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Dear Chi People,

I am new here, and happy to connect!
My sister and I have adopted a 5-year-old chi boy, rescued from a horrid puppy mill. While he bonded with me instantly, he was mistrustful of my sister from the start. As his bond with me grew stronger, he started behaving worse and worse with my sister, to the point of growling and barking if she enters my bedroom, avoiding her completely in other parts of the house, and behaving as if he hates her and is scared of her although she has shown him nothing but love from the start. We are desperate, because it is a very unpleasant and awkward situation for everyone. The odd thing is, when we all go for a walk, he does not exhibit hostility towards her.
Any suggestions, anyone?
Thanks a bunch!
Irene
 

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I am not a dog behavior expert (at all) but I would just share your concern, as my chi can be overly assertive/anxious/barking with most humans and other dogs. Then he isn't at other times and I can't always tell the difference. One thing I enjoyed (And I think learned a couple of things from) are Cesar Millan chihuahua videos on YouTube. I have heard that chis tend to bond with one person, and our little guy is luckily bonded to both my wife and me (though he likes her slightly more). He can be kind of territorial when on our laps, which we discourage and this seems to help but I watch him closely since I know he has snapped at people in his previous home. It sounds like your dog has firmly decided he does not like your sister, so you can't force it, but there must be some techniques that would help. Does she walk him and feed him? I think if the basics are not working, I would seek out help from a trainer or even the vet. Our vet's office has been quite helpful with behavior issues. I worry about our dog not being properly socialized to other dogs and people, and it is more difficult during this time of social distancing.
 

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Hi, We have three chihuahuas; 2 are girls and one is a young male. All of them are different and I'm afraid, all of them are the most set in their personalities then I've seen in any other dog. All of them love everyone in our family but with very clear differences and while they all will be held by my husband, myself or our grown children, our girls definitely go through their spurts.

We've had Lolli, our oldest, for 11 years now. She came from a very bad situation as well but she was only 6 months when we got her. We lived in Italy at the time and at first, she was extremely detached from all of us but grew over the coming weeks to really bond with me. She still seems a very tragic little girl; she's so attached that my family jokes she would slip away if something ever happened to me. She will sit with my husband still and I know she eventually learned to love him too (she never really growled, she just shied away or came quickly and quietly to my side after he would go to her). We moved to the US when she was around 7 years old; my husband stayed behind to get things together and sell our home, etc so it took him some time. Ironically, she was very sad when we got here without my husband and we finally found her lying on his jacket that my son wore when we came. After he came back, she was very content again. That was 5 years ago. Our other chihuhua came from the US 5 years ago but she was older too (around 6 years old). It took her a year or so to fully bond with anyone and we don't know her background. When my husband did get to the US though, despite the many months I had trying to bond with her, she instantly bonded with my husband and now is almost tragic, even if he leaves for work. Our male is happy go lucky and literally loves everyone with the same enthusiasm.

As she started to get older, Lolli would growl sometimes at someone coming down the stairs or even if someone would try to pick her up who wasn't me but she also quickly stopped when I said to her sternly that it is enough. My husband and kids just accept her that way and laugh a little but we've known her for years. I know there's no threat with her; she is just very,very protective of me.

Can you start letting your sister walk your new little girl alone for awhile and let her give the treats to her and take on duties I think you are doing? It won't make her bond with her over you; bonds are very strong with female chihuahuas and especially ones that come from tragic backgrounds at an older age. It will, however, let her understand that she has your consent as her alpha leader to take care of her as well. Training advice is a good idea when things open up a bit more at your pet stores, etc. We've talked to a good one at both petsmart and petco. At least have her do all the walking outside and maybe time at a dog park for awhile to get her to stop growling at her. You also might want to try bringing her to the living room for a lot longer during the day and having your sister sit next to you for some hours on the couch or wherever you are to try to get used to your preferences. Believe it or not, that little girl is picking this up from you. You are simply her alpha and her mom and she feels her job is to protect you. Try to back off having her with you so much all the time; especially in enclosed areas like a bedroom where your scent is the only one.

Congrats on adopting that sweet baby girl!
 

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I am not a dog behavior expert (at all) but I would just share your concern, as my chi can be overly assertive/anxious/barking with most humans and other dogs. Then he isn't at other times and I can't always tell the difference. One thing I enjoyed (And I think learned a couple of things from) are Cesar Millan chihuahua videos on YouTube. I have heard that chis tend to bond with one person, and our little guy is luckily bonded to both my wife and me (though he likes her slightly more). He can be kind of territorial when on our laps, which we discourage and this seems to help but I watch him closely since I know he has snapped at people in his previous home. It sounds like your dog has firmly decided he does not like your sister, so you can't force it, but there must be some techniques that would help. Does she walk him and feed him? I think if the basics are not working, I would seek out help from a trainer or even the vet. Our vet's office has been quite helpful with behavior issues. I worry about our dog not being properly socialized to other dogs and people, and it is more difficult during this time of social distancing.
thank you so much! funnily, he is not aggressive with my sister outside at all, and accepts her when we all walk together. but inside the house, he stays away from her and growls at her sight.
 

