Why Do Chihuahuas Bark So Much? (+ 13 Ways to Reduce It)
Like that high-pitched yelp you make when you stub your toe put on repeat, a Chihuahua’s barking can be relentless. Much of this adds to their perception as yappy, annoying dogs that bark for no reason.
Instead of jumping to conclusions, we should be asking ourselves: why do Chihuahuas bark so much? Are they just naturally vocal dogs, or is there something else going on here?
In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the reasons Chihuahuas bark, so the next time you see a Chihuahua barking their head off, you’ll have a good guess as to why.
Additionally, we’ll offer you tips and training methods on how to reduce your Chihuahua’s barking so you can have a more calm and quiet household.
Do Chihuahuas Bark A Lot?
Yes, Chihuahuas bark a lot, but dogs are also individuals so it depends on their background, training, and personality.
Do all Chihuahuas bark a lot? No, some Chihuahuas are quiet and rarely bark while others can bark at every little thing. Generally speaking, though, most Chihuahuas are vocal dogs.
They are tiny dogs in a big world and many things might seem scary to them due to their small size. They often feel the need to alert their guardians to everything that is going on around them.
Why Do Chihuahuas Bark So Much?
All dogs bark, but Chihuahuas are especially known for being very vocal and prone to barking.
They bark at anything and everything that moves, from the mailman to a leaf blowing in the wind.
So why do Chihuahuas bark a lot?
Well, there are actually many different reasons why Chihuahuas bark so much. Chihuahuas bark to defend their territory, to alert, when they’re excited, to get attention, or out of fear or anxiety.
When we first brought our rescue Chihuahua home, he didn’t bark at all for 3 days. Once he got comfortable with us and his new surroundings, he started to bark more.
Now, he tends to bark when people come over, when he hears strange noises outside, and when he wants treats.
15 Reasons Why Chihuahuas Bark So Much
Chihuahuas are territorial dogs, and their barking is a way of defending their territory from perceived danger. Their territory can be anything from their home, yard, crate, or even you!
Chihuahuas will also bark to alert their people of anything out of the ordinary, like a strange noise, an animal outside, or an unfamiliar person approaching.
Chihuahuas make good guard dogs and barking is part of their job to scare away threats. If the threat is not scared away, the Chihuahua may escalate to biting.
For example, if someone is trying to break into your house, your Chihuahua will bark to alert you to the intruder and attempt to scare them away.
Chihuahuas are bred to be companion dogs, and they see their family as their pack.
Since Chihuahuas are clingy and super protective of their people, they bark to protect them from danger. If someone is approaching you that they don’t know, they may start barking to warn you.
If you have young children, your Chihuahua may bark to protect them from harm and keep them safe.
Do Chihuahuas bark loud? Chihuahuas have a strong bark for such a little body and have been known to scare off large dogs.
3. Release Energy
Another reason why Chihuahuas bark so much is that they are very high-energy dogs.
They have a lot of energy to burn, and barking is one way of releasing that energy.
When your Chihuahua doesn’t get enough exercise, it may cause them to start barking out of boredom or frustration.
Chihuahuas are very excitable dogs, and their barking is often a way of expressing their excitement. They bark when you come home from work because they are excited to see you.
They might even headbutt you to show you some extra love!
When we ask our Chihuahua if he wants to go for a car ride or a walk, he gets so excited that he can’t stop himself from barking and spinning around! Who could blame him for that?
5. For Attention
Chihuahuas are very people-oriented dogs and love nothing more than being with their humans.
They can use barking as a way of getting our attention.
Chihuahuas are a breed that loves attention, and they will bark until they get it.
If you aren’t paying enough attention to your Chihuahua, they may start barking to try to get some belly rubs and quality playtime or they may just want to sit on your lap.
Chihuahuas are known for being Velcro dogs, which means that they love to be close to their people, so if you are not giving them the attention they crave, they will definitely let you know.
6. Lacking Something
When your Chihuahua needs something, he may start barking to try to communicate that need, whether that be treats, food, attention, or anything else. Think of barking as a dog’s way of talking!
For example, if they want to go outside, they may start barking by the door until we let them out. If they are hungry or want to play, they may start barking until we feed them or play with them.
This may seem like annoying Chihuahua barking, but it is their way of telling us what they want or need, and they will continue to bark until their needs are met.
Chihuahuas are pretty smart dogs, and they know that barking can get them what they want.
Why do Chihuahuas bark at everything? Many Chihuahuas bark at objects, people, or noises because they are scared or unsure.
