is 3 years old and is fine at home on the med. She has been diadnosed with "focal' seizures. She came from a 'wonderful breeder'!!!NOT Mother was just the same, snappy, barky, urinating uncontrollably if she was in the company of people she didn't know. Good luck, and we are all thinking you are great in trying to help this pup. Sue
 

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First off I would like to commend you on your efforts. You have a good heart :)

Most of the time when Chihuahuas are acting like this it is the owners, they may not have abused him but he has probably been coddled and allowed to do what he wants to and has now deemed himself alpha over the whole family. Poor socialization I am sure is also involved so it seems sad to me that people create these behaviors and just want to throw them away. It is not his fault. If people rough house with Chi's it can also cause the behavior you are talking about to spin out of control. Feeding off of their anxiety has just worsened this behavior. Chihuahuas are notorious for the behavior you described above and it is not uncommon when they are not socialized properly and are not disciplined correctly. I am not saying the owners are bad, just uneducated and it has gotten out of hand but again it is not the Chi's fault. I really with all my heart think that if you are able to rehabilitate this guy or if a behaviorist is able to help, he should not be returned to his original owners unless they are really willing to step in and take the proper steps to continue his training. If they get frustrated and give up on him again then it will start all over again.

The vet just does not want to deal and is agreeing with whatever. Some vets upset me so badly :-(

My advice would be to find a reputable Chihuahua rescue that would take him and his behavior on. He can be rehabilitated by someone that knows what they are doing and can become a delightful little companion and he needs to be given this change. Bless his heart :-( If you cannot find a rescue then try to find a behaviorist.
 

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First off I would like to commend you on your efforts. You have a good heart :)

Most of the time when Chihuahuas are acting like this it is the owners, they may not have abused him but he has probably been coddled and allowed to do what he wants to and has now deemed himself alpha over the whole family. Poor socialization I am sure is also involved so it seems sad to me that people create these behaviors and just want to throw them away. It is not his fault. If people rough house with Chi's it can also cause the behavior you are talking about to spin out of control. Feeding off of their anxiety has just worsened this behavior. Chihuahuas are notorious for the behavior you described above and it is not uncommon when they are not socialized properly and are not disciplined correctly. I am not saying the owners are bad, just uneducated and it has gotten out of hand but again it is not the Chi's fault. I really with all my heart think that if you are able to rehabilitate this guy or if a behaviorist is able to help, he should not be returned to his original owners unless they are really willing to step in and take the proper steps to continue his training. If they get frustrated and give up on him again then it will start all over again.

The vet just does not want to deal and is agreeing with whatever. Some vets upset me so badly :-(

My advice would be to find a reputable Chihuahua rescue that would take him and his behavior on. He can be rehabilitated by someone that knows what they are doing and can become a delightful little companion and he needs to be given this change. Bless his heart :-( If you cannot find a rescue then try to find a behaviorist.
I so totally agree! You have such a good heart. I don't have much advice, but think perhaps this little guy should go to someone in rescue who has experience with this behavior. I don't think he should ever be returned to the family who had him. He should be neutered immediately. What a terrible vet to just advise them to euthanize him, no advice to have him neutered, no offer of medication. Argggghhhhh ... some vets should NOT be vets! Good luck and hoping for the best for this little guy.

Jeanette
 
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