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Separation Anxiety In Chihuahuas: Causes, Signs + 13 Tips

Separation Anxiety In Chihuahuas

Let’s be honest:

It’s hard to leave a Chihuahua with separation anxiety home alone.

Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to reduce separation anxiety.

Continue reading to discover:

  • Exactly what separation anxiety is.
  • How to recognize separation anxiety (9 signs).
  • 13 tips on how to reduce separation anxiety in Chihuahuas.
  • 9 behaviors that could be pointing to separation anxiety without you even realizing it.
  • And more…

What is separation anxiety in Chihuahuas?

Separation anxiety is a behavioral disorder in Chihuahuas. It gets triggered as soon as the Chihuahua is left home alone. Chihuahuas who suffer from separation anxiety might try to escape and hence leave scratches on your floor, wall, or door.

They could also indulge in destructive behaviors such as chewing cables, furniture, and household items.

Or, the Chihuahua could pee or poo at home instead of waiting for their walk. Another sign is whining or barking for you to get back home.

To best understand how a Chihuahua with separation anxiety feels, imagine a person with a phobia who is forced to face their fears (without preparation).

It can get too much.

That’s why it’s important to understand separation anxiety and be able to work with your dog towards overcoming it.

This brings us to the next question many pet owners ask, namely:

What causes separation anxiety in Chihuahuas?

Here are some possible causes of separation anxiety in Chihuahuas:

#1: Abandonment

Clingy Chihuahua Meme

If your Chihuahua is a rescue, they have a story. And even though volunteers at the shelter could know quite a bit about dogs and this particular one, they might be missing some details.

It’s understandable.

The Chihuahua could have gotten lost and hence ended up in the shelter. Or, they could have been abandoned purposefully by their first owner.

The dog could’ve even been abused…

You never know.

But if your rescue Chihuahua starts showing signs of separation anxiety, the answer to their current behavior is most likely in their past.

#2: Change of owner

Chihuahuas are loyal and get attached to one person in particular.

If for some reason the owner changes, it’s stressful for the dog.

While the new owner could be good with dogs and acting loving towards the Chihuahua, the dog will need time to adjust.

Reading tip: Are Chihuahuas Loyal To Their Owners?

#3: Death of a family member

A Chihuahua could be deeply affected by the loss of a family member. Especially when that person is the primary caretaker.

Whether a Chihuahua is abandoned, or the owner has passed away, the result for the dog is the same.

#4: Change in the environment

This applies when you’re moving homes. Or when you’ve decided to take your furry friend on holiday with you.

All well and good but as soon as you leave your pooch in the new home or the temporary accommodation, they get scared.

And for a good reason – they might have not got used to the new place yet.

#5: Change in routine/schedule

Dogs like routines. Schedules provide security and comfort.

Once they’ve been changed, the dog could start getting anxious. Especially if the times for the walks are not consistent.

You might be wondering how a dog manages to pick up the changes in a routine.

Just like us humans, dogs have a biological clock. The dog’s biological clock is driven by their instincts.

Routines play a big role in the life of a rescue dog. By crafting a routine full of events that your Chihuahua enjoys, you can help them start the day with enthusiasm.

#6: People-oriented breed

It’s typical for people-oriented breeds to be affected by their owner’s absence.

Chihuahuas are companion dogs and are used to being by their owner’s side.

When you spend most of the time with your ChihuHU, they get used to that.

And when you leave them on their own, all of a sudden, they’re shocked and could start panicking.

#7: Loss of hearing and/or vision in senior dogs

Whether an older Chihuahua loses their hearing or seeing ability, they could become very anxious once you leave them alone.

That’s understandable because after losing a cognitive or a sensory function, you become the Chihuahua’s sense of security.

After all, you’re part of the same ‘pack’ – you’ve been there for each other throughout the years and have gained each other’s trust.

So, if the Chihuahua bumps themselves into an object they might get scared.

#8: Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) in older dogs

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is the equivalent of Alzheimer’s when it comes to dogs.

An older Chi with CCD is likely o get disoriented and stress themselves while being alone. That’s because they can forget their owner and an otherwise familiar environment.

Tip: To rule out any possible medical conditions such as #8 and #9, take your senior Chihuahua to the vet for a full check-up twice a year.

