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Why Do Chihuahuas Bite Ankles? 7 Strange Reasons + 3 Tips

Why Do Chihuahuas Bite Ankles

Your Chihuahua is such an adorable little pup.

But lately, they’ve been acting strange.

Whenever you walk past them…

They go straight for your legs and bite your ankle.

Sometimes, it even hurts that you can’t help but feel frustrated.

And you wonder if there’s something wrong with your tiny pup.

This article is exactly what you need.

Continue reading to find out:

  • 7 strange reasons Chihuahuas bite ankles.
  • Whether you should let them keep biting your ankle or not.
  • 3 effective tips you can do to stop them from biting your ankle.
  • How lack of training can lead to unwanted behaviors like biting.
  • And a lot more…

Why do chihuahuas bite ankles?

Chihuahuas bite ankles because they’re teething, anxious, bored, or curious. They may also do this because they lack training or they think it’s a fun game. Another reason is that your legs are the easiest they can reach to bite.

7 reasons why Chihuahuas bite ankles

#1: They’re teething

Is your Chihuahua still a puppy? If yes, then they could still be teething.

It’s a phase where they want to chew everything around them. 

And for some weird reason, they want to take a bite of your ankle too.

Chihuahuas are born with no teeth. And their baby teeth will start to grow in the following order:

  1. Front teeth.
  2. Canine teeth.
  3. Premolars.
  4. All 28 baby teeth.

During their 12 weeks of age, their teething phase will start. And the first sign of this is chewing. 

Other signs also include:

  • Drooling.
  • Chewing.
  • Mild fever.
  • Sore gums.
  • Blood spots.
  • Misaligned teeth.

To help your teething Chi, give them plenty of chew toys. This will also help in preventing them from biting your ankle.

Aside from this, you can make their teething phase more comfortable by:

  • Buying them cooling teethers.
  • Letting them chew on a twisted wet towel.
  • Giving them frozen treats like banana or carrot.
  • Providing them an area where they can safely chew.
  • Removing access to harmful things they might chew.

Check out also: 7 reasons why your dog chews on blankets

#2: It’s their herding instinct

You’re standing and suddenly your Chi comes running at you.

They circle around you and the next thing they do surprises you.

Your Chi goes straight for your ankle and nips it. Do you know why they’re doing this?

They’re probably trying to herd you. I know what you’re thinking… 

Can Chihuahuas really have the instinct to herd? Well apparently, all dogs do. 

Some have a stronger instinct to do it and they’re called herding breeds. 

But small dogs like your Chi can also have this drive.

Just watch this fascinating video of a tiny Chihuahua herding sheep:

If you’re wondering how to distinguish herding behavior, these are the following signs:

  • Poking.
  • Nipping.
  • Circling.
  • Barking.
  • Chasing.

“Is there a way to stop my Chi from herding?”

Yes, one thing you do is to apply the alternative behavior method. 

This can be done in 5 simple steps:

  1. Watch your Chi while they’re around something they want to herd.
  2. Get their attention with noise when they show any signs of herding.
  3. Distract them by giving a command or letting them do a trick.
  4. Reward them when they listen to your command or do the trick.
  5. Repeat until they stop attempting to herd.

#3: They’re anxious

Chihuahuas are prone to anxiety. A study also mentioned that these tiny dogs are one of the most fearful breeds.

Imagine being tiny and all you could see are the feet of people. This could make you feel anxious.

According to AKC, a dog’s anxiety is mostly caused by fear, separation, or age. 

Because of a Chihuahua’s small size, they may get scared of being kicked or stepped on.

And sometimes, their best defense is biting the easiest target. Which happens to be your ankle.

There are also those who nibble at your ankle because they suffer from separation anxiety.

Let’s take this experience of one fur mom for example…

Her 11-week old Chi has been following her everywhere and will cry when she’s not around.

So whenever the fur mom comes home, the pup would bite at her ankle and won’t leave her alone.

There are also times when the Chi would nip at her feet when she picks up her keys to leave.

“How would I know if my pooch is anxious?” Some symptoms to watch out for are:

If you allow your Chi to continue being anxious, it may lead to aggressive behavior.

And of course, this is something we don’t want to happen.

Fortunately, you can help your dog overcome this behavior.

CCSPA recommends the following tips:

  • Trying out a doggy massage.
  • Buying them an anxiety jacket.
  • Playing relaxing music for them.
  • Allowing them to have a time out.
  • Providing enough physical exercise.
  • Letting them be comforted with physical contact.

You might also be interested in: Why Do Chihuahuas Shake? Here’s The 17 Reasons

#4: It’s pure boredom

Are you giving your Chi enough exercise and attention? If not, they might become bored. 

And when they do, they’ll find ways to entertain themselves.

Like digging on your sofa, ripping apart toilet paper, and even biting your ankle. 

They have all this pent-up energy that they might as well nibble at your feet. 

This could also be their way to make you notice them.

To know if your Chi is bored, check these following signs:

  • Barking.
  • Digging.
  • Whining.
  • Stealing.
  • Chewing.
  • Escaping.
  • Clingy behavior.
  • Licking excessively.

Fortunately, there are a lot of things you could do to keep Chihuahuas entertained.

