How to Play with a Chihuahua
Chihuahuas are a small dog breed known to be graceful, charming, and sassy. Chihuahuas come in two different types, those with long coats and those with smooth coats. They also have different mixes and cultures. Chihuahuas tend to be mainly indoor dogs that do well in smaller spaces and with children. Because chihuahuas are so small, they don’t need a lot of exercise and actually prefer to curl up and cuddle with their owners. They do, however, love to run and play and the following ideas can help keep your chihuahua occupied with fun and games.
Playing Games with your Chihuahua
1. Play hide and seek.
You can play hide and seek with multiple people and multiple dogs if you want, or you can play it alone with just your chihuahua. First, tell your chihuahua to stay in one place (he’ll need to know this command) and then go hide somewhere in your house. Once you’re hiding, call your chihuahua’s name so he’ll come find you.
- You may need to say your chihuahua’s name a couple of times if they aren't used to the game yet.
- If your chihuahua doesn’t know the stay command, or isn’t good at it, you might need another person to hold him in one spot while you hide. Once your hidden, that person can let him go and he’ll come find you.
- Make sure you only hide in place where your chihuahua can get to or is allowed.
2. Teach your chihuahua to help clean up.
If your chihuahua has a lot of toys, chances are they end up all over the house throughout the day. A great game to play with your chihuahua at the end of each day is to have him fetch their toys and put them away in the toy box.
- Such a game will require some training in order for your chihuahua to learn certain commands.
- For example, you may want to use the command “clean-up” to indicate your chihuahua needs to find all the toys and bring them to you.
- Another example is to teach your chihuahua a command, like “in the basket” to tell your chihuahua they need to place each toy in the toy box.
3. Have a tug-o-war with your chihuahua.
Use a rope (there are rope toys of all sizes specifically made for dogs) or another favourite toy, pulling it at the same time as your chihuahua. Your chihuahua will then tug on the toy to try to get it away from you. Get down to floor level and tug horizontally so your chihuahua's neck remains in a straight line. Avoid tugging upwards, which can yank their neck and be uncomfortable.
- If you have more than one chihuahua, you might even be able to teach them to play tug-o-war with each other. Or they might just figure it out themselves when they both want to play with the same toy at the same time!
4. Get your chihuahua to play fetch.
Fetch is a game that comes naturally to some dogs due to their instincts; chihuahuas are one of those breeds. When you throw a toy to your chihuahua, they may instinctively go get that toy and bring it back to you. If they do this, use the word “fetch” while he’s bringing the toy back so they begin to associate the command with the action he’s performing. Eventually, he’ll understand that when you throw a toy and say “fetch,” he’s supposed to bring the toy to you.
- While in training, your chihuahua may not always bring the toy back to you when you throw it. If they don’t bring it back to you, and instead you have to go get it, remember not to say the command “fetch."
Keeping Your Chihuahua Entertained
1. Make time to play with your chihuahua every day.
Chihuahuas, in general, are energetic. If they do not have structured playtime, they’ll usually attempt to entertain themselves in a way that may be distractive or frustrating to you as a human. In order to make sure your chihuahua has some playtime to work off some of their excess energy, and to make sure you have time to interact with him, schedule time to play with him every day.
- It is best to make this playtime the same time every day. Your chihuahua will learn what time is playtime and will come to expect it.
- This playtime should be dedicated to your dog, which means you don’t get distracted by other activities you may also need to do.
- This might also be a great time every day to take your chihuahua outside, maybe into your backyard, where you can chase him or have him play fetch with plenty of room.
2. Walk your chihuahua every day.
Think of your daily walk with your chihuahua as both good for you and for him. It gives you a 30 minute walk outside every day, and it gives him a chance to work off some energy. To make things interesting, don’t walk the same route every day, change it up.
- A 30 minute walk is likely long enough for your chihuahua. Unlike larger dogs, your chihuahua will not be able to go jogging or hiking with you.
- You can, however, carry your chihuahua with you in a dog carrier that’s also a backpack or even a stroller.
3. Allow your chihuahua a large area to run around.
Because the inside of your house or apartment may be too small, and may have a lot of breakable items, you will probably want to keep the energy level of play inside at a much lower level than outside. Every now and again, take your chihuahua outside to a place where you can take off their leash and allow him to run around all they want. In an ideal situation, this could be your backyard. But if you don’t have a large enough yard, or you don’t have a yard at all, you might want to consider a dog park or fenced area where you know it’s safe.
- Be careful where you let your chihuahua off their leash. Some cities and municipalities may have bylaws regarding where dogs can be allowed off-leash. Not to mention some open areas or even dog parks may have large, aggressive dogs also off-leash that may harass or injure your chihuahua.
- You may also want to consider doggy daycare for your chihuahua. Doggy daycares are great in that they keep your dog entertained all day while you’re at work. That means your dog isn’t getting into trouble in an empty house and he’s burning off energy before you get home. Some doggy daycares have large indoor and outdoor play areas where the dogs can run around and play with each other.
