Training a Chihuahua Not to Bark

a barking chihuahuaA barking Chihuahua can be one of the most annoying things in the world. If you have a Chihuahua with a really loud and high pitched bark, then you know what I'm talking about. Some Chihuahuas can have an incredibly loud bark for such a small dog, and they will put their "loud bark" to use as often as they can if they are not consistently trained. There are many successful methods you can use when training a Chihuahua not to bark, but regardless of which method you choose, consistency is the most important ingredient.

Pack Leader

The first rule of training/obedience is to be the pack leader. Bad behavior can make you and your guest miserable. Alpha/territorial dogs can growl, bark at your guest and also try to mark everything including your guest legs. They can embarrass you at Lowe's (which welcomes dogs) by marking. They are also territorial and guard everything.

Claim your house, claim your yard. Your presence and self confidence leads your Chihuahua. Stand between your Chi and your furniture (his favorite piece of furniture), you are claiming your furniture, owning it. It belongs to you. Your Chi must not jump up on the furniture without your permission, if at all. It's up to you, personally I don't care if my Chis are on my furniture, but they do know to move it, when I say down. I do not let my Chihuahuas jump into my lap without being called up first Don't let your Chi jump in the car first (he thinks he is the leader) or out the front door first. It may seem easier just to let them have their way, but as soon as I let up, they act as if they don't have to listen to me, so it is a constant challenge.

It is the same thing with your fence patrolling Chi, that barks at every movement or sound outside your fence. Claim it. Stand between your Chi and the fence and when he tries to maneuver around you, you must move in front of him. Spreading your arms to claim "it" as yours, this takes repetition. You must do it consistently to get the results you want. You may be moving all around your property line for awhile, as he tries to find places where he can continue his guarding of the fence or property line, but continue on. You may reinforce your blocking with an occasional verbal no. This exercise could take several weeks. Personally, I do not let my Chis bark constantly at every little thing and as I am older and a little disabled, this gets very tiresome and difficult for me. i usually just call them in the house(I have a doggie door) and if that does not get their attention I use a large water gun. I know this is not professional. I am not constantly squirting them and I do not use going back into the house like a punishment, or going outside.

 Happy training, please be patient and calm. Make it a good learning experience for both of you!

Recognizing Dominant Behavior

Some of the dominant behavior is growling and barking (not always a display of dominance) Don't treat them any different than you would a large dog. You wouldn't let a large dog jump up on you, don't let your Chi. This is a  summary of dominant dog behavior:

  • Begging
  • Jumping up on you or against your leg
  • Pushy behavior
  • Nudging you to pet them
  • Pawing at you or pushing a toy into your side or foot to get you play with them.
  • Willfulness of doing what they want
  • Demanding your attention 
  • Sitting on high places, furniture, high your lap (top dog)
  • Holding head high in a lofty manner
  • Guarding you when people approach (it's actually claiming you as their property)
  • Ignoring known commands you give
  • Insistence on going through doorways first, jumping in the car first without waiting for a cue from you, leading you on a walk, always being first (being the pack leader instead of you)
  • Hating being left alone, being overly excited about humans return home.
  • Very vocal high pitched screams of protest over something they do not want to do.
  • Starting fights with your other dogs, trying to subdue other dogs when "they" feel the other dogs are getting too much attention or if your other dogs are playing with each other, 
  • Claiming a piece of furniture or certain place in your home

Your dominant dog acts like he must control everything, everyone and every other pet in and out of your house.

How to recognize your dog's body language

A dominant body language is a stiff posture while walking or standing. The head is held high and erect. His tail is rigid, his ears are erect and moved more forward towards the nose. He looks like he is ready for a fight.

A submissive body language is more relaxed. Head is held downward or held even with the back. His ears are held more towards the back of his head. The tail is carried lower. They do not appear challenging in any way.

Dominant dogs are not necessarily happy dogs or vice versa with submissive dogs are not sad dogs.

Dogs are most content and at peace when they feel secure about the order of the pack. It causes a lot of stress and confusion when the dog is not sure about the pack order. The human taking the lead on walks is the most important ways to take charge. Teaching your dog rules and boundaries gives you a more secure dog. The pack leader of your dog, must always be the leader, in the wild as the old pack leader becomes weak another stronger animal steps in. Always be the pack leader and you will always have a well mannered dog you are proud of, and are able to live with in peace.

Why Chihuahuas Bark

Chihuahuas love to bark. It's a perfectly normal thing for a dog to do, but excessive barking is so frustrating!

