Nuisance Barking- Chihuahua

The following question comes from a reader of our site:

Hi Ty,
Thank You so much for your interest in my question. I have a 10 yr old Chihuahua. She has always been a barker but we lost our older dog, back in May of 2012 & since then Chloe, our Chihuahua, has seemingly gotten worse. Actually I have noticed since I first asked the question about her barking on your website, she not only barks at my husband when he puts down the foot to the recliner but she also barks at me too. But any other movement that he makes she barks at him! I have thought that she was having some anxiety since the loss of our other dog, since she is alone now, & I am looking into getting another dog. She had always had our other dog ever since she was born. Any suggestions? She is very smart & attentive to me when I do training sessions with her! I have tried ignoring her when she barks, that doesn’t help. I have tried telling her NO, that doesn’t help. I literally go over to her & put my hand in front of her face & then she will let up, but it’s everytime!!! Time after time!
Thank you so much,
R.

Nuisance Barking- Video Response

Nuisance Barking On YouTube

Nuisance Barking- Key Points For A Solution

There are a few things you’ve tried that haven’t worked.  The reasons for why they haven’t worked are simple:

  • Telling isn’t training.  This is one of the things I teach a lot.  Just telling the dog ‘no’ does nothing to communicate what you actually want.  Dogs are physical learners and don’t learn terribly well with just verbal.  Yes, we can teach them verbal commands but if you are simply telling a dog ‘no’ in a stern voice that won’r really do anything to train the dog.
  • Ignoring bad behavior CAN work at times.  It doesn’t work too often, though, and doesn’t tend to even work well when it does ‘kind of’ work.  Just because you ignore her nuisance barking doesn’t mean that the barking itself gives the reward to the dog.

The path I would go down would be obedience related.  She needs to learn to deal with her anxiety and stress and she needs to learn that she’s not the one calling the shots.  I would have her wearing a leash at all times and I would use that leash to teach a ‘place’ command on a dog bed when she starts barking.  The idea is that you want to condition her to learn how to calm down.

Our foundation obedience training program goes into a lot of detail on the obedience necessary to fix this kind of issue.