I often hold Bella, my Chihuahua, because she clearly indicates that she loves to be held. But not all Chihuahuas like being held, do they?
So if you are wondering ‘Do Chihuahuas like to be held?’ then you are asking the right question. After all, dogs are not held in the wild so why should domesticated dogs think any differently?
But then, it just might be a breed-thing. Some small dogs like Pekingese, Pomeranian, Shih tzu, and Yorkies mostly love being held.
Of course, the opposite is true too. There are several dog breeds that simply dislike being held. This is true for most of the larger dog breeds too. So, what exactly goes on in a Chi’s mind when you pick it up and hold it?
In this guide, we will discuss the reasons why most Chihuahuas – my Bella included – like to be held.
Do Chihuahuas Like to Be Held?
Yes, I believe so. In my circle, I have friends with Chihuahuas and most of them love being held.
Naturally, there are bound to be differences. No two dogs are similar – even within the same breed.
While one Chihuahua might beg to be held, another might not like it much and may even feel threatened or scared by the gesture. Most Chihuahuas in the second category may not even let their owners hold them.
That is why we cannot and should not generalize when we try to answer the question: Do Chihuahuas like to be held.
In the next sections, we will discuss the reasons behind both tendencies.
Why Do Chihuahuas like to be Held?
Most Chihuahuas like being held for the following reasons:
1. Small dog syndrome
The small dog syndrome in all small dog breeds including our Chihuahuas make them very insecure about their small sizes. It makes them scared of things larger than them. And almost everything is larger than them.
Being held by their owners provides them with a safe, secure feeling. And that is why a majority of Chihuahuas like being held.
2. They are anxious dogs
Most Chihuahuas suffer from separation anxiety. As a result, they prefer spending time with their owners whenever they can.
At home, your Chi might follow you from room to room and will also show a preference for cuddling with you. This behavior typically stems from anxiety. It also helps us answer the question ‘why do Chihuahuas like to be held?’
3. They need the warmth
Chihuahuas tend to feel quite cold and that is why they also shake a lot. It is also the reason why being held by their owners is something they look forward to. The warmth and body heat of their owner/handler helps them feel snug and prevents shivering/shaking.
Of course, your small dog might demand being held in summers too!
4. The ‘pack’ mentality
Chihuahuas love to be with their family. These Velcro dogs are pack animals just like their ancestors – wolves. In packs, the dogs in the wild hunt together, huddle together, and even sleep close together.
The reason why most Chihuahuas love being held is because it makes them feel secure, snug, and warm. They consider their pet parents as their pack and that is why they love being held by them.
5. Sometimes its sheer laziness
Some Chihuahuas like being held because they hate walking. This behavior can be attributed to their childhood conditioning.
If you have always held your Chihuahua since puppyhood, then chances are that it might get a bit lazy and complacent. Resultantly, it might prefer being carried and held instead of walking.
Remember: no Chihuahua is born lazy. Its circumstances make it so!
6. Lack of socialization
An un-socialized Chihuahua is more likely to be diffident and might get very nervous and scared at the slightest change in routine, or even loud noises. Such Chihuahuas definitely like being held because they look up to their Chihuahua owner for protection. Being held gives the little dog a sense of security and safety.
Why Do Some Chihuahuas Dislike Being Held?
Some Chihuahuas dislike being held due to the following reasons:
1. They are not used to it
A Chi that shows clearly that it does not like being held is probably not used to being held. This is typically seen in Chihuahua rescue as they are mostly not held when they were puppies.
2. Unpleasant experiences/associations
A Chihuahua may also not like to be held because of the consequences it might have suffered. A child might have handled it too roughly or it may have slipped and fallen down. This can leave a negative association with being held.
Often Chihuahua owners hold their dogs just before taking them to the car for driving to the vet or to the bathroom for a bath. These memories and associations could also make being held an unpleasant experience for your Chi.
3. Pain, illness, injury
If your Chihuahua always liked being held but has suddenly started avoiding being held, then it could be due to a medical reason.
Perhaps your Chi has an injury or is not feeling well. Maybe its neck, back, or spine might be hurt. Sometimes, it could be a digestive issue or your dog may be nauseated. Check with your vet if the issue does not get resolved.
4. They feel threatened by it
Chihuahuas are small dogs and they often suffer from the small dog syndrome. That is why they feel threatened when a human picks them up – even if it is their own pet parent.
It all boils down to your Chi’s socialization. If you have always held your Chihuahua puppy, then this won’t be the case. But a Chi that hasn’t experienced being held will likely feel very threatened, and even more so if approached by strangers.
Should Chihuahuas Be Held all the Time?
No, it is not a good idea to hold your Chihuahua all the time.
Holding it constantly will make it even more nervous, scared, and diffident. Here are some reasons why you should not hold your Chi all the time:
1. It needs to walk
All dogs need to walk. Sure, your Chi is bred as a companion dog or a lap dog. However, it still needs its exercise.
