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Where Do Chihuahuas Like To Be Petted?

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Looking to make friends with a Chihuahua? The quickest way to do that is to offer some affection (and a dog treat, or dog-safe human food, which never hurt either!). This article will offer you guidance on how to best befriend and pet a Chihuahua.

Where Do Chihuahuas Like To Be Petted?

Although every dog is an individual who will have their own preferences, most Chihuahuas share these common petting preferences:

Behind the ears. Many Chihuahuas enjoy the traditional scratch behind the ears, just be sure to be gentle. Bonus points tend to be awarded if they are scratched beneath the collar too.

Gentle ear massages. Some Chihuahuas enjoy a very gentle ear massage, done by curling your index finger inwards like you are making a fist, putting your bent finger joint into the ear, and very gently rubbing in circles. This must be done extremely gently to avoid injury.

Your chi may want to smell your finger thereafter because they cannot smell their own ears and the scent is usually interesting to them. This can be a good way to train a Chi who does not like their ears cleaned to tolerate ear cleanings.

Under the chin. A good and gentle scratch under the chin tends to be universally satisfying. This is also less intimidating to dogs than being petted on top of the head.

2 adorable chihuahuas on backs getting belly rubs

The tummy. Good old-fashioned belly rubs never go out of style! Bonus points are awarded when the Chi is in the sun to roll onto their back and have the sun warm their tummy while it is rubbed.

The back. The top of a Chi’s back is difficult for them to reach, so they always love back scratches. Due to their diminutive size, be sure not to press down too hard as you scratch. If you attempt a back rub, use extreme caution to avoid injuring the spine.

Above the tail. Another out-of-reach spot is at the end of the dog’s back, right above the tail. Most Chis absolutely love a good above-the-tail scratch; simply scratch in place at the bottom of your dog’s back, right above the tail.

How To Approach A Chihuahua

Follow these tips when approaching a Chihuahua:

Offer A Treat Or Toy

long hair chihuahua in pink coat looking at the treat hand is holding

Offering a Chihuahua one of their favorite toys or a new one that you think they may enjoy, or one small treat, is a good way to initiate a friendship by associating yourself with something positive. That said, you should avoid showering a Chi with treats to prevent them from becoming overweight. One treat is enough to convey hi, I would like to be friends.

Ignore Them

Most Chihuahuas LOVE attention, and like many humans, they crave it most from the people who are not giving it freely. Walking over to the vicinity of where the Chihuahua is and sitting down, ignoring them, gives the Chi to chance to initiate the interaction. This is particularly important for nervous Chihuahuas to have the chance to initiate the interaction on their terms in a way that they are comfortable with.

Get Low

Sitting down to make yourself more approachable is a good step to take before attempting to pet or interact. Since most Chis are so tiny, some Chihuahuas may be intimated by a large person looming over them.

chihuahua eating dog food

Do Not Approach During A Meal

If a Chihuahua is eating a meal, do not approach them and begin petting them. Walking nearby is not an issue, but initiating an interaction is not the best idea, as they may feel threatened, fearing that you will take their food.

Referred to as “resource guarding“, if a Chi is worried that you will carry off their kibble, they will growl, snap, and even bite to defend their treasured resource. This is not the best way to begin an interaction and can be a difficult behavior to train away.

Be Gentle

Though they have big personalities, these dogs can be sensitive and do not tolerate roughhousing well. Always pet and handle a Chihuahua gently.

Observe Body Language

If the Chihuahua is choosing to come near you on his or her own, makes a satisfied sound as you pet him or her, leans into the petting, and settles into your lap, he or she is happy to continue the interaction.

If the Chihuahua yelps, pancakes to the floor, keeps walking away from you, bares his or her teeth, growls or snaps, or licks their lips, he or she is feeling stressed and does not want to interact with you.

It is important to end this interaction as neutrally as possible; you do not want to reinforce aggressive behavior, but you also do not want to continue pushing a dog who is clearly stressed out.

