A dog eagerly licks a kong stuffed with treats.

Many beautiful chihuahuas enter the shelters each year due to behavioral problems. Common issues include barking, digging, constantly trying to escape the house, and even aggression. These common problems often have a related source—a bored dog looking for things to do. A good way to resolve this is to employ enrichment ideas for your chihuahua.

Even if your dog seems perfectly content with their lives, enrichment can make their life more enjoyable, and help keep them both mentally and physically fit. Here are 5 ways to enrich your pet, indoors and out.

Go for a sniffy walk

Dogs have a powerful sense of smell, but they seldom get to use it in an every day household setting. This is especially the case for apartment dogs that don’t have ready access to the outdoors. One of the single best things you can do for your dog is to take him for a sniffy walk.

The goal of a sniffy walk is to let your pet use his nose to the fullest. Instead of marching along for the sake of exercise or to get to a potty spot, the focus is on the journey and taking in new smells. You might even purposefully take the dog to somewhere you know there will be something your dog will want to sniff.

Good locations include hiking trails where they might catch the scent of wildlife, beaches, and even the local dog park with that statue everybody pees on. Any time your dog stops and sniffs intensely at an area, you know you’ve found a winner—and your dog is both exercising and engaging his brain in the process.

Let them solve a puzzle

In the wild, animals have to work to find food, shelter, mates, and even water. They are constantly moving and thinking in order to survive. Our chihuahuas live a very different life, with food and water presented to them in a bowl, a cushy bed to lie on, and pretty much everything else handed to them on a silver platter.

Puzzle toys are a way to engage those deep-rooted instincts to seek food, reducing boredom and stress at the same time. Dogs, like many other animals such as rats, pigs and maned wolves, prefer to work for their food. There is even a scientific term for it known as, “Contrafreeloading.”

You can also use puzzles to give your pet something to do while you are gone, or distract them during unpleasant events. Our four chihuahuas have tested and enjoyed many different puzzles over the years, but their favorites include this licky mat, the classic kong, and this treat dispensing ball.

Give them a chewy

Another deep-rooted need of chihuahuas that often goes unaddressed is the need to chew. If there’s nothing available for your pet to chew on, they may resort to chewing inappropriate items such as furniture legs, your shoes, or even undergarments.

Great chews for chihuahuas include pig ears, Himalayan yak cheese, and bully sticks. These are soft enough that they avoid damaging your dog’s teeth, but hard enough to clean their teeth and satisfy the urge to chew.

If your dog never wants to chew, ask your vet about your chihuahua’s teeth at their next appointment. Chihuahuas are prone to tooth problems, and if they don’t want to chew, it may be because their teeth hurt.

Do some training

Many researchers now believe that wolves chose us, instead of the other way around. At some point on the long road from wolf to dog, a connection was formed that has lasted for centuries. Dogs inherently want to be with us.

When we take the time to train our dog, we are engaging that deeper side of them. It can be a silly trick or formal obedience, but when they are working for you they feel important.

Working on tuning up your dog’s recall and formal obedience on a daily basis has other benefits. Recall can save your pet’s life. Training is one of the most beneficial things you can do with your pet for their mental health.


Chihuahuas love interacting with their owners, but it may take some sleuthing to figure out what game they like best. In our house, zooming through cat tunnels is popular, especially if a toy is tossed inside of one.

Other fun games include playing chase around the house, or toys that allow your pet to “destuff” them. This penguin and igloo set is a good example, letting your dogs get the satisfaction of pulling out a hidden object rather than simply having a toy thrown to them.

Rotating your pet’s toys can also add spice to them. Rather than always having the same toys available, try only offering a few toys at a time. Put ones that have been played with away for awhile, and bring them out again in another rotation. This will help keep your pet from getting bored of their toys, while also saving you from buying new ones.

Another thing to remember is that you are one of the most important parts of play. A toy by itself is just an object. It only comes to life when you make it fun.

Enriching your pet’s life can make a huge difference in how they feel. It can help with behavioral problems related to boredom, and help your pet get more out of life.

Adding even one enrichment activity to your dog’s life each day can make a huge difference in their behavior, and help them feel happier.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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