Chihuahuas aren’t the worst breed when it comes to running away from every means of containment possible. They simply can’t scale fences, jump as high, or bite and pull as hard as many of the larger breeds. Chihuahuas are, however, very athletic, and they often exceed their owner’s estimations, making almost impossible to stop an escape.
Chihuahua puppies can be very, very little. The spaces through which they can scramble through to escape their containment or barrier often appear impossibly small. The basic rule of thumb is that if a puppy can wriggle her head through a space, she can wriggle her entire body through.
Spacing in your outdoor fence (between slats or the chain links), a window that’s cracked open, a crate door that can be pushed open when it is latched on top but not on the bottom, a small tear in a porch screen, or a gap between a door and the floor could all be escape hatches fora little Chihuahua.
Be cognizant of just how small your puppy is, and look for ways in which she could escape, should he set his mind to it. The answer to escape problems is exercise, exercise, exercise! If your Chihuahua is pooped out, chances are she won’t be looking for something do – she’ll just want to snooze. If your well exercised Chihuahua puppy possesses a brilliant yet devious mind and is bent on breaking out of all barriers, keep her safely crated when you cannot supervise her every move.
If your Chihuahua puppy is a virtual jumping bean, she will be able to escape puppy playpens, baby gates, and low fences. If you find this is the case, you may need to get a little creative. Use a puppy playpen that has a top or wire roof. For those pups escaping a lower baby gate, consider double-gating a doorway (putting one pressure gate above the other) or using a dog gate that is taller and meant for jumping, scaling puppies.
If your outdoor fence is too low to contain your Chi, you’ll need to add to your present fence. (Some fences allow the addition of a foot of lattice to the top.) You might also consider replacing the fence with a taller one or always supervising your Chi when she is in the backyard.
Chihuahuas are small and lightning fast. If your Chi wants to make a break through the front door when you are talking to someone, has a tendency to scramble out over you when you’re letting her out of the crate, or is impossible to catch when you’re opening the car door, you know just how difficult it can be to handle a Chihuahua that has learned the art of bolting.
As with most unwanted behaviors, preventive training is the easiest way to avoid the problem entirely. With a pup, you’ll want to begin training her to wait whenever you open the crate door. Begin this by gently restraining your puppy while saying, “Wait.” Pause and then give the release command, “Okay!” and let your puppy come out and receive lots of patting, stroking and a little treat.
Continue this exercise until your puppy is no longer pushing against you and seems to have caught on to the “Wait” command. Open the crate door and say “Wait” with your hand up (as if you’re a traffic guard signaling “Stop”). Pause, and give the release command. Praise and treat such a smart puppy!
Your goal is to work up to being able to give your pup the “Wait” command before you’ve opened the crate door and have your Chi pup know to stay in his crate with the door wide open until you’ve given her the release command.
First of all, your Chihuahua should always be riding in a secured crate in your car or be trained to wear a safety harness that is designed specifically to attach to a seat belt and restrains your Chi in this way. Bolting from a car should therefore not be too much of a problem.
However, bolting from an opened crate door can be a problem, particularly when the Chi squirms around and you can’t get a leash fastened to her collar. Use the same training principles as you would for the “Wait” command; your goal will be for your dog to stay in her crate, allow you to fasten a leash to her collar, and then be released.
Begin training as you would with the simple “Wait” command.
Make sure your Chi understands this and will sit with the crate door wide open when you are inside your home. Then, with your Chihuahua in her crate, gently restrain her (in case she anticipates the leash as her release command), and repeat the “Wait” command once again as you fasten the leash to her collar. Pause. Then release your Chihuahua.
When your Chihuahua is reliable at this level (gets it right at least nine out of ten times), you can work on the same exercise with the crate in the car. If at any time your Chihuahua anticipates the release (and tries to bolt), take her training back a step until she’s solid once again on the basics.
Escaping Through The Front Door
It can be downright impossible to grab a scrambling Chihuahua that’s determined to slip out the front door and take a run about the neighborhood. With larger dogs, you can usually grab a collar before they burst through the door. But you’d have to be exceptionally fast (not to mention limber) to block a single-minded Chihuahua torpedo on legs.
When she’s solid with this (nine out of ten repetitions), repeat the exercise. But this time, take a step toward the door and then back to your Chihuahua before you release her. Praise and reward. Only when she is reliable with this (again, nine out of ten times), move your Chi one step closer to the door. Tell her to “Sit,” “Wait,” pause and remain in place, praise and reward. Once she’s got this down, add taking a step to the door and step back.
Then, add grabbing the doorknob and stepping back. This would be followed by stepping forward, opening the door slightly, closing it and stepping back. Your ultimate goal is to be able to open the door, step through the door, turn around and come back to your Chihuahua without his breaking the “Wait” command.
Though it sounds as if this training process of taking incrementally tiny steps would take forever, it doesn’t. It allows you to take your Chihuahua as fast as she is able to learn while minimizing her opportunities to fail at any step.