In fact, all Chihuahuas need at least 30-35 minutes of physical activity on a daily basis. If you get your Chihuahua accustomed to being held all the time, it won’t walk or move. This is very detrimental to its physical and mental health.
2. Your pet needs to sniff around
Yes, like all dogs, Chihuahuas need to sniff at everything they find on their way to the dog park. They also need to sniff other dogs’ butts.
Without sniffing, your Chi will be deprived of vital information and ‘messages’ passed on by other dog pheromones. If you hold and carry your Chi everywhere, it will not get this much-needed stimulation. The result: a dull, bored, and even a depressed dog.
3. It could cause obesity
A Chihuahua that is accustomed to being held all the time will not expend energy and burn calories. The result is that it could gain weight and even a few pounds of weight-gain in this tiny dog can put tremendous pressure on its delicate joints.
Over time, the excess weight can cause arthritis, luxating patella, hip and elbow dysplasia, etc. in your small dog.
4. It could result in unwanted behaviors
Lack of exercise for a Chi is not just detrimental to its physical health, it can also lead to behavioral issues and unwanted behaviors. These include chewing up furniture, incessant barking, etc.
5. They might demand being held only by one person
Most Chihuahuas get deeply attached to one person in the family and chances are that they only like to be held by that person.
This can be problematic for both the dog and its favorite person. A sensitive Chi that has formed a strong bond with one person might cry continuously when that individual has to leave on a trip.
These are the reasons why dog trainers and canine behaviorists also recommend not to hold a Chihuahua all the time.
What are the Signs Your Chihuahua Likes Being Held?
A Chi will use its body language to show you its likes and dislikes. Here are some ways your pet will show you it likes being held:
1. Standing up on its hind legs
This is the most common stance a Chi will take to indicate it wants to be picked up.
2. Rubbing against your legs
Some Chis will rub their bodies against your legs and demand to be held.
3. Whimpering or barking excitedly/happily
A Chihuahua might also whimper or cry or bark excitedly and happily when it wants to be held. It will snuggle close to you and look in your eyes with puppy eyes or ‘begging’ expression.
4. Calm, relaxed facial expression
Once you hold your Chihuahua that likes to be held, it will have a calm, happy, and relaxed expression that shows it likes being where it is.
What are the Signs Your Chihuahua Dislikes Being Held?
A Chihuahua that dislikes being held might show the following signs:
1. Snapping, growling, biting
Most Chis that do not like being held will prefer running away rather than getting confrontational. That is because a well-trained Chihuahua is not an aggressive dog . So if your Chi does display this behavior it is very important that you nip it from the start.
2. Running away and hiding
Most Chihuahuas that are well-trained and socialized will prefer running away rather than biting or snarling at their owners.
3. Trying to wiggle out
Once you have held your Chi who dislikes being held, it might try to wiggle out of your hands and as soon as you are closer to the ground, it might jump off and run away.
Please remember that your Chihuahua has a very good reason for not being held and if it does want to, please don’t force it.
What are the Right and Wrong Ways to Hold a Chihuahua?
Here are the right ways to hold a Chihuahua:
The Right Ways
Place your hand arm its chest
For small dogs like Chihuahuas, it helps if you can place your dominant arm under its chest and your hand between their front legs. Use your other hand to tuck their legs into your body so your tiny dog is fully supported.
Another safe method to hold your Chihuahua
Place your arm under their front legs and support their feet with your other hand. Hold your dog safely against your body.
The Wrong Ways
Holding it by the scruff of its neck
Mother dog holds her pups by the scruffs of their necks but that does not mean that you should too. It could hurt your Chi.
Like you hold a human baby
Never pick up your tiny Chihuahua under its front armpits like you hold a human baby. It can strain your pet’s ligaments and hurt your delicate dog.
FAQs on Do Chihuahuas Like to Be Held?
1. How do I get my Chihuahua to like being held?
You will have to train your Chihuahua from puppyhood to like being held. Rub your Chihuahua pup on its belly and inner thighs. When it relaxes, gently pick it up as described in the ‘right ways to hold a Chihuahua’ section above. Initially, pick your pet and hold it for short period and then progress to longer holding.
2. What does it mean when a Chihuahua holds you?
When a Chi (or any dog) holds you, it wants to be petted or held, or it wants to play with you. Sometimes, your Chi might hold you when it simply wants your attention.
Conclusion – Do Chihuahuas like to be Held?
Most Chihuahuas love being held as it gives them warmth, safety, security, and a way to be close to their humans.
A few Chihuahuas that are not socialized to being held might dislike it and feel threatened by it.
Dog behaviorists recommend not to hold your Chi all the time and also encourage it to walk to prevent boredom, destructive tendencies, and obesity.
We hope this guide and other resources on this site help you train your Chi well.