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Anxiety in Chihuahuas

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Chill Out! How to Help Your Stressed-Out Chihuahua

Anxiety in Chihuahuas

In today’s world, many of us dog owners have high-stress lifestyles – the demands of work, home, and family can really ramp up our anxiety level. What about our dogs, however – is it possible for our Chihuahuas to experience anxiety like we do?

The simple answer, of course, is yes. It’s true that many breeds are far more unflappable than our little friends. Chihuahuas in particular seem to be known for their nervous tendencies, and just like their human counterparts, our stressed out pups may worry about a number of different things.

Chihuahua anxiety

In some cases, the anxiety is so severe that it can affect our family routines or our relationships with our Chihuahuas; sometimes causing us to be worried, overprotective, upset, angry or even resentful of our pup’s behavior. And just as with people, constant anxiety might even have a worrisome effect on your little friend’s health, increasing their cortisol (stress hormone) levels and making their immune system less effective when they’re fighting illness.

Every dog can show their anxiety in different ways, and it’s up to us to do some detective work if we notice that our Chis are acting differently. Shaking or trembling is a pretty typical behavior trait we notice in our diminutive dogs when they’re uneasy, but there are some other signs that might tip you off to the fact that your Chihuahua is too stressed out such as:

• A change in their appetite – yes, our friends tend to be picky eaters as a rule, but sometimes they’re not eating because they’re actually anxious
• Weight loss or other health issues
• Unusually quiet or even depressed
• Destructive behaviors like chewing on furniture or clothing
• Increased whining, whimpering or barking
• Clinginess
• Reluctance to potty in their normal spot, or peeing and pooping in the house suddenly
• Licking or chewing at themselves – compulsive grooming can often release endorphins (feel-good hormones), so some Chihuahuas may repeatedly lick or chew at their skin and fur to help relieve their anxious feelings
• Aggressive behavior – it’s not unusual for a stressed or fearful dog to lash out in defense, or to physically redirect their feelings onto the closest target if they’re feeling extremely nervous

stress in Chihuahuas

Sometimes, it’s easy for us to see what’s upsetting our dogs, like the presence of scary noises or the fear of being separated from us. At other times, though, we might have no idea what’s causing our pups to quiver in misery – it’s not like they can tell us in words, exactly! Because we know that it’s far from fun to be always stressed out, it is important to get to the bottom of the issue that’s bothering your Chihuahua. To begin with, let’s take a quick look at some of the reasons why many of our little dogs might be stressed:

• Separation from their owner or other animal friend – Chis tend to bond very closely with their families.
• Boredom – Our smart little pooches need lots of interaction and play to give them enough mental stimulation.
• Not enough physical activity – though small, Chis still need lots of exercise!
• Fear – Especially if they’ve been poorly socialized, or have had a traumatic experience previously, Chihuahuas might be stressed out by new people, different environments, loud or unusual noises, and even other dogs or pets.
• Changes in routine – Dogs are creatures of habit, and if we could actually talk to them, most of them would say they prefer a fairly predictable daily routine. This is an instinctual remnant from their wolfish ancestors – consistency in food source and shelter meant a greater rate of survival!
• Health problems or chronic pain – it’s never fun being sick, and a Chi who’s feeling crummy all the time can definitely feel upset and anxious.
• Losing a family member (human or animal) –Chihuahuas are little dogs with big hearts; it’s not uncommon for them to grieve after losing a close companion.

The good news is that there are many ways in which you can lend a helping paw to your anxious pup. To begin with, it’s always a good idea to have them fully examined by their veterinarian to help rule out any medical problems that could be causing their stress. Next, taking steps to enrich your Chihuahua’s day-to-day routine can go a long way towards lowering their stress level! Feeding a high-quality and nutritious diet, providing fresh water, and giving your pup a comfortable and secure place to rest (without fear of interruption) are great ways to keep them physically healthy, but your time and attention is important to your pup too.

Make sure that your Chihuahua is getting lots of exercise from daily walks or backyard playtime, and give their brain a workout as well with interactive toys, obedience training, teaching fun tricks, or even games of ‘hide and seek’ or ‘find the treat’. We already know that our Chis welcome love and affection in large supply, but remember to avoid harsh corrections or punishment too, which can only make anxiety worse.

nervous Chihuahua

For some Chihuahuas, simply giving them more of our time can make a huge difference in how they feel; for others, however, the chronic cycle of stress and anxiety can be impossible to relieve without help, particularly in cases of severe separation anxiety, extreme under-socialization or fear caused by a really dire event. For these dogs, a program of slow and careful behavior modification supervised by a veterinary behaviorist is often the best option for recovery and relief.

Occasionally, veterinarian prescribed anti-anxiety medications are an option for relieving severe anxiety too, which helps with behavior training and conditioning, allowing a dog to become calm enough to be able to experience certain situations without feeling constant stress.