They could be scared of thunder, fireworks, brooms, a stranger, or a large dog.
Chihuahuas are known for being afraid of many things because of their tiny size, and their barking is often a way of expressing that fear and their attempt to protect themselves.
Our Chihuahua has barked at a traffic cone, a garbage bag on the sidewalk, and even a flag flapping in the wind!
Other signs your Chihuahua is scared are:
- tucked tail
- ears back
- whale eye
- hard panting
Work on gradually desensitizing your dog to the things that they are afraid of so they become less fearful. For Leo’s flag fear, we’ve started training with a tiny flag of our own.
Read more: 12 Surprising Reasons Why Dogs are Scared of Brooms
8. Separation Anxiety
Why do Chihuahuas bark a lot when left alone?
Separation anxiety is when a dog becomes anxious and stressed when they are away from their owner. This causes dogs to bark and howl the second they find themselves alone.
Chihuahuas are known for being needy and attached to their owners, so it’s not surprising that they may suffer from separation anxiety.
Other signs of separation anxiety are indoor accidents, pacing, tipping over their water bowl, chewing, and digging.
If your Chihuahua has separation anxiety, work on gradually acclimating them to being away from you for short periods of time.
Do Chihuahua dogs bark a lot when they’re bored? Yes, they can. Boredom is another common reason why dogs bark and Chihuahuas are no exception.
When a dog is bored, they may bark out of frustration or as a way to release pent-up energy. If Chihuahuas are left home alone for too long, they may start barking out of boredom.
This State can lead to other undesirable behaviors like tipping over their water bowl, chewing on furniture, or excessive digging.
Chihuahuas need around 30 minutes of exercise a day to stay healthy and happy, so if your Chihuahua is bored, try adding some extra walks or playtime to their routine.
Here are 24 fun games you can try out with your Chihuahua to keep them entertained!
Frustration barking is when a dog is trying to do something, but they can’t quite figure it out.
For example, a Chihuahua may bark when they are trying to get to something that is out of reach like if a ball rolled under the couch.
They may also bark if they want to go outside but are stuck inside.
In these cases, barking is a way of expressing their frustration.
Some Chihuahuas bark out of aggression.
This is usually towards other dogs or people, but it can be directed at anything.
For example, if a Chihuahua is resource guarding, they may bark and growl to try to keep others away from their food, toys, or anything else that they consider to be theirs.
This type of barking should not be ignored, as it can lead to biting or other aggressive behaviors.
It’s best to work with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist to help them deal with their aggression.
Do Chihuahuas bark a lot when playing? Yes, some Chihuahuas are very vocal when playing, and their barking is just part of the fun.
This is usually seen in younger dogs who are still learning how to play appropriately.
As they get older, they typically learn to tone down their barking when playing.
Dogs may also bark out of pain. This can be due to an injury, illness, or any other type of discomfort.
If your dog injures themself, they may let out a yelp or cry and then start barking. This is their way of telling you that something is wrong and they need help.
If your Chihuahua is barking and seems to be in pain, it’s best to take them to the vet to get checked out.
14. Canine Dementia
Older dogs may start barking more due to canine dementia.
Canine dementia is a condition that causes changes in the brain that can lead to changes in behavior.
Dogs with canine dementia may start barking excessively for no apparent reason and may seem confused or disoriented. They may not recognize their owners or other familiar people and places.
If your Chihuahua is showing signs of canine dementia, talk to your vet about medication options.
Some Chihuahuas bark in their sleep because they are dreaming. This is usually a soft, quiet bark that doesn’t last very long.
It’s normal for dogs to bark in their sleep during the REM stage of sleep. Small dogs like Chihuahuas switch between non-REM and REM sleep more often than larger dogs, which leads to more dreaming and more sleep barking.
They may also twitch, act like they’re running, or flutter their eyes.
It’s best not to wake your dog up when they’re sleep barking, as they may be startled and confused. Just let them enjoy their dream.
Our Chihuahua, Leo, barks in his sleep a few times a week and it’s the cutest thing ever! We like to picture our boy chasing and befriending squirrels.
How to Reduce Chihuahua Barking
Now that we know why Chihuahuas bark so much, what can be done to reduce their barking?
Barking is a natural behavior for dogs; it’s one of their main ways of communication.
If you’re thinking, “my Chihuahua barks at everything,” you’re not alone!
While you’ll never be able to completely get rid of barking, there are many to reduce it including training methods and simple environmental changes.
