The Chihuahua is an adorable and popular toy breed known for its stubbornness, grit, and loyalty. Despite their tiny frames, these pups have BIG personalities. Unfortunately, Chihuahuas have gained a reputation for being feisty, overprotective, and yappy. While these traits can often appear within this breed, destructive behaviors can stem from a lack of exercise and stimulation. This article will discuss different activities or “stimulating jobs” you can give your Chihuahua to stimulate their mind and ultimately lead to a healthier, happier, and well-behaved pup!
What are Chihuahuas Good for?
Chihuahuas are excellent dogs for many reasons. Mostly choose to adopt this breed into their family due to their small size, loyal nature, and long lifespans.
Chihuahuas are one of the most miniature dog breeds available and live the longest! They are relatively low-maintenance to care for and have entertaining personalities.
Many choose to keep Chihuahuas because they are excellent companions who are highly devoted and provide great company.
Chihuahuas bond intensely with their owners and are happy spending their days curled up next to them or resting in their laps.
Do Chihuahuas need a job?
Chihuahuas are considered companion dogs – stimulating jobs they are great at! This breed is very faithful and wants to be wherever their favorite person is.
However, the tiny but fierce Chihuahua was first bred to track and kill small rodents, specifically rats. They were skilled and fearless hunters, which likely contributed to their aggressive modern-day personalities.
This history also shows that Chihuahuas are an intelligent breed that does well when given a job. Today, many understimulated Chihuahuas take it upon themselves to become the watchdogs of their household.
While some owners may like this added security system, it can lead to an over-reactive dog barking at anything and everything – not just intruders.
This clever breed is a fast learner and eager to please, which makes them excellent dogs to train once you conquer their stubborn nature.
Training a Chihuahua will require commitment and patience, but the rewards are immense! Try giving your Chihuahua a job to make training more fun for you.
Why is Jobs Good, and Why Does My Pet Need One?
There are many benefits to giving your dog a job and downsides if you do not.
Benefits of giving your Chihuahua a job:
- Working with your dog to master a job strengthens your bond
- A working dog has an outlet for pent-up energy and a healthy way to rid its boredom
- Giving your pup a job will boost their confidence! Dogs love to feel useful and show pride when completing a task.
- A tired dog is an obedient dog!
- It helps maintain overall health and weight
- Reduces anxiety
Downsides to not giving your dog a job:
Some stimulating jobs:
The main downsides are boredom and lack of stimulation, which can lead to any or all of the unwanted behaviors below:
- Ruining furniture
- Over-reactive behaviors like jumping on people or lunging at other dogs
- Excessive barking
- Separation anxiety and other nervous behaviors
- Constant licking
- Aggressive behaviors
A Chihuahua with a Job is a Happy Dog
Dog owners and trainers alike agree: that dogs enjoy work. It allows them to activate their minds and exercise their bodies. This leaves them feeling satisfied, engaged, and pleasantly tired. This gets them ready for cuddles with their favorite person!
20 Stimulating Jobs and Activities for Your Chihuahua
1. Go For A Walk
One of the simplest and easiest “stimulating jobs” is one you likely already have in your routine – taking your Chihuahua for a walk! This is an excellent exercise for both you and your dog.
You can add a mental challenge by keeping your Chihuahua in a heel position during your walk.
This will challenge them to think about their actions. Keeping your dog in heels for 30 minutes or more will energize their mind and tire them out quicker.
We also recommend allowing your pup to stop and sniff. Sniffing is a rewarding activity for any dog, and it’s an instinct for them to forage and explore!
Adding both the challenge of healing and the fun of sniffing will be a fulfilling experience for your dog.
2. Train Your Chihuahua
Training your Chihuahua is a beautiful bonding experience, allowing you to challenge your dog while reinforcing positive behaviors.
This leads to an obedient dog. Training also brings you closer to your beloved pet, and the mental stimulation that training provides is a very enriching experience.
You can train your dog or sign up for an obedience class.
If you choose to train yourself, remember only to use positive reinforcements and keep a regular training schedule! Obedience classes can be taken as private lessons or in a group setting.
3. Therapy and Volunteer Work
One of my favorite stimulating jobs to recommend is registering your dog as a therapy dog and volunteering in your local community!
This can be gratifying work, and it stimulates your pup and allows them to socialize while giving back to your community. If your dog is friendly and likes to be petted – this might be a great job.
You’ll need to register your Chihuahua as a Therapy Dog through an accredited organization. This organization will likely require training and evaluation to determine if your Chihuahua has the right personality for therapy work.
Check out a list of AKC Therapy Organizations here. Some ways to volunteer with your dog include visiting hospitals, schools, and nursing homes.
4. Puzzles for your Chihuahua
Canine puzzles are stimulating jobs for your Chihuahua can do from the comfort of your home. There are wide different varieties of puzzles available online.
All have a similar goal: to stimulate and challenge your dog mentally. This is an excellent alternative if you live in an apartment because this job requires very little space and can keep your dog engaged for long periods!
