Crating VS Gates/Playpens
The use of crates should be limited to confining a puppy that is still in the process of being house trained. Other than this one brief phase of a dog's life, crating a dog no matter his age is just a terrible idea. Keeping a puppy in such a confined manner for hours during his daytime waking hours can cause the puppy to experience quite a bit of stress.
The desire to break free and the desire for human interaction can build up so high and to such an intense degree that when finally freed from this small confinement, the Chihuahua then overcompensates by acting extra clingy.
Additionally, a dog may become hyperactive, unable to calm down and simply be running frantically when finally released.
Wired cages cause damage to a dog's paws and any crate becomes an unsanitary area when a dog is left longer than the amount of time that he can hold his bladder and bowels; dogs will go to the bathroom where they rest if they are not given any other option.
Therefore, it is strongly recommended to set up a canine playpen or create a fun, secure indoor area via gates for your Chihuahua when home alone
. Once set up properly, this can also be the dog's 'time out' area in a way, if you need to keep your Chi out from under your feet (for example, when cooking, when company is over, etc.)
The location of this enclosure is important - You will not want it to be in the path of frequent foot traffic, but at the same time you will want your Chihuahua to feel as if he is still part of the 'action' even if he is behind the gate.
Dogs are happy when they can see, smell and hear what is happening, even if they are not able to jump on things to investigate them. While a dog may bark at visitors from his playpen, this is a far better option than a dog feeling lonely, isolated and stressed if forced to remain out of sight… dogs can become exceedingly frustrated in that sense.
Be sure to choose a pen or to obtain enough gating sections so that there is room for all your Chihuahua's needs. There should be space for a bed (a quality, comfortable one), water dispenser, non-skid food bowl, area to play with toys and as far from all of that as possible (in a corner) pee pads. Not all puppies or dogs will hit the target at all times, but having pads there will at least allow for some success with that.
It may take a dog days or even weeks to fully appreciate his own 'den', but once a dog does, he often will randomly retreat there voluntarily and will learn to feel safe and secure. It helps if a clingy Chihuahua does not associate the area with being alone. Dogs should be placed there for short amounts of time when owners are home and if a pen or area has an 'entrance', it should be left open when both dog and owner are at home together.