As a dog walker who frequently looks after a couple of Chihuahuas, I can tell you first-hand that they are excitable and hyper dogs. Whilst all dogs are unique, Chihuahuas are certainly on my list of the more hyperactive breeds… and if you own one, you might be wondering when your Chihuahua is ever going to calm down.
Are Chihuahuas calm dogs? I would say Chihuahuas are not calm (as a sweeping generalisation). This is primarily due to their terrier-like characteristics, alert and playful traits, and what can often be a suspicious nature around strangers.
Chihuahuas appear to have a lot more energy than your average small dog breed and, as a result, are a lot more hyperactive and quite low down on the calm scale – this is very anecdotal and purely based on my experience!
Chihuahuas aren’t always hyper though and some can be calm… but there are a lot of facets involved. For example, a Chihuahua’s level of hyperactivity will vary dramatically depending on their age.
When do Chihuahuas calm down? When a Chihuahua reaches the one year old, you should expect them to calm down a lot over the subsequent 6 to 12 months. Although your Chihuahua may continue to be hyper after two years, it will never be to the same extent of them in their adolescent age. Again, this is a generalisation.
To learn more about the average Chihuahua’s hyperactivity and the best ways you can calm them down, and whether neutering them can have an effect, read on!
The causes of a hyper Chihuahua who won’t calm down
There are many reasons why your Chihuahua might seem overly hyperactive, but some of the most common factors and causes are listed below.
Chihuahuas are an interesting breed, because whilst they can physically mature very quickly to their adult size, but inside they’ve still got the mind of a puppy!
It can take some time for your Chihuahua’s mental maturity to catch up with their physical maturity, and a lot of the time your dog might be full of seemingly limitless energy because they have not yet fully developed the capacity to self-regulate their energy levels.
Their hyperactivity peaks and troughs throughout their life, so below is a rough guide:
2 to 4 months
At this age, your Chihuahua will be very excited and fascinated by everything. They’ll be moderately hyper, but will have a significant lack in focus, and it isn’t uncommon for them to be full of energy one minute and crashing the next during this stage of development.
This is probably the age where your Chihuahua will be the most hyper it will ever be. It will have a lot of pent-up energy, so it is important that they have plenty of opportunity to healthily release it via exercise or playtime. If not, you risk instilling harmful behaviour patterns.
12 to 24 months
Your Chihuahua will still be moderately hyper at this stage, but this is the period where most Chihuahua owners will notice a turning point. Yes, your Chihuahua will still appear more hyper than the average dog at this time, and this is because the gap between the physical and the mental development is most pronounced.
Handy Hint: One part of a hyper Chihuahua will be their tendency to bite your ankles all the time, and here’s why and how to stop it.
But, with patience and plenty of means to healthily expel of excess energy, you can feel assured that at this stage, your Chihuahua will calm down considerably.
Another notable benchmark many Chihuahua owners mention is around two and a half years. This should be the time where the mental development starts to match up with the physical development of your dog, meaning that now they can be considered as fully being in the ‘adult’ stage.
They will still have their moments, but at this point they will ideally have an established routine and exercise regime that keeps their energy levels at bay.
This is the stage at which a Chihuahua can be considered as being a senior dog. When they get to this age, they will be a lot more inclined to relax and snooze as opposed to charging around, but you should still keep up with their exercise.
2. A lack of physical and mental stimulation
As we have seen from the above, the key to controlling a hyperactive Chihuahua is routine – this can have a huge calming effect. Their routine should involve enough exercise that not only challenges their body, but their mind too.
Chihuahuas should have one 30 minute walk a day. If your walks are shorter or you’re skipping out on the play, it is likely that your Chihuahua isn’t expelling as much energy as it needs to, which then manifests in more hyperactive behaviour.
The same can be said, in turn, for a lack of mental stimulation. Chihuahuas, are incredibly intelligent creatures for a tiny dog breed. Subsequently, if they aren’t intellectually challenged, they will get hyper and restless and won’t calm down easily.
There are many easy ways to mentally stimulate your dog, such as teaching them tricks and commands or providing them with interactive toys where they have to work for their treats.
This should be done regularly, and with the right combination of physical and mental exercise, you will most likely see an improvement in your Chihuahuas’ behaviour and temperament.
They just need to be challenged in order to calm down.
3. A lack of attention
All dogs need love, and Chihuahuas are especially affectionate, widely renowned for their temperament as a companion dog. It is important to take the time to play with your Chihuahua, even if it’s a quick game indoors for ten minutes or a few cuddles and treats.
