Chihuahuas are high-energy dogs that will keep you fit and healthy. This pint-sized breed is the 33rd most popular breed in America, according to Finances Online, and their popularity is growing.
Letting your chihuahua loose in your backyard is a great way to encourage them to burn off some energy. But before you welcome a chihuahua into your home, you must prepare your yard for their arrival.
Secure your yard
Chihuahuas are the world’s smallest breed of dog. They typically weigh between 2 and 6 pounds and are between 6 and 9 inches tall. Their minute size means that chihuahuas can escape through the smallest of gaps in your yard.
Putting up a solid fence is a must. You also need to make sure that there are no bushes or holes behind the back of your shed that your pet will be able to squeeze through. A solid, wooden back gate is preferable to a metal one as there are no gaps for a tiny pooch to get through.
Move elevated items
They may be small, but chihuahuas can jump up to 9 feet high. This makes it possible for a chihuahua to jump onto a garden table and over the fence. Garden tables, chairs, sun loungers, garbage cans, storage boxes, slides, and similar could all help your dog jump over the fence.
To prevent this you need to keep any items that your chihuahua can jump on and off away from the edges of your yard.
Lay an artificial lawn
A real lawn can be dangerous for all dogs, but perhaps even more so for a tiny one like a chihuahua. Holes are common in lawns and the small legs of a chihuahua could easily fall into one and break.
Holes don’t form in artificial grass easily and animals find it hard to dig up or chew fake lawns. Also, artificial grass is convenient because it doesn’t need watering and it stays looking good all year round.
When a chihuahua or any other dog toilets on artificial grass it’s easy to clean up, so you haven’t got to worry about unsightly patches appearing.
Remove dangerous plants
Every year, 232,000 pets are poisoned. Garden plants are a common cause of poisoning in dogs. Dangerous plants include:
- Autumn crocus
- English ivy
- Aloe Vera
A dog that ingests these plants could experience vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling. Immediate veterinary assistance will be needed. As chihuahuas are so small, they are likely to be affected by consuming a toxic plant faster than a larger breed.
To keep your little four-legged companion safe, remove all dangerous plants from your yard before allowing your new chihuahua to venture around.
Once you’ve gotten rid of dangerous plants from your yard, you also need to have a general tidy-up. Check your yard for any tools or equipment that could be dangerous to your chihuahua.
For example, stray nails from a recent garden project could seriously injure a chihuahua’s paw, while a lawnmower is a risky piece of equipment to leave out due to the wire and sharp edges. You also need to check that your shed is dog-proof.
Remember chihuahuas are very petite and can squeeze through the smallest of gaps, so make sure you’ve got a secure and solid door on yours. For extra safety, store chemicals, such as fertilizers and antifreeze in a locked cabinet inside your shed.
Put a lid on your compost heap
Composting is great for the environment, but not so good for your chihuahua. An inquisitive chihuahua may climb into your pile of compost and have a nibble.
Certain food items in there, such as some fruits and vegetables and coffee grounds, are dangerous for dogs and will make them ill. Save yourself a large vet bill by putting a lid on your compost bin.
Set up a shelter
The ideal temperature for dogs is between 68 degrees F and 86 degrees F. It’s often much hotter or colder than this, though. Making a shelter in your backyard is a great way to protect your chihuahua from the elements.
Building or buying a dog house is recommended. In the summer, you can put a cooling mat in it for your chihuahua to chill out on. Come winter, replace the cooling mat with some cozy blankets to keep your little pooch warm.
(Editor’s Note: We don’t recommend Chihuahuas or any dog, for that matter to have to live in a dog house in your yard. Dogs are pack animals and need to be with you, their family. The above suggestion is just for when they are outside, preferably with you outside there with them.)
Build a play area
Chihuahuas are little energetic bundles of fun. You need to provide your new pet with lots of stimulation in the yard to burn off their energy and keep them healthy. Setting up an agility course will keep your chihuahua active and increase their confidence.
You could also have some fun with water. A shallow pool of water is good for a chihuahua to cool down and play around in, although many chihuahuas don’t like water. With a little patience, chihuahuas can even learn to swim.
Consider using different textures in your backyard, too, as this will stimulate your dog’s senses. In addition to using artificial grass, have patches of sand, dirt, bark, and similar.
Install a dog door
Allowing your chihuahua to go in and out of your backyard via a dog door as he or she pleases is beneficial for their self-esteem and confidence. Having a dog door is ideal if your chihuahua is home alone and needs to go to the toilet or stretch its legs.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: this is only recommended if you know your area does NOT have predators around such as birds of prey, coyotes and bears. And if your gate is locked and your fence is high enough that people can’t get in to steal your fur baby.)
If your pet ever gets scared in the garden or the weather gets too hot, cold, or rainy for them, they can quickly return to the safety of your home. As chihuahuas are so small, you’ve only got to have a small dog door installed.
It’s best to opt for one that can be connected to your dog’s microchip so that only he or she can get in and out of your home.
Getting a chihuahua is an exciting time of your life and they will love nothing more than spending time in your backyard. To ensure that your chihuahua is safe, secure, and happy while in your backyard, make sure you implement these measures.