My Chihuahua mix loves to burrow and cuddle. This is a trait that is common for Chihuahuas. But why do Chihuahuas like to burrow?
Why do Chihuahuas burrow?
There are many reasons why your Chihuahua likes to burrow under blankets. The predominant one is out of instinct. This is how they warm themselves and feel safe. Other reasons include pregnancy, pseudopregnancy, distress, the need for affection, or sickness.
Pregnancy is a rare cause of burrowing. And pseudo-pregnancy too. Especially if your Chihuahua is spayed.
Note: Occasional burrowing shouldn’t concern you. But if your Chihuahua starts to burrow often, it’s best to check with your vet.
Let’s look in-depth at the reasons below why Chihuahuas like to burrow under blankets.
8 real reasons why Chihuahuas burrow (under blankets)
#1: Burrowing is instinctual for Chihuahuas
Chihuahuas burrow because it was important to their survival before they were domesticated. Like their distant cousin, the prairie dog, Chihuahuas burrow for shelter and protection.
As small animals, they were a target for predators. It was important to learn how to hide from bigger animals. They couldn’t safely sleep out in the open, so, they burrowed.
Besides that, they’re also related to terriers. Terriers dig in the ground to unearth prey. When Chihuahuas needed to hunt, they would also dig to find a meal.
Chihuahuas may still dig in the earth. Nowadays most of them are house pets. So they burrow under blankets instead.
The area under the blankets is similar to a den or a cave for them. It’s a place where they can feel safe.
#2: Chihuahuas like to stay warm
Chihuahuas can get very cold in a house. They don’t have much body fat, so they’re more likely to get cold than furrier or fatter dogs.
The best way for them to stay warm is to wrap themselves in a blanket. They might also enjoy a sweater.
Some dog beds can provide this warmth. Warm materials like cotton and wool can help preserve their body heat.
This is also why Chihuahuas like to lay in the sun. They will often rest for long periods soaking in the sun’s warmth. In addition to its radiant heat, they also get vitamin D from the sun.
Chihuahuas come from Chihuahua, Mexico. It’s a region that can be very hot. Their fur and body fat are naturally adapted to keep cool in their native climate. That’s why they can struggle to stay warm enough during wintertime.
Chihuahuas aren’t like Huskies, who are well suited to cold environments
In fact, Chis often become sick during the winter months. That’s why you should be sure to take extra care of your Chihuahua during the winter.
I mean – you winterize your car and home. But did you know you should also winterize your dog?
To do it successfully, pay particular attention to your Chihuahua’s paws, nose, and fur.
Various products can help prevent your pet from getting frostbite or dry skin, such as:
- Special shampoos.
- Paw booties (did you know that deicing agents can burn your pup’s feet?).
To keep your tiny pup comfortable, you should also:
- Use a humidifier.
- Block any drafts in your house.
- Bundle up your dog when you take them outside.
During the wintertime, Chihuahuas have a tendency to eat more. At this time of the year it’s okay to give them a little more food than usual.
This will help their bodies store more body fat. Which will in turn preserve the warmth.
Caution: Be careful not to give your Chihuahua too much food. Chihuahuas are prone to obesity.
Chihuahuas may also become slightly depressed during winter.
As a result, they might want to hide away or sleep more. This behavior is similar to the hibernation habits of squirrels, bears, or other mammals.
#3: Chihuahuas like to feel safe
As I previously mentioned, Chihuahuas used to burrow to protect themselves from predators.
The domesticated Chi can get scared by unfamiliar people or objects.
This is why it’s not advisable to have a Chihuahua and children in the same household. Children can be unpredictable and scary for Chihuahuas. Chis like people with steady and predictable movements.
Chihuahuas tend to attach themselves to one person. They will protect that person at all costs.
This is also why they like to cuddle or sleep between a person’s legs. You can read more about it here.
When a Chihuahua gets scared, it will retreat to its burrow. It’s where they feel safe and protected. This is why it’s not unusual to see a Chihuahua bundled up in its owner’s purse or backpack.
They’re the right size for these bags, and they look cute in them. What’s more, Chihuahuas also like to be in bags. They enjoy it for two reasons:
- They like small compact spaces.
- They’re close to their preferred person.
When they are in a compact space, there is no chance that a threat could appear from behind.
Plus, they associate their owner’s blankets with the protection that the owner gives. These blankets make up their “pack” territory.
