Why Does My Chihuahua Growl? Tips for Petting Your Pup

Do you have a Chihuahua that growls when you pet them? If so, you’re not alone. Many Chihuahua owners have experienced this behavior and wonder what it means. While it can be concerning, there are several reasons why your Chihuahua might growl when you pet them.

One possible reason for growling is that your Chihuahua is in pain. According to the American Kennel Club, injured dogs will often growl to keep you from touching the painful area. Another reason for growling is fear-aggression or anxiety. If your Chihuahua is uncomfortable with being petted, they may growl to communicate their discomfort.

Understanding Chihuahua Growling

Why Do Chihuahuas Growl?

Chihuahuas growl for a variety of reasons, including fear, discomfort, pain, anxiety, and territorial behavior. Growling can also be a sign of aggression or dominance. It’s important to understand why your Chihuahua is growling to address the behavior properly.

Cute chihuahua puppy with big pokemon toy in studio.

When Do Chihuahuas Growl?

Chihuahuas may growl when they feel threatened or uncomfortable, such as when they are picked up or petted in a way that they don’t like. They may also growl when they are in pain or frightened. In some cases, Chihuahuas may growl to assert their dominance or protect their territory.

Is Growling Always a Sign of Aggression?

Growling is not always a sign of aggression. Sometimes, Chihuahuas growl to communicate their discomfort or fear. It’s important to understand the context of the growling behavior to determine whether it’s a sign of aggression or not. If your Chihuahua is growling out of fear or discomfort, positive reinforcement training can help build trust and address the behavior.

Your Chihuahua is growling when you pet them because they don’t trust you yet. When your dog growls, stop trying to pet them, and wait for them to calm down. At this point, say ‘good dog’ and give them a treat. Repeat this every time that your dog does something you want to encourage, and they will quickly learn to trust you.

It’s important to seek the help of a veterinary behaviorist if your Chihuahua’s growling behavior is persistent or aggressive. They can help identify the root cause of the behavior and develop a plan to address it.

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How to Handle Chihuahua Growling

Avoiding Triggers

To prevent growling, avoid touching the Chihuahua’s sensitive areas such as the belly, paws, and ears. If your Chihuahua growls when you pet him, stop the petting and avoid touching him in those areas again. Additionally, avoid sudden movements, loud noises, and strangers that may trigger the growling behavior.

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Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement can help to reduce growling behavior. When your Chihuahua does not growl, reward him with a treat, praise, or a toy. This will help him associate good behavior with positive outcomes. Over time, your Chihuahua will learn that growling is not acceptable, and good behavior is rewarded.


Socialization is crucial for Chihuahuas to learn how to behave around people and other dogs. Introduce your Chihuahua to new people, places, and situations gradually. This will help him develop confidence and reduce anxiety. Socialization can also help your Chihuahua learn how to interact with other dogs without growling.

Chiweenie and Chihuahua Mix in dog bed

Seeking Professional Help

If your Chihuahua’s growling behavior persists, seek professional help from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist. They can help identify the underlying cause of the growling behavior and provide guidance on how to train your Chihuahua to stop growling.

Remember to establish yourself as the pack leader and provide your Chihuahua with enough exercise and mental stimulation to reduce anxiety and excitement. With patience and consistency, you can help your Chihuahua overcome growling behavior.



In conclusion, growling is a common way for Chihuahuas to communicate their feelings. If your Chihuahua growls when you pet him, it may not necessarily mean that he is uncomfortable or aggressive. Instead, it may indicate that he is happy and content.

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However, if your Chihuahua growls frequently or in response to certain actions, it may be a sign of discomfort or fear. In such cases, it is important to observe your dog’s body language and behavior to determine the cause of the growling.

If you suspect that your Chihuahua is growling out of fear or discomfort, it is important to address the underlying issue. This may involve training, socialization, or seeking the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.

Remember, every dog is unique and may have different reasons for growling. By understanding your Chihuahua’s behavior and taking appropriate action, you can help ensure that he feels safe, secure, and happy in your home.


