How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Not Bark at Strangers

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Medium
7-20 Weeks
Behavior

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.

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.

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.

The Safe, Happy Space Method

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Step
1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
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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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Lonely Barking Method

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1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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