9 signs of seperation anxiety in Chihuahuas

What Causes Separation Anxiety In Dogs?
  1. Whining.
  2. Drooling.
  3. Panicking.
  4. Eliminating.
  5. Excessive barking.
  6. Destructive chewing.
  7. Scratching at surfaces.
  8. Pacing nervously around the room/house.
  9. Excessive licking (Chihuahuas use this to calm themselves down).

13 tips on how to stop seperation anxiety in Chihuahuas

#1: Create a safe space for your Chihuahua

This would be the equivalent of a ‘den’ for your Chi.

Meaning – they should be able to go there at all times when they feel the need to.

You can achieve this by getting your Chi a playpen or a crate.

It’s best to put the Chi’s safe place in the room that most of the family members spend time in.

It shouldn’t be near a heater or have an air conditioner directly blowing in it. Similarly, it better not be exposed to direct sunlight from a window.

Note: For this to work, you should have trained your Chihuahua to perceive the space as their own. You can do this by putting treats and toys there. And, by rewarding your Chi when it goes inside on its own.

#2: Provide your Chi with a dog bed

You can easily get a comfy soft dog bed to make your Chihuahua feel fully at home.

This bed will carry the Chihuahua’s scent and allow the Chihuahua to be confident this is their own territory.

#3: A comfort blanket

Before you leave, make sure you leave a blanket with your dog.

The blanket will have your scent so that your Chi can curl up on it. This is how they can feel closer to you even though you’re away at the moment.

You can put their blanket in their dog bed or at any place of the room where you’ve noticed your Chihuahua likes to chill.

#4: Calming sounds

Leavings some music for dog’s ears could do wonders for your Chihuahua.

study conducted by Deborah L. Wells has shown that classical music helps dogs relax. Metal, on the other hand, has quite the opposite effect and is likely to make a dog anxious.

As to pop, dogs reacted rather indifferent to it.

So, next time you decide to leave some sounds on fr your Chi, you know what to pick 🙂

What you could also try is putting on an audiobook.

The purpose of leaving audio running in the background is to make your Chihuahua feel less alone.

That’s because your Chi is used to certain noises while you or other family members are at home.

So, you can imagine what a big contrast there is when the Chi is left all alone with no noises in the house.

How can this help?

  • The music or audiobook you play fro your Chi can cover up noises from outside.
  • You can use this technique both before leaving the house and getting your dog ready for bed.

#5: Give your Chi a toy (or two)

Dogs tend to get bored with their toys. That’s why you can hide certain toys while you’re with your Chi and give them again while you leave the house.

The aim is to spark the Chi’s interest and redirect the focus of you leaving to playing with the toy.

There are several types of dog toys that are appropriate for the occasion:

  • Dog puzzles.
  • Interactive toys.
  • Companion toys.

Dog puzzles

A popular example of a puzzle toy is the Stuffed Kong. It releases treats.

You can fill it up with whatever dog treats you like and you can ‘glue’ them with whipped cream for dogs (yes, it’s a thing).

Another puzzle toy you can get your best friend is a Hide and Seek toy. It’s perfect for Chis that are on a diet because it’s food-free.

There are different variations of such toys. You can pick one with squirrels or rabbits. The Chi will then pull the stuffed animals out of the big plush toy.

Don’t worry if your Chi gets carried away and completely destroyed a stuffed toy, as they’re replaceable 🙂

Companion dog toys

As to companion toys, they serve as your dog’s buddy when no one else is in the house.

This provides an opportunity for your Chi to have a cuddle buddy. Some of these toys could be warmed in a microwave.

They could be stuffed with buckwheat. So, after you warm the toy, it starts emitting warmth.

That’s how the dog becomes relaxed. The heat remains up to 60 minutes.

Other possibilities include getting a cuddle cushion, a cuddle toy with a heartbeat, a toy with a microwave heatpad.

Interactive dog toys

And last but not least, there are interactive dog puzzle toys.

They’re great because besides releasing treats, they give your dog visual and audio stimulation. Such toys often squeak.

Here are some of the available interactive dog toys types:

  • Tension.
  • Electronic.
  • Ball launchers.
  • Hide and Seek.
  • Treat dispensers.

