Separation Anxiety In Chihuahuas

Chihuahua With Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety Is The Leading Canine Behavioral Problem

Separation anxiety is a behavioral disorder that's all too common in Chihuahuas. You finally get home from a long day at work only to discover that your beloved Chihuahua has ransacked the house. Maybe there's pillow or bed stuffing strewn across the floor, garbage pulled out of the trash, or even a pile of poop in the middle of your living room. They don't act like this when you or other members of your family are home, so why do they behave this way when they're left alone?

Chihuahuas suffering from separation anxiety act out when they're left alone.Whether you are going to work for the day, or just running up to the gas station for a couple of minutes, leaving them alone triggers behavior that's that's considered "out of the norm." Your Chihuahua might be the perfect angel when they're sitting in your lap, but all of their manners and training go right out the door once you leave their side.

Signs of Separation Anxiety In Chihuahuas

  • Claws at the carpet when you shut the bathroom or bedroom door behind them
  • Follows you around throughout the house
  • Constantly jumps and whines for you to pick them up
  • Tears up linens, pillows, sheets, clothes, etc. when left alone
  • Defecates or urinates inside the house when left alone
  • Acts overly excited when you come home
  • Barks, whines or howls when left alone
Chihuahua With Separation Anxiety

Punishment and Confinement Does Not Work

What Causes Separation Anxiety In Chihuahuas?

There are several different factors which may contribute to a Chihuahua's separation anxiety, the most influential being a change in family. Chihuahuas, like all dogs, are social animals that are highly loyal to their family. Taking them out of their current environment and thrusting them into a home with a completely new family is bound to create some type of emotional distress, including separation anxiety. This typically goes away once the Chihuahua settles down and becomes comfortable with their new family.

In addition to changes in their family, abuse is another factor known to cause separation anxiety in Chihuahuas. If they were physically and/or mentally abused in their previous home, there's a higher chance of them exhibiting behavioral disorders.

Note: punishing or disciplining your Chihuahua for exhibiting this behavior will only make the problem worse. Separation anxiety isn't something they can control. Veterinary behavior specialist Dr. Stefanie Schwartz com suggests that canine separation anxiety it similar to panic attacks in humans. There's psychological element beyond their control which manifests this behavior. Yelling, scolding, or forcing your Chihuahua to go to 'time out' will only increase their anxiety.

Confining your Chihuahua to a crate also doesn't work. Once you leave their sight, they'll scratch, yell and possibly even soil their crate. This may help keep your house clean when you're away, but it doesn't help their anxiety -- which is the real problem at hand.

How To Treat Your Chihuahua's Separation Anxiety

Unfortunately, most owners take the wrong approach to their Chihuahua's separation anxiety by punishment and/or confinement. In order for your Chihuahua to overcome this behavioral problem, you must work to downplay your exits and arrival. Rather than cuddling and pampering them before you walk out the door, go ahead and leave in a quite, subtle manner without talking or making eye contact. This shows your Chihuahua that leaving, and returning, isn't a big deal.

Owners should work to treat their Chihuahua's separation anxiety slowly to prevent further psychological stress. Start by leaving the house for just 10 minutes a day, and gradually increase this duration over time. After being away from your Chihuahua for 10 minutes a day for a full week, perhaps you could bump it up to 20-30 minutes a day. Taking slow steps allows your Chihuahua to grow accustomed to these new changes, essentially dampening their separation anxiety.

For severe cases of separation anxiety in Chihuahuas, owners may want to discuss the pros and cons of various medications with their veterinarian. Benzodiazepines, oxidase inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants (TCA), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) are some of the most commonly prescribed medications for  canine separation anxiety. Of course, these are only temporary solutions and shouldn't be used as a long-term treatment option.

Tips For Treating Separation Anxiety:

  • Ignore your Chihuahua when you leave and enter the home
  • Leave the television running to offer them company (DogTV or Animal Planet are both great choices)
  • Make sure your they get plenty of exercise throughout the day
  • Leave some toys behind to help occupy their time
  • Teach your Chihuahua the basic obedience commands, such as sit.
  • Confine your Chihuahua 'loosely' rather than using a crate
  • Some veterinarians suggest giving a sock or some other piece of dirty laundry to your Chihuahua, as the scent of their odor may help calm them

You can't expect your Chihuahua to overcome their separation anxiety immediately. Behavioral disorders are something that takes months, sometimes even years to develop, and treating it may take equally as long. Remain persistent and follow the tips listed here to help your Chihuahua overcome their disorder.


