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Why are Chihuahuas so Nervous? (Revealed)

Chihuahuas are famous for being naturally nervous dogs. And as a chi parent, I understand how your pup’s nervousness can take a toll on you. Unfortunately, these tiny dogs worry about many things, making it harder for us—and them. The best thing to do as a chi parent is to understand ‘why are chihuahuas so nervous?’

From there, you can find the best way to manage your chihuahua’s anxious behavior. Read on to see the common causes of nervousness in chihuahuas, symptoms, and what you can do to help.

Why are Chihuahuas So Nervous Most of the Time?

Sometimes, we can quickly tell why our chihuahuas are so nervous. For instance, if you’re having some renovations done, the presence of strangers and loud noises are bound to make them anxious. But things aren’t always straightforward, making it challenging to help our beloved chis.

To help you narrow down a cause, here are eight common reasons why are chihuahuas so nervous most of the time:

Why are Chihuahuas So Nervous (infographic)

😰 Lack of Attention from Owner or Parent

Lack of attention from owners or parents can make most chihuahuas nervous. Remember, your chi’s everyday life has plenty of impact on their temperament. And if you’ve made your chihuahua get used to attention, the sudden absence may make them anxious.

This one is prevalent among younger chis as they mostly look up to their owners as their parents. 

😰 Little to no Socialization

black and tan smooth chihuahua on brown wood log near body of water during daytime - why are chihuahuas so nervous
Photo Courtesy of Tesla Fans Schweiz

A chihuahua with minimal exposure to other dogs, objects, people, or situations will likely show more signs of chronic nervousness. And these range from shaking to cowering in fear when facing anything new in their eyes. 

That’s why socialization is crucial in chihuahuas. After all, it plays a massive role in shaping a chihuahua till adulthood.

I recommend socializing your chi from a very young age. This way, your chihuahua will get used to different things—making them less nervous as they age. But that doesn’t mean adult chihuahuas have no chance of socialization. After all, the practice is known to work miracles in older chis. 

😰 Genetic Predisposition

Although rare, some chihuahuas have a genetic predisposition to nervousness. That means the puppy might have gotten the trait from its parents. For instance, if a chihuahua’s parent is naturally nervous, it might pass this on to its litter. Hence, the offspring will become as anxious as they are.

😰 Experiences of Past Trauma

brown chihuahua on green grass field during daytime
Photo Courtesy of Higor Carvalho

Some chihuahuas, especially rescued ones, may show perennial nervousness due to a past traumatic experience.

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It’s sad to see these small dogs anxious and nervous all the time when none of it is their fault. This does happen, and rehabilitation can be challenging—but not impossible!

But keep in mind that this category isn’t limited to rescued chihuahuas with past traumas. After all, traumatic experiences can occur in any chi. For instance, if your chihuahua gets startled during a walk, this might make them nervous when going on the same road.

😰 Separation Anxiety

Despite the bad rap they get, chihuahuas are some of the most loving and loyal dogs. That’s why it’s natural to see many forming close, tight-knit bonds with their families. And if your chi isn’t used to being alone at home, it can become very nervous when you or other family members go away. In other words, your chihuahua might have separation anxiety.

This is especially the case if you leave for prolonged periods. Aside from that, many chihuahuas also tend to become nervous most of the time due to loneliness. 

😰 Boredom

When chihuahuas get bored, they may exhibit signs of nervousness. The lack of mental stimulation can be too much for their little minds, making them scared and anxious. So, you can see why chihuahuas are so nervous most of the time when left alone with nothing to do. 

😰 Lack of Exercise

white chihuahua on brown sand during daytime
Photo Courtesy of Mark Timberlake

If chihuahuas don’t get enough exercise, they cannot produce enough endorphins. Also known as ‘feel-good’ hormones, these are responsible for making your chi feel happy.

Aside from that, it can also make your puppy feel other positive feelings. 

Also, as mentioned earlier, when chis get bored, it might become too much for their tiny brains. Hence, if you’ve made your chihuahua a couch potato, there’s a high chance you’ve made them a nervous dog.

😰 Pain, Injury, or other Underlying Health Issue

Often, chi parents make the mistake of solely seeing nervousness as a behavioral problem. After all, chihuahuas that show signs of anxiety or fear might be suffering from pain. And whether that’s through an injury or an underlying health problem—you should find out immediately!

How to Know if a Chihuahua is Nervous? 11 Signs to Watch out For

It can be limiting to have chihuahuas suffering from nervousness. After all, no pet parent wants to see their chi puppy shaking or quivering. And the worst is feeling powerless when this fear forces your chihuahua to hide or cry.

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Although a bit of fear in chihuahuas is standard, it can be an issue if your dog has an overreaction to every little thing. Here are eleven signs to watch out for and confirm you have a nervous chihuahua on hand:

🩺 Randomly Urinating and Defecating

Chihuahuas often urinate or defecate indoors when extremely nervous. When chis show signs of stress alongside nervousness, you’ll often see them do their business before leaving for the day. So, if you see your chihuahua peeing or pooping indoors despite being potty-trained, they might be feeling anxious. 