The owner’s clothes and blanket carry the owner’s smell. Usually, these are in the bedroom. And that’s where you can find your Chi when they want to burrow.
Chihuahuas are usually bold and curious. When they’re feeling scared, though, they can burrow deeply into their owner’s blankets to feel safe.
#4: Chihuahuas like small spaces
Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed. So, it’s no surprise that they choose small spaces to hide in. Small spaces can act as a safe and warm haven for them.
There are many small spaces in your home where your Chihuahua can burrow. They can crawl under your bed or even under a chair.
Still, blankets are one of the most convenient options to burrow.
Chihuahuas can wrap themselves up in a blanket. The blanket substitutes for a small confined space.
Weighted blankets for example are known to calm anxiety in humans. The same applies to Chihuahuas.
This is why a Chihuahua makes a great pet for people who live in the city. Chis don’t need wide open spaces or big yards.
This is also why they’re great pets for elderly people. This makes great comfort and companion pets. Plus, they don’t require the same amount of exercise as high-energy breeds do.
#5: Chihuahuas are affectionate
Chihuahuas will often attach themselves to one human. They can be trained to accept other people, though.
Training involves positive reinforcement when another person is around. This means giving your Chihuahua treats as soon as the other person sets foot in the room.
But don’t forget to stop with the treats as soon as the person exits. The idea is that your Chihuahua will learn to associate that person with good things.
It’s best to train Chihuahuas when they’re young. At a young age, they’re very receptive. It’s possible to use this approach with an adult Chihuahua too.
Note: Positive reinforcement should be repeated as often as necessary.
Chihuahuas can welcome many people into their “pack.” But they will usually pick one person to sleep with.
That applies to when they burrow into blankets. They simply like being close to “their” person.
Proximity is one of the main ways that Chihuahuas show their affection. They will often sit near their owners or on their owner’s lap. Chis also cuddle a lot.
You could find it annoying that they follow you all around. But it’s how they show their love and affection for you.
On the other hand, Chihuahuas sometimes get a bad reputation for being mean or snappy…
This is usually over-protectiveness on their part, though.
Note: With enough training, any unwanted behavior can be corrected.
Chihuahuas could also pretend to be aloof or act like they own the house.
As the Alpha, it’s important that you establish household rules. If they overstep any boundaries quickly make your Chihuahua aware of its unacceptable behavior.
For example, if you don’t want them in your bed, you should take them off right away.
Caution: It’s hard to break any habits once they are developed.
Burrowing isn’t a behavior that should be discouraged, though. It’s a perfectly healthy habit for Chihuahuas to have. Feel free to choose their blankets for them.
#6: They might be pregnant
Of course, there might be more worrisome reasons why your Chihuahua is burrowing. One of these reasons is pregnancy.
A result of pregnancy is nesting. Nesting is an instinct for any pregnant dog.
They choose a small space where they can keep their puppies safe after they give birth. Blankets are often an important component of their makeshift shelter.
As to puppies, they’re cute. But they can be troublesome when you’re not expecting them.
This is why it’s important to ensure that your Chihuahua is spayed. Or neutered if your Chihuahua is a male.
Any female Chihuahua that is not spayed has the possibility of getting pregnant. This is especially the case if your dog has been “in heat” or has been near any male dogs.
Burrowing is not the only sign of pregnancy. Here are some others:
- They can also compulsively groom.
- They will “start to defend their nest from intruders”.
- Pregnant Chihuahuas sometimes collect toys and other objects.
You should contact a vet if you think your Chihuahua is pregnant. If they are, the vet can give you advice on how to take care of them during the pregnancy.
There are certain care requirements specific to pregnant dogs. They could need more nutrients, for example.
There’s no need to worry, though. A curious fact is that Chihuahuas that are spayed can have a “pseudopregnancy.”
#7: Your Chihuahua is experiencing “Pseudo-Pregnancy”
Female Chihuahuas sometimes experience something called “pseudo-pregnancy.” This is when your dog thinks it is pregnant.
On the surface, pseudo-pregnancy looks a lot like a real pregnancy. Your dog might show physical and behavioral signs of being pregnant, including:
- Weight gain.
- Nest making.
- Appetite loss.
- Collecting of objects.
- Enlarged mammary glands.
Burrowing under blankets is a part of the pseudo-pregnancy process. Chihuahuas that experience pseudo-pregnancy will create a nest.
It’s not fully known why pseudo-pregnancy occurs. It usually happens with non-spayed dogs.
