Obsessive/aggressive chihuahua?

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Obsessive/aggressive chihuahua?

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Old 09-19-2012, 04:21 AM
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Unhappy Obsessive/aggressive chihuahua?

Hi all. My fiancÚ and I are waiting to move into our short sale house. (Ugh, what a process.) In the interim, we've been living with the hubby's parents, and we're having a pretty bad behavioral problem with his parents' chihuahua. Thought you all might have some input as experienced dog owners!

Well, this chihuhua bonds a lot more with women, especially my MIL. I hardly ever pay it attention, but it is extremely attached to me. If I sit down next to him, he'll come over and lean against me. If my fiancÚ comes and pretends like he's going to touch me (he DOES do this in a taunting way, to goad a reaction because he thinks it's funny), the dog will growl at him. So we're pretty sure he has a "protective" thing about me for whatever reason.

The problem is when I leave the house. He is always on the couch with my in-laws, who are elderly. He's actually not a very hyper dog. But as soon as I make my way from the bedroom to the front door, he goes CRAZY. He barks and snaps at me, and it's gotten progressively worse. He's actually starting to scare me. I know he's 5 lbs, but he looks almost rabid when he does this, baring all his teeth at me. When I come home, he picks up a toy and acts like he wants to be pet. At that point, he is calm and the petting goes fine.

So I guess my question is.. what on earth do we do about this? We've tried positive reinforcement, but he never stops chasing me at the heels snapping at me long enough to reward him for good behavior. His family kind of jokes that he's "obsessed" with me and is afraid I'll never come back, but all my dogs ever did was whine and look sad when I left. They never angrily CHASED me out of the house! What gives!??!

Thanks for your help!
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:33 AM
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ETA: His parents definitely baby the crap out of this dog. They treat it like an infant, wiping its bottom after it potties, bringing its food to him on the couch, etc. I don't know if maybe he's got an alpha thing going on because of that, but thought it might be important to note.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:44 AM
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Here's an episode of It's Me or the Dog where there's a similar situation:


The taunting of the dog needs to stop now. This will only make the problem worse. You can work on some positive "leave the room" exercises to handle the other problem.
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Old 09-19-2012, 10:30 AM
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Just off hand it sounds like you are the only person in the house treating the dog with any dignity and personal space. Maybe that is why he gravitates toward you. YOu are probably not gonna stop the parents but you sure as heck can stop the boyfriend.
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Old 09-19-2012, 05:36 PM
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The episode of It's Me or the Dog is a good one; there's some really good ideas in there, but I would stay away from the verbal corrections ("eh eh"), since they can actually exacerbate behavior, and dogforum doesn't typically advise corrections without a trainer because of that.

Regarding him barking when you come out of your room, it sounds like maybe he is getting startled, forgetting you are there, and has had the opportunity to practice the behavior more and more the longer you live there since no one is stopping it, which could be why it's getting worse. I just want to clarify that he begins barking the moment you step out of the room in the morning? You haven't come out of the room yet for the day, and this is the first time he sees you in the morning on your way out of the house?

There are a few things you can do here. If someone can keep him on leash in the morning, that would be ideal. I will assume no one is going to do this since the parents are elderly and your fiance is probably busy getting ready for the day as well. That said, don't run to the front door. As soon as you step out of the room, stop, don't give the dog eye contact. Drop some tasty treats or throw them gently towards him if he is not approaching you. Slowly make your way to the front door while dropping treats. If the dog seems to get nippy or worse, walk slower (one step at a time) and/or drop treats in handfuls. Make sure these are really reinforcing treats, otherwise the dog will probably ignore them.

Alternatively, you could also stop, ask him for a sit, and then treat him for sitting calmly and one-step your way to the door doing this, but it sounds like he is fairly insecure right when he sees you in the morning, so unless you feel like he is going to obey that command and not continue barking and being aggressive, ignoring the behavior and not acknowledging him in any way is probably going to be the better solution.

Another alternative, if the parents or someone can keep him on leash when you come out of the room, is they can keep the dog away from you so that it doesn't have the opportunity to continue to practice the behavior, and whoever has the dog will treat him while you are walking calmly from the room to the door.

Ditto on making sure the fiance and anyone else in the house is not teasing the dog. This is likely another reason the aggression is getting worse. You have an insecure dog whose stress levels are increasing every day because he is being teased and allowed to practice arousing behavior. Here are a few other videos that might give you some additional ideas on training.


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Old 09-19-2012, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by seebrown View Post
The episode of It's Me or the Dog is a good one; there's some really good ideas in there, but I would stay away from the verbal corrections ("eh eh"), since they can actually exacerbate behavior, and dogforum doesn't typically advise corrections without a trainer because of that.