This issue will be uncomfortable for your chi and will eventually become an everyday hassle for you. Either way, it’s a lose-lose situation.

🩺 Pacing or Shaking 

Since chihuahuas are naturally anxious dogs, one of the many signs to watch out for is shaking. It’s the most distinct symptom of why chihuahuas are so nervous. But the little shake your chi makes after a bath or playtime does not count. Only include those shaky moments resulting from a stressful scenario.

For instance, chihuahuas commonly get stressed when visiting the vet. Many like to shake it off or pace around in uncomfortable environments like that. Regardless, nervousness might be at bay if you see your chi pacing or shaking more than usual.

🩺 Sudden Destructive Behavior

If you have a rowdy chi, and they’re more destructive than usual, they might be nervous. Anxious chihuahuas like to chew on most things they see, soothing their nerves. So, if you notice your chihuahua puppy becoming destructive, they might be feeling a bit anxious.

Aside from that, your chi might also suddenly exhibit generally aggressive or bad behavior.

🩺 Excess Whining or Barking

We all know that vocalization is how chihuahuas usually express themselves. But if you notice your chi whining or barking more than usual, they might be nervous and under stress. After all, some pups whine or bark to grab their owner’s attention to soothe themselves. 

🩺 Sudden Changes in Body Posture

A surefire sign of nervousness in chihuahuas is a sudden change in body posture. Since these small dogs bear the weight evenly on all four legs, any change signifies something wrong. For instance, if your chi shifts their body weight to their rear or hind legs while cowering, they might be nervous. 

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On the other hand, chihuahuas may tuck their tails between their legs when terrified. Remember, different pups display various outward signs of nervousness. So, pay attention to your chi!

🩺 Visible Differences in Ears and Eyes

Nervous chihuahuas, like anxious people, might have dilated pupils or begin to blink fast. So, you may notice your chi opening their eyes wide when scared, showing more of their sclera than usual. 

Aside from the eyes, your chihuahua might also show changes in the ears. The usually relaxed ears might become perked and alert, or worse, pinned back against your chi’s head.

🩺 Excess Licking

If chihuahuas feel nervous, they might soothe themselves by licking their body or other pets or yourself excessively. It’s your dog’s way of saying, “Don’t leave me, please. I’m scared.” 

Either way, act fast if you notice your chi licking itself more than usual. When left ignored, excessive licking can lead to lick granulomas or massive lesions on your chi’s body.

🩺 Displacement or Bad Behavior

Excess yawning or lip licking are common displacement behaviors your chihuahua may show when nervous. Aside from that, some chis might also freeze in their place or run away. Regardless, if you see any of these indications, your chihuahua is likely feeling anxious or even scared.

🩺 Shedding

In extreme cases of nervousness, severely anxious chihuahuas may shed a lot. Dubbed “blowing their coat,” these tiny dogs may begin to shed out of nowhere when intimidated. Although this sign might be challenging to notice in outdoor settings, it’s worth trying to spot. After all, it’s one of the most distinct signs of nervousness among chis. 

🩺 Loss or Gain of Appetite

Overeating or suddenly losing appetite is among the most common signs of nervousness among chihuahuas. And though these might be familiar occurrences since chis are naturally picky eaters, don’t ignore them if they worsen over time.

🩺 Hiding or Escape Behavior

The last sign to watch out for and confirm your chihuahua is nervous is hiding or escaping suddenly. Some tense chis may move behind you to hide as an extension of avoidance. Additionally, some chihuahuas might nudge their owners, prompting them to move along.

Besides that, your chihuahua may participate in diversion activities like digging a hole. 

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How to Calm Down a Nervous Chihuahua?

Now that you understand why chihuahuas are so nervous and how to confirm it, it’s time to learn how you can help your chihuahua. Below are a few proven ways to help calm down a nervous chihuahua.

✔️ Help your Chihuahua Feel Safe

The first thing to do to calm down a nervous chihuahua is to help them feel safe. It would be best to assure your puppy that they’re in a safe place. And depending on what your chi is scared of, you can take the needed steps to make sure they’re free from any danger. 

Here are some examples of making your chihuahua feel safe:

  • Place your chi in a crate in a room alone, giving them some peace. 
  • Take a route no other dog takes when going out for walks with your chihuahua. 
  • Establish a safe routine for your chi, including timely meals and naps!

✔️ Give Your Chi a Reassuring Touch

There’s likely nothing more relaxing to nervous chihuahuas than their owner’s touch. So, try to find the signs of nervousness in your puppy and address them early on. You can do this by picking up your chi, cuddling with them, or providing them with a long petting session.