These are:

Read also: Why do Chihuahuas lick so much?

#5: They’re just curious

Chihuahuas Bite Your Ankles Out Of Curiosity

Sometimes, Chihuahuas bite ankles due to curiosity. This is most common in puppies.

Much like human babies that put everything in their mouth to discover things.

Your fur baby would also do the same thing. They use their mouth to investigate things they find interesting.

And yes, that includes your ankle and feet that they keep seeing around.

It’s easy to tell if your Chi is curious about something.

You’ll notice that they won’t leave it alone until they know what it’s all about.

Your pooch may also show other signs of curiosity, these are:

They may also try to bite your ankles to see how you’ll react. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that this behavior should not be tolerated.

Once puppies get used to doing it, there’s no turning back. 

They might keep doing it as they turn into adults. And that’s something you don’t want to happen.

Unless you’re okay with being bitten with your Chi’s adult teeth (spoiler alert: It hurts and is no fun at all).

#6: They lack training

If you’ve allowed your little pooch to continue biting your ankle and haven’t trained them to stop.

Then this is the reason why they’re still doing it. 

Did you know that proper training is one of your dog’s basic needs?

If your Chi lacks training, they will turn into disobedient dogs.

And no matter how many times you tell them to stop, they’ll keep doing it again.

Here’s an example from a paw parent’s experience who adopted a Chihuahua for the first time…

Being naive to taking care of a puppy, he made the mistake of not training his Chi.

He didn’t teach the pup any obedience command.

And pampered them by allowing their barking and biting habits.

As the Chihuahua grew old, their habits became worse. And the paw parent regretted this.

He tried his hardest to curb the behavior. Fortunately, he managed to do it.

But guess what? It took him 10 years to train his Chi to obey him.

He realized that he should have trained them while they were young.

VCA also mentions early training for puppies will help prevent unruly behavior.

And it’s important to start by teaching them basic obedience commands.

Through obedience training, the following behaviors can be avoided:

  • Barking.
  • Jumping.
  • Aggression.
  • Leash pulling.
  • Not listening when called.

“So how should I train my Chi?”

You can start by teaching these 7 essential commands:

  • No.
  • Sit.
  • Off.
  • Stay.
  • Heel.
  • Come.
  • Lay Down.

Letting your Chi have at least 15 minutes each day of training will help them master these commands in no time.

Interesting fact: Researchers found that dogs will become aggressive if they’re badly trained.

#7: They think it’s a game

For some chihuahuas, they bite ankles because it’s fun. They think it’s a game they’re playing with you.

Chihuahuas love a fun game of chasing and catching. You may notice this when they run after balls or squirrels.

So if you happen to walk past them, they may find your ankles as an easy target.

Here’s a story from one pet parent with her Chihuahua…

Whenever she walks around the house, her Chi thinks it’s time for a chase.

Her playful pup would run behind her at lightning speed. And then would suddenly bite at her ankle.

Once the pet parent reacts, the Chi would take off like a cheetah.

Her Chi enjoys doing this so much that they started nipping the ankles of visitors too.

This can be a thrill for your pooch but it may become dangerous for children and the elderly.

For the safety of your Chi and other people, it’s would be better to discourage the behavior.

What you can do is teach your pup that there are other ways to have fun. 

Rather than biting ankles, here’s a list of games you can play with your furry friend:

  • Frisbee.
  • Digging box.
  • Stuffed kong.
  • Agility course.
  • Water games.
  • Find the treat.
  • Hide and seek.
  • Chasing bubbles.
  • Food dispensing toys.

How to stop a Chihuahua from biting ankles? 3 tips

#1: Distract them from doing the behavior

One way to stop your Chi from biting ankles is to distract them before they do it.

You should be aware of when it’s about to happen. And have a toy in hand.

Once they’re about to go for your ankle, wave the toy at them.

With this, you’re redirecting their attention to the toy instead of your feet.

If they take the toy, don’t forget to praise them with a simple “Good boy!”.

Do this consistently until they learn that your ankle is not there for nipping.

You can also distract them by using firm commands such as “no” or “stop”.

Just remember to correct them before they start biting and not after they do it.

#2: Give them a time-out

If they insist on doing this behavior, they need to be given a time out.

When they start to bite, let out a loud yelp. It will make your Chi think you’ve been hurt.

This is the same when dogs are playing and they’re bitten by another canine.

Notice how they back off when they hear their playmate squeal?

While doing this, completely ignore your pup for at least 20 seconds. And turn your back to them.

If they attempt to bite again, leave the room. You can go back after a few minutes and try again.

I know this sounds like a mean thing to do your pooch. But you need to do it if you want them to stop biting.

#3: Let them socialize with other dogs

One of the best ways for your Chi to learn is by socializing with other dogs.

Letting them interact with their fellow canines will help them understand what’s acceptable and not.

They will be able to learn not to bite too hard.  And will know when to stop.

A well-socialized Chihuahua will also have fewer behavioral problems.

They will be more confident and will be able to easily adjust to new environments.

Socialization also keeps your dog healthy and happy. Plus, letting them play with other dogs can also tire them out.

So when they get home, they won’t even have any excess energy to bite your feet.