1. Reward Silence
When your dog hears a noise and doesn’t bark, make sure to praise him and give him a treat. This will help him learn that silence is rewarded and they don’t have to bark at every little noise.
Keep a bag of treats near you so you can quickly reward your dog when he hears a noise but stays quiet.
2. Desensitize to Doorbells and Knocking
Most dogs get set off by the doorbell ringing or someone knocking at the door. To help reduce this type of barking, you can start desensitizing your Chihuahua to the doorbell.
Have someone ring the bell or play the sound from a Youtube video and give a treat.
This will take some practice and patience. Eventually, your dog will learn that they get a yummy treat when the doorbell rings and they don’t bark.
We always keep a bag or jar of treats right next to the couch so that when we get a delivery or someone rings the doorbell, we are ready. These are our recommended treats, tested by our Chihuahua, Leo.
You can also teach your dog to go to a certain spot when the doorbell rings like their bed or crate and wait for a reward. This way, they are not in the way when you answer the door and you won’t risk them running out.
3. Positive Interrupter Cue
An interrupter cue is a special noise or action that you do that interrupts your dog’s barking. This replaces yelling or saying “no” as a way to stop the barking.
This can be something as simple as making a kissing noise, a clicking noise with your tongue, or whistling.
The important thing is that the cue is something that you can consistently do every time your dog barks.
When your dog starts barking, make your sound and when he looks at you, immediately give him a treat.
Do this enough times and he will start to associate the interrupter cue with getting a treat and eventually, he will stop barking.
4. Have A Plan When Guests Come Over
Barking at strangers or guests in the house can be a nuisance.
The best way for how to stop a Chihuahua from barking at strangers is to have a plan in place before guests come over.
This might mean crating or putting your dog in another room when someone comes over so they can’t run to the door and bark at the person.
Our Chihuahua does well with meeting guests outside first and then we all walk inside together. We have the guest toss some treats at him so he associates them with something positive.
This way, he can smell them and get used to their presence before they come into his territory.
5. Create Background Noise
If you live in an apartment with lots of foot traffic or live in a busy city, there are lots of noises that can make your Chihuahua bark.
Hearing people above or below you, delivery people, kids and dogs playing outside – all these can lead to barking.
One way to reduce this type of barking is to create background noise. You can play a white noise machine, some soft music, or even just keep the television on to help drown out the other noises.
This will make it harder for your Chi to hear the other noises and therefore, bark less.
6. Reduce Visual Stimuli
If your Chihuahua can see out of the windows or doors, he may bark at people, dogs, wildlife, or even cars passing by.
One way to reduce this type of barking is to restrict their access to visual stimuli. You can do this by closing your curtains or blinds.
If you still want a good amount of light to come through, window cling film is a great alternative. You can cut the film to fit your window and it will allow light to come in but reduce the visibility.
Now, passersby won’t be catching your dog’s eye all day and triggering him.
7. Create Distance
This can be used indoors but it is more useful when you are outdoors. When your dog barks at the door or at something outside, have them go to their “place” or “spot” which is away from the noise.
This could be a bed, a crate, or a mat on the floor.
As soon as they go to their spot, give them a treat.
With enough practice, they will start to associate barking with going to their spot and being rewarded.
If your Chihuahua is reactive outside and barks at people or other dogs, create distance between him and the stimulus.
You can do this by walking the other way, crossing the street, or hiding behind a tree or parked car.
The important thing is that you are consistently creating distance every time you see something you think your dog will bark at so that they don’t go over their threshold.
If your dog is barking, you are too close.
8. Don’t Let Dog Bark While Playing
You don’t want your dog to rehearse barking because then they are getting mixed signals about barking inside.
If your dog is barking while playing, immediately stop the game and wait until they calm down. Reward them for being quiet and then resume the game.
This will show your dog that barking during playtime is not tolerated and they will eventually learn to stop.
You want to be able to have fun with your dog and play but as soon as they start barking, the game is over.
9. Reduce Leash Reactivity
For dogs who are leash reactive, meaning they bark and lunge at other dogs or people when on a leash, can be a difficult behavior to change.
It’s best to work with a certified behaviorist or trainer to help you with this but there are some things you can do on your own.
The first thing is to not allow your dog to bark and lunge. As soon as you see a dog or person that you think your Chihuahua will bark at, turn around quickly and walk the other way.
You can also hide behind a tree, a bush, a parked car, or anything else that will create distance between you and the stimulus to block your dog’s view until they’ve passed by.