Canine puzzles are simple: figure out the mystery and be rewarded with a treat. We recommend starting your dog with more specific challenges, so they don’t get frustrated and give up. Slowly increase the difficulty level as they progress.
Examples of puzzle games require your dog to push buttons, pull open compartments, and forage for treats. If you don’t want to buy a puzzle, there are plenty of ways to get creative and make your own.
5. Enrichment Toys
Similar to puzzles, enrichment toys are designed to get your pup thinking. There are hundreds of these toys on the market.
They use canine cognitive-behavioral principles to create satisfying challenges for your Chihuahua. A favorite amongst owners is the Kong treat – a hollowed-out rubber toy you can fill with treats, and this toy requires your dog to work for its charm.
Giving your Chihuahua a stimulation toy when you have to leave the house is a great way to keep them occupied and reduce anxiety. There are many suggestions for homemade mental stimulation toys online that can cost you nothing!
6. Agility Exercise
You may recognize dog agility as a popular part of Dog Shows. This event displays different breeds’ physical agility, speed, and obedience level.
You may not be looking to enter your Chihuahua into a dog competition, but that’s okay! Agility exercises are a great way to challenge your pup, and you can take them as casually or as seriously as you’d like.
If you don’t know where to start, we suggest signing up for a beginner’s agility class. This class will teach your Chihuahua the basics of tunneling, pole weaving, and jumping. Many view dog agility as a sport, and you’re likely to find a dedicated community of people who can help guide you.
Once you learn the ropes, there are DIY agility courses you can build in your backyard. This doesn’t have to be expensive!
7. Buried Treasure
As we’ve learned, dogs enjoy having to work for their treats! Another fun way to challenge your Chihuahua is by “burying” their charms.
Some dogs are natural diggers, while others have never demonstrated this instinct. Even if your Chihuahua hasn’t shown interest in digging for “treasure” before, you might be surprised by how quickly they take to it.
Most people don’t want to encourage their dogs to dig holes in their backyard, and we suggest creating a controlled environment where digging is allowed.
Since Chihuahuas are small, they can fill up a Tupperware dish or any other container with sand or dirt (ensure the soil is fertilizer-free!). Bury their toys or goodies and allow your dog to check them out. Let the digging fun begin!
8. Hide and Seek
Hide and seek is an entertaining game you can play with your Chihuahua at home or in the park!
You may have seen the adorable viral videos of dogs watching their owners hide behind a blanket before running away and dropping the veil, appearing to “disappear.” The trend was known at the Fluff Challenge and is a similar principle to hide and seek.
Hiding from your dog and allowing them to seek you out is a great brain challenge for your pup. They will likely use their nose to try and sniff you out.
If your dog seems confused, help them by making a sound to guide them to your location. This is a fun game for both you and your Chihuahua. You’re sure to receive lots of kisses from a happy pup once they find you!
9. Find It
The “Find It” game is similar to “Hide and Seek,” except you hide a treat or toy instead of yourself. The object you’re hiding should only be partially hidden.
Squeak the toy as a hint if they are confused. This game requires nose work and lots of brainpower, and it helps to hide a favorite toy or a treat they love. The prize should be worth the effort of a hunt!
Your Chihuahua is sure to be excited once they find it. We suggest starting with more accessible hides and gradually getting more complex.
10. Trick Training
Once your dog has learned basic commands, you can graduate to more advanced tricks. You’ll need to keep increasing the difficulty level of the trick to maintain the same level of mental stimulation. Popular tricks are shake, spin, play dead, and rollover.
They are fun to learn, and you’ll enjoy showing them off to your friends and family.
It’s a myth that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks – dogs of any age can benefit from trick training. Make sure they’ve mastered the basics before moving on to more advanced training. As with all activities, you should use positive reinforcement to motivate your dog!
11. Visit Dog-Friendly Businesses
Take your dog out on a date! The companionship of your animal doesn’t need only to be enjoyed at home. Many dog-friendly places allow your pup to join you. Stop at an open-air coffee shop or dine on a patio with your Chihuahua.
This adventure will squash your dog’s boredom. It allows them to become more comfortable with new places and environments, and it also allows them to socialize.
Chihuahuas have the bonus of being tiny and not taking up much space, making their presence less disruptive to others. Your dog must be well-behaved if you want to take them to public businesses.
An excellent resource for finding dog-friendly places is the online pet travel directory BringFido.
12. Dog Parks
Exposing Chihuahuas to strangers is an essential exercise for keeping a friendly dog. But they also need to hang out with other dogs as well! Chihuahuas are known for being “people dogs.”
This means they enjoy the company of their owners but can get nippy around other canines.
Socializing your Chihuahua is very important to help curb this behavior! Luckily, many towns and cities have dog parks for this reason.
Many allow off-leash play, which provides exercise, socialization, and exploration opportunities. Dog parks are an excellent addition to your Chihuahua care routine.
13. Tug ‘O War
This age-old game is a dog favorite. I’m struggling to think of a pup I’ve met who doesn’t enjoy this game. The rules are simple: your dog grabs a toy, and you pull. Growling and excitement often follow. This is both a physical and mental exercise!
