Have you ever looked all over your house for your Chihuahua and found it under your blanket? Have you ever wondered why Chihuahuas love to burrow? It may seem like a way to keep warm to us, but dogs have many reasons for burrowing. Some scientists even believe this behavior is instinctive and that the breed is naturally prone to burrowing.
Like most small dogs, Chihuahuas find comfort in small spaces. We will address some of the common reasons Chihuahuas burrow and when it can be a cause for concern.
What is Burrowing?
Before identifying the reasons for this behavior, you should know what burrowing is. Burrowing refers to curling up under something warm to find comfort or rest. Some dogs might dig before burrowing to create the right spot for themselves. They will usually hide their face when burrowed under blankets. Small and large dogs both burrow, but the behavior is more common among small breeds. Observe your Chihuahua’s burrowing behavior to determine if it is a cause for concern.
Chihuahuas are notorious for their burrowing habits, so always pat down any soft surfaces before sitting down. They are very fragile, and sitting on your pet, even by accident, can seriously injure your Chihuahua.
Reasons For Burrowing
There are many reasons Chihuahuas love to burrow, such as seeking warmth or safety and pregnancy. The Chihuahua breed burrows more than others, and there are many interesting reasons why.
Chihuahuas that burrow could just be following their instinct. All dogs burrow instinctually regardless of breed. Their canine ancestors had to dig for safety and shelter when in the wild. They did not have a comfortable dog bed to rest or sleep in, so they had to burrow for safety. A Chihuahua may instinctively burrow for the same reasons.
Dogs burrow and build nests in the ground to feel secure. They are den animals wanting to find a safe space that fits them snugly, a historical trait that dogs carried throughout evolution. While modern dogs do not need to burrow for safety or comfort, they will do it regardless.
Another common reason why Chihuahuas burrow is to seek warmth. They are small dogs with thin coats, so they do not tolerate the cold well. Hailing from Mexico, Chihuahuas likely adapted to the temperature there. It is very warm throughout summer and usually does not get very cold during winter. Additionally, they are very small, leaving little room for extra fat that provides insulation.
Most Chihuahuas have a short coat with little fat underneath to keep them warm, especially during harsh winters with snowfall. A Chihuahua’s coat keeps them cool rather than warm. A Chihuahua that burrows a lot during winter is normal. Make sure your dog is warm and comfortable at all times.
Dogs experience anxiety the same way we do. Chihuahuas, in particular, are known to be nervous dogs. Being edgy and easily startled is not unusual for a Chihuahua; they are fearful of many things, including loud noises, unfamiliar people, children, and other dogs. When confronted with a fear-inducing situation, they tend to burrow for safety.
The way Chihuahuas deal with fear also varies from dog to dog. Some react with aggression when confronted with a fearful situation. Chihuahuas are also aggressive to other dogs, especially those larger than them. If your Chihuahua is burrowing excessively, anxiety could play a role.
Chihuahuas who burrow could be doing so to seek comfort. A day snuggled under blankets, watching your favorite show is a welcome comfort for humans. Burrowing under sheets does the same for a Chihuahua. They may also burrow as a way to self-soothe. Your Chihuahua feels comfortable and safe under a cozy blanket in a warm room.
Does your Chihuahua tend to burrow under your blanket exclusively? Your Chihuahua might burrow under your sheets to surround themselves with your scent in your absence. Everyone is aware of how affectionate these dogs are towards their owners. They are very loyal and crave their owner’s attention all the time.
If you come back home to find your Chihuahua fast asleep under your blanket, it could be because they missed you. It could also be due to any of the reasons above. However, if your pet prefers your sheets and blanket, this is because they carry your scent. Dogs have a strong sense of smell and learn to associate your scent with comfort and safety.
All dogs like to make a nest when they are pregnant. If your Chihuahua is intact (unspayed) and has recently experienced a heat cycle, she could be pregnant. You will notice changes in behavior and appetite if your Chihuahua is pregnant.
Based on how long it has been since the conception, it is difficult to determine if your Chihuahua is pregnant through behavioral signs alone. Your veterinarian can perform an ultrasound to check if your pet is pregnant.
Once you are aware that your Chihuahua is pregnant, it is your choice if you want to continue the pregnancy or not. The Chihuahua is susceptible to many issues during childbirth due to its small size. The puppies have a larger head, which increases the risk of getting stuck in the birthing canal. Most Chihuahuas require C-sections, a surgery with its share of complications.
If your Chihuahua is pregnant, consult your veterinarian for detailed information. They can provide you with knowledge about the complications and how to care for your pet during this time. We also found this article about Chihuahua pregnancies very helpful.
Is It Safe For Chihuahuas To Burrow?
Chihuahuas will burrow for various reasons since this is an instinctive behavior. This behavior could pose some risks if not handled well. If you let your dog roam freely around the house, you should know that they burrow. You must also take a few safety measures to ensure burrowing causes no issues.
