5 Reasons Why Chihuahuas Run Away and How To Stop It

Why Chihuahuas Run Away

Why Chihuahuas Run Away

Does your Chihuahua run away when you let them outside to play and use the bathroom? Some Chihuahuas instinctively sprint towards the neighbors home once the front door is opened, leaving owners to question the effectiveness of their training. If this sounds familiar, check out the 5 most common reasons why Chihuahuas run away -- and how to stop it -- listed below.

Not only is this type of running away behavior frustrating, but it's also quite dangerous. There are dozens of ways a 'free-roaming' Chihuahua can injure themselves by venturing from their home, some of which include:

  • Hit by a car
  • Skirmishes with nearby dogs and cats
  • Attacked by wild animals
  • Getting into pesticides, antifreeze, oil or other hazardous chemicals
  • Of course, there's also a chance of your Chihuahua running away from home and not coming back, which is something no family wants to experience

As an owner, it's your responsibility to protect your Chihuahua from dangers such as this. The first step in fixing this problem is to identify why exactly your Chihuahua feels the need to run away.

Reason #1) Looking For a Mate

If your Chihuahua isn't spayed or neutered, they may run away in search of a mate. Unfixed females in heat release powerful pheromones that males can smell from over a mile away! And even if your Chihuahua is obedient and well trained, mother nature's 'mating magnet' will instinctively cause them to run away.

It's obviously easier to identify a female searching for a mate, as their genitals will become swollen and bleed for roughly 21 days. Males, on the other hand, will run away anytime there's a female in heat around; therefore, owners of male Chihuahuas need to use extra caution when taking them outside.

You can read our previous post about the benefits of having your Chihuahua spayed or neutered, but the bottom line is that all Chihuahuas -- unless otherwise stated by your veterinarian -- should be fixed to reduce the chance of them running away. By spaying or neutering your Chihuahua, they'll no longer produce the hormones responsible for finding a mate.

Bored Chihuahua Looking Out The Window

Bored Chihuahua Looking Out The Window

Reason #2) Boredom

Another reason why Chihuahuas run away is because they are bored. It's a common assumption by first-time owners that Chihuahuas don't require the same amount of outdoor playtime as other breeds due to their small size. Rather than taking them out on a regular basis, some owners leave their Chihuahuas cooped up inside for long periods of time, resulting in boredom and pent-up energy.

Chihuahua suffering from boredom and/or pent-up energy are more likely to run away when given the chance. Owners must realize that Chihuahuas -- like all dogs -- are complex animals that crave mental and physical stimulation. Just because they small doesn't mean you can leave them locked up inside the house all day long.

Whether it's going for a walk, playing fetch or just laying out under the sun (Chihuahuas LOVE sunning), take your Chihuahua outside on a regular basis to reduce the chance of the them running away.

Reason #3) Lack of Obedience

It's downright frustrating when you call your Chihuahua to come back only to have them run off in the opposite direction. If this sounds like a familiar scenario, your aren't alone. Lack of obedience is an all-too-common problem, making it difficult for walks and playtime outside.

When a Chihuahua doesn't view you as the 'leader of the pack,' they'll be more willing to run away while they are outside. And to make matters worse, a disobedient Chihuahua won't come back when you call their name. You can yell until your lungs go dry only to have your Chihuahua take off down street or into the neighbor's yard.

So, how do you fix this frustrating problem? The first step is to only let your Chihuahua outside when they are attached to a collar and leash (or lead). Now when you are walking and playing with your Chihuahua outside, teach them a recall command such as "come here boy," or "back Amos." Give them plenty of slack on their leash and speak the recall command when you are ready to go inside. If they obey your command, give them plenty of affection, praise and of course a treat.

Chihuahua Running Outside

Chihuahua Running Outside

Reason #4) Mistreatment

A fourth reason why Chihuahuas run away is because they are being mistreated by their owner at home. In a perfect world, each and every Chihuahua would receive the unconditional love and attention they deserve, but this world is far from perfect. Some owners hit, slap and otherwise physically abuse their Chihuahuas, which naturally encourages them to run away when given the chance. You can't expect a Chihuahua to listen and obey their owner if they are being abused.

Note: mistreatment isn't limited strictly to physical abuse. Neglecting your Chihuahua and their need for attention is another form of abuse which may contribute to their running away problem.

Reason #5) Seeking Companionship

When they aren't getting it at home, Chihuahuas may run away to seek companionship from other dogs or people. This reason goes hand-in-hand with mistreatment, as neglecting your Chihuahua and avoiding them on for days on hand will only encourage them to run off. Give your Chihuahua attention and companionship so they want to stay at home.

Tips For Preventing Your Chihuahua From Running Away

  • Have them spayed or neutered
  • Teach them a 'recall' command, such as "come here Amos!"
  • Use treats as a reward when your Chihuahua successfully obeys your recall command
  • Never punish or scold your Chihuahua for running away, as this type of negativity will only encourage this unwanted behavior.
  • Walk your Chihuahua on an extended lead or retractable leash until they obey on your recall command
  • Show your Chihuahua affection and love on a daily basis



29 Responses to “5 Reasons Why Chihuahuas Run Away and How To Stop It”

  1. DAINE says:

    hi all my puppy is my first and only got yesterday as a gift she so small at 13wks old and only 0.7kg is she too small to start training her thank for any help.

