Do Chihuahuas Get Jealous?
Dog behavior is a trendy and exciting topic. Until recently, people didn’t pay too much attention to dog psychology as the source of their behavior. In other words, we got used to putting labels on animals without giving too much thought to what exactly makes our dogs behave one way to another.
Eventually, dogs got stuck with numerous stereotypes and stigmas that, until today, deprive some breeds of loving owners and don’t let certain dogs live a full and happy life. For example, pit bulls are mistakenly considered aggressive and unpredictable, while Labradors are bound to a “family dog” title. Like many other representatives of small breeds, aka lap dogs, Chihuahuas are believed to be particularly jealous.
However, suppose you have a dog or some close dog-owning friends or are generally interested in the topic. In that case, you might know that Pit Bulls were originally bred as guard dogs for families with little children to protect them from large animals. Labrador also was not designed to sleep at your feet all day long. According to its very name (Labrador – Lavrado (Work or Farm (Port.) it is a resourceful, hard-working dog.
As for Chihuahuas and their notorious jealousy, to understand whether it is a prevalent character trait or just a stereotype, we need to go deeper into the matter of dog behavior.
What is a Jealousy?
When we talk about ourselves, humans, jealousy is a complicated multidimensional feeling that is built up by many factors:
- The cultural concept of jealousy
- The psychological trauma that leads to jealous behavior
- Self-esteem issues, painful experience or current partner’s behavior, and other subjective reasons.
While talking about dogs` psychology, it is not entirely accurate to compare the human and animal perception of jealousy. Like all other canines, Chihuahuas are pack animals who focus and get particularly attached to a particular group of people or animals that surround them every day.
But from their point of view, a pack is not precisely a family. Belonging to a pack is an essential survival matter for canines, their most important resource. Getting banished from a pack is technically a death sentence. That is why your Chihuahua's jealousy may be:
- An offshoot of fundamental canine’s resource guarding instinct
- Redirected excitement or other strong emotion that does not have a healthy release.
In other words, your Chihuahua may either feel that someone is encroaching on his or her resources or is just overwhelmed with strong emotions that bulk up and ignite at a certain point if you deprive your furry friend of simple dog’s pleasures such as long walks, playtime or attention.
Is my Chihuahua Jealous?
Not all pit bulls are aggressive, not all Bulldogs are lazy, and not all Chihuahuas are jealous. But yours may be. Here are several symptoms that can indicate that jealousy may be a severe behavioral issue with your pet:
- When you hold your Chihuahua on your arms or laps, he or she tends to growl at people or other animals that come close
- When you give attention to other animals, your Chihuahua tries to push them away (softly or violently)
- When you hug another family member or pick up a child or another animal, your Chihuahua starts to wine or jump on you.
If at least one of those alarming signs seems to be familiar, you are dealing with a jealous Chihuahua. You must understand that Chihuahua jealousy does not have to be aggressive, associated with growling or biting. Any kind of envious behavior should be an alarming sign for you due to the peculiarities of dogs` psychology. Even the most innocent expression of bothered behavior can quickly develop to a violent level if you don’t treat it appropriately, God forbid, reward and encourage it.
Continue reading, and you will learn why your Chihuahua might get jealous and what you can do to help your furry friend overcome this destructive emotion.
Why do Chihuahuas Get Jealous?
Just like any other dog, a Chihuahua sees his or her humans as providers of food, shelter, attention – all the essential needs of such a social creature as a canine. There are two ways to get you a jealous Chihuahua:
- Your pet may grow jealous
- A dog may suddenly demonstrate jealous behavior that is generally uncommon.
In the first case, owners often tend to put their pets in the head o the pack unintentionally. Once you find it cute that a puppy growls protecting his or her food, you put a dog in charge of food. Once you allow your Chihuahua to decide who is permitted on a couch and let him or her drive other animals or family members of the furniture, you put your pet in charge of the territory. In other words, you make your Chihuahua think that he is responsible for the pack. In this case, overprotective jealous behavior is inevitable.
As for the sudden expression of jealousy from a grown-up dog, the reason may lie in a psychological trauma or sudden change of habitual lifestyle:
- You brought a new child home
- You got another pet
- You moved to a different house, city, country
- You have suddenly changed your Chihuahua's diet, schedule, or lifestyle without the necessary preparations.