4. Ensure your chihuahua’s toys are small enough for their mouth.
Chihuahuas are small and so are their mouths. As such, most regular-sized dog toys are too big for them to hold onto with their mouths. This means you may have to be careful about the size of the toys you buy your chihuahua. One great option is to get him stuffed toys rather than plastic or hard toys. Stuffed toys are easy for your chihuahua to crush and put in their mouth, and they’re quite light for him to carry around.
- If you can't find any appropriately-sized dog toys, try looking at cat toys in a pet store in your area.
- These toys are great for him to use when you aren’t able to play with him. The toys can keep him entertained so they hopefully don’t play with breakable household items instead!
5. Use a harness on your chihuahua instead of a collar.
While you may still want to get your chihuahua a collar to put tags on, don’t use their collar for their leash. Instead, buy your chihuahua a small harness to use with their leash. Harnesses go around their chest and mid-section rather than their neck. Being as chihuahuas are so small, it can be easy to accidentally pull too hard on the leash and hurt ther neck if their leash is only attached to a collar.
- It might take a couple tries for your chihuahua to get used to wearing a harness. If required, leave the harness on your chihuahua for slightly longer periods of time each day until he’s used to it.
- It’s also good to be careful about the size and weight of the leash you use with your chihuahua. Buy the lightest leash you can as the extra weight of a heavy leash can also cause your chihuahua trouble when you’re taking him for a walk.
6. Consider getting your chihuahua a friend.
Chihuahuas don’t often get along with other dogs or animals, unless it’s another chihuahua. If you don’t have enough time to keep your chihuahua entertained, or you don’t like leaving him alone while you’re at work, one option is to get another chihuahua. Two or more chihuahuas will keep each other company and will play with each other when you aren’t able to.
- Getting a second chihuahua isn’t an excuse for ignoring your dogs. You still need to make time in your schedule to play and walk both dogs on a regular basis.
Making Your Chihuahua Feel at Home
1. Spend some quiet time with your chihuahua.
Playing and running around is great for you and your chihuahua, but it’s also a great idea to have quiet time with him on a regular basis. This quiet time can be spent simply cuddling on the couch, or you can use it to brush or groom him as needed. Quiet time is great to have just before you plan to go to bed. Not only will it help you relax and unwind, it will help get your chihuahua into a relaxed and sleepy state so everyone can go to bed without any disruptions.
2. Get an exercise pen for your chihuahua.
You can find all sorts of exercise pens for dogs and other small animals at pets stores and online. They come in different sizes and are made of different materials. One great option is to get an exercise pen that is just fencing with no bottom. This type of pen can be easily folded up and stored, but can also be easily placed inside or outside your house. Depending on what you and your chihuahua are doing, you can put your dog inside the pen to give him limited space to play, to give him a safe place to play, or even to give him a way to be close to you if you don’t want him underfoot.
3. Buy your chihuahua a sweater or two.
Chihuahuas may be energetic dogs, but they are very small and can get cold very easily. You, as a human, may feel fine at a certain temperature, but that same temperature may be making your dog shiver. In order to make him more comfortable and warm, especially when he’s outside with you, you may want to consider buying your chihuahua a sweater or coat.
- If your chihuahua doesn’t like their sweater at first, only keep it on him for a short period of time. Over a few days or weeks, increase the amount of time they wear the sweater until they get used to it.
4. Consider getting your chihuahua a set of doggy stairs.
Doggy stairs are small staircases that help your dog go from the floor to either the bed or the couch without jumping. In some cases, your chihuahua may not be capable of jumping the distance and this will be the only way for him to get up on the couch or bed. In other cases, this might help save your furniture from scratches if they use their claws to pull himself up.
- Dogs stairs come in all types, including set stairs that are carpeted and plastic stairs that fold up.
- You can even make your own stairs using wood or other materials, or just place boxes or bins in increasing height so they can use them to climb.
5. Make sure your chihuahua has their own bed.
Chihuahuas love sleeping in the softest and most comfortable place they can find. As such, getting your chihuahua their own doggy bed is a great idea. You can even get your chihuahua more than one bed — one for your bedroom and another for your living room (or wherever you spend time during the day). When you’re in those particular rooms, your chihuahua will have a nice comfy place to curl up and sleep while keeping you company.
- Doggy beds, in general, are also good because they can usually be cleaned a lot easier than your couch. Chihuahuas, even though they’re small, shed a lot.
- Chihuahuas who have played too much and exhaust themselves may not be able to stand up. This is likely due to low blood sugar. You can help them recover by giving them some sugar water (in a dropper) or a high-calorie dietary supplement recommended by your vet. Don’t allow low blood sugar to continue when you notice it, address the problem right away so your chihuahua doesn’t go into shock. If it happens too often, you may want to take your chihuahua to the vet to determine if there are any other problems you need to address.
- Chihuahuas are known to shake regularly. They can shake because they’re happy, because they’re afraid, because they’re cold, and because they’re anxious. Consider shaking part of your dog’s way of expressing himself rather than something to worry about.