#6: Hire a pet sitter

Hiring a dog sitter could be pricey. But if you’ve just moved houses, it’s a good idea to have a trusted professional look after your pooch for several hours a day.

The same goes for when you’re staying at a hotel that allows dogs but you need to leave your Chihuahua alone for a bit.

A dog sitter with experience can ensure your Chi feels calmer and maybe even involve them in playing until you come back.

If you don’t have the financial means however, you could simply ask a friend, a neighbor, or a family member to check up on your Chi.

It’s even better if your Chihuahua knows the person. That will help them get along smoother.

#7: Leave an old blouse, T-shirt or a shoe

This is a budget-friendly opportunity as ou don’t have to buys anything new to keep your dog calm.

The cloth or shoe will have your smell for the Chi to feel secure. And the more used the item, the better as it would carry your scent with it.

This method has 2 advantages:

  • Anything that smells like you can make your Chi calmer.
  • Your Chi is familiar with the objects already. So, they can make the dog more comfortable.

#8: Longer walks and more playtime

Try exercising your Chi before leaving them at home. The more energy they spent, the better the outcome.

Think of it this way – after a day of active hiking in the mountain, you probably can’t wait to go home and chill.

But if you’ve been outside for just 30 minutes, chances are you won’t be that enthusiastic to stay between four walls all day.

To make staying home alone more bearable for your Chi, ensure you give them quality time before you leave.

Involve them in play. Have fun. Don’t spare the time.

If you’re short on time though, choose an energy-draining game such as fetch.

Another possibility is fast walking on a leash but do let your Chi experience the outside world through their nose. That is – let them sniff a bit and don’t rush too much.

#9: Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a nice way to soothe a Chihuahua.

But many dog lovers are wondering – is aromatherapy safe for dogs?

There is a study from 2006 that can back up the positive effects of lavender in dogs. It showcased that dogs who traveled were less vocal, and weren’t standing as much as a result of the aromatherapy.

What does this mean for you?

You can get a pet spray with lavender or chamomile for example. The best thing about such spray is that you don’t have to bathe the Chihuahua after spraying them.

The spray makes the fur clean and shiny.

Read also: 9 tips to travel with your Chihuahua by car

#10: Ignore your dog before leaving and upon arrival

Whenever you’re about to leave the house, act as if it’s no big deal.

Meaning – don’t talk to the dog, look at them (with an apologetic gaze), or touch them in any way (such as petting, scratching, or cuddling).

This way you convey the message that you leaving is nothing to be concerned about.

#11: Practice leaving your dog alone for short periods of time

Your Chihuahua will likely get used to you leaving sooner if they see you return time after time.

What could help is you leaving the house for 5 minutes at a time. Then, you can gradually increase these 5 mins to 10, 15, and so on.

This will show your Chihuahua you’re not leaving for good. And that there’s no need to panic as soon s you step foot outside of the house.

#12: Remain calm prior to leaving

Tip For Chihuahuas With Separation Anxiety

Your Chihuahua is more likely to get upset if they sense you’re feeling a bit off.

No need for guilt or worry from your side. Remain calm and confident that you’re doing the right thing (the right way).

If you Chihuahua senses hesitancy or fear in you, they’re more likely to get worried. Especially after you disappear and leave them coping with this on their own.

Research shows that our emotions are ‘contagious’ to dogs. So, now you know why your Chi could be stressed when you are. Even if they can’t tell the exact reason why you feel the way you do.

#13: Break the pattern

Your Chi is very observant and has learned to recognize when you’re about to leave.

They could get alarmed as soon as they see you put on your coat and/or shoes.

They most probably also hear the clinging of your keys quite often just before you open the door and go.

To make things more comfortable for you Chi, try doing all of the abovementioned activities in a different order. Preferably with one not following the other immediately.

The idea is to first put you shoes or coat on but then don’t leave for at least 10 or 15 minutes.

Similarly, you could get your keys in your hand and walk around the house for a bit, then continue to stay inside.

Your goal is to have a Chihuahua that won’t associate all of these actions with you leaving. Hence, their separation anxiety won’t be triggered by negative associations.