Deciding to let your chihuahua off-lead can seem daunting. What if he runs away? What if another dog attacks him or what if he attacks another dog or gets stolen? If you live in the United States you have other worries like coyotes, snakes and bears that might see your chihuahua as prey. In the UK it was reported that a seagull took a chihuahua. I don’t know if this is true but it is something to think about if you have a tiny dog. 

Good behaviour

Some chihuahuas will also chase joggers and cyclists and might even try to jump up and nip at their ankles. Mika used to do this if a jogger came up behind him. Small children may also run up to your dog, assuming because he is small and cute he is also friendly. Only to be met with a warning growl and the chihuahua ‘curled lip of doom’. Ignoring these cues as a child might, could mean that your dog’s anxiety escalates, and he bites to defend himself. So, with all this going on it’s no wonder that people choose to not let their chihuahua off-lead.

The case for walking your chihuahua off-lead

I have always allowed my dogs to walk off-lead if it’s appropriate. It’s something we have encouraged from puppy-hood. Or, as Mika was a rescue, as soon as we felt confident, he would stay with us and come when called. To give this some context, we never walk off-lead near the road.  Also I won’t hesitate to put them back on the lead if the situation requires it. I am very cautious with Arlo around other dogs, he is OK if they ignore him but will run at them if they look at him or show interest. I don’t want to put him in any kind of situation that he can’t handle and it’s up to me to make that decision on his behalf. 

But if I can let them off, I will. I love to see them charging around playing with each other. Running and playing helps burn off fat, is good for the heart and builds up muscle. Keep walks short and successful and don’t be tempted to overwalk your dog. If you chihuahua has a meltdown at another dog, cut your losses and take them home. 

When a walk isn’t a good idea.

If your chihuahua is not coping with walks then don’t feel you have to take them out. If they are barking and lunging at other dogs, people and birds then that’s a sure sign your dog needs their confidence building up and the walk is not serving them well. Stop the walks and let your chihuahua empty their stress bucket, play some confidence building games in the garden, then re-introduce the walk in tiny circuits until they are able to cope.

Your responsibility if your chihuahua is off-lead

If you are walking your chihuahua off-lead be responsible. Walking along engrossed in your phone while your dog wanders about unsupervised is asking for trouble. You are required by law to keep your dog under control. Be vigilant, especially if your chi is reactive towards other dogs. Parents of small dogs get very upset when large dogs can run at them, but this works two ways. Other dog owners also get upset when an aggressive chihuahua starts to bark or worse snap at their dogs. If you dog is aggressive towards other dogs you need to work on this at home and then reintroduce the walk.

So, if you see another dog walking towards you and you think your chihuahua may react, call him back so he is under your control and put him on the lead if necessary. The same thing goes for joggers and cyclists.

Good proximity and recall is vital to successful off lead walking, and no dog should be running around off-lead if he won’t come back to their owner when called. If you are not sure about your chihuahua’s recall, then keep him on a lead in a public place.  Only let him off in a private secure field then work on his proximity and recall.

Picking where you walk is key, walking in a busy local doggy park might be stressful for you and your chihuahua off-lead. Can you find a quiet field that has more space and fewer dogs?

Chihuahuas are known for preferring their own breed, but some will tolerate other calm dogs, so why not get together with some friends and hire a secure dog walking field. This has become very popular in the UK. Prices tend to be around £10 per hour.

Staying safe

It is ludicrous to have to remind people about staying safe when they are out walking with their dog. But dog thefts are on the rise and chihuahuas are still a desired breed. Here are some tips on how to not be a target for dog-nappers. 

Never walk a bitch when she is in season. A season can last longer than you think and they are still fertile after the bleeding has stopped. Ask your vet for advice if you’re not sure. 

Avoid using an extendable lead, they are dangerous for people and dogs.

Getting lost

If the worst does happen and you chihuahua gets spooked and runs off, it is very distressing. This happened to Arlo when an aggressive husky ran at our little walking pack. Arlo ran away in the melee and got separated. Here are some tips on how to deal with a lost dog. It’s worth a read as what you would do by instinct is the wrong thing