Chihuahuas can be delicate, so make sure you don’t pull too hard. It would help if you never lifted your dog off the ground with its teeth while latched to a tug toy, which can damage its tiny teeth and jaw and put a lot of pressure on its neck.
14. Going for a Run
Dogs can be a great reason to get out and exercise. If your Chihuahua is high-energy and can handle runs, this is a great activity to get them moving. Running with your dog requires discipline.
They must have a solid grasp of the heel. This means they should not try to stop every few minutes to sniff or use the bathroom. Running should be done in addition to their walks, allowing them to use the bathroom freely.
Providing this discipline of not stopping on your run will be a mental challenge for your dog, and they will enjoy this! Remember never to run your dog in excessive heat.
You should have water on hand for your Chihuahua and not push them too hard. Know their limits! Start with short runs to build their endurance.
15. Teach Your Dog to Swim
Swimming is a beautiful exercise for dogs of all ages! Learning this activity is a significant mental and emotional challenge for most dogs, and Chihuahuas are not natural-born swimmers.
They will require a gentle hand and slow introductions to the water. Never force your dog into the water! Remember, not all dogs will enjoy this activity, no matter how hard you try.
Water lessons are sure to tire out a bored or overactive pup. It is also an excellent therapeutic activity and can help soothe dogs with chronic pain, symptoms of aging, or those recovering from operations.
If you are patient and willing to teach your dog how to swim, there are many benefits! More on those in the next section.
16. Swimming and Water Games for your Chihuahua
Once you’ve introduced your Chihuahua to the water, determined they enjoy the activity, and have taught them the safety basics, you can start to have some real fun!
There are so many water activities that you and your pup can enjoy. These include dock jumping, diving for toys, and water fetching.
Chihuahuas have the advantage of being portable, so you can take them kayaking, boating, paddleboarding, and much more! Enjoying the water with your dog is an excellent way to bond, share companionship and stay active.
17. Scent Work
Scent work, also known as nose work, is an activity that challenges dogs to locate and identify different smells. There is a misconception that only professional scent detection dogs can successfully participate in scent work.
Many people think of highly skilled bomb-sniffing dogs. However, it can teach dogs of any age this skill, and most find it highly rewarding.
If you’re interested in enrolling your Chihuahua in a nose work class, check out this database of K9 Nose Work instructors from the National Association of Canine Scent Work’s Education Division to find a class near you.
18. Clean Up
Why not introduce a job to your pup that helps you around the house? Win-win!
Because Chihuahuas are so tiny, they won’t be able to do any heavy lifting, but you can certainly train your dog to pick up their toys and return them to an assigned bin.
This trick is considered advanced and will take patience to teach. This means you should use treats your Chihuahua goes crazy for to help motivate them.
The benefits of this challenge are mental stimulation for your Chihuahua and the obvious one: less clean-up for you!
19. Retrieving or “Fetch” with your Chihuahua
We are all familiar with the popular game of fetch. It is a go-to game for many dog owners, and pups usually take to it naturally. It is a great way to get your dog active at the park.
Make sure you purchase size-appropriate balls for your Chihuahua to fetch. You’ll likely have to buy smaller ones than standard tennis balls.
Retrieving doesn’t have to stop with fetch. We’ve all seen the iconic movie moments of dogs recovering the morning paper for their owners.
While most of us don’t get paper news delivered to our doors anymore, there are still plenty of fun and unique things you can train your dog to retrieve for you.
Again, due to the Chihuahua’s small size, the items they can realistically carry will be limited but get creative – your dog will love the challenge!
20. Snuffle Mat
Snuffle mats are a great indoor activity for your dog to act out their basic foraging instincts. You can find this product online or make your own.
They are a great way to have your Chihuahua work for their food or treats. This Mat is an easy, no-mess activity that’s great for small spaces.
Snuffle mats can also be a slow feeder for pups who eat too quickly. The challenge of foraging for their food will leave your dog satisfied and tired.
There are many ways to work your Chihuahua, both mentally and physically. Giving your dog opportunities to perform tasks is a great way to bond with them.
It also provides an outlet to get rid of pent-up energy. It’s been proven that dogs who perform stimulating jobs feel more mentally and physically engaged.
This will lead to a healthier pup and can quickly curb unwanted behaviors. Give some of the activities above a try – we bet your dog will be happy you did!
What did Chihuahuas use to be called?
Chihuahuas descended from a breed called Techich. They were kept mainly by the ancient Toltecs, and the Techichi was more significant than the modern-day Chihuahua.
When Aztecs conquered the Toltecs, they bred the Techichi to be more compact and lighter. This dog more closely resembled the Chihuahua we know and love today. Fun fact: Chihuahuas were also worshipped by the Aztecs!
Can Chihuahuas be left alone?
Yes, Chihuahuas can be left alone. However, they crave companionship and do better when they are not left for long periods. Reddit user and Chihuahua owner u/magical_elf suggested not going a chihuahua alone for longer than 4 hours, and we agree!
This will vary with each dog and how long they can comfortably hold their bladders. Four hours is our general rule of thumb for small and toy-sized dogs.