Chihuahuas are known for a few things. They are known to be cute little purse dogs. They are known to be aggressive and overprotective for such a small little thing, and they are known to bark. A lot. They bark constantly and for seemingly no reason at all. This kind of behavior is common and correctable but is pretty ingrained in their instinctual behaviors. Understanding why you Chihuahua is barking is going to be your first step to correcting the behavior. Are they doing it to try and protect you? Are they hungry and trying to get your attention? Are they bored and just trying to let off some steam?
The Root of the Behavior
It is actually much more common than you think for a dog like this to bark simply because they are bored. Chihuahuas are high energy dogs and without enough activity in their day, that excess energy needs to get released somehow. They often turn that extra energy into a high pitched, mono-tone bark. This is pretty common, and although quite annoying, they need to get rid of that energy somehow. If your canine is barking to release excess energy then your cure is pretty simple. Get rid of that excess energy. It doesn't seem like a dog of that stature would need to go for walks or get a lot of exercise, but they may need it more than some larger dogs. These are high energy breeds and if you don't work out that energy, it will come to the surface constantly.
Chihuahuas are known to be fiercely territorial and protective. They will often bark constantly at anyone they perceive as a potential threat, and to them, that could be almost any stranger in your home, even friends of yours. They may also perceive someone as a threat for simply coming too close to you or moving in quick unpredictable motions. Another common cause of barking is simple separation anxiety. In the past, if a Chihuahua was separated from its pack they had few defensive mechanisms that would do them much good. Being as small and weak as they are, they needed to form tight groups to protect themselves, and one who was afraid to be away from the team were less likely to fall behind or walk away. These Chihuahuas, in turn, became far more likely to survive and so this genetic trait of separation anxiety was passed down from generation to generation whereas the Chihuahuas who did not possess this trait were more likely to die off.
Encouraging the Behavior
That process is known as natural selection and it is one of the reasons we have so many Chihuahuas that are afraid to be out of sight from their human companion. They see it as the protection they need. Although it may appear your Chihuahua is barking at nothing, that may not be the case. Dogs have a pretty incredible sense of smell and hearing, and they can detect much smaller creatures and critters from much greater distances than we humans can. If the barking falls into none of the above, then it is almost certainly a learned behavior.
This could have been learned quite inadvertently and dog owners often make simple mistakes that have big impacts on canine behavior. For instance, if your Chihuahua is constantly barking for attention, and you start yelling at your Chihuahua or otherwise giving it attention, you have just trained your dog to bark at you to get what they want from you. The same goes for when you let your dog in the house, feed them, or give them treats or if you pet your dog when they come up to you and start barking for attention. All of these actually reward your canine for misbehaving.
Other Solutions and Considerations
There are a lot of things you can do, but the best first step is to recognize why they are barking and make sure you are not accidentally rewarding that behavior in any way. If your canine barks at you to get let outside, and you want them to stop doing that, then you cannot react when they start to bark at you. They have to see that the method have been using is not going to work anymore and you will not reward them for barking. It is also worth mentioning that a behavioral specialist or canine trainer will be able to help you understand why they are barking and what you can do to correct the behavior.
Chihuahuas can be quite frustrating and overbearing at times. The key to correcting these type of behaviors lies in your dedication to best practices in the home. Make sure they are getting plenty of exercise and are not being rewarded for barking, and sooner or later that behavior will go away.
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Written by a Malamute Husky lover Robert Potter
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 03/29/2018, edited: 06/15/2023