45 Responses to “Separation Anxiety In Chihuahuas”

  1. Micha says:

    Hi there just wanted to say I’ve just got a 2 year old rescue and she is so super intelligent that I think I under estimated my previous dogs, at the end of the day though they are canines and need to be treated as such, with love, respect and a firm but fair hand but most of consistency. A crate is a must if there is destruction going on and this will provide them with a safe place to be. Confirmation through feeding inside the crate and their fav toys and a bit of tough love will help them know where they stand. You can leave the house and know your place isn’t gonna be trashed either.

    Separation anxiety comes from not knowing where they stand in the hierarchy within the household. There up then down then cuddled then told off. I don’t eat meals in front of any of the dogs I’ve had. Stick to their meal times and walks every day. That kind of thing really works. Don’t keep picking the dog up as they are not meant for this – let them be for as long as poss. Don’t let them on furniture unless invited by you. Leave them in another room for half hour a day while your in the house – this will get them used to you not being in the same vicinity but your there in case they get too stressed for the first month or so. There no timescales or magic wand but routine and more routine will help the dog feel secure and safe in their surroundings and they will soon know what’s expected of them. I’m sure this is on every training website out there but these little gods are sooo intelligent they need a bit more input.
    I’ve just taught Amber to sit today and she was amazing. Good luck peeps and Amber I wish you all the best! X 🐶

    • Bec says:

      No offense but no animal needs to be dealt “with” with any type of hand. They are like children but should never be punished like you are implying. I think this article should be followed instead.

  2. Lori says:

    My chihuahua has bad anxiety when I ask her to do something. I know that I’m not supposed to pay attention to her when I leave or come home right away. Yet if I ask her to sit or stand somewhere she squirms and spins and wines and starts peeing all over and I don’t know hot to get her to stop bc if I say “stop peeing” or I express any kind of anger due to her freaking out and peeing it only makes the anxiety worse and I get no where. Does anyone know what I am doing wrong or can you help me or give me advice. She is not a young puppy. She just turned 6.

  3. Sheila says:

    Hi I got my chiauchua about 2 moths ago she is comeing upto 12 mths old everything was good with her til last week wen she totally starting to ignore me she won’t come to me in the house at all she just runs in to the bedroom can any body help me

  4. Rhonda says:

    My problem is worse than that. I do all of that. Even when I Leave him with my mother which he loves very much he still will carry on with it. She said it takes almost an hour before he settles down. I try not to but sometimes I go into tears while I am gone.

    • Kelly says:

      Hi I got a chi he’s 4 months first time I got him he was sleeping with me because he was very scared, but now I brought him his bed and all, he still does not want to sleep on his own bed he keeps cryin and moaning when I put him there, keeps jumping in my bed. GUYS HELP

  5. Vanessa Overton says:

    I’ve tried potty training my chi. I got him at 4 wks, he’s now 4 months. I put pad down & he grabs it & rips it up!!
    He goes into his crate & pee’s.
    Please help!!!

  6. Juliet says:

    Hi I have a 2 month old chiwawa and she never stops crying when she’s the cage what can I do to stop all the barking or crying.

    • Carly says:

      Hi girl. I don’t use a crate but when i leave the room And close the door behind me my 12 wk old chihuahua will not stop whining and scratching at the door. She even urinated one time. Did you figure out anything to help this after? Help would be appreciated !!

  7. Michael G. says:

    Hi! I have Minnie the chihuahua, she’s only 11 months old. it wasn’t long before i noticed Minnie refuses to learn after I try to teach her to not go through the garbage in the kitchen, barking at strangers every time they walks past in our front yard. not only that, her behavior recently had gotten worse, such as peeing in our bed. so i start researching and found this website. after reading more about the separation anxiety, course punishing or confide doesn’t work, i knew that but my wife and i was busy most of time. i was wondering if buy one more dog may help with her anxiety and keep her from loneliness?