It’s true that there’s often no quick and easy solution to treating your Chihuahua’s anxiety, but that doesn’t mean it should merely be brushed off as ‘just a Chihuahua thing’. Emotional stress is a serious problem for many of our pups, and as their loving owners, we need to step forward and help them through it. After all, aren’t they always there for us?

So, is your Chihuahua stressed out and anxious? Do you know why? Have you tried anything to to help your Chi with his/her stress? Did it work? Let us know in the comments!

Dancing Diablo
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Tracee Morris

Tuesday 23rd of February 2021

I have a 2yr old male chihuahua. Super sweet little guy, but incredibly anxious about everything. I have had him his entire life. He came from a very loving home previously, so shouldn't be issues there. Things were fine until I needed to be temporarily relocated for work. I moved across the country from one coast to the other. Since the relocation would be 6-8 months, I was not going to leave my pups home. (I also have a maltipoo.) First issue was the plane ride over. He barked almost the entire ride. The vet had given me gabapentin to use on the flight, but it did nothing for him. He also has a thundershirt, but again, no help. I have since tried xanax and other anxiety meds, but nothing works well. When we go on walks here in the new area, he is happy until he sees another person or animal, and then he get's very upset and anxious. He goes to doggy day care and does great there, but not so great when he is with me. I'm worried the flight home is going to be horrible again and am wondering if anyone has ideas about traveling specifically with anxious chi's. Also, something that might help when we are out and about exploring to help him enjoy the experience rather than be anxious about it.


Tuesday 23rd of February 2021

Havr you tried CBD oil? That helps many anxious dogs. I'm not sure what else you can try. It sounds like you are doing everything you can. I can ask on the Facebook page for you if you want. Maybe someone else might have some ideas for you.

Stella L Parker

Wednesday 18th of November 2020

I have 2 chis both 7 years old, with my little girl separation just can't happen, Cheeko has to have his sweat shirt on and be on his dad's lap, and no they don't like change.


Wednesday 18th of November 2020

Is it a regular shirt that you use on Cheeko or one of those thunder shirts?


Tuesday 10th of November 2020

I rescued a 2yo chiweenie- he is now 3. His only problem is a big one- he is very protective of me and his home. When someone approaches me or enters the house he barks and tries to go after ankles. It's hard to hold him back and it takes him a while to calm down- he has to smell their hand while I hold him and they have to sit. Once he does if a stranger in the house even stands up he tries to go after them again. Only a few people he knows well he doesn't do this to. It's the only time where he's so focused and protective that the best treats or nothing can distract him. When I'm not home he's a lot nicer to guests. Wherever I bring him I have to hold onto him because if someone moves too abruptly he may go after them. I tried anxiety treats but not CBD yet. I'm considering trying CBD and also anxiety medication. Any tips are appreciated!


Tuesday 10th of November 2020

Yes Lara, I would try CBD oil. It sounds like your dog is guarding you. When dogs do this, they think of you as their property and they don't want anyone they don't trust near you. When he does this, I would remove him from the situation and give him a "time out". Put him in his crate, play pen or another room. You can try bringing him out again in 10 minutes or so but if he starts it up again, I would remove him from the situation.


Thursday 8th of October 2020

Thank you for listing the possible causes of anxiety. Our JackChi, Lexi, has been acting strange the last couple days. I recently broke my wrist and sprained my ankle so our daily morning walks had to stop. After reading your article I pulled out the leash and she ran out from her “clubhouse” ( under the bed) with her tail wagging and I think I saw a smile 😊. While it was short, I feel better that she’s not sick. Thanks,


Thursday 8th of October 2020

I'm so glad she's not sick Erica, just missing her walks.

Pauline Smit

Thursday 10th of September 2020

I have a JackChi who is now 1 year old. We have had her since she was 8 weeks old and since day 1 she has been nervous and scared, but only at home with us. She wont let us pick her up or cuddle with her unless she initiates it first. She has just started allowing us to stroke her on her back while we are sitting down. We are experienced dog owners and give her her space and are very patient with her, don't raise our voices or reprimand her at all. We spend a lot of time walking her and playing with her and spoiling her. However, she will freely go to strangers who are visiting and when on a walk will let everyone else pick her up or pat her. She loves other dogs and has never been aggressive at all. She is very submissive to other dogs and people. She adores the cat and they spend hours preening each other. We do not have kids or kids visiting or have many guests over. She does sleep on the bed but does not snuggle at all unless she feels like it - which is not very often. She has improved a little since she was a pup, but it is such a slow process. Why will she go to strangers but be so scared with us? It makes me very sad as we love her so much! If there is something that we are not doing and should be any advice would be appreciated.


Tuesday 15th of September 2020

That's a good question and don't think I have come across a situation quite like this. I unfortunately don't have any answers for you. I wonder what she would do if you just ignore her for awhile. Try it for a few hours and see how she reacts.