An Easy Way to Teach a Chihuahua to Stop Barking

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 3, 2024

teach a Chihuahua to stop barking

We share the secret of how to teach a Chihuahua to stop barking at sounds to help 5 year-old Chihuahua mix Buffy in this West LA dog training session.

We started the session by leaving a treat trail from her front door to where I was sitting in front of the neighbors house. I find this is a wonderful way to introduce anxious dogs to new people. It went amazing and a few minutes later we were inside her home talking about her habit of barking at noises outside of the home.

I made sure to cover a number of fundamentals. We introduced a marker word, loaded it, used hand targeting to practice our timing, went over dog consent and some creative forms of exercise like feeding out of a snuffle mat or scent games like cookie in the corner.

When you have a Chihuahua with a barking problem, it’s natural to want to focus on the barking itself. But it’s important to remember that all behavior is trying to achieve something. Identifying the root cause of the dog behavior problem and contributing factors are an often overlooked yet monumentally impactful part of the dog behavior modification process.

Factors that Can Help Teach a Chihuahua to Stop Barking

In Buffy’s case, a lack of puppy school and early socialization were likely contributing factors to this Chihuahua barking problem. There were also some small daily activities that can also be contributing factors.

I suggested the guardian stop free feeding Buffy and instead feed her 2-3 times a day at the same time. Seeing her human provide food daily can help Buffy identify her human as more of a leader.

I also stressed the importance of rewarding desired behaviors, something I call celebrating. This is a form of shaping; waiting for a dog to naturally offer a behavior on their own, then marking and rewarding. The more Buffy is recognized and rewarded for sitting, coming, laying down, going to her kennel and any other desired behavior will make them more likely to occur.

Many of the small suggestions were made with the goal of helping reduce Buffy’s anxiety. Most of her Chihuahua barks were alerting in nature, indicating that she was disagreeing with sounds outside of her home. But if she is also insecure, it’s possible she has cortisol in her blood, making her more sound sensitive.

When dogs are sound sensitive, they are more likely to bark or be distressed by things that dont warrant barking. This is why you shoudl always start in a calm and quiet place.

An Easy Way to Teach a Chihuahua to Stop Barking

When we were going over an impulse control exercise called the bucket game, I accidentally bumped her metal food bowl into another bowl on the counter. This sound startled Buffy and caused her to start barking.

I decided to use this sound to show her guardian my preferred tip to stop dog barking at sounds. If you have a Chihuahua who barks at sounds outside your home, you should check out the free positive dog training video below.

The great thing about this easy way to stop dog barking is it works on just about anything; the doorbell, footsteps, car door closing, voices, trash trucks, etc. The key is to not go too far too fast. You want to practice at a level that is low enough that the dog doesn’t respond with a bark or sign of stress.

If your Chihuahua barks, whines or displays signs of stress or anxiety, the sound was too loud. When that happens, you need to pause, let the dog relax, then practice later with a less intense (lower) sound.

With this method, you need to go at the dog’s pace to stop dog barking at sounds. Basically you are trying to change how the dog feels about the sound. By practicing at a low enough level, the dog doesn’t need to bark and then the sound is followed by a treat.

Practicing at a lower level, then gradaully increasing intensity at the dog’s pace is a core concept of classical conditioning; a very commonly used dog training method.

At the end of the session, I walked the guardian through something called the Engage Disengage game and some kennel games. I wanted to provide some tips for those dog behavior issues, but also was mindful of not overloading the guardian with too much.

We covered a lot of other things in addition to how to teach a dog to stop barking at sounds in this in home west LA dog training session. To help Buffy;s guardian remember them all, I recorded a roadmap to success summary video that you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr