My new puppy is scared. How can I help her adjust?

I just picked up a little girl chi last night. She’s gorgeous at 6 months. However, she is new to me and she is really having a lot of difficulties with adjusting. She is hiding and won’t let me near her to even pet her. She seems scared to death right now. She had already bonded to her original owner, and I’m scared that she won’t adjust at all. Do you know any tricks of the trade in helping her to adjust to our home?

It’s very normal for a chihuahua to hide and be scared when they first go to a new home. I rescue and foster chihuahuas, so I bring in many chihuahuas to my home and sometimes it takes them a week to come out of their shell. The best thing to do is to ignore her. I know it is hard to do at first, because you want to show her you love her and that everything is ok, but she needs to know that you are not out to get her. You need to leave her alone, don’t stare at her, try to catch her or call her. Just let her be, wherever she wants to hide. Leave food and water and a wee wee pad close by. In time, it could be as short as a few hours, she will know that there is nothing to fear, and she will explore little by little.

Basically, you want to make it feel safe for her to come out on her own terms. When she comes out of hiding, do not immediately run to her or get excited, she will be scared again and run back. You want her to have a positive experience each time she ventures out a little more. You can leave very yummy treats (a boiled piece of chicken, a liver treat, or a rawhide) a short distance away to encourage her to come out. Let her eat the treat and let her decide what she wants to do next, either go back into hiding or explore a little more. In a short time, she will be very curious about YOU, and she will come near you and sniff you. Hold out your hand, palm up, under her chin and let her sniff you. Just remember, little by little, and progress will be made. Resist the urge to grab her or make sudden movements.

Chihuahuas are very loyal and many of them develop a strong bond with one person, it will take a little time for her to adjust to being away from her previous owner. But don’t worry, she will bond with you too and it will also be a very strong bond. The wonderful thing about dogs is that they adapt quickly to new surroundings. Just give her a few days.

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