“Magnet hand” also works wonders. This is where you put a bunch of treats in your hand and keep it right up to your dog’s mouth as you pass by the scary thing so their only job is to continuously eat treats and ignore everything else.
Some great online courses for working on reducing reactivity are Amy Cook’s Management For Reactive Dogs and Spirit Dog’s Tackling Reactivity.
10. Mental Stimulation and Exercise
A lot of barking is caused by boredom. If your Chihuahua isn’t getting enough exercise, mental stimulation, or attention, they may start to bark out of frustration or boredom.
To help reduce this type of barking, make sure you are giving your dog plenty of exercise – at least 30 minutes a day.
You can also try dog interactive toys and puzzles to help keep their minds challenged.
And lastly, make sure you are spending enough time with your Chihuahua. They are social creatures and need human interaction. We have a great post on fun games to play with your Chihuahua!
At least 30 minutes a day of quality time spent playing, cuddling, or just talking will go a long way in reducing boredom barking.
If your Chihuahua isn’t properly socialized, they may bark out of fear when they see new people or animals.
An important part of raising a puppy is socialization which is exposing them to new people, animals, places, and experiences in a positive way so that they aren’t afraid of them.
Rescue dogs may not have been properly socialized as a puppy, so never force your dog into a situation that they are not comfortable with as this will only make the problem worse.
12. Treat Medical Issues
Excessive barking, especially a high-pitched bark, could mean an underlying medical issue.
If your dog is barking because they’re in pain or due to canine dementia, they will need to be treated by a veterinarian.
If your dog is barking because of separation anxiety and you’ve tried everything, talk to your vet about medication options to help your dog relax.
If your Chihuahua is too alert or anxious and can’t settle down because every noise or movement makes them bark, your veterinarian can prescribe medication to help them relax.
This is usually a last resort after everything else has been tried but for some dogs, it can make a huge difference and help reduce their anxiety levels to allow them to live a normal, happy life.
9 Methods to Avoid
The items on this list primarily use fear as a way to stop your Chihuahua from barking and should all be avoided. These will not address the underlying cause of the barking and could make your dog’s behavior worse.
Remember, positive reinforcement is always the best way to train your dog.
1. Yelling at Your Dog
Yelling will only make your dog think you are barking with them and it will intensify and escalate the situation. When you get tense and yell, your dog will sense this and get more worked up.
You want to stay calm when correcting your dog’s behavior
2. Physical Punishment
Hitting or kicking your dog is never acceptable under any circumstance. Not only is it cruel, but it will also make your dog scared of you and feel more stressed out.
This could lead to your dog barking even more, shutting down due to fear, or becoming aggressive.
3. Shock Collar/E-collar/Bark Collar
These devices are known to cause more harm than good and should be avoided. Just like with physical punishment, this creates fear in your dog and could make the barking worse.
There are also a lot of negative side effects that come with using these devices such as burns, skin irritations, and even behavioral issues.
Bark collars shock or vibrate whenever your dog barks, punishing them for every single bark.
This not only doesn’t address the root of the problem but also punishes your dog for barking when it’s necessary such as if there’s a threat nearby, to remind you it’s meal time, or if they’re in pain.
This will give the dog mixed messages and cause confusion. Remember, barking is a normal behavior and is one of the many ways they communicate.
Many countries have even banned the use of shock collars such as Austria, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Wales, and Slovenia.
Instead of punishing your dog, which will only make them more anxious and stressed, train them with positive reinforcement.
4. Ignoring the Barking
If you ignore your dog’s barking, this lets them rehearse the behavior and strengthens it.
They will be practicing it over and over and it will become more ingrained. After that barking, all you’re left with is a growing headache and some disturbed neighbors.
The best option you have is to redirect that barking energy into something more beneficial for both the dog and your ears.
5. Using a Muzzle
Putting a muzzle on your dog to get them to stop barking is not a good solution and can make your dog anxious.
There’s a high risk that it will only exacerbate any existing behavior issues. Not to mention how it would restrict them from panting and drinking water.
Using a basket muzzle for a reactive or aggressive dog in appropriate situations is fine, but it’s not a solution to stop barking.
6. Debarking Procedure
This is an unnecessary and painful surgical procedure that is considered inhumane.
There are much better ways to deal with a dog who is barking too much.
7. Spray Collar/Spray Bottle
A spray collar is a device that emits a citronella spray when your dog barks. It works by startling your dog and interrupting their barking.
The spray irritates their eyes and nasal passages. This can create fear and anxiety in your dog and is not an effective long-term solution.
