A Chihuahua may bark due to a perceived threat to himself or to his family. Some know their size - any loud noise or sudden arrival of an element may startle the dog and set him off. Common noises that can cause a Chi to bark are back-firing cars and lightening. Others have little dog syndrome
, behaving as 50 lb. watch dogs and will bark to protect family members against any danger, real or perceived.
When it comes to strangers, passing cars and other elements that a dog will come across on a regular basis, socialization training will work best. The basis of this type of training is to allow the dog to become accustomed to the element - gradually and incrementally - over a period of time.
Any time that a Chihuahua remains calm, praise and reward is given. Any time that barking occurs, the dog is 100% ignored. Over time, a dog will learn that not reacting to triggers earns him attention and treats. And that barking is done in vain with zero results.
When a Chihuahua barks incessantly at a household family member, this requires a different approach. The method is 2-fold.
Humans must never assume that a Chihuahua 'knows' that the humans are the leaders of the house. With many Chi, this needs to be taught. When a dog thinks his owners are on the same level (or in some cases even lower in the hierarchy) he will bark as if he is in charge.
This can be corrected by:
- Always having the Chihuahua follow the 'Sit' command before eating any meal or snack (food is the #1 method of instilling hierarchy)
- Having humans enter and exit the house first, followed by the Chi and any other animals (the order of who enters and exits the 'den' is the #2 method of teaching a dog who is the leader of the home)
If a Chihuahua does have a clear understanding of the Alpha/Beta relationship, barking is often a matter of wanting attention. The key is to learn when it is valid and when it is not. Needing to go to the bathroom and being in need of water and/or food are the 2 most valid reasons for barking.
If basic needs are met and the dog is comfortable, barking is often due to boredom, which triggers attention seeking behavior. (much more ahead).