  8. Katelyn says:

    I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he barks A LOT. . So, leaving home is always a challenge for us.
    My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

    • Furry Mommy says:

      Their is a pheromone spray that emits a loud noise that the animals do not like. I started using this when my cats & I were living with a roommate whose male cat didn’t get along with mine. If they got around each other accidentally there was no stopping them from fighting. The spray I found then was called VetScript in a green aerosol from Walmart. It was the ONLY thing that would scare/separate them. Once I brought home my Chorkie, & started training him, I noticed he would consistently bark & bark & bark when my bf & I would leave. We could hear him outside our condo. He would also bark at the cats sometimes for no reason, or at a specific noise in the condo. So after trying to spray a water bottle, & every other possible thing I could find on the internet, I considered a mini bark collar but with him so small it made me very nervous. It just so happened I found a very similar product to the spray I used for the cats, in Petco. It was called Pet Stop. After reading the label I decided it was worth trying. Well now my Chorkie is 2 years old & continues to live with three cats, & one of the most common questions I get asked is “How did you get so lucky that your dog never barks?” Lol. (Especially since both breeds he is from are very ‘happy’ typically). PetStop is amazing. It’s a completely harmless way of using classical conditioning to teach your dog that certain actions are unacceptable, in addition to also getting his or her attention. Plus, after a while you don’t actually even new to spray it. My cats & my dog know that if they start to get too loud or rough & arent listening when I attempt to stop them, all they need to hear is the cap come off of the aerosol spray & they all immediately STOP & scatter. It’s 100% worth trying.

  9. Holly says:

    My chi is 5 months, we got him at 2-3 months old. He has always been obsessively close to me. I can’t even leave the room. We can be hanging out on the couch and he could be in a deep sleep, if I even move he’s up! I don’t leave often but he knows when I’m preparing to go. He will start excessively licking his paws. Anyone else have a chi that does this?

    Is it unhealthy for him to be so close to me? How do we get him to go to other people in the family as well? He sleeps under the covers at my feet. My husband started to worry about him and would try to move him and he would growl. I’ve never seen him aggressive other than in that case.

  10. Judy says:

    I recently went home for a visit. I was gone for a week. My husband said my chi didn’t eat for three days. He drank water but wouldn’t eat.

  11. amberley says:

    I have just bought a 10 week old chi, i have learnt so much about these beautise since owning one, and i have had pets before living with my parents

    however i live by myself now and have to work 8 hours a day 5 days a week,
    i have neighbours that said they can come over throughout the 8 hours to maike sure hes alright, but is there anything i could do? as im worried little elvis is going to get anxiety separation…

    • Tina Harrison says:

      Doggy day care? I wouldn’t leave a dog that long to be honest 🙁

    • Daniella says:

      You shouldn’t have a dog for that specific reason.. if you’re gone that long and 5 days a week is alot.. it’s just not fair for your fur baby…

      • Sheila Driskill says:

        Lots of people who own dogs work 8 or more hours a day. That is no reason not to have a dog get him a buddy they will keep each other company while your working

  12. Sandy r says:

    Hey guys,
    For those of you concerned about newer pups soiling bedding or kennels, please keep in mind how long it takes human babies to be able to control their bladders. It takes dogs of any size at least three months, maybe four. So babies cry if they are wet, cold, hungry, lonely… new parents only get a couple hrs sleep at a time. Be patient. Dont punish baby for something they can’t yet control.

    Retired vet assistant

  13. Steve. says:

    An interesting read, I put pads down on my laminate flooring, and newspaper on top..and change it every day..I have 2 cream n white smooth haired, that are lay in my lap as I’m typing this..Mary my bitch ignores my commands..but Joseph my dog is more submissive and nervous, but in a cute innocent way..they’re brother and sister..and I ignore them when I go out and they seem fine…when I get home after a few hours they’re usually asleep in they’re dog bed..I’m going to watch out for stress and anxiety..they’re 3 months old..and most of the family babysit, and they seem fine with that..

  14. Vanessa says:

    I have a teacup chihuahua i’m not sure if she as seperation anxiety, but she always barks and whines when I leave or go to bed what should I do??

