People say Chihuahuas are yappy little dogs… and they’re not wrong.
When your little one is standing as tall as she can, hackles spiked up, chest puffing out with every overly confident ARF!
…you might feel annoyed, stressed, even a little embarrassed.
It’s tough to have to try to explain your little dog’s tough attitude when you just wish everyone could see what a lovebug she is.
On two separate occasions, when Matilda decided to tell off someone who dared walk our path, I said, “sorry about that!” and the person actually said…
“It’s okay! I get it. I have a little one too.”
That really put me at ease. Most of the time, when Matilda barks at people (it seems random, but I think she can sniff out those who have their own cats or dogs at home)
… they just laugh, and respect her need for distance.
Sometimes, she’ll stop barking and investigate them, even wag her tail a little.
But as a whole, she’s unpredictable, just as all dogs can be.
She also barks often when we’re at home. Living in an apartment complex, there are always people walking by, going about their lives.
I often find myself thinking, “I’m a dog blogger. I’m always talking to professionals. I should have the best mannered dog ever. Why are we like this??”
But then I remind myself of a few things.
What Barking Behaviors Are Acceptable From Your Chihuahua?
Realistically, your Chihuahua will always be on alert. She will always bark. Sometimes it will be for an appropriate reason, like when the Amazon employee drops off a package.
Sometimes, she’ll bark for no obvious reason at all.
But we have to accept that our dogs are going to bark.
Any time we are working on an undesirable behavior, we need to be able to visualize what we actually want the dog to do.
For me, having barking dogs gives me a sense of security.
Once I’ve assessed the situation, though, my dogs should be able to stop barking.
This is something I’ve already successfully achieved.
When my dogs are barking, but it’s just the neighbor walking around with his adorable little baby, I’ll tell Matilda and Cow, “Okay, thanks! Go lie down.”
Then they go lie on the couch.
If it’s a weird situation, like when that old guy lets his big dog walk directly in front of our porch (why? No clue.) I’ll have a harder time getting my dogs to stand down, but that’s perfectly understandable.
Once in a while, I’ll use treats to call my dogs off. Not always, just often enough to give them a reason to keep up the good work.
In those weird, stressful situations, I’ll help relieve the built-up tension by playing with my dogs for a few minutes.
Every time your dog gets worked up, it’s like a bunch of firefighters in their brain getting their uniforms on and sliding down the pole.
When the perceived threat is gone, those panicked firefighters are still running around in their head. Playing helps calm those alarm bells and run off that steam.
Don’t get me wrong.
I still get annoyed when I have to stop doing dishes to call off my dogs.
But there’s no way I can teach them to be quiet when I’m busy.
If I were to use punishments like a spray bottle when my dogs barked, they might avoid barking when I actually need them to.
We have to remember that barking is how dogs communicate.
Why Do Chihuahuas Bark SO Much?
The Chihuahua’s ancient ancestors, the Techichi and Mexican Hairless (Xoloitzcuintli) were extremely valuable to the Aztecs.
Chihuahuas and their ancestors were bred:
- For companionship
- As a living hot water bottle – to lie on aching body parts (ladies with menstrual cramps, you already know!)
- To be sacrificed and buried next to their deceased owners
- To be eaten
- To be worshipped
- To inspire artworks
- To alert their owners to danger.
Though bad guys don’t find tiny dogs intimidating, a chorus of barks is enough to deter intruders and wake up the homeowner.
Expecting a Chihuahua not to bark is like asking a Pointer not to point, or a Retriever not to retrieve.
Many small breeds in other parts of the world, like the Shih Tzu to the Chinese, had similarly broad duties.
Managing Excessive Barking
I dramatically reduced my dog’s barking with one simple change: a cute window cling.
Mine has pretty birds on it, but you can get a different design or a plain one that simply obscures your dog’s view.
That way, my dogs can’t see someone way across the parking lot, but they may still see someone up-close. Their view isn’t totally gone, they just have fewer triggers to bark at throughout the day.
Other ways to manage barking really depend on the underlying cause.
Could your dog be reactive? Maybe she has trouble stopping barking once she stops, and overreacts to eve the smallest trigger.
Though you have to accept some amount of barking, if it is affecting your dog’s ability to live a happy life, or causing serious problems in your household, you should seek a trainer or behaviorist.
The dog training industry is unregulated, so anyone can rent a facility, throw up a quick website, and attempt to train your dog, sometimes using inhumane methods that can make behaviors worse, or even lead to aggression.