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  • Home
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  • How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Not Bark at Strangers

How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Not Bark at Strangers

How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Not Bark at Strangers
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon7-20 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Your Chihuahua is just so adorable, with those huge liquid eyes and that petite but athletic little body, of course, everyone wants to run up and pet her! Children especially are taken with these charming little dogs that are just the right size for a child. Unfortunately, too often Chihuahuas are intimidated by the exuberant advances of much larger people and dogs, and many of them have bad experiences in their past with being roughly handled. After all, the Chihuahua is a proud and old breed, as well as a charming purse pet, and they are not afraid to stand up for themselves when they feel threatened. Furthermore, they are a protective breed, brave enough to conquer their fears and the ridiculous size difference to protect their beloved family from strangers, however unnecessary and inadequate the protection.

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Defining Tasks

We have a duty to our Chihuahuas to teach them how to be comfortable and confident with strangers. Chihuahuas thrive on the attention of strangers once they feel confident with them, and it is our job as their family to teach them how.

It is best to teach your Chihuahua from puppyhood how to respond positively to strangers, but even if your little pup is grey in the muzzle or has come from an abusive or neglectful background, she can learn to take joy in meeting strangers or at least not respond by barking at them.

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Getting Started

Teaching your Chihuahua not to bark at strangers will require plenty of her favorite treats and toys. It is helpful to have some dog loving, bark-tolerant strangers available as well. Practice in a variety of settings and with lots of different people. Make sure your chihuahua is wearing a sturdy harness that she cannot slip out of and that won’t hurt her if she pulls against it.

Barking, especially continuous, uncontrollable barking, is often paired with terrible anxiety and fear, as well as possible aggression. Be patient with your Chihuahua and appreciate how frightening meeting new people can be for her. Don’t push her to interact if she doesn’t want to. Doing so can result in aggression or even biting.

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The Safe, Happy Space Method

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A safe space

This technique relies on creating a safe place for your Chihuahua to meet strangers from. It can backfire, especially for a Chihuahua, because it can lead her to want to protect her space. It is important that her behavior will not affect the behavior of the strangers around her.

2

Safety blanket

Choose a blanket or bed that you can bring with you whenever you want to practice not barking at strangers with your Chihuahua. It should curve to create a nest that your chihuahua can settle into.

3

All the goodies

Have lots of good treats and toys available for your chihuahua to access in her safe place. Have even better treats hidden away in case you need more distraction.

4

Find the strangers

Go somewhere you will be immersed by strangers. Settle down on a bench at a crowded park, or nestle your chihuahua in the shopping cart and push it around at a local pet store.

5

Distract from barking

Play with your Chihuahua and interest her in treats and toys to distract her from the strangers moving closer and further away. Don’t reprimand her, but distract her by putting a toy in her face or getting in front of her.

6

Discourage contact

At first, discourage people from making contact with your Chihuahua. Explain that you are training and that she isn’t ready yet. Putting up a little sign can be helpful.

7

A happy Chihuahua is a quiet Chihuahua

Eventually, your chihuahua will relax and just enjoy their comfy place and playing with you. Soon, your Chihuahua won’t feel it necessary to bark at strangers, but will just look forward to having fun with you.

The Strangers & Goodies Method

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Recruit some strangers

Go to your local pet store or pet friendly hardware store at a slow time, or go to a crowded park, and ask people if they would be willing to give your dog treats.

2

Be generous with the treats

Instruct your helpers to be generous with the treats, throwing them to your Chihuahua whenever she so much as looks at them without barking.

3

Treat-filled gauntlet

Lead your Chihuahua from person to person. As soon as she stops barking at all, reward her, encourage the stranger to reward her, and have the person throw her a treat. Then move onto the next person.

4

No such thing as failure

If your Chihuahua keeps barking at someone, don’t reprimand her or move away, just wait it out. The second she stops, throw a treat.

5

Silence means treats

With practice in different situations, your Chihuahua will learn that strangers mean treats, so long as you are quiet. Soon she will respond to strangers with hope of treats instead of fearful barking.

The Lonely Barking Method

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Group pressure

Sometimes the realization that your peers are all acting differently than you can change your behavior. Letting your Chihuahua see other dogs respond to strangers differently can make her see another possibility.

2

Dog park

Go to a dog park, preferably one with divisions for big and small dogs. Mingle with the other dogs and people, making a point to approach as many strangers as you can. Explain that you are training your Chihuahua.

3

Relax

It is essential that you are relaxed, happy, and at ease. It is best to treat your Chihuahua in a somewhat teasing manner, as though she were taking everything too seriously. She will catch onto your enjoyment of the activity and talking to strangers and want to join in.

4

Wait it out

Your dog will likely bark at the people you approach, as well as circling around, being unsure how to respond to your putting yourself so near to the stranger danger. Ignore your Chihuahua, but ideally wait until she stops barking to walk away from the stranger. Otherwise, she may think that her barking caused you to leave the danger safely.

5

Join in

After some time, your Chihuahua will likely stop barking at everyone you approach and begin to approach with you, or at least after you have. If she does, ignore her and encourage the stranger to ignore her. Eventually, she will be greeting and milling around the people just like the other dogs.

Written by Coral Drake

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 12/14/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Marshall

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Pug/chauhawa

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1 Year

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Question

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Trying to get him to quit barking constantly everything he hears he barks

April 17, 2022

Marshall's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mary, Check out the Quiet method and the Desensitize method from the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark I recommend desensitizing to noises. Check out the video I have linked below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jp_l9C1yT1g&list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a&index=1 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

April 18, 2022

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Ruby

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Chihuahua

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3 Years

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Question

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she barks at people and other dogs, and when off lead with run at them barking, and will not come back when called. I have tried clicker training, 'Look' when someone walks past and trying to distract her but she doesn't take the food and would rather bark instead.

July 4, 2020

Ruby's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alannah, I suggest working on the structure of your walk first. You want pup to be working during the walk - having to stay behind you, focus on you, perform commands periodically, and not have her mind on scanning the area in search of other dogs. The walk should start with her having to exit your home very calmly, performing obedience commands at the door if she isn't calm. She should wait for permission ("Okay" or "Free" or "Let's Go") before going through the door instead of bolting through if that's an issue. When you walk she should be in the heel position - with her head behind your leg. That position decreases her arousal, reduces stress because she isn't the one in charge and the one encountering things first. It prevents her from scanning for others, staring others down, and ignoring you behind her. It also requires her to be in a more submissive, structured, focused, calmer mindset - which has a direct effect on how aroused, stressed, and aggressive she is - it makes her feel like the responsibility is on your shoulders not hers. Additionally, when you do pass others, as soon as she starts staring them down, interrupt her. Don't tolerate challenging stares - even if she is stressed. Remind her with a gentle correction that you are leading the walk and she is not allowed to break her heel or stare someone down. It is far easier to deal with reactivity when you interrupt a dog early in the process - before they are highly aroused and full of adrenaline and cortisol, and to keep the dog in a less aroused/calmer state to begin with. This also makes the walk more pleasant for her in the long-run. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Reactive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY8s_MlqDNE Severely aggressive dog – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfiDe0GNnLQ&t=259s Do not allow pup off leash. Pup's aggression needs to be fully resolved before they are off leash, which includes complete voice control even in the presence of other people - with an off-leash heel and reliable come. I suggest working with a trainer in person to gain those things. This will involve the use of a long leash and desensitizing pup to a variety of people - via the training staff mostly, and a lot of repetition with obedience in those types of situations - where the situation is set up to keep everyone safe and always be able to enforce the command you give. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 9, 2020


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