  2. Debianne says:

    I’m so glad I read about using a water bottle for training our chi (in fact, my husband’s on his way to get a bottle now). We’re looking forward to trying the new method (at least it’s new to us). Our Chi is only 10 weeks old, and we’ve only had her for 2 weeks, but we’re both so crazy in love with her already that we want to make sure to do everything right to allow her a long, healthy and HAPPY life! 🙂

  3. Gayla says:

    I plan to rescue an old abused chi. I need to know how to train

  4. Steve. says:

    Tone of voice commands work..not physical abuse..when mine pee on mat I reward them with a nice happy voice tone. But if they rip the pee paper I just say no in a tough voice it’s not rocket science

  5. Lucky C. says:

    I tried 2 chihuahuas but they chewed things all the time, I bought toys but no luck. I gave them back to the lady we got them from, I later got an offspring of them and the same thing. I used the water bottle treatment and it worked. Now I just have to get my grandsons kittens to stop clawing things and to use the one hanging from the door knob or the cardboard fingers filled with catnip. I also found out the cats are doing the chewing not the dog.
    The dog will come to me as long as I am not standing. Does anybody have any helpful suggestions on how I can get him to come to me while I am standing? He is this way with the whole family.

  6. Judy says:

    I agree with the “no” hitting a chi. They are small and you are a giant. A firm no and teaching the commands is what works. I got my chis from a rescue group at 1-1/2 yrs, male, and 5 years, female. They both listen and those eyes, oh boy. The little female can melt your heart with her gaze. They will go off leash now after 2-1/2 yrs and stay and stop when asked. It was a little harder working with 2 dogs instead of 1 though. Both needed a little separate training. Of course, I keep them on leash if other dogs are running loose in the neighborhood.

  7. Jenifer says:

    We have a rescued deer chi. Alfie has 1/2 acre to romp and play. It is a double fenced ( when we “somehow” ended up with three chis we slaved for them and now 3/4 the fence is stapled with a wire fence too small for them to slip through) except for 1/5 of it. He managed to escape a Lot. We found a “puppy bumper” which looks like a neck pillow people use on airlines. This has stopped any escape! ( we are usually in the yard with him and will see him cruising for a place to attempt freedom)
    We play with him. Give him a Lot of Love…but the puppy bumper was the answer! He can frolic in it but is now a proud stay at home guy!

  8. Francne says:

    I would like to know what is the typical behavior of a Chihuaha who runs away. My Chihuaha ran away for 8 hours. I ddn’t know how to focus my search. Is a Chihuahua more likely to stick around the house and hide , roam the immdiate neighborhood , go to familliar places where he is noramlly taken on walks or stray further ? Would he know how to find his way home if he strayed further? I hope thise never happens again. It was one of the worse days of my life. But I would really like the answer to my question.

  9. Pat says:

    I have had dogs all my life and always used positive reinforcement, they have all been pleasant, obedient and loving. I have also had rescue dogs with psychological problems and this works for them also. I would never hit a human and have no time for anyone who hits animals, they are just bullies.
    positive reinforcement also works on children, lol

  10. Barbara says:

    I have used a water bottle as a” No No” bottle with both my cats and my previous Chihuahua. It only take a few No No shots from the bottle and they recognize they are up to mischief and it’s time to stop. Usually just picking up the bottle and saying NO No is enough.

    • Cathy says:

      Tried the water bottle before. Will keep one with me to see if it works outside.

    • Kona says:

      never deny your animal water, if they’re thirsty and see a water bottle, it is natural for them showing you that they need some water, not water splashed on them, hence I bring a full cup wherever we take our children. When all 3 pile in the vehicle they all have water waiting and enjoy getting out. This also keeps them from running away.

  11. Beth Ann says:

    Nobody should ever hit any dog. It is a weak persons way to dominate a dog and force it so comply. No professional dog trainer will ever tell you “tap the nose” or give a “firm swat on the rump.” I would certainly never ever recommend using physical force with a dog as tiny as a chihuahua. Their bones are very fragile and tiny. The thought of someone using force on tiny dogs makes me sick. I have been in professional rescue for nearly ten years and have a special place in my heart for these tiny furbabies. I have rehabilitated many dogs who would have been euthanized for aggression. Many of these dogs become fear biters because some idiot believes in hitting their dog. Can you imagine weighing less then ten pounds and having a giant 20 times your size give you “a firm swat on the rump”? When you bare your teeth in fear you get hit again? BTW using physical force to combat aggression only escalates aggressive behavior. Everyone should have to enroll in obedience classes before they can own a dog. I am sure this comment will be wasted on Tim McG because anyone who brags about using physical punishment on their chihuahua for ten years now probably thinks they know it all. I am hear to speak up for the animals. Don’t ever hit any animal or person. Positive reinforcement is stronger than negative reinforcement every time. Please don’t hit your chihuahua. Love them and teach them to trust you. They will bond with you and love you back. If you need help, find your local obedience trainer. Petsmart usually has a dog trainer subcontracted who will help you for a very reasonable fee. Don’t take the weak route and use force on your sweet baby. Please don’t hit your dog.

