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About 6 months ago, I was given a chihuahua in the parking lot of the animal shelter. The couple didn't want him anymore because they had a baby. He was maybe 2 1/2 pounds at two years old and hiss ribs/spine were extremely visible from across the room (I have since gotten him to 4 1/4 pounds and his bones don't show). He had bald patches on his neck and tail when I got him and they are still there, but they weren't itchy or dry. They seem like scarring that won't grow hair back. He wasn't neutered when I got him, but he is now. He has grown extreme attachment to me and me only, as he whines for hours when I leave the house, won't leave my lap, won't sleep if he isn't with me, and snarls/bites when anyone tries to take him from my lap or next to me. He HATES men. He goes off at any man who walks in the house even if they live there and then cowers. Are these signs of abuse/neglect, or could that just be how he is? I love him to death no matter what, I just want to understand him better.
 

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Welcome! Good for you for helping this poor little guy.

He may have been abused, but it's equally likely his current behavior is a combination of poor temperament (i.e., genetics) and neglect / lack of socialization (i.e., environment).

I'd encourage you to work with him (with a qualified professional, if necessary) to build his confidence, reduce his reliance on you, and improve his comfort level around others and especially around others who are near you. Scared dogs are unpredictable and even though he's small, you wouldn't want to risk his biting or hurting someone. (I have a scaredy boy, so I know how difficult it can be.)

There are great resources in the Training and Behavior Stickies
 

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He has grown extreme attachment to me and me only, as he whines for hours when I leave the house, won't leave my lap, won't sleep if he isn't with me, and snarls/bites when anyone tries to take him from my lap or next to me.
Take the time to solve these issues which make him, and undoubtedly those around him, miserable. Not to do so is neglect. While trying to figure out the past can be helpful, addressing the present is paramount.
 

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Poor little one!!! He may definitely have been abused. I'm so thankful that it was you in that parking lot that day. I've known other tiny dogs that had that same personality there were not abused, but I agree with the others above that you should look into trying to solve this issue so that you'll all lead a fuller, happier life together.
 

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Could be abused if he cowers when any man comes in :(
Especially since he is growling then cowering, sounds like fear
Try to find a trainer or behaviorist to help you
Even one session can give amazing insights and strategies to move forward
 

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I think, at minimum, he was severely neglected, which is a form of abuse. Whether or not he was also physically abused is hard to say.

Some of the issues with him are probably temperament related and due to genetics, and when combined with the neglect it made the temperament problems worse.

Given all he's been through and the severity of his behavior, I think the best thing you can do is to hire a behaviorist to help you come up with a good plan to help her.

Until you find one a good place to learn about how to work with her is careforreactivedogs.com , but a behaviorist really will be your best bet.
 

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About 6 months ago, I was given a chihuahua in the parking lot of the animal shelter. The couple didn't want him anymore because they had a baby.
Good that have done what you have done for the wee fellow.

But being given him in the parking lot seems a little odd to start with.
Maybe there's a tale to that.
Did the couple giving him away tell you anything of his history?
 
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