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.


18 Responses to “Separation Anxiety In Chihuahuas”

  1. 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.

  2. 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…

  3. 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

  4. 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??

  5. 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!

  6. 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)

  7. 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 ):

  8. 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.

  9. 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??

  10. 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?

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. Jennifer C says:

    thanks for the info! helps alot! 🙂

  14. 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.

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