Sometimes it can happen to spayed dogs too. This is the case when they come across a male dog while they are in heat.
Even if you know that your Chihuahua isn’t pregnant, it’s still important to look after their health. They have a higher likelihood of becoming obese if they experience pseudo-pregnancy.
Caution: Pseudopregnancy could also be a sign of serious health problems. Such ones are irregular heat cycles. These may be connected to hypothyroidism or liver problems.
Take your Chihuahua to the vet whenever it exhibits strange or compulsive behavior. Pregnancy and pseudopregnancy may be rare, but they can be dangerous if left alone.
When your Chihuahua feels uncomfortable, they’re likely to burrow. They may not just be cold, but they could also be sick.
If they start spending most of their day under the blankets, consult with a vet.
#8: They’re distressed
Compulsive burrowing can be a sign of discomfort or unhappiness.
Chihuahuas and other dogs relieve stress through chewing and digging. These activities are comforting and repetitive.
This is why it’s important to monitor your Chihuahua’s nesting activity. They could be coping with stressful situations or health problems.
There are some common Chihuahua stressors. Chis are usually stressed by:
- Loud noises.
- New people or dogs.
- Unfamiliar situations.
If your Chi is under constant stress, you should change something in their living situation.
It could be something simple. Such as giving them new toys or taking them outside more often.
But what if the stress factor is a person?
This usually calls for training. They can be trained to like a person more. Or, at least, to not be scared of them.
Training helps to prevent digging and destructive chewing. Reward them with highly-desirable treats when they show obedience.
Another option is to give them old blankets that they can treat however they like. It’s important to give your Chihuahua a space that they can claim as their own.
They should become socialized with whomever they spend a lot of time with. But you should also allow alone time. Burrowing in blankets is sometimes their way of saying that they need such.
4 things you can do when your Chihuahua burrows (under blankets)
I’ve already listed some things you should watch out for. Here are a few other things you can do if your Chihuahua burrows.
#1: Make sure that they’re comfortable
The main reason for burrowing is warmth. That’s why it’s important to keep your Chihuahua warm.
You should give them enough blankets to wrap themselves in. This will keep them very comfortable.
Any kind of blanket should suffice. If your Chihuahua keeps rolling around in them, try adding blankets or getting a thicker and warmer blanket.
Chihuahuas also enjoy wearing sweaters and sometimes even booties when they’re walking.
There are also a lot of dog beds on the market for dogs that burrow. These are called “nest beds” or “pet caves.” They look like a cave made of cotton or some other fluffy material.
Some of them have a lot of space inside. Others resemble a pocket more than a cave. These are perfect for Chihuahuas. They can fit snugly into the pocket and can feel protected and warm.
This might be preferable to allowing them to tear your blankets every night.
Part of making sure your Chi is comfortable includes watching out for any health problems or signs of stress.
#2: Make sure that they’re getting enough to eat
Chihuahuas usually need around two hundred calories a day. Their diet should be high in nutrients.
Try to restrict refined grains or unhealthy snacks.
Also, don’t forget to adjust the quantity accordingly during the cold winter months. Consult with your vet on the food quality.
#3: Make sure that they’re well-trained
Different owners have different training needs for dogs. Not every Chihuahua needs to be shown on the American Kennel Club circuit or jump through hoops.
That being said, you could still benefit from a well-behaved Chi.
Train them with positive reinforcement. It’s usually very effective.
Burrowing under blankets can be an undesirable trait if it leads to torn blankets or soiled furniture.
To get rid of this trait, you can use verbal commands:
- Firmly say, “No” and remove them when they jump onto off-limits beds.
- Potty training and crate training are important first steps when training a new dog. They may already be trained. If not, there are multiple guides online.
Crate training works best when the crate is treated as a reward rather than a punishment. Fill it with their favorite blankets or treats.
Then your Chihuahua will willingly choose to go into the crate when they need to. Feeding them in their crates also reinforces this behavior.
Chihuahuas obviously don’t need very large crates. A small crate often satisfies their burrowing need. These are also convenient when traveling.
#4: Just let them burrow
With enough blankets, anything is possible.
Use your Chihuahua’s burrowing instinct to your advantage. Pick a blanket or two that carry your scent.
Then place them where you’d like your Chi to sleep and burrow. That way your Chi will sleep where they’re supposed to and behave.
Note: Burrowing under blankets shouldn’t be discouraged unless it’s connected to bad behavior.