Chihuahuas are known as immensely cute, but yappy, but still cute, and intensively barking little creatures. If you have had the opportunity to encounter tête à tête with your friend's Chi, you know how protective and aggressive they can get. They bark. More than you want to listen to. Which is fine, they are dogs after all, right?
But what when a Chihuahua barks for no apparent reason? Is she all right? Is she just being overprotective?
How to explain to the rest of the family what a lovebug she is when all she does is barking? So, let's dive into the matter of why Chihuahuas bark so much, what are the possible reasons behind it and how to teach them to stop.
First, let's remind ourselves of a few things.
All dogs bark. That is a fact. This is the way dogs communicate. Nonetheless, there are appropriate and inapropriate times when they decide to get some steam off and let out a few consecutive ARFs.
After all, some Chihuahua owners live in apartment buildings and have to be considerate to their neighbors. In Massachussets, excessive dog barking is regulated. Residents can file a complaint to the city council if their neighbor's dog barks excessively, which in extreme cases, can even result in getting rid of the dog.
But even if dog barking is not regulated where you live, appropriate and inappropriate barking time should be defined. It's every Chihuahua owner's responsibility to take care of their Chi's behavior.
But, before you decide it's time to root some of it out, get to know the reasons behind it.
Why Do Chihuahuas Bark So Much?
One of the mistakes Chihuahua owners often unconsciously make is positively reinforcing barking at inappropriate times when their intention is to make it stop.
For instance, if a postal worker approaches your home and your Chihuahua instantly starts barking, and you fetch a toy or anything your Chihuahua has affection to, and try to entertain it with it, it only gives them the signal that the barking was desirable. Even if your intentions are the best, this way of solving the barking issue is only making it worse in the long run.
Your Chi will be barking every time the postal worker comes to your door because they know an award is coming after – playtime.
Maybe it sounds silly at first, but yes, Chihuahuas bark out of boredom. This is usually a high-pitched monotone bark.
The reason behind it is that Chihuahuas are fairly energetic, full of life doggos, with the need for daily physical activity and mental stimulation.
Otherwise, neglecting this aspect of their life can lead to serious behavioral issues, that can result in your Chi munching the furniture, scratching the floor and doors, and, overall, destroying your house parts.
If your Chi barks for this reason, the solution is easy. Take them outside. Get rid of excess energy and all will be well.
If, on the other hand, for any reason, you are not able to take your Chihuahua out so often during the day, or they are home alone, leaving the TV on should be enough of background noise to avert your Chihuahua from barking. Leave them a few toys they can play with while you're away.
Imagine a situation where you are in the park, taking a casual stroll with your Chi, a random pedestrian appears and your Chi starts barking uncontrollably. They are scared.
Even though Chis appear as tough little animals, they get scared as soon as they perceive someone or something as a threat. Be it another dog, animal, person, or object – they see it as an enemy.
Rather than fighting with it, Chihuahuas are a breed that opts for flight. Their first instinct is to run away, and if they can't they will try to scare the foe off by barking.
How can you tell your Chihuahua is scared?
They let out several high-pitched barks in intervals. Also, they change their posture, push their ears backward, hold their tail low, and the fur on their back stands up.
When you find yourself near a scared Chihuahua, or your Chi starts behaving this way, it is extremely important not to mess with them, as it can result in someone getting bitten.
Another answer to why Chihuahuas bark so much is closely related to fear barking – territorial barking. Chihuahuas are well known to be fiercely protective over their owners.
They bark at anyone they see as a potential threat. Be it a dog, pedestrian, visiting stranger, or their owner's close friend, Chihuahuas will feel the need to protect their territory – by barking.
What is their territory exactly?
Well, first off it's their owner, then, pretty much anything or any place they spend their time at: their home, backyard, crate, food and water bowl, even car seat.
Territorial barking is usually perceived as acceptable barking behavior, as this means your Chihuahua can detect a potential threat and defend you and themselves. You should not discourage your Chi from doing it, except in cases of people visiting your home, as it may result in your Chi attacking them.
Separation anxiety is a very common behavioral disorder when it comes to Chihuahuas. It manifests in Chihuahua's constant need to be near or with their owner. When left alone, they start barking.
While today this behavior is seen as negative, back in time, when Chihuahuas lived in packs, it certainly wasn't. Since Chis are pretty small and weak, they needed to form packs to guard one another, and Chihuahuas who suffered from separation anxiety were less likely to fall behind and get left alone and unprotected. These Chihuahuas were better survivors, but it resulted in them genetically passing down the separation anxiety disorder.
Even if you think it's cute that your Chi misses you so much, don't disregard this behavior as it can be very stressful for your furry little friend, and eventually even for you.
If you have noticed your Chihuahua start being anxious every time you leave the house, you need to desensitize them to your leaving home.
Chihuahuas can suffer from dementia, also known as canine cognitive dysfunction. One of the symptoms of canine dementia is excessive barking.
If a Chihuahua suffers from dementia and barks a lot, it is believed they have forgotten who their owner is.
It's important to be aware that dementia barking cannot be treated as regular barking behavior. No traditional ways of teaching will help Chihuahua to stop. Every dementia-suffering-Chihuahua owner needs to find what works best for their Chi through trial and error. Wanna know more about the common Chihuahua health issues. Read this.
Just like people, Chis can dream vivid dreams. And just like you talk in your sleep, your Chihuahua can also vocalize their dreams.
Usually, this occurs during the REM phase of sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) which can result in your Chi's eyes starting to twitch due to their increased brain activity.
Once this happens, the first instinct of a Chi owner is to wake them up from their dream, falsely believing it would help their beloved pet. However, dog experts believe, it's better to let the doggo sleep through the dream. Sleep is crucial for Chihuahua's mental and physical health. Waking them up can only result in them not getting enough rest, being irritable, anxious, and can even affect their immune system.
Have you been asking yourself why Chihuahuas bark so much for no apparent reason? Well, what's a better reason than just being excited...for no apparent reason.
Chi's tend to be happy little bugs and they can get excited very easily. They get excited – they start barking. While they can't control it – you can. Keep reading to learn all the tricks that can help you teach your Chihuahua to stop barking when they don't need to.
What barking situations are acceptable?
Chihuahuas will always bark. That's a fact. And you should accept it. Some people say barking dogs give them a sense of security. Which is totally legit.
The only difference is that there are appropriate moments when your Chihuahua should and shouldn't bark.
Here are some of the situations it's okay for your Chi to bark:
- When a Chihuahua encounters another dog. It's perfectly normal to see your Chihuahua barking when another doggo is approaching. Especially if the other dog is bigger than them.
- When a stranger is approaching your porch or house. This is completely common, and most dogs would react the same way. Your Chi is trying to protect you.
What barking situations are not acceptable?
Though barking is normal and will happen daily, Chihuahuas are prone to excessive barking. In order to avoid making your life as a Chihuahua owner stressful due to excessive barking, here are the heads-up of what situations are not acceptable when it comes to barking.
- Barking at pedestrians. While it's totally normal that your Chi pup will bark at random people, it's not okay if she does it excessively. You don't want to put yourself in embarrassing positions of trying to keep your Chi away from everybody in the park or street.
- Barking at passing cars. Not only this can be dangerous, but very irritable to you as a Chi owner. They should be desensitized to passing cars.
- Barking at guests. If you still want your friends visiting your home, don't make you Chi barking a learned behavior that will occur every time someone visits.
- Barking at postal workers.
- Barking at an object (such as vacuum cleaner, dishwasher)
- Finally, any barking you, as a Chi owner, find irritable and unnecessary
If you recognize your or your friend's Chihuahua in any of the situations, here are some of the tips and tricks you can teach your Chihuahua or recommend to a friend.
How To Teach Your Chihuahua To Stop Barking?
Now that we have found answers to why Chihuahuas bark so much, it's time to learn a few tips and tricks on how to teach your Chihuahua not to.
Before you start applying these tricks, you need to get to the root of your Chihuahua barking and decide which of the tricks will do you best.
However, this technique should help in most barking situations.
Firstly, teach your Chi the speak command.
Now you are asking yourself, but how will this help? While it may seem counterproductive to you, it is actually the reverse. By teaching your Chi the speak command you will enable them to understand the opposite of the speaking command – the quiet command.
Ask one of your family members to help you with this.
Step 1. Have a family member approach the front door.
Step 2. Tell your Chihuahua to speak and let her bark
Step 3. Award your Chi with a dog cookie
Step 4. Repeat until your Chi starts barking at the speak command.
The goal behind this is to make a connection between barking and treats.
Now it's time to teach them the quiet command.
Step 1. Tell the speak command to make your Chi start barking
Step 2. When it starts barking, place a treat in front of their nose.
Step 3. As soon as your Chi stops barking to smell the treat, give it to them
Step 4. Repeat until they learn the command.
Whenever your Chi starts barking craving your attention, don't punish them, but positively reinforce the good behavior. Instead of yelling at them (because that is the attention they want) or fetching a toy, just ignore them. Ignore the bad behavior and as soon as they stop barking reward them with a snuggle or a treat. That way you are teaching your Chihuahua that not barking is connected to pleasant feelings.
The bottom line is, be consistent. Changing your dog's behavior will not happen overnight, and you need to keep trying over and over again.
Try out the tricks we mentioned above and we guarantee you your Chihuahua barking situations will drastically decrease. There will be no more questions as to why Chihuahuas bark so much.
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