Similarly, using a spray bottle to spray your dog when they bark is also not an effective solution and can cause your dog to become scared of you.
In our tips above, we talked about interrupting barking by supercharging a sound so that when you make the sound your dog turns to you and expects a treat. This is a much more pleasant way to get your dog’s attention than spraying them.
8. Saying “No”
Telling your dog “no” or “bad dog” when they’re barking is not very effective. When dogs are aroused and in a barking state, they’re not really listening to you.
The word “no” is hard for your dog to understand because it’s not an object or a place or a cue for a behavior. It doesn’t tell your dog what you want them to do in place of barking.
Instead of saying “no,” use a sound that gets their attention or ask for a behavior like “sit” and then reward with a treat when they pay attention to you. This rewards your dog for an acceptable behavior instead of punishing them for the wrong behavior.
9. Make Your Dog Face Their Fear
Don’t force your dog to face their fear head-on or pull your dog toward something they’re afraid of. This will only make the situation worse and could trigger a bite.
It’s best to help your dog work up to their fear gradually so they can learn to cope with it in a healthy way.
You want to help your dog feel calm and relaxed, not put them in a situation that is going to make them more stressed.
So, why do Chihuahuas bark so much?
Barking is a way for Chihuahuas to communicate with their humans. They bark for lots of reasons, including excitement, fear, boredom, loneliness, and to get attention.
When you understand why your Chihuahua is barking, you can work on reducing the barking behavior.
One of the best ways to reduce Chihuahua barking is through positive reinforcement and consistency with your training.
Using methods that will scare or hurt your dog such as shock collars and physical punishment will result in more harm than good.
Unless you want a dog who is anxious and fearful around you, we recommend positive reinforcement. We want to use methods that address the root cause of the barking and help improve your favorite furball’s behavior.
We hope you found this article helpful! If you have any questions or would like to share your own tips on how you’ve reduced your Chihuahua’s barking, please leave a comment below.
Why Do Chihuahuas Bark At Nothing?
One of the most common questions people ask about Chihuahuas is why they bark at nothing.
Dogs have a sensitive sense of smell and can hear better than us, so it’s not surprising that they sometimes bark at things that we can’t see, hear, or smell.
We might think they are barking at nothing, but really they may be smelling an animal scent in the wind or hearing a sound that we can’t detect.
There is a neighborhood cat that roams around and when we have our windows open, our Chihuahua can smell the cat before we can even see him. He runs to the window and lets out a couple of barks to let us know the cat is there.
Why Do Chihuahuas Bark At Strangers And Other Dogs?
Chihuahuas bark at strangers and other dogs due to leash-reactivity, fear, excitement, and because they’re territorial.
If you are walking your Chihuahua on a leash and they bark at dogs and people passing by, it’s likely because they are leash-reactive.
Leash-reactivity is when a leashed dog becomes anxious when they see another dog or person, and they may bark or lunge to scare them away. They might also bark because they get excited to see people or dogs and get frustrated they can’t say hello or play.
Another reason for barking at dogs and strangers is due to fear or protecting their territory so they bark to scare the person or animal away. A lot of rescue dogs have traumatic pasts and may have been abused or neglected, which can cause them to be fearful of people and other animals.
If your Chihuahua is barking out of fear, working with a behaviorist can help them overcome their fears in a positive and safe way.
The main thing you want to do is keep your distance from the things that trigger your Chihuahua’s fear so they don’t get overwhelmed and start barking. Sometimes it’s necessary to pick up your Chihuahua to keep them safe and calm in the comfort of your arms.
Why Does My Chihuahua Bark in the Middle of the Night?
If your Chihuahua is barking in the middle of the night, it could be because they are bored, anxious, or they heard a noise.
The most common reason a Chihuahua will bark in the middle of the night is that they hear a noise outside, like a neighbor or another dog barking. Dogs have excellent hearing and are more alert at night, especially if it’s summertime and the windows are open.
To reduce Chihuahua barking at night, a white noise machine can help to drown out any outside noise and give them some peace and quiet. Also, keeping the windows closed will make it harder for your Chihuahua to hear noises outside.
Not getting enough exercise and mental stimulation during the day can lead to a restless dog at night. If your Chihuahua is bored at night, they may start barking because they want to play and release that pent-up energy.
Anxiety can be another reason why your Chihuahua is barking at night. Chihuahuas love sleeping with or near their guardians, so if you have your dog sleep in a crate or another room, they may bark and whine because they want to sleep closer to you.