Like most other animals, Dogs are creatures of habit. Any sudden change in their lives may trigger strong emotions – a feeling that they need to do their best to protect and preserve their habitual lifestyle.
In this case, we can compare human and animal psychology: people also tend to become aggressive and unstable in the face of strange things or unexpected significant changes.
How Can I Help my Jealous Chihuahua?
The good news is that, like all behavioral issues, jealousy is reversible. Of course, the earlier you notice the first alarming signs of a jealous Chihuahua, the easier it will be to get things back to normal.
However, even if you are dealing with a particularly advanced case of dog jealousy, most probably you won’t need any particular skills or professional assistance to help your Chihuahua get over it.
Here is what you should do:
- Introduce training routine. Whether you are dealing with a puppy or a mature dog, a training routine is the only way to take over the situation and become in charge again. Make sure to allow at least 30 minutes per day for consistent training. You should practice the main things: obedience (sit, down, place, etc.) and submission (a dog should willingly let go of a toy or a piece of food on the first demand). Through regular training routines, you establish your leadership and let your Chihuahua understand that he is not in charge; therefore, he does not have to protect anything or anyone in the pack.
- Stop encouraging jealousy. Many Chihuahua owners find it exciting and particularly cute when their furry friend tries to “protect” them. Eventually, your dog starts to think that this is the kind of behavior you expect from him. On the other hand, overemotional negative response to behavior is also a kind of reward as dogs constantly seek our attention and reaction one way or another. The best way to prevent jealousy, in this case, is to ignore an unwanted behavior, giving your Chihuahua the cold shoulder each time he or she gets over the line.
- New routine. If jealousy is caused by a new family member or a pet, the best way to get over it is to make it an integral part of everyday life. Especially the most pleasant aspects of that life. Eating, playing, going on walks should constantly include both your Chihuahua and the jealousy cause. The essential thing is to let your dog understand that only when he or she is calm and relaxed, you proceed with the routine. For example, don’t provide food while the dog is still nervous; don’t go for a walk with an anxious growling dog, etc. Eventually, your Chihuahua will start associating the initial object of jealousy, calm behavior, and reward.
Jealous Chihuahua and Babies.
New family members are often the most common reason for jealousy expression. To avoid and overcome this most stressful and challenging issue, you need to understand the natural source of the notorious conflict between all small dogs, including Chihuahuas, and newborns, and small children.
AN UNANNOUNCED PACK MEMBER.
Even if your Chihuahua has been observing your pregnancy for the whole nine months, he or she won’t make the connection between this and the fact that you bring a new pack member to his territory.
For your dog, this introduction is sudden, unannounced, and, fairly, uncalled for. In a dog’s brain, it means that there may be a shortage in food, water, and territory due to this introduction.
The proper approach is the key to success in this case. Of course, it is useless to talk to your Chihuahua, show the ultrasound pictures, or baby clothes, but you can observe the basic rules of animal etiquette once you bring a child home for the very first time.
Once you are a pack member, it is purely up to you who to accept to the family and who to exile. But you still cannot bring a child and tell your Chihuahua to get over this fact instantly. Make the introduction graduate and smooth. Let your dog smell the baby, clothes, toys, and other objects containing the baby`s scent. Never shoo a dog away from a child violently and try to demonstrate that this new pack member is not claiming the dog’s resources but will become a new provider.
To do so, reward calm and relaxed behavior. Give treats and affection each time your Chihuahua behaves nicely next to a kid. That way, you will associate a new child with rewards. For much more detailed information, you can read our blog post on how to prepare your Chihuahua for a baby.
Dog jealousy remains a controversial topic among animal behavior experts. Some tend to compare human and animal behavior; others claim that the source of our emotions is too different and therefore cannot be paralleled. The only clear thing is that your Chihuahua is not all made out of unconscious instincts and reflexes.
Your furry friend feels the whole spectrum of emotions that should be considered and addressed accordingly. And it is up to you as a pack leader to help your Chihuahua to live a joyful, balanced life free of destructive emotions.