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.
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.
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