Chihuahuas make great indoor pets. But how about outdoor? Can they sleep outside?

If you’re wondering whether it’s safe for Chihuahuas to live and sleep outside, you’ve come to the right place!

This article will tell you everything you need to know about:

  • The #1 danger when leaving your Chihuahua outside.
  • How anxiety affects whether your Chi should stay in or out.
  • What the Chihuahua’s worst enemy when living and sleeping outside is.
  • How a Chihuahua can get traumatized by visiting out and how to recognize the signs.
  • And more…

Can Chihuahuas live outside?

Chihuahuas can’t live outside for long. They can play out for brief periods, but because of their small size, they have poor protection against the cold and heat. You should limit their time outdoors to 30 minutes a day for exercise.

Can Chihuahuas sleep inside?

Chihuahuas can sleep inside and are well-suited for indoors because owners have better control over temperature. For afternoon naps, turn the AC on to keep them comfortable. You can use heaters or even your fireplace for winter. Try to keep room temperatures at 60-65°F (15-18°C).

Five dangers of letting your Chihuahua live and sleep outside + 19 tips


Danger #1: They get lonely quickly

Lonely Chihuahua living and sleeping outside

Chihuahuas love to communicate. However, they often feel lonely, especially at a  young age.

They get so anxious that it’s often best to keep them indoors. Doing so makes it easy for them to smell their owners. 

It would help if you also gave them multiple safe spaces within the house. The more areas you give them to roam freely, the safer they will feel. 

Here are some recommended spots that your Chihuahua will love:

Your room

Chihuahuas are room-friendly due to their small size. As a result, you can have them stay and enjoy your room, especially if you have an AC there.

Dining room

This is another good spot for Chihuahuas. Since they’re small and the room has plenty of food, you can train them to “stay” and “sit” here.

Caution: If your kitchen’s in the dining room, keep them away while you cook. The temperature changes might make your Chihuahua uncomfortable.

Living room

This is the premiere spot for Chihuahuas. Spacious and easily accessible, they can have fun on their own or have a place to rest.

Caution: Be sure to dog-proof spots that are hard to reach, such as the back of a cabinet or under the couch. Chihuahuas are tiny, so they’ll run them efficiently!

If you must keep your Chihuahua outside for any reason, have a sitter, neighbor, or relative accompany them so they don’t get lonely.

If this isn’t possible, keep them outside while doing the following:

Tip #1: Install a pet door

This is useful for giving your Chihuahua a chance to get back in when something makes them anxious, such as storms or loud noises. 

Plant traces of your scent inside the house and have another crate prepared for them to retreat into.

Tip #2: Get a fence or playpen

Chihuahuas are slippery dogs due to their size, so you need to keep them contained while still giving them enough room. 

If you have a pet door, make sure the fence offers a path to it so your pet can readily access your house.

Tip #3: Let them take your smell with them

You can take a used cloth with your scent on it and give it to your Chihuahua so they can feel safe.

Note: Only let your Chihuahua sleep outside if they have no separation anxiety. This can be difficult to diagnose since Chihuahuas can become nervous quickly, so consult your vet first!

Danger #2: They can injure themselves behind your back

Chihuahuas are notorious for getting into a lot of tight spaces.

If your gate has holes, they might escape into the open road and get stuck within shelves or tight corners.

Since Chihuahuas have small and delicate bone structures, they might develop health issues such as:

Osteoarthritis

The cartilage preventing your dog’s leg bones from grinding against each other is slowly damaged over time. This is a painful condition that occurs more often in older Chihuahuas.

Hip Dysplasia

The hips become crooked and unable to keep up with your pet’s body weight, which can take away their ability to run or even exercise safely.

Patellar Luxation

Your pet’s kneecap is dislodged after running, sticking their leg, or walking at an odd angle. This can cause long-term damage and may require surgery to fix.

Limping is often the first symptom in all of these conditions. It would help if you caught this quickly before your Chihuahua developed complications. Here is a good video on limping and how to spot signs on your pet:

Most treatments involving bone-related concerns are costly and require operations or extensive therapy. This is why you need to take these preventive measures:

Tip #4: Use a large crate

Chihuahuas will warm up to more giant crates due to their need for space and comfort. Try getting something that’s twice or even thrice their size.

Remember to make this crate self-sufficient. Fill up their bowls with water and treats for nightly meals. Keep the box open.

Tip #5: Seal off certain spots

Place your furniture close together to discourage squeezing into corners. Put slabs of wood underneath cabinets so they can’t come in.

If keeping your Chihuahua outside, have the gates sealed off. 

Tip #6: Have regular checkups

If your Chihuahua lives outside for extended periods, have monthly checkups. Get X-Rays taken to keep tabs on their joints. 

Pay attention to limping or any related changes in behavior or movement.

Tip #7: Invest in-home cameras

This will allow you to check for hard-to-reach spots your Chihuahua may go to.

Tip #8: Place their crate in spacious places

Chihuahuas love to move around, and they tend to only go to difficult spots when there’s no space. 

You can put their crate in your garage or garden for outdoor stays, but put it in the living room if possible.

Note: Letting your Chihuahua live outside is a risky trial-and-error process. You should only do it if you’re willing to check your Chihuahua constantly and if they have no existing behavioral or physical problems. 

Danger #3: They will loudly defend their territory

Chihuahuas aren’t as loud as other breeds, but they are territorial.

They bark with all their cuddly might when they see stray cats or dogs.

This can cause a lot of noise in the neighborhood, annoying those who want a good night’s sleep outside.

Pests

Critters like ants or lice can also keep your Chihuahua on edge. Their bites can be very itchy, making your Chihuahua bark if it becomes unbearable.