✔️ Exercise Your Chihuahua

If your touch alone isn’t enough to calm down your chi, make them as active as possible through exercises. You can use this time to tire out your dog and distract them from their anxiety. Not to mention this activity give you and your chihuahua excellent bonding time.

I suggest taking your dog out for a walk or playing ball in the dog park. Either way, ensure to get a reliable leash for your chihuahua beforehand. After all, you wouldn’t want to lose your hold on an already anxious chi outdoors! 

✔️ Massage Your Chihuahua

Like how massages relax us, chi parents, massaging our chihuahuas can also help. This simple action can calm even the most nervous dogs, making your chihuahua feel better in no time. It releases all tension in the muscles, gradually alleviating anxiety in dogs. For chihuahuas, it’s best to begin at the neck and work your way downward with long and gentle strokes.

✔️ Play Some Music

If your chihuahua doesn’t like going outdoors or mingling with other dogs or people, stay indoors with music therapy. This is one of the simplest yet efficient methods of calming down a nervous chihuahua. Playing calming music when your chi is home can make any dog feel more relaxed and calm.

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Aside from that, music therapy can also help reduce noise sensitivity by cutting off ambient noises that may seem bothersome to other chihuahuas. Generally, chihuahuas showed to prefer classical music to any other genre. 

✔️ Put your Chihuahua in Time-Out

Although nervousness isn’t bad behavior, it helps you give your chihuahua time out when they’re being unruly. It’s best to isolate your chi in a safer and quieter space, calming down their frayed nerves. 

✔️ Invest in Calming Coats or T-Shirts

If you’re looking for a quick and continuous way to calm down a nervous chihuahua, invest in a calming coat or shirt. These apply constant pressure to your chihuahua’s torso, making them feel more relaxed over time. 

✔️ Use Systematic Desensitization

This method involves exposing your chihuahua to the thing, scenario, or other animals they’re nervous about. And though this might seem cruel, it’s one of the most compelling and entertaining ways of calming down a chi. I suggest doing systematic desensitization systematically and slowly. 

For instance, if your chihuahua gets nervous whenever a revving car or motorcycle passes, you can use recordings of both things to expose your chihuahua more. 

✔️ Explore Alternative Therapies

Although there are few proofs that alternative therapies can be beneficial to chihuahuas, some of these are non-invasive and won’t cause any harm. They’re also so flexible that you can combine one or two methods to this bit. 

✔️ Perform Counter-Conditioning

Based on Pavlov’s iconic experiment, this is an efficient yet slow way of calming down a nervous chihuahua. It’s where you reward your chi for good and typical behavior, allowing you to expose them to what they’re scared of and overcome it over time. This way, your chihuahua will begin to associate the bad things with the good.

✔️ Never Punish Your Chihuahua

Never punish your chi for something they can’t control, including nervousness. After all, the last thing any chihuahua owner would want is scaring their puppy more. So, try to stick to positive reinforcement to calm down your chi. 

✔️ Give Your Chi Something to Do

Keeping your chihuahua busy is one of the best ways to calm them down. It distracts them from their anxiety, keeping your chihuahuas happy and nerve-free. Whether exercising or playing outdoors, these little things can help your chi release more feel-good hormones, effectively calming them down. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are nervous chihuahuas so afraid of?

A: Chihuahuas can get nervous because of most things like any other dog. But chis especially loathe cars and strangers or other animals on their territories. Loud sounds are also a common cause of nervousness among chihuahuas.

Q: Are chihuahuas a naturally nervous dog breed?

A: Although chihuahuas are notorious for being nervous and shaky dogs, they only do so if they have a good reason. These reasons can range from physiological issues to emotional turmoil. So, if you see your chihuahua having a case of shivers, consider their surroundings and normal behavior. 

Q: Why is my chihuahua shaking for no reason?

A: Since chihuahuas are nervous dogs, you may spot yours shaking for no reason—and this is 100% normal. So unless your chihuahua continues shivering for a while, you don’t have to worry. But if it doesn’t stop, your chi might be suffering from something serious like an injury. So, always check for shaking alongside other symptoms like vomiting or persistent diarrhea. 

Q: Can a chihuahua die from being too scared or nervous?

A: Being overly nervous or scared won’t kill a chihuahua directly—but not impossible. For instance, if your chi suffers from an existing health condition like heart disease, a simple scare might be enough to end their life. So, always be careful around chihuahuas since they’re naturally nervous dogs.

Q: How can I calm down a nervous chihuahua?

A: The best way to calm down nervous chihuahuas is by taking them to calmer places with little stimulus. I recommend taking your chi someplace new daily or many times throughout the day if possible.

Final Words

Why are chihuahuas so nervous? Many things can make a chihuahua nervous, from lack of attention to an underlying injury. And since we want our chis to be healthy and happy, we need to find and get rid of the source of their anxiety fast. As long as you take the given guide to heart, your chihuahua will be happier and nerve-free in no time!