The tiniest breed on the American Kennel Club’s roster, chihuahuas have a reputation for excessive barking. You may have encountered such a pooch and chalked up the behavior to a Napoleon complex the dog’s often-comical attempt to compensate for its fragility and diminutive physique.
But not all chihuahuas are problem barkers. They vary in behavior just as much as humans do. And like humans, they get their propensities only partly from inborn personality.
The rest comes from their environment and experiences — which is where you come in. If you don’t want to own a dog that’s a constant annoyance to you, your family, friends, and neighbors, your first rule of conduct are to choose your chihuahua carefully.
This goes double if you are considering adopting an adult dog, whose behavioral habits will already be well ingrained.
Raising a delightful, well-behaved chihuahua requires a real commitment to socializing, training, exercise, and play. Close observation of an adult chihuahua will throw a lot of light on how well its previous owners fulfilled those responsibilities. If the dog has been spoiled, it’s foolish to think you’ll be able to undo that.
Why do Chihuahuas bark at nothing?
Of course, genes are also a factor. That’s why you should take a level-headed approach to choose a chihuahua puppy. Don’t make it just a beauty contest, and don’t laugh off inappropriate displays of aggression.
Just because the dog is tiny doesn’t mean it can’t cause trouble, and even injure a human or another dog. Perhaps the greater hazard here is your chihuahua getting hurt.
This could easily in a tussle with a larger dog or a young child. In general, chihuahuas are not recommended for households with small children: Kids need to be old enough to handle these delicate creatures with care and to make a positive contribution to the dog’s training.
Back to choosing that puppy. Before you fall under the spell of a particular pair of big brown eyes, make a no-nonsense evaluation of the puppy’s behavior.
It’s great if you can look at a whole litter: you’ll likely see considerable variation in the way the puppies act. Some will be quiet, preferring to huddle in a bunch, while more active pups make show themselves to be explorers, social butterflies, furniture destroyers, or combative yappers.
Find out how a puppy responds to you by getting down on the ground to meet him on his level. Invite him to engage with you. Are you able to establish good eye contact?
If you beckon the pup and pat the ground, does he bound toward you? Choose a puppy that’s responsive at least to your gaze and gestures, if not your voice. That way you can be confident of the rapport necessary for good socializing and training
A noisy, neurotic chihuahua is often a neglected chihuahua. As mentioned above, these dogs need to be raised right if they’re going to be happy and fun to be around.
This is not a breed suited to part-time “parenting.” Your chihuahua needs your attention every day. She needs quality time with you. As a high energy creature, she needs plenty of exercise and stimulation.
Barking is often a sign of anxiety or boredom. All that noise is a dog’s way of telling you that her needs are not being met.
How do I get my Chihuahua to stop barking?
What to do if your beloved pet barks too much? First, stop ignoring or laughing at bad behavior. Your dog is probably trying to get your attention, and if that fails, she will become even more frustrated and turn the barking up.
This creates a vicious cycle — or shall we call it a positive feedback loop — wherein both you and your dog become progressively more miserable.
It also results in a poorly socialized dog who gets into frequent conflicts with other people and animals. Equally to be avoided is yelling at a yappy chihuahua.
For starters, it’s a terrible model for the dog. Worse, negative though your yelling may be, it is a form of attention…which is what the dog was seeking… and hence it’s a kind of reward. Another vicious cycle.
So don’t get confrontational. Instead, use the time-honored techniques of professional dog trainers. Start with simple commands like Sit and Stay, choosing a time when your dog is relaxed and cheerful.
Treats can be used at the outset, along with praise and petting. After the dog has learned to follow your commands, you can wean him off the treats, compensating with plenty of compliments and affection.
Once your dog thoroughly understands who’s boss, you can leverage that discipline to discourage inappropriate barking. Divert his attention, then use the Sit and Stay commands.
Reward good behavior with plenty of positive attention. If you consistently deflect disruptive barking by turning the subject to obedience, and if you reward only good behavior, you’re on track to raise a reasonably quiet and super-charming chihuahua