Often referred to as “yappy dogs,” Chihuahuas are well-known for their little bark that seems to go on endlessly. As an owner, make an effort to understand why your little guy barks and what you can do to change this behavior.
Why Chihuahuas Bark
Chihuahuas bark as a way to communicate with the world. If your Chihuahua barks occasionally, this is perfectly normal. The problem arises when your dog is barking constantly. Your Chihuahua may bark for attention, but he may also bark because he hasn't been socialized. Other reasons include fear, dominance, territorial barking and aggression. Chihuahuas are one of the most aggressive breeds -- something you must consider if you have a Chi who barks excessively.
How to Socialize a Chihuahua
Socialization is a big issue with Chihuahuas. Without proper socialization, they will bark at anyone or anything that is new to them. It might be excessive barking at a friend who comes over or even a new object that is placed in the room. To help break this behavior, introduce your dog to as many new situations as possible, but not all at once. For example, take your dog on daily errands or bring a new guest over to the house once a week. Soon your Chihuahua will begin to adjust and be OK with new situations.
How to Control the Bark While You're Away
Chihuahuas may also bark because they're bored or are being ignored. Chihuahuas do not do well with being left alone. You may even get complaints from your neighbors of your dog barking constantly while you're away. You can break this behavior by spending as much time as possible with your pet and by making sure he is entertained while you're away. Leave toys for the dog to play with while you're gone and leave the TV on for background noise. Another useful tip is to have a crate for your dog to go in should he get scared. Chihuahuas love to burrow, so a crate stored in a dark area with covers inside will provide him with a safe space while you're away.
How to Correct the Barking Behavior
You can correct this behavior without resorting to extreme punishment. First of all, your Chihuahua needs to know where he falls in the chain of command. This means you need to act as alpha in order to keep your dog from barking at you. When your dog barks, say “quiet” loudly and firmly. It's important that you stick with one word so that your dog comes to understand what that word means. You can also clap your hands together loudly or spray the dog with water at the same time as saying "quiet" to help reenforce the idea. Remember that a Chihuahua barking at strangers is a good thing. It alerts you that someone is close to the home and should be rewarded. However, once you greet the person and invite her into your home, teach your Chi not to bark at that person.
Amy Brantley has been a writer since 2006, contributing to numerous online publications. She specializes in business, finance, food, decorating and pets.