The Little Guy and the Loud Voice ~ Natalie, Vet Nurse

Dogs are barking. There are so many around you. How do you choose? Who will you be able to give the best life to? You just want someone who will snuggle with you and love you unconditionally. You want a teddy bear with a beating heart and eyes that follow your every move.

You find the one that you will spend the rest of your life with. Everything is perfect. You have an 8-pound bundle of joy with the cutest pointy ears and big brown eyes.

What is the first thing people say when they see little fluffy?

“Chihuahuas are ankle biters!” The stigma strikes again and again and you just want to hide her from those harsh words and tell her she doesn’t deserve to listen to that. But why do people feel that way? Your precious girl would never bite!

Chihuahuas deserve more respect and attention. We need people to start listening to them.

Dogs don’t want to bite people instinctively. Dogs trust people. They trust that they will speak to them and understand them. Just like humans, sometimes dogs want to be left alone and they tell you that, LONG before they resort to biting. The issue lies in humans failing to see that.

Let me explain.

Someone reaches down to pet a small dog who doesn’t want to be bothered. The small dog starts yawning, licking their nose, and turning their body away. Their ears are back. Sometimes their tail is even wagging! This dog is uncomfortable. But all of these movements in a little dog makes the human respond with, “awwww!” They get closer to her. She’s now lying down, she’s stiff. Her lip is lifted. “Oh she wants belly rubs!” The human’s hand makes contact with the belly. This little dog has given them so many warning signs, but they’re still here. What else is she to do? She growls. “Ow, she bit me! This is why I don’t like chihuahuas!” And so, the stigma continues.

What is she going to do next time someone tries to pet her?

She’s going to remember that she gave all of her warning signs but they didn’t listen. She does NOT want to be bothered, so she should just go straight to a bite from now on. Now this precious little dog is an ankle biter.

We have to start being the advocate for our companion animals. We have to become fluent with their language so we can say to another human, “oh, she actually doesn’t want affection right now. I can tell by her body language. Let’s leave her alone.”

If we can advocate for our pets, especially the little guys, maybe we can help replace the stigma of “ankle biters” with something like “teddy bear with a heartbeat.”

Please review the Canine Ladder of Aggression and the Spectrum of Fear, Anxiety, & Stress for dogs and cats below. These are typical movements that our companions use when they are telling us they are uncomfortable. We need to learn them like our own language.