If your Chihuahua feels lonely or isolated, they might begin to develop unhealthy behaviour patterns such as hyperactivity, as if they barely get any time with you, when they eventually do, they’ll likely get overexcited and overwhelmed.
Also known as canine ADHD (read more on the US National Library), this condition is rare in dogs but may well be the case if your Chihuahua is inexplicably hyper.
However, hyperactivity alone is not a symptom of hyperkinesis. Other symptoms of hyperkinesis include:
- Attention seeking behaviour – including being very clingy
- Short attention spans.
- Impulsive nature.
So, if your Chihuahua is always hyper, and these behaviours are displayed alongside some of these other seemingly inexplicable symptoms, it is a good idea to take them to the you’re your vet will be able to diagnose and treat with a combination of medication and specialist training.
How to calm down your Chihuahua
If your Chihuahua is always hyper, here’s what to do. There are several steps you can take in order to tackle that behaviour in a positive, long-term manner.
- Teach your Chihuahua tricks: it will make them more disciplined, occupy their mind and provide them with some much-needed mental stimulation.
- Offer them breaks from playing: and provide them with an area to retreat as mentioned, Chihuahuas struggle to self-regulate, so encouraging them to rest and giving them an area to associate with relaxation helps them to learn to develop healthy boundaries.
- Make their exercise more challenging: when on walks, trying using an extended lead so they are free to run, or maybe set up very small jumps in your yard to encourage their inner athlete!
- Reassess their current routine: as mentioned above, if your Chihuahua seems unusually hyperactive, you should ask yourself whether they are getting the appropriate amount of physical and mental exercise. Chihuahuas thrive on routine, so if they are getting less than what is recommended, the simple answer to is up their activity and make a new routine! You’ll definitely see the difference within a week.
- Consider neutering: whilst this isn’t a quick fix, if neutered early, your Chihuahua might calm down and not grow up to be as hyper. More on this in the next section.
Handy Hint: No matter how naughty your Chihuahua is, you should never shout at them. Here are better ways of discipling this breed instead.
Do Chihuahuas calm down after neutering?
There’s a common belief that Chihuahuas calm down after neutering. Whilst there is some degree of truth to this statement, it’s not always the case. It will depend on the age they get neutered, and what behaviours they might have already learned to enjoy.
The reason the answer isn’t as clear cut as you might think, we need to understand the effects of neutering. Not only does the removal of the male Chihuahua’s testicles render him infertile, but it will also prevent him from producing testosterone.
A Chihuahua with no testosterone can display some subtle behavioural changes. But that doesn’t mean he will necessarily get calmer, and here’s why…
At around 6 months old, the testosterone levels in a male Chihuahua puppy will rise dramatically. This can lead to behavioural issues such as:
- Increased aggression.
- Increased self-confidence.
- Increased risk taking.
- Increased fear response.
- Increased territorial behavior (such as urine marking).
- Increased sex drive.
- Increased desire to roam.
- Reduced ability to calm down.
Based on that, you would assume that by neutering your Chihuahua, he should calm down. That would make to sense anyone reading this, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
For example, if you neuter a Chihuahua before he hits the puberty stage where the testosterone levels jump, it’s probable that he won’t exhibit the issues listed above.
However, if you neuter your Chihuahua after this point, he will have learned those behaviours, and possibly found them fun and exciting. As a result, even after neutering and with a lack of testosterone, he could still exhibit these behaviours, rather than calming down.
But, it’s still important to understand that your hyper Chihuahua could be acting the way he is due to his libido. And this is one thing that neutering will definitely have a calming effect on – no matter what the age of your dog.
Here’s what vets say you might expect after neutering:
- Libido driven behaviour will definitely reduce.
- Aggression could reduce (the biting can stop).
- Territorial behaviour could reduce.
It’s unlikely that your Chihuahua’s personality will be changed dramatically. He is probably still going to be a happy dog but could still display hyper tendencies!
So, to conclude, neutering can calm a Chihuahua down sometimes and if the hyper behaviour is related to sex drive and if done before a puberty. However, if neutering is done at an older age, their hyper habits could be harder to break!
With their hyperactive nature, Chihuahuas need owners who are patient and who can keep up with their mood swings.
Although it can be intense looking after a Chihuahua sometimes, you just need to be resilient, receptive and have faith that things will calm down as and when they get older.
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Image in header licensed via Storyblocks.com.