 Chihuahuas sometimes seem to bark for no apparent reason (but they have good hearing) They bark to alert the pack of a possible danger or threat, or to get the pack's attention (you and your family are the dog's pack). They bark to express their needs, they're lonely and isolated, frustrated, hungry, thirsty. They may bark when they need to be "let out", they could of become have become trapped. They bark because they are scared, when they are excited, to express dominance, for the fun of it. They bark out of boredom, lack of exercise, not enough mental stimulation, and when they feel threatened.

Yelling at your dog is giving him the attention he wants (he thinks your joining in) and bringing him back in the house can be seen as giving him what he wants, unintentionally rewarding them for their barking.

Stop Barking Methods 

 Never hit your Chihuahua. You'll see faster and better results with praise. Most of these methods should be repeated 3 to 4 times daily 5 minutes at a time, for 5 to 6 days. Your Chi should get it by then, with reminder courses now and then, if not successful repeat. Praise and reward please. Make sure your Chihuahua gets daily exercise, walking, playing, a tired dog is less apt to bark so much

Noises Around The Home 

If your Chihuahua starts barking every time the phone rings, the microwave beeps, your oven timer goes off, the doorbell rings try exposing the dog to these noises over and over. Sit near the noise maker letting the item sound off repeatedly while  calmly treating your Chi every time they stay near the offending item, then gradually treating only when they remain quiet near the noise. 

Door Knocking

When someone knocks on your door, send your Chi to his place. His place can be be a designated spot on the floor, a bed or crate. Send him there when someone knocks and do not open the door until he is seated and calm. Once you're opening the door and he attempts to get up or start barking again, excuse yourself, close the door and send him back to his place. A friend may have to help and the use of a leash is very helpful. Repeat as many times as necessary. You and your guest may acknowledge the dog, if he has remained in place and quiet.

Separation Barking

If your Chihuahua barks while you are gone. Make their place the quieter part of the house, a darker calmer place, no views to windows and outside stimuli. Put them in their crate/portable kennel and appear to be leaving and go outside (you may actually have to enter your car and start it, if that's your dog's cue for barking) for a few minutes letting him bark. When you reenter the home, ignore the dog, but make him aware you are in the home. Repeat this exercise as many times as possible, staying outside for longer periods of time. Your Chi anxiety will lessen as he becomes assured that you will return. 

 When leaving your Chi give him a long lasting treat like Bully Sticks. Get the authentic Bully Sticks, fill a treat ball up with a choice treat, a frozen Kong©, a favorite toy any of these will keep your Chi occupied.

Leave a radio or the television on so the sounds are familiar and comforting to him. 

Don't make a big deal about your return either. Just enter your home as normal, going about your business, ignoring your Chi. When your dog has settled down go over and give him some gentle praise, not excited praise. You can also give him a "good boy" whenever you see him sitting quietly.

Socially Unskilled Dogs

Dogs that have not been trained and socialized often end up in shelters and pounds. They get passed around. These poor dogs often become fearful, anxious and more unsocial. They suffer great separation anxiety, when left alone. They bark at every little sound and may become nippy. If left alone even for a little while, they will chew up your favorite pillow, pee everywhere, start howling and barking. Obedience training with lots of praise and encouragement builds confidence. A confident dog is a stable dog with better abilities to cope.

Getting Their Attention 

Sometimes when they are barking, it is impossible to get their attention. Try throwing a can of pebbles or can of coins in front of them or near them (don't hit them!) They will be startled and after a few times may conclude that barking brings about this startling thing and stop barking! Don't let your dog see you do this! I tried this the wrong way a few years back, I kept a can filled with rocks and when my dogs did something I disapproved of I would shake the can at them, after only a couple of days they got use to the rattling and just ignored it and me! You can try a bean bag, also.

I also use a squirt bottle to get their attention. I am fortunate as they hate the water being squirted on them, some dogs don't mind. I also tried the high pitched sound devices, that supposedly only dogs can hear. It only made my Chis bark furiously and I could feel it ringing in my ears! I am not saying that these devices don't work, maybe they do, mine could have defective...

Don't make a big deal about leaving the house or upon returning. You do not want to end all barking just excessive barking. A few warning barks is very nice when someone is at your door!


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#1 NH MOM 2014-07-17 23:59
THANK YOU! Just on a fluke I decided to Google how to get a chihuhua to stop barking and jumped on your website. Could it be this easy? Having two chis that bark at the top of their lungs at the door knocking and bell ringing and at infrequent guests, I grabbed their treats which I don't use often as they are fully pee pad trained and don't misbehave (indoor spoiled girls)but do bark as mentioned above. Determined I grabbed the bag and with my son on the otherside of the door had him knock a few times and alternate by ringing the door bell a few times. With their spot chosen, I followed your instructions. The younger one got it FAST, the older who is a diva was a bit slower but got it. We will now do this everyday as instructed. I want to THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I would have never thought of this myself. Wish us luck!!