Chihuahuas are known as vocal dogs. While they have so many positive traits (such as their loyalty and good-natured personalities), their barking can be a major headache for their neighbors. Even worse, the barking may cause complaints among neighbors and visiting friends!
There are a number of reasons your Chihuahua might be barking so much. When you take time to understand the reasons behind your Chihuahua’s barking, you’ll be better equipped to combat barking behavior.
The following are five reasons why your Chihuahua is barking so much, followed by ten tips to reduce your Chihuahua’s excessive barking.
Why Chihuahuas Bark So Much
There are several reasons why your Chihuahua might be barking too much. The following are five things that can contribute to excessive barking in small dog breeds (especially Chihuahuas).
1. Your Chihuahua is bored
Chihuahuas are a very high-energy breed. Since they have so much extra energy, they need to have a lot of activity to burn off that energy.
If your Chihuahua isn’t getting enough physical and mental stimulation, he may bark to alleviate his boredom.
Additionally, if your Chihuahua seems to be barking for no apparent reason, it’s quite possible they’re barking out of boredom alone.
2. Chihuahuas are territorial and protective
As a territorial and protective dog, your chihuahua will bark and become aggressive whenever they perceive something as a threat.
Since Chihuahuas are so small, almost anything can be perceived as a threat. This is why they bark at new people, even ones you’ve welcomed into your home.
Many Chihuahuas bark when they see people, animals, or cars outside the window of their home. If you live in a high-traffic neighborhood, the constant movement can agitate your territorial and protective pup.
3. Your Chihuahua perceives something as a threat
As mentioned above, small dogs like Chihuahuas may perceive many non-threatening things as a threat. If you move too quickly or unpredictably, you may startle them and trigger their barking. Anything that seems like a threat may cause your Chihuahua to bark.
Although Chihuahuas can’t cause any real damage to someone threatening your home, they were bred to help alert homeowners to potential threats.
Their barking can be an asset to help wake up you and your family in case of danger. However, their vigilance can sometimes go into overdrive, causing them to bark at things that aren’t real threats.
4. Chihuahuas get separation anxiety
Since they are small and weak dogs, they’ve learned that they need to stay in groups in order to remain safe and protected.
Additionally, Chihuahuas build very strong bonds with their human. When you spend time away from your Chihuahua, he or she may bark because of their separation anxiety.
There’s a quick and easy way to find out if your Chihuahua’s barking is due to separation anxiety. Put your Chihuahua in his or her kennel, get dressed like you’re going out, and step outside your door. Close the door and listen.
If you hear barking once you’re gone, there’s a good chance their barking may be due to separation anxiety.
5. Chihuahuas bark when they want attention
Chihuahuas like to have lots of love, affection, and attention. Unfortunately, some Chihuahuas learn that barking is a quick way to get attention from their humans.
If your Chihuahua’s barking stops when you give them attention, their barking is likely a device they’ll use to get the attention they want.
How to Stop Your Chihuahua from Barking
Now that you know the reasons why your Chihuahua might be barking so much, you’re ready to address those causes to prevent excessive barking.
It’s important to figure out why your Chihuahua is barking since these solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all. However, among the following ten tips, you’ll find at least one solution that will work to reduce your Chihuahua’s barking episodes.
1. Make sure your Chihuahua is getting plenty of exercise
Chihuahuas are very energetic dogs. That means they need plenty of exercises to release excess energy.
You should help your Chihuahua get 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise every day. Whether you take them for a walk or play a game like fetch, this exercise will help them release that extra energy.
This solution primarily works if the cause of your Chihuahua’s barking is boredom. It may also help if you aren’t entirely sure what’s causing them to bark.
2. Address your Chihuahua’s separation anxiety
If your Chihuahua barks due to separation anxiety, spend some time helping them build up a tolerance to being alone. Start by leaving the room for five minutes at a time, and increase that time as tolerated by your Chihuahua.
