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Exercise

Chihuahua Exercise

Overview
 
Finding the right balance of exercise and activity for a Chihuahua is important. This breed is a contradiction; he is the smallest of all the toy sized dog breeds yet has an abundance of energy that some say is at the level of some medium and large sized dogs.

While the Chihuahua does well in just about any living environment, even small apartments since he does not take up much room, he does need to have daily exercise. Due to his tendency to become hyper, this dog needs to have daily outdoor activity in order to release pent-up energy.

If not, a Chihuahua may be prone to destructive behavior such as chewing. Therefore, a well-exercised Chihuahua is a happy and more well-behaved dog. With that said, due to his size there are exercise restrictions that an owner should follow. 
Requirements and Needs by Age

Puppies 

Chihuahua puppies are very energetic and require a safe environment to romp around. Puppies should not be taken for walks outside in public areas until they have received all of their puppy shots, since they are vulnerable to canine disease up until that point.

Over-exercise (sometimes called forced exercise) is not good for any growing puppy, and the Chihuahua in particular should not be encouraged to be active any more than he or she naturally is at this young age
This is because some studies have pointed to a connection between over-activity and growth impediments.

In addition, many veterinarians believe that too much exercise can lead to elbow dysplasia (when the joint slips out of the socket or the fit becomes worn) since a puppy's growth plates are not yet fully formed.

With this said, allowing a puppy to be active is important. Exercise allows a Chihuahua puppy to release pent up energy, it is good for those developing muscles and enhances good physical health and sets up a healthy foundation for a life time of meeting exercise needs that go hand in hand with a good diet.
A growing Chihuahua puppy will need to build up an endurance for walking and for active play such as fetch or other activities in which the Chi is running around. Here is a good guideline recommended Chihuahua exercise guideline.
2 Months to 4 Months - During this time, puppy shots are still being given therefore walks need to be limited until a pup has full protection. Exercise needs at this time can be met via short walks around the yard and playing with toys both inside and outside.

When outdoors, if you do not have a safe enclosed area do be sure to keep your Chihuahua on leash. And a harness is recommended as opposed to a collar.
Chihuahua playing outside
4 to 8 Months - A Chihuahua's daily exercise routine should now include walks. At this age, 2 smaller walks per day are recommended as opposed to 1 long walk. Each walk should last 15 to 20 minutes. Here are some good tips to follow for walking a Chihuahua:
  • Check the walking surface. On hot days, sidewalks can heat up quickly (as can sand or other surfaces).
  • Use a harness (not a collar) to help prevent neck injuries that can occur if a Chi jumps up or runs out while on leash.
  • A 6 foot leash will keep a Chihuahua close and safe
  • Now is a good time to teach the "Heel" command. It is much easier to teach this before any bad habits have developed.
  • On high temperature days, try to walk early in the morning and/or later in the evening when it is not the hottest part of the day
  • Bring along water and a collapsible travel bowl so that a break can be taken in a shaded area to rest and re-hydrate.
8 Months to 1 Year - Walks can be longer now, averaging 20 to 30 minutes, making sure to still plan to take at least 1 break to rest and re-hydrate.
Adults 

1 Year to 6 Years -  When in good health, an adult Chihuahua will require at least 1 good walk per day lasting at least 30 minutes. Heading out twice is just fine as long as the outings are spaced apart.

In addition, activities can include swimming, outdoor supervised play with owner and/or with other dogs deemed safe and indoor games such as hide n' seek.

For Chihuahua dogs that are left home alone during the day, exercise and interaction will be more important than ever, as pent up energy needs to be released and will promote good behavior.
Owners are encouraged to bring their Chihuahua to as many dog friendly places as possible. This allows a Chi to be active and also to be well socialized to the outside world.

9 Years and Older - Some time between 8 and 9 years old, a veterinarian will deem a dog to be a senior. There is no set age for this, since it is a vet's decision based on how the dog is aging and his or her overall health status.

As a dog ages, there is a gradual slowing down and exercise for senior Chihuahuas may need to be scaled back a bit.
Tips for Healthy Chihuahua Exercise 
  • Help a Chihuahua stay motivated. Some owners will say that their dog simply does not want to go for walks or play fetch. However, a dog often will mimic his owner's enthusiasm. The more an owner enjoys going for walks, the more a dog will jump up and want to go along.
  • Be aware of any red flag issues during or after exercise such as limping and bring any concerns to the attention of the veterinarian.
  • Do not allow for inactivity as it is a contributing factor toward canine obesity, a problem that affects roughly 50% of all U.S. pets, the Chihuahua included.
  • For those that live in areas that experience cold, snowy winters, some extra precautions may be needed in order to still be able to go outside and offer a Chihuahua needed exercise. The weather may call for an owner to put a coat, sweater or other protective clothes on their dog.
  • Remember to use daily walks as a training time as well for proper heeling.
  • If a Chihuahua is nervous around traffic, allow the dog to build up a tolerance by starting off at a dog park that has zero traffic. After several weeks, choose a route that is a low traffic area and only move up busier areas once the dog shows that he or she is doing well.
  • Stay away from any areas of grass that are believed to have been treated with lawn care chemicals, as these toxins are a leading cause of allergies.
Chihuahua with harness on
  • If rain or snow is keeping you inside, carve out time for some indoor exercise. Playing games will help keep a dog active. Here is a simple, yet fun game to play with a Chihuahua inside that will help toward meeting his or her daily exercise needs.
How to play: Take a unique toy and hide it in an easy spot to find. Encourage your Chihuahua to find it, leading him to the area if need be (until he begins to understand the idea of the game). When he does, reward with lots of excited praise.

Then, hide the toy in a location that is a bit harder to find. Again, show excitement when your dog is looking for it. Give lots of encouraging praise.

You can keep making this game more difficult until it takes a moderate amount of time for your Chihuahua to find the toy and the final reward can be a healthy dog treat.
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