How to get a calm chihuahua


Why calm is important for your chihuahua

Chihuahuas like a bark, anyone who has one will have experienced the sudden vertical take-off followed by crazy barking because they’ve heard something; a car door slamming, the cat exiting through the cat flap, or person walking past the house with their own dog in tow. The list of things your chihuahua will bark at is long! If you have multiple chihuahuas then you will have experienced the ‘group’ frenzy in which they all charge like nutcases and none of them know why they are even barking.

A dog that barks all day is not only a nuisance to you and your neighbours it’s also not good for them.  Like humans, dogs have a sympathetic nervous system which deals with the fight and flight response and a parasympathetic nervous system which deals with, among other things, digestion and healing. When your dog is in a state of high excitement the PSNS shuts down, if this state persists it will affect your chihuahua’s opportunity to heal and repair and properly digest food. You can then easily make the leap to allergies and illness. 

Creating a calm environment is an important part of reducing chihuahua barking. It’s part of a three step process which includes understanding your chihuahuas emotional ‘bucket’. Like humans each dog has their own bucket which can fill quickly and once it does you will get a behavioural response which is often barking. Understanding what pays into your chihuahua’s bucket is extremely helpful. (More on emotional buckets on the way)

Limit rehearsal of barking behaviour 

A dog will do what it always does and if this is charging around the garden chasing pigeons or barking out the window everyday they will get extremely good at it. 

I don’t allow my crew to bark out the window at passersby or to charge around the garden barking at critters. This was one of Arlos favourite pastimes but, it creates a higher level of arousal that puts your chihuahua in the mood for yet more barking and over excitement. Managing this stops them rehearsing trigger barking. You can achieve  this with stair gates and puppy pens. I also limit time in the garden unless I am supervising. I don’t want them running about rehearsing unwanted behaviours. 

Passive calming activities for mental health

Rethink how you feed your chihuahua and use their food in more creative ways. This will also help if your chihuahua is a picky eater. Instead of putting all their daily food in a bowl, employ a range of passive calming activities like scatter-feeding, (throwing food on the grass for them to hunt). If you live in a flat or apartment then use a snuffle mat, they are cheap and easy to wash. 

Lick mats are super, don’t assume they are only for treats like peanut butter. You can push their wet food onto it. They will enjoy licking the mat for a while after their meal is over. Licking produces serotonin which is a calming hormone. This is why they lick their paws when they are in pain or stressed.

Kong feeding is also a good way to keep your chihuahua busy and engaged. There are a range of feeding puzzles like this on the market now. You can also buy snakes and wheels that you push their dinner into. These activities do more than keep your chihuahua busy. A dog is a natural scavenger and working for food is part of their DNA. Having to work for food, either in the garden or out of a Kong pays into this. It’s called contrafreeloading and is good for their mental health and is naturally calming. 

Natural chews

Chewing and gnawing is not only calming it’s also good for cleaning teeth. We just discovered dried tracheas, cut them into slices. (Use secateurs not a kitchen knife or you could end up in A&E.) It even takes Minnie a while to chew one. Hooves are a good as well and last for ages.  There are a good range of natural chews on the market, ostrich spaghetti, pigs noses, rabbits ears. You can buy them from most good pet shops. It’s never a good idea to give you dog anything plastic to chew like meat flavoured nyon bone. Chihuahuas are very tenacious chewers and can easily digest lumps of this. 

Rest

Chihuahuas do like a snooze, but can be up in an instant, so it’s not a real rest. Making sure they get a good rest where their choices for charging about are limited is always a good idea. Macy and Prince who have always been crate trained get a good two hour snooze in their crate in the afternoon. 

Calming supplement

As part of our ‘calming regime’  I have been giving  mine the supplement Calm-K9 in the morning. They get half a teaspoon in their food every day. Obviously they don’t instantly stop all their barky excitable behavior, but over a short time it has definitely had a beneficial effect on their levels of over arousal, their ability to calm down and focus on training. I took Prince out yesterday and we got around the field without a single bark. I was able to work on his training and he was much more engaged. Nomaly he would be barking at birds and crisp packets!

How Calm-K9 works with brain and gut

Brain wellness and gut wellness work together to create boost levels of serotonin and tryptophan.  (Tryptophan isn’t made in the body it has to come from a healthy diet and could be missing from some commercial dog foods. Serotonin and tryptophan will boost mood and the tryptophan (an important amino acid will induce calmness and focus.)

Does Calm-K9 help reduce chihuahua barking?

Honestly, it’s been a game changer. This is why I became a partner for this product. I wish you could see this, but as I write this the army base local to us is doing its daily artillery practice. The cannon and gunfire can be heard clearly and is very loud. Our neighbours dog is going nuts, but my crew are just chilling on their boundaries. (raised beds)

Once the charging about would have been impossible to unpick, all the dogs would have been up and barking, running about egging each other on. That’s the joy of the chihuahua feedback loop! But I have been able to work with them to reduce the stress they feel when the bangs start, and now they don’t worry at all. It’s also worked with fireworks.

It has also had a hugely beneficial impact on their tummies. Improving the hardness of poop and reducing anal gland issues. That alone is saving me £££ at the vets.  My vet has a wing named after Mika’s bum!

If continual barking is an issue in your house, this is the product is going to help!

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There are a range of different things you can do to stop your chihuahua barking and to get a calmer dog. The effect of this on our household has been amazing. Chihuahuas will always be excitable dogs that will run about barking, but it doesn’t have to be excessive and annoying. You can get a good balance and your chihuahua will enjoy having things to do.

Avoid air horns, water or rattling cans

Avoid anything that add excitement and stress to the situation , like air horns or squirting water, or shaking noisy cans at them. It may stop the immediate barking behaviour but it pays into your dog’s emotional bucket and can result in other behaviours that you won’t associate with the original issue, like paw licking, fear barking at other things, predicting your movements then snapping & growling. These adverses training methods also withdraw from your relationship bank account. This nibbles away at trust and can backfire in the long term.

Thank you for using my affiliate link to buy your products. If you buy this product I get paid a small commission and it all helps me keep Chihuahua Power on the road. But please be assured I only recommend products I use myself. 

About the author

Louise Kirby

My name is Louise Kirby and I’m a freelance writer and certified Pro Dog Trainer. I adore and train all breeds but have a special interest in chihuahuas and their rehabilitation. Chihuahuas are awesome little dogs, spunky, full of joy, loyal and tenacious. But some present with behaviours that make them a challenge to manage. I’m on a mission to restore the relationship between owners and their dogs. To help you get back the dog you always dreamed of. That’s why dog training is a happiness project!

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