Why are Chihuahuas so Protective of Their Owners?
An overprotective Chihuahua is some kind of meme, one of the first things most people imagine when someone starts talking about the breed. Indeed, those tiny dogs seemingly don't understand how small and fragile they are. If you meet someone with a Chihuahua on hand, there is a great chance that this fur ball will turn into a vicious Cerber the second you approach the person.
But why are Chihuahuas so overprotective of their owners? And are they at all?
In this article, we shall try to analyze the phenomenon of an overprotective Chihuahua and discuss the reasons and outcome of this behavior.
Are Chihuahuas Particularly Protective?
First of all, it is essential to understand whether such behavior is just a common trait for the breed that you will simply have to deal with as soon as you decided to get a Chi.
Many people connect Chihuahuas` overprotective behavior with the so-Called "small dog syndrome." It is not a scientific and not a professional term; therefore, it does not have any clear definition. Every dog owner or breeder you may talk to would give you another interpretation of this phenomenon.
Technically people call a small dog syndrome the condition when a dog does not realize its size and physical abilities trying to attack or stand up against a much bigger animal or a human. Some say that Chihuahuas tend to get extremely noisy and active as they naturally try to seem bigger and more dangerous. Others consider it some kind of overcompensation.
There is a reasonable grain in each interpretation. However, the overall idea does not have to do anything with reality, dogs` physiology, and behavior.
All Dogs Are Born Equal.
The dogs` world might be the ultimate embodiment of democracy as all dogs, no matter how big, purebred, or hairy they might be, are born equal. Originally your Chi has the same set of instincts, traits, and world vision as the neighbor's Great Dean or a stray dog that lives on the local market. There is a difference in temper, but it has nothing to do with the breed or dog's size. A Pitt Bull can be a shy and submissive pooch, while a Chihuahua can appear a dominant pack leader.
Those are people who later on influence dogs` world vision, making them adjust their instincts and behavior towards the reality that we create. That way, people understand that an overprotective Sheppard can be a problem and pay special attention to training such dogs from the youngest age. Eventually, Sheppards have the reputation of being obedient dogs.
Most people think that they have earned their jobs in K-9 units, military, police, and security for this trait. However, Sheppard's glorious military career is mostly a result of its physiology, endurance, and low maintenance. It is initially not more or less obedient than a Yorkshire.
At the same time, when we see a tiny pooch like an Apple head Chihuahua trying to bark, growl, and bark protecting the owner, we often find it adorable, laugh and pet the dog encouraging such behavior. This is true for all small breeds. We don't think that this behavior issue can be dangerous. After all, Chihuahua's bites are harmless, aren't they?
That is why a "small dog's syndrome" hardly has anything to do with Chihuahuas or any other dogs. It is mostly the humans condition that provokes such behavior.
Why Is My Chihuahua so Protective?
Let's imagine that you might have never looked at your Chihuahua's behavior from an ordinary dog's perspective and eventually ended up with an overprotective beast on your lap. Needless to say that such behavior can seriously alter your relationships with family members, and your partner, and generally spoil the atmosphere in the house.
No matter how adorable you might have found your overprotective Chi in the beginning, eventually, you will want to fix this behavior. But as with any other problem, it is essential to understand the roots of the issue before looking for its solutions.
Most experts agree that overprotective behavior is a result of misbalance in the pack. In other words, your Chi has at some point got confused and did not use his or her role in the family clearly.
Are Chihuahuas Pack Animals?
All dogs, including the most adorable and fluffy ones, are pack animals. They originate from the so-called wolf-like animal that lived on the Earth millions of years ago. Closely related to the modern wild canines, it was eventually domesticated by humans but managed to preserve its basic instincts throughout history.
Technically, your Chihuahua sees your family the same way a wild Jackal sees its pack. There are lots of benefits to being a pack animal. It is easier to haunt, explore and obtain new territories, breed and preserve the youngsters.
A pack for a dog is a vital resource, a provider of food, shelter, and protection. There is nothing worse for a canine than being excluded from the pack or losing it.
However, the pack is more of a military unit than a family. Although dogs do feel attachment, express unconditional love, and are happy to be our partners and buddies for life, their vision of family is not the same as ours.
Pack establishes, develops, and operates according to a strict hierarchy. There are pack members responsible for the haunting, those that are best guards, and those who orient in space and can smell brethren for miles. And there is a pack leader – the one that decides how the rest of the pack will haunt, migrate, breed, and share food.
Unlike humans, dogs see leadership, not as a desired social goal, a source of power and prevalence, but as a pretty hard and tough job. A pack leader has to correct other members, carry responsibility for food and shelter, be the one who feels the danger, and… protect.
Having a pack leader is crucial for the family. Without a leader, a pack will simply fall apart, and become vulnerable and extinct. Therefore if you don't establish leadership in your pack (aka family), your Chihuahua will simply have to carry the burden.
Believe our word; your Chi does not want to be a vicious biter, a protector, and guardian of the Galaxy. He or she would prefer to sleep on a pillow all day long, getting treats for being cute and cuddly. But failing to demonstrate that you are able to set borders, stand up for yourself and take over, you force your Chi to apply for the job.
That is why next time someone tells you that his or her Chi is protective because owners are so good, treat the dog so well that it feels obliged to pay the debt, don't believe. And of course, don't trust those who claim that all Chihuahuas are overprotective simply because… they are Chihuahuas! Most probably, you see in front of you a small dog with a huge responsibility enforced by mistreatment and misunderstanding of the dog's nature.
And if your own furry friend has suddenly turned into an unsolicited guardian, big chances are you might have taken a wrong turn somewhere in the training process. The good news, it can be avoided and treated.
How Can I Stop Overprotective Behavior?
Let's go over the main steps you should take to correct unwanted overprotective behavior.
- Control your dog. It may seem pretty straightforward, but practice shows that the smaller the dog is, the fewer owners are able to control it. As for Chihuahuas, the problem usually lies in the fact that we don't correct unwanted behavior on time, letting it develop into an issue. The good news, it is never too late to start. All you have to do is react to your Chi's behavior accordingly
- Never pet, hug or hold a Chi that demonstrates aggression. A human touch is one of the greatest rewards for dogs. Therefore, your guardian will think that you approve of such behavior. Talking also does not help. No matter what numerous dog owners say, dogs don't understand human words. Make sure to correct your Chi and snap the dog out of a protective state. In most cases, a clear and loud "Hey!" will work. Sometimes you may need to yank a collar to the side slightly as an act of physical correction. If the dog sits on your lap at the moment of aggression, put it on the floor and ignore demonstrating your disapproval
- Encourage positive behavior. Along with showing you Chi that you disapprove of the aggression, make sure to encourage positive tendencies. As soon as the dog calms down, pay attention and pet it or give it a treat. Make sure to come around as many people as possible during the training process to boost it up and make it most productive. Ask people to take part, approach you, and encourage Chi's positive behavior
- Establish leadership. Make sure your Chihuahua understands that it is up to you who can approach you or sit next to you on the couch. Do your best to take control. This process should primarily affect the dog itself. Take control over the furniture, and don't allow your furry friend there without permission. Take control over the food by taking the ball away and returning it at your wish several times per meal. Take control over toys, putting them away and providing only when your Chi demonstrates good behavior.
As soon as your Chihuahua understands that you are capable of being responsible for the whole pack, the territory, food, and shelter, he or she will instantly relax and gladly retire, leaving the guardian career back in history.