The Chihuahua is not the dog for everybody, with their small stature and big personality. They are not really suited to families with small children and because of their size they can be easily hurt, either by being accidentally dropped or fallen on. Saying that though they do love being around kids and families. They also get along well with other pets in the family unit if introduced correctly.
They make fantastic companions for the older generation, and are great city dogs as they are suited for small space living. The Chihuahua does not need a lot of exercise, so perfect for the elderly. They do love going for walks though, who doesn’t, as it is a great source of stimulation and exercise for all.
They love being around their owners, who are the center of their world, and love to be carried around or sit on the owners lap. They are a bundle of energy and personality and can become badly behaved if permitted, as owners tend to spoil this breed of dog.
The Chihuahua is one of the smallest breeds of dogs being:
15 – 20 cm (6 – 10 in) tall 1.8 – 2.7 kg (4 – 6 lbs) weight12 – 20 years lifespan.
They like to bark at most anything, therefore making them a great little guard dog, but they can develop a habit of excessive barking if not corrected. One of the reasons barking can become a problem is because they are bored, combined with excessive energy. Or they are very territorial and bark aggressively at anything that moves. Some even bark and shake because of fear. These are just a few of the reasons why, but always remember this is also one of their ways of communicating with you.
So how do we address this problem?
Firstly determine what you think is triggering the problematic barking in your Chihuahua.
Before you start with the training you need to make sure your pooch knows who the alpha in the pack is, otherwise they will constantly want to rule you, and you will get nowhere fast.
Here are a few strategies to try.
If your dog has not been socialized, it will bark at almost everything new that it encounters. Some will bark at a new item in their environment, bark at people walking in the street, or bark at visitors in the home, there are many things that may cause your dog to bark and whine.
It is very important to socialize your dog. Take them for walks and introduce them to different situations to help to desensitize them to the extra stimulus.
Introduce them to various people and children, taking care they do not get scared and become snappy.
Be very cautious when socializing with other dogs, Chihuahua’s don’t really take their size into consideration when encountering other breeds. They can tend to bark aggressively or excessively at other dogs if permitted too, not realizing the potential danger.
How do we stop this?
One of the methods is to give them treats, for example, you are both out for a walk, you see somebody approaching and you feel the dog is going to react, distract him with a treat. If he remains focused on you rather than the person passing by, give them another treat and praise them. If they become agitated and start to bark, keep walking and stay calm. Wait until they have quietened down, then you can give them another treat and praise them.
(If you are using an extendable lead make sure it is locked off so you can keep the dog in check)
This breed hates to be alone and may become stressed. In this situation they will tend to continually bark and shake. To help them get over this, leave them lots of toys to keep them occupied. It may help to leave the TV or radio on for background noise.
Another way to help stop this stress is to leave for short periods of time, extending the time on each occasion. When you return and they are calm and not barking, praise them and give them a treat. They will soon understand that you will be coming back to them, some dogs, unfortunately, may not get over the separation anxiety, but there is the option (if possible) of getting another pet for companionship.
An example of Learnt behavior is when your dog will bark or whine as soon as it sees you grab your keys or put on your shoes, this can cause anxiety because they know you are leaving, or excitement because they think they are going out for a walk. Your dog may also bark just for the sake of it because this behavior has not been corrected.
To modify behavior of dogs with words you can use words such as NO or STOP, and also follow with a hand clap to distract them from the barking. You have to be consistent and firm when correcting them. You can also follow this up with a treat once they are back in a calm state.
Another way to help stop this bad habit of barking is to use a small water spray bottle. Every time the dog barks for no reason spray water on the dog using a small spray bottle (nothing with a direct spray) make sure you do not spray in the eyes or nose. This generally will snap them out of their state of barking.
The key to helping stop your Chihuahua from constant barking is to be firm and consistent. Make clear to them how you want them to behave and that barking for no reason not acceptable.
Some dogs will understand quicker than others, some will just be stubborn and take longer. But be steadfast and clear, always using positive reinforcement giving praise or treats and of course lots of Love and cuddles.
Article contributed by Hannan Ahmad