Why Do Chihuahuas Nip Ankles & Feet? + Ways to Put a Stop to It

Chihuahuas are one of those dog breeds that come packed with a whole lot of attitude. Maybe it’s because of their small size, and they want to compensate for their lack of stature. Whatever the reason, one thing is undeniable: some Chihuahuas tend to nip at ankles and feet as you walk by.

Before I proceed, let me make one thing clear so I don’t get bombarded by angry Chihuahua owners out there. These pooches aren’t naturally aggressive, and in most cases, their behavior is a result of their upbringing and training. So, while this guide on Chihuahua ankle biting may have a playful tone, it also provides a lot of practical advice.

Having spoken to numerous Chihuahua owners in the past, I can confirm that ankle and feet nipping is a common issue. In this article, I’ll explain why Chihuahuas nip at ankles and offer some steps you can take to prevent it. However, keep in mind that all puppies nip at ankles, not just Chihuahuas.

Why Does My Chihuahua Nip My Feet and Ankles?

Now, let’s delve into more detail about why your Chihuahua insists on nipping and biting your feet, ankles, shoes, or shoelaces.

1. The Instinct to Herd

All dogs have an innate desire to herd, regardless of their breed. Even small breeds like Chihuahuas possess this ancestral instinct deep in their DNA.

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Obviously, you won’t find a Chihuahua herding sheep on a farm. However, that doesn’t mean your pint-sized furry friend lacks this trait. So, the next time your Chihuahua lunges at your feet and ankles, it’s just their inner sheepdog surfacing!

Handy Hint: Be careful, as an ankle bite from a Chihuahua can hurt due to their numerous teeth!

2. Anxiety and Fear

Not all ankle nipping is a result of hereditary traits. Many Chihuahuas nip at ankles and feet out of fear, their aggressive response being an instinctive form of self-defense.

Given their tiny size, Chihuahuas are at risk of being accidentally stepped on or kicked. Imagine how stressful it must be for them, down there amidst all those stomping human feet. Sometimes, a quick ankle bite becomes their defense mechanism and an easy target.

3. Lack of Mental Stimulation and Boredom

Ankle-nipping Chihuahuas often display this behavior out of sheer boredom and a lack of attention and mental stimulation. Every dog needs toys and playtime, and if you aren’t providing those, they’ll find other ways to entertain themselves.

Before pondering over why your Chihuahua nips at your feet, ask yourself if you’re giving them enough stimulation. The two factors might be interconnected. You might want to consider purchasing appropriate-sized toys for your Chihuahua. Here’s a great option for Chihuahuas on Amazon.

4. Curiosity and Exploration

This point especially applies to Chihuahua puppies, as they use their mouths to explore unfamiliar objects. It’s similar to how human babies put everything in their mouths. Puppies behave in the same way.

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If you have a Chihuahua puppy nipping at your ankles while walking, they’re merely exploring the world around them and testing boundaries. After all, without fingers or thumbs, their mouth is their best tool for understanding things.

Handy Hint: Chihuahuas are prone to leg injuries, so if you notice them limping, it’s vital to understand the cause.

5. Pure Enjoyment

Another reason for ankle-nipping, especially in puppies, is the sheer joy they derive from it. Chihuahua puppies need to practice chasing and catching as it’s instinctive behavior. Your feet, ankles, and shoelaces make perfect prey during their formative months.

While you can’t blame a puppy for wanting to play, it’s crucial to discourage ankle nipping as their teeth can be sharp. It’s especially hazardous for young children and elderly individuals who may not be as agile on their feet.

6. Teething Troubles

In the case of puppies, ankle-nipping can often be attributed to teething. This period usually lasts until they’re six months old, during which they’ll chew and bite anything within reach.

Consider investing in a teething toy designed for Chihuahuas. Here’s a highly recommended option on Amazon.

7. Lack of Training

Lastly, persistent ankle and feet nipping in adulthood boils down to training and education. Luckily, I can offer you some quick tips on curbing ankle biting behavior in Chihuahuas.

Handy Hint: Check out my comprehensive guide on stopping problem biting behavior in Chihuahuas for more information.

How to Put an End to Ankle Biting

You can take certain measures to prevent this unwanted behavior, such as:

  1. Substitute toys or chew bones when your Chihuahua goes for your feet, accompanied by a firm command of “no.” Redirect their biting and nipping to the toy instead.
  2. Reward good behavior and offer treats when your Chihuahua refrains from ankle-nipping.
  3. Use firm “no” commands, turn your back, and avoid overexcitement, as this can worsen the behavior.
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Handy Hint: For a more comprehensive guide on curbing problem biting behavior in Chihuahuas, be sure to read my detailed article.


Don’t assume that Chihuahuas are more prone to nipping ankles and feet compared to other dog breeds. In fact, they’re probably less likely to persist with this behavior into adulthood because they aren’t primarily herding dogs and lack as much of the herding instinct in their DNA.

Nonetheless, their tiny teeth can be quite sharp, and their excitement levels can escalate quickly. So, when they bite your feet as you pass by, it can definitely be painful. Surprisingly, I stumbled upon some statistics suggesting that a Chihuahua bite was responsible for one death in the US between 2005 and 2017!

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