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Afraid Outside

My Chihuahua is Afraid of Going Outside

The Fear of the Outside World
 
One of the fun elements of having a dog is that you have a great reason to get outside and go for walk. After all, walking with a dog is much more fun than walking alone. And even though the Chihuahua is the smallest of all purebreds, he still needs regular exercise to maintain good health. Also, it's nice to have a companion when going to outdoor places such as farmer's markets, outdoor malls, parks and other locals.

Heading outside is an important element of house training. While some owners do train for indoor housebreaking, most Chi do best when able to choose the perfect spot within the designated area. The entire plan for training a puppy can come to an abrupt halt if he shows a fear of the outside world. 
So what do you do if your Chihuahua is afraid of going outside? Some dogs will resist going for walks as if they are entering a dangerous gauntlet ! This is actually not that uncommon for toy breeds. It is a behavioral issue that can be resolved with certain training.
  
The first thing to keep in mind is that in the eyes of your Chihuahua, he may have a perfectly logical reason for being afraid of venturing outside. Although it should be noted that this is rare, some Chihuahua service dogs work with individuals who have agoraphobia and urge the handlers to go outside with them!

However, hesitation and in some cases anxiety about going outside can be seen with some dogs, particularly those that have been neglected in the past. However, since all dogs have their own distinct personalities, your Chihuahua may simply be afraid even if he has not had a bad experience.
What are Some Reasons for a Chihuahua Being Afraid of Going Outside?
  • A Chihuahua may be afraid of rushing traffic
  • A dog may be afraid of all of the different noises that they hear; ones not found in your home. With keen canine hearing, a dog can be overwhelmed with a barrage of clatter and commotion.
  • A Chihuahua may be hesitant to walk on different surfaces. If a puppy is used to soft carpeting in the house, he may have a fear of asphalt, cement or rocky areas. When we rescued a senior dog, the poor girl hadn't been brought outside for years; she was afraid of the grass and only because it was so new to her.
Training to Help

The key to fixing this dilemma is to determine what is making your Chihuahua afraid of going outside. You can do this by taking your dog out for a walk and paying close attention. Does he shake or freeze up when cars drive by? Does your Chihuahua seem to have a hard time walking on the surfaces?

If your Chihuahua is afraid of Cars

The best way to handle this is to slowly allow your Chihuahua to become accustomed to cars. It may not seem logical that your dog is afraid of cars; however think for a moment how large and scary a car may seem to such a tiny dog as the Chihuahua! 

You should begin by going for a relaxing walk in a very quiet neighborhood. If you do not live in such an area, you can drive to one. Or you could find a quiet park that allows dogs. Quite frankly, the Chihuahua is so small that many owners go for walks in "Non-dog" parks.

Keep your Chihuahua close to you and speak in a matter-of-fact voice as you slowly walk. Be sure to not use a soothing tone, as this can signal to a dog that his owner is trying to provide comfort in response to a real threat. If a car does approach, your dog will look to you for clues in regard to behavior

Do not act panicked and pick up your dog. Simply talk calm and tell your Chihuahua that everything is okay. Continue walking; Do of course, stay on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, you should be closest to the street and allow your dog to walk on the inside.

Any time that a few minutes goes by with the dog remaining calm, alternate between giving praise and giving a small treat.

Many owners give up on the first few tries; they do not want to put their dog through a stressful situation. However, by starting off in an area of low traffic, ignoring fear based behavior and rewarding tolerance for traffic, a dog can learn that his fear has no basis.

Your Chihuahua will slowly get used to these types of walks and then you can take it up a notch by going to a more crowded area. Again, if any cars go by or you see any other dogs, stay calm and speak with a casual tone. Dogs can sense emotion even if you do not say anything, so do not tense up. Depending on the puppy or dog, it can take a week to several weeks for fears of the outside to subside.
*** You may also be interested in specific training for when a Chihuahua is afraid of other dogs.
If Your Chihuahua Is Afraid of New Surfaces

For grass and safe areas in your yard, a slow approach is best. Allow the opportunity for the dog to explore, never forcing anything and encouraging brave attempts. Most dogs - in their own time - will slowly venture out simply due to curiosity.

For surfaces such as pavement and cement, hesitation to walk may be due to the street or sidewalk being too hot. Since most owners head out with shoes on, it can be easy to forget just how much these elements can heat up. You can carefully check with the palm of your hand. On hot days, it is often best to head outside in the early morning or later in the evening when it is cooling down.

If there are areas of gravelly surfaces that a puppy or dog seems afraid of, this can be due to those pebbles causing discomfort. Tiny pebbles can sting and can cause pain if they become wedged in between the grooves of the paw pads. You may opt to place dogs shoes or booties on your Chihuahua. Shoes, sweaters, rain coats and all sorts of clothing can help keep a Chihuahua happy and healthy. Many dogs feel much braver to head out when they have a layer of protection.
You may also be interested in:

How to stop a Chihuahua from biting - A puppy or dog that is always nipping can severely affect the peace and happiness of a household. 
Chihuahua puppy is barking at night - Excessive barking is bad enough, but when it happens at night when you really need to sleep, it can be overly frustrating. 
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