Does your Chihuahua laze around or always want to stay in bed, with no enthusiasm at all to play with you? If so, you’re not alone. This sort of uninterested behavior is a commonly reported behavior, leaving owners confused about what to do.
You’ll be happy to know that there are some steps you can take to get your Chihuahua up and moving, paying attention to stimuli, and enjoying some play time with you.
The Top 7 Reasons Why a Chihuahua Won’t Play
Reason #1: Young puppies have trouble focusing.
Up until about the age of 4 months old, puppies are not fully aware; they are still developing their cognitive senses. This is why young pups can often be picked up by strangers or left alone while owners tend to other things and not seem bothered by it… But, as they grow older, they truly realize what is happening and will react to it.
So, if you have a very young Chihuahua puppy that has no interest in playing with you, rest assured that this is quite normal.
As your Chi matures and has a stronger understanding of who you are, what toys are, and the joys of interaction, your pup will want to engage with you much more. In fact, it can become too much sometimes!
It’ll be important for you to set guidelines and find a good balance between interaction with you (and other household members) and having your Chihuahua stay busy and occupied when you are either not home or too busy to play.
Reason #2: Too much stimuli
If you have a busy household with lots of noise (people talking, TV playing, cars driving by, etc.) and/or lots of commotion (other pets, children, people coming and going, etc.), a Chihuahua can get sensory overload.
When this happens, a Chi will do one of two things: He may have trouble focusing on just one thing and get really hyper or he may withdraw. When withdrawing, essentially a Chihuahua feels that there is too much happening, too much to look at, too much to listen to, and too many things to choose from, so they choose nothing at all. Instead, a Chi may head over to their bed and curl up for a nap.
Reason #3: Same old, same old
If you only had one form of entertainment, day in and day out, it’s probable that you’d get bored of it. Well, it’s the same for our Chihuahuas. If you always try to play with your Chihuahua offering the same old toy, in the same room, this can get boring rather quickly.
Reason #4: Lack of owner enthusiasm
Canines are incredibly apt in reading their human’s tone of voice and non-verbal cues. If you try to initiate play but really don’t want to, or if you are feeling stressed for time, your Chi may be picking up on this.
Reason #5: Lack of owner bonding
It’s very common for a Chihuahua to only play with humans that he or she feels very close to. If you are not your Chi’s main caregiver, this may be the reason for a Chihuahua not wanting to play with you but having the desire to do so with others.
Interaction like playing fetch or chase or just plain acting silly together requires an initial bond where the dog feels close enough and safe enough to let loose and leave their guarding tendencies behind.
Reason #6: Frustration
Dogs learn quickly. Just a couple of unpleasant experiences can cause a dog to avoid a repeat. Therefore, if your Chihuahua became frustrated with play in the past (not winning games of tug-of-war, being reprimanded for not ‘properly’ chasing after a ball, etc.), this can lead to having no interest in doing those sorts of things again.
Reason #7: Apprehension
If a Chihuahua is very shy or nervous, and this is particularly true with rescue dogs, playtime can seem intimidating. What is about to happen? What does this person want from me? Do I dare proceed? Is this all about fun or can something bad happen?
It can take a while for a skittish Chihuahua to learn that he or she is in a safe place where only good things are going to happen.
How to Get Your Chihuahua to Play with You
Chances are that your Chi doesn’t want to interact and play for one or more of the previously listed reasons, even if you are not sure which one(s) it is. And, that’s okay if you don’t have your Chihuahua quite figured out.
Here, we’ll go over the steps you can take to help your Chihuahua get out of bed or just get moving to enjoy playtime sessions with you.
1. If you feel that a stronger bond is needed
either because you are not the main caregiver or because your Chi is a rescue that doesn’t quite felt safe yet, work on this.
Here are some tips:
- Make sure that meals are purposeful. It’s a huge mistake to prep the food, place the bowl down, call your Chi in, and walk away. Your dog may have no idea that you are the one responsible for providing the meal. But, to canines, the one that supplies the meals is looked upon with respect, after all, a dog’s very survival depends on that food.
- Always have your Chihuahua see that you are prepping the food and expect a ‘sit’ before placing the bowl down.
- Take on regular grooming tasks including brushing the coat, wipe touch-ups, and giving baths.
- Be the one to hold the leash while walking your Chi. Tip: Keep your Chi on a harness and to your immediate left in a heeling position. If you simply let your dog walk ahead of you, leading the way, who is walking who?
- Be the one to clean your Chi’s toys and bedding. This creates trust when a dog sees that his belongings are being handled but then are nicely returned.
A Chi that is used to another human doing these things may balk at first, but it typically only takes a week or so to get accustomed to having multiple caregivers.
2. Have play sessions take place without distractions.
Even if it takes a while for your Chi to focus on you and get used to playing, start off with the right foundation by initiating play where there is no barrage of noise or commotion. This may mean shutting off the TV and clearing away clutter… Or taking your Chi to a quiet area outside.
3. Be the first one to show enthusiasm.
Sometimes, an owner will not act happy about playtime until they see that their Chihuahua is having fun. But, many Chihuahuas won’t actually have fun until they see that their owner is having a good time. Don’t let it be a stalemate; someone has to be the first one to express happiness… let it be you.
So, be silly. Dance. Sing. Laugh. Act like a bit of a fool and let your Chihuahua see that playtime is pure fun and a time to let loose.
Tip: Be sure to choose times to initiate play when you’re actually in the mood. If you’re exhausted after a long day at work or stressed about something, your Chi will see right through any acting.
4. Start with fetch, but with a twist.
Dogs that need to learn how to play should be given simple games. And fetch is the best one for this. And, once you have followed all of the tips here, you may find that your Chi does indeed enjoy this quintessential game. But, for some Chi, it’ll need to be stepped up a notch. So, add your own rules.
For example, if you throw the fetch toy and your Chi just sits there, fake that you’ve fainted. If you throw a ball and your Chi takes a few steps but stops, jump up with an enthusiastic ‘Me first!’ and run for the toy. If your Chi does head over to it, give a ‘Ya-hoo!’ and praise, circling around him with big high steps. Once your Chihuahua learns that just participating just a little bit is great entertainment, he’s sure to be more engaged.
5. Bring something novel to the game.
Yes, it would be nice if your Chihuahua wanted to play with you even if you had an old toy from last year that he’s seen a million times. But, some dogs need a bit more than that.
So, bring out the big guns via a really cool toy that, along with your enthusiasm, will bring out your Chihuahua’s playful side.