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hello everyone!

I found this website and am so happy to be able to connect with chihuahua owners like myself. I am seeking some advice/opinions from all of you because we are embarking on a new and drastic change for my beloved Chico.

A little over 5 years ago I was gifted with an adorable 7 week-old long haired chihuahua from my boyfriend at the time. I was young (22), in college and he in grad school, but our schedules differed so we were able to provide enough care and attention. After a couple of months my boyfriend and I broke up and I became a single parent. I felt awful because my schedule became overwhelming with an internship and full time job and I was absent from home for sometimes 10-12 hours between work and school. I knew this was not what Chico deserved so my parents and teenage sister happily agreed to take him in until my situation became better for raising a dog. My parents have always had "outside" dogs who were trained and kept soley for hunting, but Chico would be a whole new world to them, and subsequently become the boss of our late springier spaniel, Max. My parents only lived about a half hour away from my college so I was able to see him frequently. He was further trained by my father and settled into a wonderful routine where he had plenty of space to lay out in the sun, sleep on the various couches and receive enormous amounts of attention from my sister and her friends. Each time I came home, however, he would go into an absolute thrilled tizzy and race around and yip and smother me with his adorable kisses and snuggle with me until I would leave to return to school. My mother said often after I would leave, he would sit at the front window for hours and just stare outside, wondering perhaps where I went.

Then, almost 3 years ago I moved to Boston. Though my visits became more infrequent, he always maintained the same excitement whenever I came home. As time moves us on, change becomes inevitable; my teenage sister is now and adult and is leaving to college in the fall, my homemaker mother will be and empty-nester, and my hard working father is ready to rekindle, once again, their relationship before four children. This meant that it was time for Chico to come back to me, his momma, after all these years. Just this past weekend Chico made the journey with my mom and sister to live with me and my boyfriend in Boston. Our new apartment and work schedules are ideal for caring for him but I have been concerned since his arrival about his well being.

Like most chihuahuas, Chico is incredibly favorable to certain people, while his comfort zone with humans is probably larger than most, as my parents and sister had frequent visitors. Upon meeting him though, it is obvious I am his favorite, with my sister, mom and dad being a close second. In third place comes my sisters boyfriend and my boyfriend (they play with him the hardest and longest) and everyone else can get sometimes lucky with a snuggle, pet or playtime depending on his mood, though NEVER would he allow anyone other than his favorites carry him. He tends to dominate his space, and gets pouty if he is not getting the attention or playtime he constantly demands. Everything is always on Chicos terms but as I have previously said he did have a very specific routine at my parents house, and had become trained (as much as a chihuahua can be trained I suppose).

Chico is obviously going to have some major adjusting to do. Though he will only be alone 6-8 hours a day, our apartment is very unfamiliar to him. He has his bed, toys, food and plenty of window sunshine to lay in. In the 5 days he has been here though he has been incredibly anxious. Each time we left the house we could hear him scratching at the door (something he has never done) and has his little nose poking out the second we open it to return home. Additionally, at night when I have gotten up to use the bathroom he is wide awake and follows me around until I return him to his bed. Before, he would just sleepily look at us as if to say "excuse me, im sleeping."

My mom and sister leave today so tonight he will officially be alone with us. I am growing increasingly concerned about the separation anxiety he will have. My sister said Chico knew something was up prior to their visit and was none too pleased about having to take a pill and then squish into a small carrier and get on a (WHAT!?) plane. Something he has never had to do. He arrived exhausted and anxious yet still loving. After a few days he is still exhibiting traits of uncertainty and confusion, but momma (me) is here, so how bad can it be?

My main concern is whether he will be okay or not. If you havent already noted, Chico is a very important Chihuahua I am worried he could become depressed or overly anxious. I know he will miss my parents and sister, but if he stayed with them he would have experienced similar changes, and had to spend more time at the babysitters (a kennel that is in someones home) as my parents have many travel plans with their new found freedom. Additionally, with my sister gone he would no longer see her friends as often, and would most likely spend more time not being played with, as my parents mostly sustain his potty and outdoor routine (they do not take him on walks). My boyfriend and I have already implemented a daily walk, morning snuggles in the bed, and vigorous playtime after work.

I know that dogs get adopted and go to new homes all the time, but I can't help but recognize the exorbitant changes he is going to have to get used to. Has anyone experience a situation similar to this? I appreciate those of you who took time time to read my story. Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks again!!
 

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Welcome to CP! You will love it here; lots of fellow chi lovers!
As far as little Chico, it may take some time but these little dogs are so very resilient. One thing about them is they live "in the moment," which makes them super adaptable to new situations. I often have a rescued foster or two in my care; and even the ones with the saddest pasts come out of their shell. (Not saying Chico was ever sad; just giving the example that some can come from much worse environments and adjust wonderfully.)
Since chihuahuas are so closely bonded with their owners, it's not surprising he may have developed some separation anxiety; especially if your mom was a homemaker and he wasn't left alone often.
A few days, really; isn't necessarily long enough for him to really get comfortable. Dogs love routine, and sometimes it takes time for them to recognize a new one.
If you are able, double that daily walk and exercise him well any time before you have to leave him alone. Doesn't even have to be a walk; can even be a 10 minute nonstop game of fetch in the house. Something that will keep his mind stimulated. Also, have a special chew treat that is just for when he's home alone. Bully sticks are excellent and long lasting; Himalayan Yak Chews (if you can find them) last forever; my dogs love beef hooves and will spend hours chewing on them.
If he starts picking up bad habits; you can always try a large playpen or crate; always filling it with lots of chewies and goodies to keep him occupied. It's important not to ever reward his whining, i.e. even when arriving home, ignore him until he settles down. Sounds like he's used to his crazy reunions with you, hehe; so it might take a little longer for him to catch on; but only once he's calmed down, should you smother him with smooches. Similarly, make no big deal before you leave. No dramatic hugs and goodbyes; just do it nonchalantly. If you have certain things that he picks up on; like car keys jingling; make a point a couple times a day just to take them, jingle them and leave; if only for 5 minutes or so. This will help to desensitize him, so he realizes that you leaving is NOT a big deal and that you'll be back soon enough! Lots of repetition.
Another thing I will suggest is picking up a DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) diffuser. Most of them are just little plug-ins that you can keep by the door or whevever he is at; that emits "feel good, calming pheromones" in the air that help take the edge off.
Anyway I hope this helps; hope to see you around and good luck!! =D
 
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