Firstly, Chihuahuas are tiny dogs with fragile bones and bodies. If your Chihuahua has an accident, such as someone sitting on them unintentionally, it can be dangerous and life-threatening. Ensure that you and anyone you invite over check under blankets and sheets before sitting down. You can also reserve a spot for your Chihuahua where he can burrow safely. If your Chihuahua is burrowing in spots off-limits for him, you will need to train him. A crate with blankets is a great way to allow your dog to burrow safely.
The second factor to consider is the risk of overheating. You should know if your Chihuahua will remove herself from the blanket once she feels uncomfortable. Is the spot restricting in any way, preventing your Chihuau’s escape? Most healthy dogs can regulate their temperate well, meaning they will remove themselves if feeling too hot. As long as you know that your Chihuahua can easily relocate to a more comfortable setting, burrowing should not be a problem. Make sure her blanket is made with breathable materials to prevent the risk of overheating. Avoid using an electric blanket because these can get hot quickly.
You should also consider if your Chihuahua has a respiratory condition. Keep a close eye on your pet when they burrow. If they burrow in your absence, leave thin, breathable sheets for them rather than a blanket. Dogs who have respiratory issues are prone to developing heat exhaustion under blankets. According to Noah’s Ark Veterinary Hospital, signs of heat exhaustion include panting, difficulty breathing, drooling, and increased heart rate. Remove the blanket immediately if these signs arise when your Chihuahua is burrowing. Cool them down by applying cool water to the paws, nose, and ears. Consult your veterinarian immediately.
How To Stop Chihuahua From Burrowing
You cannot stop your Chihuahua from burrowing. All dogs engage in this behavior regardless of breed. If the issue is your pet burrowing in areas off-limits to him, you should create a comfortable spot reserved for him. A dog bed with a roof can feel more secure than an open one. You can make his bed more comfortable by adding a blanket so your Chihuahua can burrow when the need arises.
Setting up a crate is also a great option. Purchase a large enough crate for your dog, and set it up with a blanket and its favorite toys. You will need to crate-train your pet to begin using its crate.
If your bed is off-limits for your Chihuahua and he still jumps on it regardless, you will need to train him. Another issue that arises with small breeds is Small Dog Syndrome. If your pet is jumping on your bed without permission or misbehaving in other ways, it could be due to this phenomenon.
Small Dog Syndrome occurs due to permissive training, where small dogs can get away with undesirable behaviors due to their size. If your Chihuahua constantly ignores commands, jumps atop furniture without permission, and burrows in off-limit spots, it could be SDS.
When Burrowing Is Worrisome
Burrowing is normal behavior but can be worrisome in some circumstances. Consult your veterinarian if your pet is burrowing excessively or their behavior seems unusual. Being mindful of your pet’s behavior is your responsibility.
Excessive burrowing could occur due to the following reasons:
As discussed above, Chihuahuas have trouble staying warm, which can worsen in winter when the temperature drops below the freezing point in many areas. Chihuahuas are not used to these temperatures and will need extra effort to stay warm. If your Chihuahua is burrowing and shivering excessively, it could be due to hypothermia. Mild hypothermia is easily treatable by moving your pet to a warm environment. Severe hypothermia can be fatal, so always keep your Chihuahua warm.
Avoid taking your Chihuahua outside in cold weather unless it is an emergency. Bundle them up properly and keep them in the car where it is warm.
Compulsive or excessive burrowing can also indicate stress and anxiety. From what we know about the Chihuahua’s temperament, they are prone to anxiety. Due to their alert nature, they are always looking for potential threats. These behaviors can predispose Chihuahuas to anxiety.
They will try to relieve stress by digging and chewing. These behaviors help soothe your pet due. Monitor your Chihuahua’s burrowing behavior carefully to ensure it is not due to stress or anxiety.
In the wild, sick animals instinctively burrow to avoid predators. A concealed resting place provides them security from immediate dangers. While your Chihuahua is under no threat at your home, they will still try to hide if in pain or sick. Excessive burrowing or hiding could mean that your dog suffers from health issues. You should consult your veterinarian if your Chihuahua is burrowing excessively.
Excessive burrowing or nest-making could also be a sign of pseudopregnancy. False pregnancies can occur in unspayed Chihuahuas who recurrently experience heat cycles. The hormonal changes due to heat cycles can trick your dog into believing they are pregnant. Your dog will show signs of pregnancy despite not being pregnant, including loss of appetite, lethargy, behavior changes, nesting behavior, lactation, vomiting, and a rounded abdomen.
False pregnancies are a prevalent issue among unspayed dogs. Studies indicate that nearly 50% of intact dogs experience a pseudopregnancy at least once. While this condition is not harmful, it can be stressful for your Chihuahua. Provide them care, attention, and exercise so the condition resolves quickly. Spaying your Chihuahua prevents false pregnancies and other health issues.