Choosing the right exercise and activities for your Chihuahua is so important. While Chihuahua’s come in many sizes from tiny to toy sized to medium sized due to some being a mix breed the exercise chosen can be very different. Some Chihuahua’s have so much energy they need exercise equivalent to a medium or large sized dog.
While Chihuahua’s are equally at home in tiny apartments as they are in large single family homes, whatever their environment, they all do need exercise! Daily outdoor activities are important for all Chihuahua’s no matter what size they are.
Daily exercise helps expend the energy they have built up and reduce or eliminate their propensity to becoming hyper. If you do not expend your Chihuahua’s energy, you will find he may resort to destructive behavior such as chewing. Chihuahuas who get plenty of exercise, on the other hand, tend to be happier and better behaved.
Having said that, because of his small size there are certain exercise restrictions you should follow for your Chihuahua’s well-being..
How Much Exercise Does Your Chihuahua Need?
Chi puppies are extremely energic and need a safe area to roam around. You should not take your Chihuahua puppy out for walks in public areas until they have received all their required vaccinations, because, up until then they are highly susceptible to canine disease.
You should also avoid over-exercising your puppy as is this can be detrimental to a growing puppy. Studies have shown that over exercise in Chihuahua puppies can lead to growth disorders. Also many veterinarians believe that elbow dysplasia can occur in Chihuahua puppies as a direct result of too much exercise.
However, it is important that your Chihuahua puppy gets enough exercise to release the energy they have stored up and to help with the development of their muscles and joints as well as their overall physical health. Your growing Chihuahua puppy needs enough exercise to build up the strength and stamina required for walking and active play. This plus a good diet is a great foundation for a healthy long life.
2 Months to 4 Months
During these months your Chihuahua puppy is still receiving shots and should have limited walks until he is fully protected. The perfect type of exercise at this age is short walks outside in your yard or playing with toys both inside and outside the home. If your yard is not fenced or if there are potential hazards within your fenced yard then please keep your Chihuahua puppy on a leash. Use a harness is rather than a collar as this will give you more control and have less chance of hurting his neck.
4 Months to 8 Months
This is a busy time for you and your puppy. His daily exercise should now include walks. It is recommended to take him for couple of shorter walks during the day rather than one big walk. Walks should last for around 15 – 20 minutes. Remember their little feet are tiny and their pads are soft so consider the surface. Also, during hot summer days the sidewalks, sand and artificial grass can get very hot, very quickly. This will harm their feet so consider playing indoors or taking early morning and later evening walks when the outside temperature is cooler. Again, a harness is the best choice as a collar could harm his neck when he jumps up. The recommended leash length to keep your Chi close and keep him safe is six feet. This is a perfect time to train him to “Heel”, before bad habits have a chance to develop. When out it is a good idea to carry water with you and have a collapsible travel bowl, so you can take a break for a rest and re-hydration.
8 Months to 1 Year
After your busy two previous months, things should be a little calmer and more organized. Your twice daily walks can now be extended to around 20 to 30 minutes, remembering to take a rest and water break each time.
1 Year to 6 years
Your Chihuahua is now an adult and he will need at least one decent walk each day for no less than 30 minutes. You now know your Chihuahua and what their needs are, so you know if you feel he needs more walk time then head out twice but split them up during the day so he has time to rest in between. You can now introduce other activities such as swimming and supervised outdoor play with other dogs you deem safe.
If you leave your Chihuahua on his own while you are out for long periods, it is important to release the pent-up energy when you arrive home. Take time to interact with Chihuahua with play time and exercise. A Kong is a good toy to leave your Chihuahua with to keep them busy while you are out. Also hiding tiny treats around the house or their bed will keep them busy sniffing and hunting for them.
9 Years and older
At this time of life some veterinarians believe your Chihuahua is entering senior years. Your veterinarian may consider him to be senior earlier, based on his overall health. As your Chihuahua ages, he will gradually slow down just as humans do. You can scale back your Chi’s exercise needs now he is a senior. Saying that he still needs to have a little walk/stroll and have fun playing with his toys. A little time at the local park can be fun for your older Chihuahua.
Look out for danger signs during exercise such as developing a limp. If you notice anything you need to your veterinarian know as soon as possible.
Exercise is an important part of your Chihuahua’s daily life weather it is a puppy or a senior. Keep your dog healthy and happy using different levels of exercise during their life. If you have any concerns about your Chihuahua’s health, contact your veterinarian.