You may want to talk to your dog’s veterinarian if their separation anxiety continues. In extreme cases, your veterinarian may suggest supplements or medications to help ease your Chihuahua’s separation anxiety.
3. Ignore your Chihuahua if he or she barks for attention
Some Chihuahuas learn that barking will get your immediate attention. It’s important that you don’t reward this behavior. If you give your dog attention (even negative attention) every time they bark, they learn that barking is a quick way to get exactly what they want.
Instead, wait for your Chihuahua to get quiet or calm before giving them something. They will learn to associate their silence with your rewards, affection, and other good things.
4. Teach your Chihuahua “speak” and “quiet” commands
Obedience training is important, regardless of dog breed. The “speak” and “quiet” commands are some of the most important for small dog breeds to learn. It will be significantly easier to teach your dog the “quiet” command once you’ve taught them the “speak” command.
To teach your dog to speak, get him or her to bark. When your dog is actively barking, say “speak.” Give your dog a treat. Repeat this process until they can bark on command.
For the “quiet” command, make sure they know how to speak. When barking, put a treat in front of your Chihuahua’s nose. When they stop barking to sniff the treat, say “quiet” or “stop” and give them the treat. Pet and encourage your dog each time they stop barking. Repeat until they learn to stop barking on command.
The exact words you use for these commands are less important than your consistency in using them. If your dog learns to stop barking at the word “quiet,” it’s essential to only use that word when you want your Chihuahua to stop barking.
5. Explore scary sounds together
If your Chihuahua barks when they hear noises, take time to explore those noises together. Reassure your Chihuahua that there’s nothing to worry about. This method is helpful if your dog’s hypervigilance is the cause of their barking.
However, this should only be used in conjunction with other methods, since you don’t want your Chihuahua to learn that barking will always lead to exploration with you.
6. Work on desensitizing your Chihuahua to certain sounds
If a certain sound (like a car passing by or a knock on the door) causes your Chihuahua to bark, work on desensitizing your Chihuahua to those sounds. Find an audio recording of the offending sound and play it quietly for your dog. If they bark, ignore them and put the sound away.
If your dog hears the sound and doesn’t bark, give them a treat and plenty of praise. Over time, increase the volume of the recording to encourage them to ignore that specific sound.
That will help your Chihuahua to associate those sounds with good things like treats. They won’t feel the need to bark at rustling leaves or passing cars when they’re desensitized to those sounds.
7. Redirect their energy
If your Chihuahua is barking, distract or interrupt them. For example, you may pick up a ball and begin playing a game if your Chihuahua is barking too much. It’s important to only use this method if their barking seems to be related to boredom or anxiety.
If your Chihuahua seems to be barking to get your attention, redirecting their energy may only reinforce the inner dialogue that tells them that barking will help them get what they want.
8. Make sure your Chihuahua is getting enough mental stimulation
Chihuahuas don’t just need physical exercise, but mental exercise. Puzzles, interactive toys, and training all help your dog get the stimulation they need. Snuffle mats give your dog great stimulation that forces them to work for their meals.
Your Chihuahua may bark less when they are both mentally and physically tired. If your dog’s barking seems to be caused by boredom, make sure to provide plenty of mentally stimulating activities throughout the day.
9. Use a white noise machine or soft music to mask outside noises
If your Chihuahua seems to be reacting to outside noises, take steps to reduce their sensitivity to these sounds. That way, your dog will only alert you by barking when there is an especially loud sound.
Instead of barking at little things like rustling leaves, they may only bark when they hear someone approaching the house.
10. Address territorial barking
If your dog barks when new people come over, this barking may be a sign of territorial behavior.
In some cases, though, barking at new people may be a sign your Chihuahua is excited. To reduce territorial barking, prevent your dog from running to the door when new people come in. This will help them learn to stop barking when company arrives.
You may also train your Chihuahua to go to their crate when the doorbell rings or someone new enters the room. Replacing the bad behavior (barking) with a desired behavior is a great way to redirect your Chihuahua’s reactions to certain stimuli.