If you have a very nervous Chi, “setting a trap” with some go-to favorite things is a good way to get him or her to associate you with positive things. This will ultimately help him or her relax around you, which will mean becoming friends with you and accepting pets from you.

Set A Chihuahua Trap

Cute Chihuahua puppy lying in a blue blanket. Close-up portrait

A good way to make a Chihuahua happy and comfortable is to offer a blankie; most Chihuahuas LOVE blankies! So “set your Chi Trap” by placing a very soft blanket on the floor near where you are sitting, or on your lap. If the Chi you are attempting to trap is extremely nervous, ignore him or her in the trap, but scatter training treats or kibble in their direction from where you are.

If the Chi is open to attention from you, approach, speaking in a gentle tone, offer a small treat, and pet under the chin.

Where To Avoid Petting A Chihuahua

To befriend a Chi, avoid petting these off-limits areas that most Chis do not appreciate being petted in:

  • Eyes
  • Nose
  • Teeth
  • Ears
  • Paws
  • Tail

*Some Chihuahuas do not mind a good ear-cleaning massage as aforementioned. However, if a Chi has an ear infection or was abused, they will likely not appreciate an ear massage.


Chihuahuas tend to be a very loving breed who cannot ever get enough attention. They have a few petting preferences, but mostly, they just want a soft blanket and a lap to lounge in.

What is your Chi’s favorite spot to be scratched in or petted on? What tips do you have for someone who wants to befriend a Chihuahua? Share in the comments below.

blond woman holding white chihuahua

Cathy Bendzunas

Pet Blogger

I have had dogs all my life. I have been a pet groomer, worked in a pet hotel, and a kennel, and have bred and showed dogs.

Jane F

Friday 7th of July 2023

Cathy, it occurred to me that I’ve been reading your Chi info letter for more than 4 years now, when I brought chi mixes into my life for the first time. Nike and Chanel are litter mates. I am their mamaJane And we 3 are bests buddies. I have been a well informed mama because of all the big advice and little details you include every Friday. I never miss this blog. Please keep up the good work! You help so many, and esp the new Chi peeps!


Thursday 22nd of June 2023

My 4 year old little buddy has MAJOR separation anxiety to the point that he salivates so bad that his neck to his belly is wet. I cannot leave him alone, even for thirty minutes. He is my ESA and I take him with me if I'm going to be gone over an hour. I would like him to be comfortable at home, but I'm out of ideas how to help him. Any help would be appreciated!

Cathy Bendzunas

Thursday 22nd of June 2023

Have you tried CBD oil? That has helped one of the dogs I pet sit for that has anxiety. Or you can contact an professional animal behaviorist that will give help him get over this.

Twinkle's Mom

Tuesday 20th of June 2023

Be careful of their throat area as they have sensitive "wind pipes". They can cough, if you rub too much or too hard. Never use a collar, always use a harness so it will not choke them.

Cathy Bendzunas

Tuesday 20th of June 2023

Of course, you should always pet them gently. I have notied when my Ziggy has his reverse sneezing, if I gently stroke his throat, it stops.

Sarwar Abdullah

Monday 12th of December 2022

Every dog loves a good scratch behind the ears!! I love to pet my doggies soft little floppy ears 😍


Monday 12th of December 2022

Yes they do like their behind the ears scratchies.

Dominique Stanbrough

Friday 9th of December 2022

My chihuahua, Alex, is 12 lbs. he could loose one pound but would still be a big gorgeous long haired chihuahua. His breeder told me he would be 8 lbs fully grown. At first I was very upset but after two years I got very attached to him he is big but a perfect chihuahua.


Tuesday 27th of June 2023

@dominique Hi Dominique! This is Selma. Hope you are doing well! Congratulations on your puppy.


Saturday 10th of December 2022

Yeah, big or small, our fur babies are wonderful little dogs.