Do Chihuahuas bark a lot?

Considering a chihuahua, but heard they bark all the time? Perhaps you are put off by the prospect of their high-pitched yap? In the following article we’ll look at what causes Chihuahuas to bark excessively and give some practical advice you can use to reduce their barking.

Chihuahuas bark more than many other breeds, as they are more expressive than many other breeds. However,  the exent of the barking depends on the individual dog’s temperatment and their training. Chihuahuas have piercing barks that are harder to ignore than many other breeds and can be stirred up over inconsequential things, mostly due to ‘small dog syndrome’ a set of behaviours that include barking that tend to manifest in smaller breeds.  

Do Chihuahuas bark as much as people say?

While each Chihuahua is unique, as a rule Chihuahuas do tend to bark a little more than other dogs. This is because they suffer from a set of behaviours often referred to as ‘small dog syndrome’ which really is just a way of your little companion compensating for his/her size by displaying aggressive tendencies including growling, barking, and other less aggressive, but more stubborn behaviours, including an unwillingness to come when called, or move out of the way.

Chihuahuas, for all their loyalty and fearless protectiveness, are known as a stubborn breed and as a result training can be difficult.

Not because of their size, or a lack intelligence preventing them understanding what is expected of them, they are just wired differently to dogs that are more interested in pleasing their owners such as a Golden Retriever.

Another, big reason small dog syndrome and excessive barking can be more prevelant in smaller breeds is the owners reluctance to address the problem.

Let’s face it, if your 60lb+ dog is jumping up at you all the time you more or less have to address the problem immediately, as this kind of beahviour could result in you, or a family member getting knocked over.

But, in smaller breeds this is less of a problem as the dog, while still displaying unacceptable behaviour, is less likely to hurt anyone as a result of their actions. Regardless, this kind of behaviour should be treaed in much the same way as you might a larger dog. If Chihuahuas are not given boundaries, they can become very willful, despite remaining incredibly loyal and protective for the most part.

How to Stop Chihuahuas Barking

So how does one go about stopping a Chihuahua from excessive barking. First of all, it is important to determine the cause for your dog’s barking.

E.g. is it to capture your attention? Or is it a reaction to something going on around them?

Barking for attention

If you believe your dog is barking purely for attention, it’s best to ignore the barking completely.

Do not raise your voice, or administer any form of discipline. Because, if you do respond to your dog’s barking, in the dog’s mind you have just given them the attention they desired, and have then reinforced that behavior. This makes barking rewarding for the dog, the complete opposite of what you probably intended.

It’s far more effective to reward them for not barking.

For example, if you are near your Chihuahua and they start barking, give them zero attention until they stop barking.

You may choose to turn your back on them or simply leave the room, or area of the yard until they stop. Once the barking has ceased, you can them lavish them with attention and praise. Your Chihuahua is smart enough to understand that if they are being rewarded when they stop barking, that, the less they bark, they more they will be rewarded and this can then be used as an effective training strategy.

Barking at perceived threats

Dogs are also instinctive e.g. all the training in the world may not prevent your dog barking if they perceive a genuine threat.

Keep in mind, what a Chihuahua perceives as a threat may be very un-threatening to you or I, but in your Chihuahua’s mind anything they don’t understand, must be treated with suspicion, and may be a potential threat, which provides an opportunity to display ‘small dog syndrome’.

If you believe your dog is reacting to something e.g. they are in your backyward and are genuinely barking at a noise in your street or some other complete innocuous reason, that they see as problematic, use stern words, make eye contact and look disappointed. It is important your dog knows you are unimpressed, but also keep in mind there may be perfectly vsalid reasons for them barking, and in some cases you mish not to discourage this.

For example, if they are barking at a stranger who is near your property, you may not want to completely discourage their barking. Just because they are small, don’t be fooled, Chihuahuas make excelant watch dogs and training them out of barking at strangers may be the last thing you want.

Dealing with noise complaints

If your Chihuahiua does tend to bark a lot, your neighbours are likely to find their behaviour disruptive (and annoying) and may feel compelled to take action in the form of putting in a noise complaint, either to you personally or through the local council. We’ve all heard dogs that bark excessively, it’s completely understandable for a neighbour to get completely fed up with this kind of scenario and want something done about it.

Also, keep in mind, if you are away from your dog e.g. at work or school, you may not even be aware of a problem until you receive a noise complaint, and while you may be unaware of their being a problem, your neighbours may have been enduring the excessive barking for some time. This actually hapenned to me a couple of years ago. I work from home, but needed to drop my kids to school in the morning. During this time my dogs would bark incessantly, which I was completley unaware of as they didn’t bark when I was at home.

Eventually I received a letter in my mailbox, alerting me to the problem and I could then address it. Prior to this, I had no idea.

Boredom = barking

In most cases, when dogs bark excessively because their owners are not at home, it is because they are bored.

Chihuahuas are companion dogs, so, despite being able to be left for long periods they tend to miss their owners as evidenced when you or a family member arrives home and there is mass Chihuahua excitement. If this is the case, there is technology currently available that can help.

Products that stop dogs barking

When discussing products that can prevent dogs barking, under no circumstances does this include a shock collar. Shock collars are bad for your dog in more ways than one, they are well-known to increase anxiety in pets and create bigger problems, even resulting in physical harm.

There are less harmful reactive collars however.

For example, a vibration collar, which is sometimes used to aid the training of deaf dogs can prevent dogs barking without causing pain. They have been recommended by multiple professionals as a humane substitute to electric shock collars.

If you believe the main cause of your dog’s behaviour is boredom, you can also try using toys as a form of stimulation for your dog if you are away from home for long periods. For example, a Kong (a small dog toy that allows you to hide treats within) can give your dog something to work at during the day and keep them occupied.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, yes chihuahuas do tend to bark a little more than other dogs, but due to the high frequency of their barking it can come accross as more of a problem that it actually is. If your Chihuahuas barking is becoming a problem, first establish why you belive your dog is barking and then take the neccessary steps mentioned above to address the problem. In many cases, provided the behaviour hasn’t been allowed to continue unabated for a long time there is reason to belive you can dissuade your Chihuiahua from barking excessively.