  15. Christina says:

    so my Chihuahua is a six-year-old Chihuahua mix and I rescued her from the shelter 2 years ago she was abused in the previous family and for the longest time I put a sweater on her because of the cold conditions even though she was an inside dog and she didn’t used to do the stuff as much.. and for the longest time when we moved in our new house she wasn’t getting your stuff except for most recently but I’m pregnant so I’m thinking she’s got some jealousy going on so I was thinking about putting her sweater back on and sticking her in the kennel while I’m work and seeing how That will work.. What do you guys think??

    • lisa says:

      for what its worth, I have done alot of research regarding the ‘Thundershirt” and from what I’ve seen, its been a godsend for alot of ppl with dogs that exhibit anxiety… either seperation, or from social interaction, thunder etc..
      they are pricey just to try out… around $32/$34 regardless of the size of the pet, which personally i think is not right, but I’m guessing that you pay for the design behind it, not the amount of materials.
      here are a few links, that show before/after effects trying this product for anxious dogs
      I found it to be extreemly helpful and dont for one second regret, finally going ahead and buying one. I didnt realize how much the destructive behavior of a 4# chihuahua, was increasing my own anxiety and causing me to limit my own normal life activity.
      I have no interests in the company that sells these shirts, but I do benefit from having purchased one.
      🙂 Lisa and Krikit

      • lisa says:

        I mentioned “the thundershirt” specifically in the previous comment, but there are other similar shirts like ‘the anxiety wrap” out there in the market as well.

    • Dan says:

      Personally I wouldn’t leave them out in the kennel even with a sweater on as they’ll still feel the cold. You also have another risk of the Chihuahua being stolen by someone.

      Just make sure that your dog gets the same amount of attention as you’ve always given them, even once the baby arrives. That way they’ll know that they shouldn’t feel threatened about it.

  16. charlotte says:

    My boyfriend works out of town 2 weeks at a time, so when he’s home he spends pretty much all day with our 2 year old chihuahua. The problem is when he’s away and I have to work 9 hours, 6 days a week.
    She either poops on the carpet or gets into the trash. I leave her to roam around the house and she has a doggy door, but most days it’s not enough for her. Im so frustrated and feel guilty for punishing her. I can’t get her on a schedule since my boyfriend is here half the time and spoils her with his time. Would getting a cat help ease the lonliness??

    • Cynthia W says:

      Hi Charlotte,
      For what it’s worth, I have 3 cats that stay with “Harley” my 3 yr old Chi and he still exhibits SA behaviors. IMO, I also don’t believe getting another animal, cat or dog will help. It will just add to your lil ones stress. I noticed my guy likes routine. Right down to the bowl he eats from 🙂 What might help is having your boyfriend adapt “your” routine with your pup. O, Lordy … I feel your pain. It is soooo aggravating to come home and clean up their mess but yelling and punishing her will actually exasperate your problem. Trust me, Im not trying to lay on the guilt, just speaking from experience! I spent time training my 4 year old (who I adopted as an abused pup @ 3)to use wee-wee pads. This way when he must relieve himself because of anxiety he uses the pads instead of my carpets! I just put him on the pads until he knew that was where he goes while he’s inside. I did that straight and then took him back outside while I was home. You’ll have to find what works for your lady. Just make sure the pads are always down when you leave. Try and keep her in a room with no carpets if you can & definitely pick up the garbage and put on counter where she can’t reach. Hang in there, and when you come home to a mess, just try and remember, its the product of a pooch who desperately misses you because she really loooves you 🙂 Good luck!

  17. Nikki says:

    Around November 2013 my mom was home from work and was bringing in groceries. Then this little chi was just walking up to our house and just walked in. Long story short he was abused and we took him in and turns out he has bad separation anx from our other dog Beast. Once when we took beast to get a bath outside for about 15-20 mins. Our little dog Paco stood by the front door whining and pawing at the door during Beasts bath. It was cute at first, but we can’t leave paco at home without beast.(Paco is 5 and Beast is 13)

  18. Kristi says:

    our Chi is 8 weeks old and we have had him for 2 days. Last night was pretty hard, but I finally went in with him and rubbed him to sleep and left very quietly and he was fine the rest of the night. He is very attached to me. Great info. so i was planning to get a crate and train him that way but after reading this i’m worried now. Any body have any suggestions?