Note: If your dog gets lice, have them checked as soon as possible! Since Chihuahuas are small, bloodsucking lice can make them anemic.

Passers-by

Strangers walking past your gate can be seen as intruders by your dogs. Chihuahuas can be active at night, so they can cause chaos if they smell anyone funny.

Thankfully, you can keep all these to a minimum by following these tips:

Tip #9: Do not yell

Yelling only adds to the noise and makes your dogs think you like what they’re doing. Ignore them and keep walking if they seek attention too much. Let them bark until they stop.

Tip #10: Let your neighbors know

If you live in an apartment, you want them to understand your dog’s behavior more. Inform them that you have a Chihuahua around. 

Note: Be transparent about behavioral problems so they can adjust and keep triggers away!

Tip #11: Give your pet some puzzles

Chihuahuas are intelligent dogs with a love of mind games. Try placing special outdoor treats inside food dispensers like Kong Wobblers.

Note: It’s harder to supervise them during night, when he must sleep outside, so only do this if you want them to stay outside during the day. Use non-squeaky chew toys for darkness.

Tip #12: Spot any changes in attitude

If your Chihuahua starts to make a mess on purpose, keep them indoors. Excessive barking or whining can mean they have a phobia of something outside.

Tip #13: Keep them close to your front/back door

Don’t put your pet near the exit if you have a gate. Put up a playpen and place it near the front door. This will help them relax more since they won’t see anything outside.

Danger #4: Weather is their worst enemy

Chihuahuas have a problem with the weather in general. Although some can have double coats, their small size means they easily take in heat or cold.

The best temperatures for them are 60-65°F (15-18°C), while the best they can deal with is 90°F (32°C). If temperatures exceed these, your Chihuahua might get hurt.

The worst part is that because dogs are clever at hiding their pain, owners don’t often see any problems until their dog is suffering in front of them.

Thus, knowing more about hypothermia and hyperthermia is critical.

Here are some signs of hypothermia:

  • Paleness.
  • Shivering.
  • Impaired gait.
  • Lowered heart rate.
  • Stiffness in movement.

Note: Shivering is the most neglected sign because it’s often shared in Chihuahuas. But bear this in mind, especially in snowy environments. Give your pet some heat once they start to shiver.

Tip #14: Gear up your pet

It would be best if you got your Chihuahua booties and a doggie jacket to prevent hypothermia, which will help them stay warm outdoors, especially when he must sleep outside.

Tip #15: Get physical during winter

You should only go out on snowy days if you want to play with your dog since physical activity will help them stay warm. Have them stay indoors if you’re going to relax.

However, other things can keep your Chihuahua barking at night:

Cars

Nightly honking is your dog’s most prominent problem if you live near a busy highway. They might think they’re intruders if the sound gets too close to your gate.

During winter, you need to prepare your fireplace or heater. Keep your Chihuahua near the heater when they start to shiver.

Tip #16: Stay home during the cold months

Bring their crate and all other outdoor materials inside. They should not be allowed to go out on their cold days.

As for hyperthermia, you need to watch for excessive outdoor temperatures.

When temperatures reach 91.4°F (33°C), your Chihuahua may show worrying signs of heatstroke:

  • Drooling.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Unprompted panting.
  • Distressed movement.
  • The fur is hot to the touch.

Note: In some breeds, they can sometimes ignore panting. However, Chihuahuas can heat up quickly, especially those with double-coats. Please bring them to shade when they start showing distress

Thankfully, preventing it is easier than you think. Here’s what you’ll need:

Lots of shade

Chihuahuas can stay indoors for long periods because it protects them from the sun. If you need to bring them out, be sure there’s a tree or roof that will protect your pet from the sun’s movements.

Weather reports

Before sending your Chihuahua to sleep outside, you must study weather reports. Watch the news or use your phone to stay up to date.

Lukewarm water

Rehydration stops hyperthermia on the go. Don’t give your Chihuahua cold water because the sudden temperature change might only worsen symptoms.

Caution: Don’t stop at first aid when you see any combination of these symptoms. Take your dog to their vet and check for any damage, especially after prolonged exposure outside.

Danger #5: They can be traumatized by loud sounds

Chihuahua Traumatized By Loud Sound

Chihuahuas are brave dogs that can hear even more than we can. 

They can hear the lightest of footsteps, making them excellent at spotting intruders and thieves. Unfortunately, that is also a weakness.

When they hear sounds like thunder or blaring speakerphones, they can recoil and display the following symptoms:

Hiding

Chihuahuas can hide underneath things to feel safe. If you haven’t dog-proofed your shelves or tables, they could be stuck or suffer injuries trying to weather the storm.

Pooping

The sudden cracking sound of thunder can cause a dog to do their business prematurely. If training, pick up the poop and put it in their potty area, which will let them know that the pooping site is still the same.

Nervous pacing

Chihuahuas can pace around nervously when they notice changes in the atmosphere. When you see this happening, bring them inside and let them know you’re close enough to pet them.

Noise anxiety can be hard to prevent because your dog is exposed to all kinds of noise daily.

Once you zero in on a noise they don’t like, you should:

Tip #17: Get a checkup

Owners often detect noise anxiety late, and that’s okay. Some dogs may injure themselves before their owners even realize it. Be there for your Chihuahua and have them checked for joint injuries related to hiding in tight spots.

Tip #18: Use medications

Medicines like Benadryl can help them put to sleep outside for a quick fix. Don’t forget to ask your vet for the dosage.

Tip #19: Recondition your dog

Play the problematic noise and increase the volume. Feed them treats for every milestone until they can tolerate it.

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