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Hi, We have three chihuahuas; 2 are girls and one is a young male. All of them are different and I'm afraid, all of them are the most set in their personalities then I've seen in any other dog. All of them love everyone in our family but with very clear differences and while they all will be held by my husband, myself or our grown children, our girls definitely go through their spurts.

We've had Lolli, our oldest, for 11 years now. She came from a very bad situation as well but she was only 6 months when we got her. We lived in Italy at the time and at first, she was extremely detached from all of us but grew over the coming weeks to really bond with me. She still seems a very tragic little girl; she's so attached that my family jokes she would slip away if something ever happened to me. She will sit with my husband still and I know she eventually learned to love him too (she never really growled, she just shied away or came quickly and quietly to my side after he would go to her). We moved to the US when she was around 7 years old; my husband stayed behind to get things together and sell our home, etc so it took him some time. Ironically, she was very sad when we got here without my husband and we finally found her lying on his jacket that my son wore when we came. After he came back, she was very content again. That was 5 years ago. Our other chihuhua came from the US 5 years ago but she was older too (around 6 years old). It took her a year or so to fully bond with anyone and we don't know her background. When my husband did get to the US though, despite the many months I had trying to bond with her, she instantly bonded with my husband and now is almost tragic, even if he leaves for work. Our male is happy go lucky and literally loves everyone with the same enthusiasm.

As she started to get older, Lolli would growl sometimes at someone coming down the stairs or even if someone would try to pick her up who wasn't me but she also quickly stopped when I said to her sternly that it is enough. My husband and kids just accept her that way and laugh a little but we've known her for years. I know there's no threat with her; she is just very,very protective of me.

Can you start letting your sister walk your new little girl alone for awhile and let her give the treats to her and take on duties I think you are doing? It won't make her bond with her over you; bonds are very strong with female chihuahuas and especially ones that come from tragic backgrounds at an older age. It will, however, let her understand that she has your consent as her alpha leader to take care of her as well. Training advice is a good idea when things open up a bit more at your pet stores, etc. We've talked to a good one at both petsmart and petco. At least have her do all the walking outside and maybe time at a dog park for awhile to get her to stop growling at her. You also might want to try bringing her to the living room for a lot longer during the day and having your sister sit next to you for some hours on the couch or wherever you are to try to get used to your preferences. Believe it or not, that little girl is picking this up from you. You are simply her alpha and her mom and she feels her job is to protect you. Try to back off having her with you so much all the time; especially in enclosed areas like a bedroom where your scent is the only one.

Congrats on adopting that sweet baby girl!
thank you so much! it is all very good advice! my rescue chi is a boy :) the strange thing is that he is not aggressive with my sister when we all walk outside, but inside it is a disaster, she cannot go near him at all, much less pick him up, he tried to bite her just yesterday. when she sits next to me, he jumps away instantly or curls up and shakes. we have no clue why he dislikes her so much, she has been nothing but loving and gentle with him from day one...
 

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Biting is never acceptable. :This could take some time but for sure he needs to be around her when you are not at first. You also definitely want to get with your vet asap and tell them of the situation. I honestly would suggest to not have him in any physical distance as yourself until he is trained to know that he is not in control of the home; you are. No sitting with you on furniture or on your lap. Do not pet him while you are on the couch until he can tolerate your sister being there and giving him a pet too. Have your sister sit with you instead. No sleeping anywhere but an area designated as his own area; especially if he is biting another person in the house. You seem to be his alpha and he needs to learn that you will not accept that. Keep him out of your room for the time being. He sees this as his space with you and needs to understand it's not. Give him a quiet area he can be where he will be alone and feel safe if he can't find his own space.

It will not be easy and takes some time but he seems to have some issues from his previous place and history. You are the one who dictates what is allowed in your home. You need to have her feed him only and don't be around when she does it. If he doesn't get food from her, he doesn't eat. treats only from her when he starts to accept the food from her. Outside, have her and only her give him treats, commands (like sit, stay, etc). In that case you can be around but not near him or next to him. From the time you leave the house, she gets control of him. Eventually, he can sit up with you both again. He is obviously very afraid of something. This can sound very strange but try putting a low scent lotion on his tail and have your sister wear the same lotion on her hands. It can take a few days but that can help as well. I would really urge you to talk to your vet about this however.

Give it some time and you guys can be a family but it's going to take a bit of work.
 