    • Hipsy says:

      I just wanted to quickly comment on crate training. I crate trained my, now one year old, Chi named Emmi because I have a very erratic work schedule and it’s been such a godsend. Personally, I would crate train ANY type of sign I own UNLESS they were abused, beaten or left in a crate for really long periods of time. And I means 24+ hrs at a time.
      I also feel that crate training Emmi has not only made her happier but also made any other type of training easier.

      And someone mentioned punishing their pup for defecating inside when they got home from work and I just want to tell you that punishing your pup after the fact will only cause more anxiety & confuse your poor puppy! Unless you catch them in the act they will Not know why you’re punishing them. Even if you stick their nose in it they won’t understand why. ONLY punish your puppy if you CATCH THEM IN THE ACT!

  19. Whit says:

    Hi I have a 3 year old Chi and she is my baby and favors me over my mom . I’ve moving two hours away and she is staying with my mom . Is there anyway to prepair her for this? I don’t want her to get depressed or anything . She’s my baby and it just scares me to leave her ):

    • Jack says:

      One solution, if you are to take on the added responsibility, is to get a second chi to keep him or her company. I have one really anxious chi who was a rescue and probably caged for most of the first year of his life. For this reason I do not crate him. I found crating to be traumatic for the dogs I have rescued that have been abused, neglected or caged for long periods. I have had sucess with crate training, however, with a dog I got as an 8 week old puppy. Having a second more mellow chi helps my anxious chi so much. There is no howling or whining as long as he has his buddy home with him. They curl up together, clean each other, and play together. Both are much happier together than they would be apart. The non-anxious chi would often get bored if I didn’t exercise him enough because ofcold snowy weather or because my own mobility difficulties. Since I added the second chi he never exhibits signs of boredom. They run around and wrestle together all of the time. They arent perfect and do sometimes have accidents. If things are left out, ie food or trash, and they are unattended they will get into it. But neither dog is destructive to furniture or anything like that. Most importantly they are both happy and the anxious one is so much more well adjusted then I thought possible.

  20. fran says:

    Saw you posting about Chihuahua with separation anxiety. I have a 5 yr old Chi that is now on meds and Melatonin from Vet. Nothing seems to work. I love my little guy so much. it tears me up when I have to leave him here along while I work. I never use to crate him in his kennel cage. until he tore up vertical blinds to patio doors. then he tore up carpet under my closet door. and chew bottom of my closet door. smh…. i’m pulling my hair out.

  21. Katlyn says:

    My male is only 9 weeks and I’ve been trying to get him to stop his incessant whining when he’s put in his crate. I’ve owned plenty of dogs before him and I’ve never had a dog /not/ stop when I follow instructions like the ones on pet websites. I even play soft music,but he seems to be just getting worse. It’s very stressful, since he’s being potty trained with his crate, and it cuts down on my sleep, giving me roughly two hours a night.
    I love my puppy, and I don’t want to immediately take him to a vet for drugs for separation anxiety, but he sounds like I’m murdering him when I leave the room… and it just keeps going! I would let him sleep with me, but he first needs to learn basic potty training. He’s already soiled most of my blankets.
    Is there anything I can do that would make him calm down??

    • rebecca says:

      I’m in the same EXACT situation with my 12 week old pom-chi, have you found any way to help reduce his anxiety??

  22. lubna says:

    hello, we got our chi about two weeks ago for my 8 year old daughter. He is not aggressive with the kids, but favors me more than anyone and will not go to anyone if i am around. will he grow to follow and adore my daughter like he has me?

  23. steph says:

    My one yr old male chi just started with peeing around the house when I’m not in the room with him about 2 months ago from day one he has always wanted to be held 24/7 less he sleeping in his pack and play but I nvr thought him being wanted to be held all the time was anxiety I just thought he was a big love bug

  24. Bobbie says:

    I get it now, but their not the only ones who get separation anxiety, I hate leaving them 🙁 I think I would cry if I couldn’t give my babies a kiss and cuddle before going to work.

  25. Jennifer C says:

    thanks for the info! helps alot! 🙂

  26. Cathy says:

    My Chi seems to pout when I have to leave her, when I come back she is very excited but then just ignores me. I think I’m her 3rd or 4th owner,she’s over 7 months old. After reading some of your information I can see things I have done wrong. I’ve had a Poodle, and a Cock a poo.

Leave a Reply