How do you stop a Chihuahua from growling?

When your Chihuahua growls at you for trying to pet them or for getting close, you should immediately sit still and wait until they stop growling. Once your Chihuahua stops, give them a treat, and repeat this process for the next few days.

When your Chihuahua growls at you like that, it usually means that they haven’t learned to trust you yet. Over time, the kindness and treats will soften their attitude towards you, just be consistent with it and you’ll definitely see a change.

Why is my Chihuahua so angry?

This is something that you will need to get used to. Chihuahuas look like they have really explosive tempers but what you are really seeing is a small dog compensating for their tiny size. That display of temper is designed to make your dog feel that they are intimidating.

Hold up a treat and tell your dog to ‘sit’ and wait until they calm down and do that. Once your dog sits, give them praise and a treat, and if you keep doing this then your dog will eventually stop feeling the need to show off so much.

How do you punish a Chihuahua?

NEVER punish your Chihuahua. Your little doggy won’t understand why you are doing this and they will simply think that you are being mean to them – and then the trouble will really start! Instead, use positive reinforcement with your Chihuahua.

Give them a treat and praise whenever they do something right and teach them the sit command. When they do something wrong, simply tell your dog to sit and ignore them until they do so. Once your dog is calm and sitting, give them praise and a treat and repeat as necessary.

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Why does my Chihuahua growl at me for no reason?

There is always a reason, even if it doesn’t seem apparent. Chihuahuas are very territorial, for instance, and may well growl at you for getting near their food or a favorite toy. Fear is another common reason for growling, as your dog feels the need to make themselves look ‘scary’ to make up for their tiny size.

Keep treats in your pocket so that during this time of training, so that every time your Chihuahua growls you can simply ignore them until they stop, give them a treat and praise, and repeat the process until your dog starts calming down.

Do Chihuahuas have bad tempers?

Chihuahuas really do have explosive tempers and sometimes it’s kind of hilarious – at least until someone gets bitten. Hold up a treat where your dog can see it and firmly say ‘calm down’ and wait until your dog gets themselves back under control.

Once they aren’t hopping around and angry, say ‘good dog’ and give your Chihuahua a treat. With a little patience, your dog will learn to calm down on command, just be patient with the process as these tiny dogs really do have quite the temper.

Why are some Chihuahuas so mean?

Most commonly a mean Chihuahua is simply scared. The first reaction that these little dogs have when frightened is to ‘puff up’ and try to make themselves fierce. The best thing that you can do is to assess what’s around to see why your dog is so upset.

Tell your dog ‘it’s okay’ in a calm, soothing voice, and when your dog relaxes a little, give them a treat to show that everything is peachy-keen. This will help bond you with your dog and in turn, as your dog starts to feel safe around you then their attitude will soften noticeably.

Is a Chihuahua aggressive?

Chihuahuas can be pint-sized aggressors if encouraged to do so. These dogs are very territorial and sometimes even try to bite you if you touch their food or a favorite toy. When your dog shows signs of aggressive, firmly say ‘no’ and hold up a treat so that they can see it.

When your dog calms down (and not a moment before), give your dog a little praise and the treat, and over time your dog will start to trust you more around the things that they consider ‘theirs’.

Is it okay to lightly hit a dog?

No. Hitting a dog will only make your dog frightened of you. By the time that punishment is applied, your dog won’t know why you are doing it to them, and will simply think that you are mean and that they need to be careful in your presence.

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Instead, use positive reinforcement to encourage the behaviors that you like. Whenever your dog does something good, like potty outside or stop growling when you say ‘calm down’, then give them a treat. Over time, your dog will build up a collection of habits that you encourage and this is the best way to train them.

How do you get a Chihuahua to trust you?

You will earn your Chihuahuas trust by keeping calm, speaking in a soothing, friendly voice, and giving your dog treats when they do things that you wish to encourage. You need to be patient, as these little dogs are easily frightened in a new home and quite territorial by nature once they are used to it.

With constant love and reassurance, your dog will slowly learn to trust you, and this is a gift that will last a lifetime!