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heartfelt thanks for taking your time to write all this! obviously you are an experienced chi-mom, but then I should be too, given the fact that we had our beloved first chi for 8 years before losing him tragically out of the blue last summer.....
but this little guy is a puzzle. he comes from a horrible place, a puppy mill where he sat in a cage for 5 years and was used for breeding.
we are so eager to give him lots of love and kindness and pampering, which he never knew. he sleeps with me and though you are right for sure, I can't deny him closeness because that is where he feels secure.
I have of course spoken to our 2 vets, and to the organization that rescued him. they said it might be something about my sister that reminds him of his very bad past life, and to give it time. she has tried feeding him but due to her herniated back, cannot bend to put the food down for him. so it's tricky
 

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heartfelt thanks for taking your time to write all this! obviously you are an experienced chi-mom, but then I should be too, given the fact that we had our beloved first chi for 8 years before losing him tragically out of the blue last summer.....
but this little guy is a puzzle. he comes from a horrible place, a puppy mill where he sat in a cage for 5 years and was used for breeding.
we are so eager to give him lots of love and kindness and pampering, which he never knew. he sleeps with me and though you are right for sure, I can't deny him closeness because that is where he feels secure.
I have of course spoken to our 2 vets, and to the organization that rescued him. they said it might be something about my sister that reminds him of his very bad past life, and to give it time. she has tried feeding him but due to her herniated back, cannot bend to put the food down for him. so it's tricky

We're always learning; our home is a zoo lol. The homes in Italy for the most part were small and closer. We got an older large home here and my daughter decided it was too much for just us :). First two guinea pigs needing rescue and now, 5 years later, we have rooms dedicated to rescue pigs that need delicate care. They have large cavy cages, run pens, etc. Some are from very bad backgrounds (one was set next to a wood burning stove in a tiny cage then was set on fire. He lived, we got him from Syracuse rescue. Took him ages before I could handle him without his biting (and hard-stitches from that little guy!). Now my son decided not one but two cats needing rescuing last year; the kids are both in college, mid-twenties. Now we have a new rescue bunny (no problems there but still learning). Even our little guy chi gives us challenges. Every animal and every situation is different.

It sounds like you are working with the professionals you need to. With all the situations you have at home and them knowing the situations, they will be the best to work with you toward having the loving and peaceful home you all deserve. It's very sad what these babies go through. People can be very cruel. It took 2 months and several vets for Lolli to recover from the first place we got her and though she was young, she was near dead. She was found half buried in a place with very little to the building but a frame in the country near Umbria. We found out from ASL that there are many Russians that bring purebred puppies from Hungary and Poland to sell to Italians illegally. SInce they are strict, most of these puppies are brought in overnight crammed in trucks and closed bins. They travel this way for days before being brought to abandoned buildings and sold. We were very lucky we found Lolli but she is still traumatized. We did socialize her though; it's easier in Italy. She went on trains, to stores, even our local restaurant was happy to have her. She's still rotten lol and worse every year.
 

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We're always learning; our home is a zoo lol. The homes in Italy for the most part were small and closer. We got an older large home here and my daughter decided it was too much for just us :). First two guinea pigs needing rescue and now, 5 years later, we have rooms dedicated to rescue pigs that need delicate care. They have large cavy cages, run pens, etc. Some are from very bad backgrounds (one was set next to a wood burning stove in a tiny cage then was set on fire. He lived, we got him from Syracuse rescue. Took him ages before I could handle him without his biting (and hard-stitches from that little guy!). Now my son decided not one but two cats needing rescuing last year; the kids are both in college, mid-twenties. Now we have a new rescue bunny (no problems there but still learning). Even our little guy chi gives us challenges. Every animal and every situation is different.

It sounds like you are working with the professionals you need to. With all the situations you have at home and them knowing the situations, they will be the best to work with you toward having the loving and peaceful home you all deserve. It's very sad what these babies go through. People can be very cruel. It took 2 months and several vets for Lolli to recover from the first place we got her and though she was young, she was near dead. She was found half buried in a place with very little to the building but a frame in the country near Umbria. We found out from ASL that there are many Russians that bring purebred puppies from Hungary and Poland to sell to Italians illegally. SInce they are strict, most of these puppies are brought in overnight crammed in trucks and closed bins. They travel this way for days before being brought to abandoned buildings and sold. We were very lucky we found Lolli but she is still traumatized. We did socialize her though; it's easier in Italy. She went on trains, to stores, even our local restaurant was happy to have her. She's still rotten lol and worse every year.
OMG. yes. people are inhumans for the most part, and the more I know what they do to defenseless animals, the more I think the worst of our species. just look at the world in general, and what it has come to, all 'thanks' to rotten, greedy, selfish, ruthless humans. thank God for people like you...…..
 

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I am not a dog behavior expert (at all) but I would just share your concern, as my chi can be overly assertive/anxious/barking with most humans and other dogs. Then he isn't at other times and I can't always tell the difference. One thing I enjoyed (And I think learned a couple of things from) are Cesar Millan chihuahua videos on YouTube. I have heard that chis tend to bond with one person, and our little guy is luckily bonded to both my wife and me (though he likes her slightly more). He can be kind of territorial when on our laps, which we discourage and this seems to help but I watch him closely since I know he has snapped at people in his previous home. It sounds like your dog has firmly decided he does not like your sister, so you can't force it, but there must be some techniques that would help. Does she walk him and feed him? I think if the basics are not working, I would seek out help from a trainer or even the vet. Our vet's office has been quite helpful with behavior issues. I worry about our dog not being properly socialized to other dogs and people, and it is more difficult during this time of social distancing.
yes, I watched cesar and chi videos today, they are amazing! thx for suggesting it!
 
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