Regarding him barking when you come out of your room, it sounds like maybe he is getting startled, forgetting you are there, and has had the opportunity to practice the behavior more and more the longer you live there since no one is stopping it, which could be why it's getting worse. I just want to clarify that he begins barking the moment you step out of the room in the morning? You haven't come out of the room yet for the day, and this is the first time he sees you in the morning on your way out of the house?
If I step out of my room and go to the kitchen or something, he's fine. It's when he sees me with a purse heading toward the front door and he realizes I'm leaving, I guess.

Quote:
There are a few things you can do here. If someone can keep him on leash in the morning, that would be ideal. I will assume no one is going to do this since the parents are elderly and your fiance is probably busy getting ready for the day as well. That said, don't run to the front door. As soon as you step out of the room, stop, don't give the dog eye contact. Drop some tasty treats or throw them gently towards him if he is not approaching you. Slowly make your way to the front door while dropping treats. If the dog seems to get nippy or worse, walk slower (one step at a time) and/or drop treats in handfuls. Make sure these are really reinforcing treats, otherwise the dog will probably ignore them.
I will definitely try this! Thanks! I do know he is a picky eater, though, so I'll have to experiment with treats he likes. )

Quote:
Alternatively, you could also stop, ask him for a sit, and then treat him for sitting calmly and one-step your way to the door doing this, but it sounds like he is fairly insecure right when he sees you in the morning, so unless you feel like he is going to obey that command and not continue barking and being aggressive, ignoring the behavior and not acknowledging him in any way is probably going to be the better solution.

Another alternative, if the parents or someone can keep him on leash when you come out of the room, is they can keep the dog away from you so that it doesn't have the opportunity to continue to practice the behavior, and whoever has the dog will treat him while you are walking calmly from the room to the door.

Ditto on making sure the fiance and anyone else in the house is not teasing the dog. This is likely another reason the aggression is getting worse. You have an insecure dog whose stress levels are increasing every day because he is being teased and allowed to practice arousing behavior. Here are a few other videos that might give you some additional ideas on training.

Dog Bites: Bandit is Fearful of Strangers | drsophiayin.com - YouTube

Jack Russell Terrier (JRT) Aggression When Blowing in Face | drsophiayin.com - YouTube
THANK YOU for the videos!!!! This means so much to me! ty ty ty ty!
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by bgmacaw View Post
Here's an episode of It's Me or the Dog where there's a similar situation:

Its.Me.Or.The.Dog.S02E03.WS.PDTV.XviD.avi - YouTube

The taunting of the dog needs to stop now. This will only make the problem worse. You can work on some positive "leave the room" exercises to handle the other problem.
Watching the video now. THANK YOU!!!!! I have told them they baby the dog too much and the teasing is bad, but I guess they'll have to watch these videos to really see WHY that's bad. I grew up with dogs, so I'm a bit more familiar with how to train them. The family, though, have never had a dog and just fawn and gush over him, and they definitely did not train or socialize him as a puppy. He gets away with everything.
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:29 PM
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It's interesting that it's when you have the purse. It sounds like maybe it is anxiety related vs. insecurity (or insecurity of you leaving vs. insecurity of YOU, which is what I originally thought). Since he's scared of you leaving, not scared of you, I would probably try the sits first. You might be able to get him in a pattern of sitting calmly when you have your purse and are walking to the front door. You can do this any time, not just in the morning when you leave - which I would actually suggest so that he gets used to you walking around with the purse. You could also try putting your purse somewhere else, maybe by the front door, so that the purse doesn't trigger the behavior as you are coming out of the room (basically normalize the purse). Further, you could treat him for looking at the purse, and associate the purse with treats and good feelings, vs. you always leaving. You can also walk around the house with the purse, not just when you leave, to normalize it.

Last edited by seebrown; 09-19-2012 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:33 PM
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Just off hand it sounds like you are the only person in the house treating the dog with any dignity and personal space. Maybe that is why he gravitates toward you. YOu are probably not gonna stop the parents but you sure as heck can stop the boyfriend.
Hmmm.. That may very well be true. I treat him like a dog, not an infant. I'll pet him, throw his toy, and then get up and go into the other room. I simply am not attached to this dog, though I've adored and spent lots of time with my own in the past. I guess chihuahuas aren't for me, but it's hard to convey a lot of this "personal space" theory to the in-laws, because they don't speak English =\

Thanks for the advice!
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by seebrown View Post
It's interesting that it's when you have the purse. It sounds like maybe it is anxiety related vs. insecurity (or insecurity of you leaving vs. insecurity of YOU, which is what I originally thought). Since he's scared of you leaving, not scared of you, I would probably try the sits first. You might be able to get him in a pattern of sitting calmly when you have your purse and are walking to the front door. You can do this any time, not just in the morning when you leave - which I would actually suggest so that he gets used to you walking around with the purse. You could also try putting your purse somewhere else, maybe by the front door, so that the purse doesn't trigger the behavior (basically normalize the purse). Further, you could treat him for looking at the purse, and associate the purse with treats and good feelings, vs. you always leaving.
Such great ideas. I appreciate your help sooooo much. I'll share this with the family tonight!
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