    • Beth Ann says:

      Thank you!! A water bottle is a wonderful deterrent. Thank you for speaking up against cruelty!

      • Angela says:

        Hi Beth! I just came across your comment – not sure if you’re still checking replies as it was a year ago, haha! But if so, I would really appreciate some advice:

        I also adore animals of all kinds, but I’ve never fallen so head over heels as I did with my little Chi. She’s amazing. 🙂 I don’t enjoy “9-5” work and do different things for work, changing it up often. I’ve worked with dogs in many different capacities before, and I’ve long dreamt of making it a full time job to rescue Chi’s to start (and probably beagles as well – I have one of those too, and she’s a stunner); I know they are the top kinds of animals that are euthanized in the US & Canada.

        Anyway, I was wondering if you can give me some advice on how to start a successful, effective rescue. I am living in a city currently, although I plan in the next year or two to move somewhere that has land large enough to accommodate a small (to start) rescue.

        Aside from the laws and such (which vary everywhere and which I have been researching for my area), I’m more wondering about the logistics, and any tips/lessons you’ve learned in your experience running a rescue thus far (especially when it comes to accommodating animals like Chi’s that are so full of feisty personality – and sometimes I would assume, personality differences amongst each other (and perhaps initial distrust of me – I know chis are very loyal to their chosen “person” and big changes are very hard for them). How do you find enough time to give all the different dogs (again, especially in terms of chis who demand and require a lot of affection/attention) the personal attention and love they need to thrive?

        Thanks in advance, if you do get this comment, for any insight you might be able to share with me! I’d be interested of course in hearing from anyone who has experience in this area.

        All the best, and thanks for doing what you do!

      • Lindsay Pevny says:

        A water bottle is also a form of punishment, it has no place in modern dog training. It also makes it harder for your dog to trust you when you, say, need to bathe them or spray them with flea spray.

  12. Robin says:

    I have a very well trained chi and I have never tapped him on the nose or swated him on the rump he comes when called doesn’t ever growl or show his teeth I started with him as a puppy with a water bottle with a strong spray and would reinforce my “NO” with a firm squirt in the face. Fear can train them sure but I didn’t need for my very small Chi afraid of me to learn to be have.

    • emily powell says:

      that’s so sad how people abuse there dogs and they don’t realize how bad it hurts there animals so yea and then they wonder why they go to jail when they abuse there dogs or any animal like a cat so yea

  13. S Dance says:

    When training it’s also best to use one to two word commands whenever possible. As stated above consistency is essential. Chis can be stubborn so keep training habits for awhile after you’re sure they have learned to obey.

    • emily powell says:

      when you train your dog its important to say commands because whenever they get older they wont listen to you when you say come then should atomatically come because then whenever they get older they wont listen to you and run aroud for like two minutes and then come back we didnt train my dog but yet he stays out there for like two minutes and then comes back so yea

  14. joy says:

    this is very helpfull

  15. Tim McG says:

    I sure hope you aren’t equating discipline with abuse. A firm tap on the end of the nose or a firm swat on the rump is discipline if used correctly. The abuse comes when that is all the owner ever does. Hitting, punching or throwing the dog is abuse. A firm swat and a sharp “No!” Is discipline. Verbal commands and the proper tug on a leash serve well until the dog direspects the owner by showing teeth, growling or barking at them. Then it’s time to amp it up a bit. Tough love is not abuse. I’m sorry. It just isn’t. BTW, I lived with a Chihuahua for 10 years and they can be the nicest and most loyal dog on the planet if you didcipline them. Repitition is the key. Being consistant is the catalyst. Once you show them, not tell them or be the so called alpha dog, they will do what you say.

    • Jo says:

      You never, ever “tap” a dog on its nose. Try “tapping” your own nose with the equivalent force and see how painful it is. If you must “tap” then it’s to the neck as if it’s the dogs mum checking it with a small nip. Watch Cesar Milan.

  16. keithshonda says:

    THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Arielle says:

      You should NEVER hit tap swat bop or anything to a dogs nose!! Im no trainer and I know that. A dogs nose is EXTREMELY sensitive and should not be messed with. What kind of people are being allowed to train animals. SmH STAY AWAY FROM THE NOSE!!

    • Angela says:

      If you hit a dog that weighs less than the hand you use to to strike them, you’re a confused, inept, spineless bully; you’re inhumane and lack any semblance of empathy, and you, “sir”, are NOT a real man. I hope you no longer own animals, because people who say stuff like you just said are stuck in the past, unable to catch up with the rest of humanity that has made progress in our understanding of other creatures since the 50’s (which you seem to be stuck in).

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