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What's the best thing to do with our recently rescued...

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Question by JimKrick
Submitted on 2/27/2004
Related FAQ: rec.pets.dogs: Chihuahuas Breed-FAQ
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What's the best thing to do with our recently rescued chihuahua who barks incessantly at company when they arrive?  We understand this is his nature and conditioning him is not likely to succeed.  Do we just put him in a room as far away as possible?

Answer by chimama
Submitted on 3/10/2004
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You are incorrect that you cannot break him of this.  Chihuahuas are highly trainable, you just need to know how to approach it.

He's likely not had a good life prior to becoming yours, he may never have been taught how to behave.  He may also be very nervous and frightened.  Chihuahuas bond to only one or two  people who become the center of their universe.  He may be afraid he'll lose you, so he has to protect you.  A way to increase his confidence is basic obedience commands, never feed him while you're eating, be pack leader in all ways.  You go through doors first, you eat first and finish before he gets anything (and I really discourage the feeding of people food).  He can have a small biscuit if he has been good and waited patiently and quietly while you ate.  He'll be much less excitable as he learns his place in the pack, and as he approaches adulthood (about 1 1/2 years).

Start with one person at a time, have that person come to the house for a few minutes.  When people come to the house, he will likely bark, that's his job, to alert you to the presence of a stranger.  Pick him up and have him in your arms, this way he feels safe, and tell him "good dog, quiet now".  Welcome the person/people in, introduce the dog to them and allow him to sniff their hands.  The guests should not try to pet him, just let him get their scent.  You are pack leader, you have welcomed them into the den.  He has done his job of alerting you, now his job is done and he should be quiet.  If he continues to bark, he should be ignored.  Chi's hate to be ignored, as soon as he figures out that barking means no attention, he will stop.  As soon as he is quiet, even just for a second, praise him for being quiet and give him attention, stop if he starts barking again.  If the dog approaches the guests, ask them to remain quiet, extend their hands and make no motion to pet him.  If he tries to touch or lick their hands, they can slowly pet his chest, palm up.  Coming at his head palm down from above is scary, so don't do it.  I don't even after having mine for years, I pet the chest first and then the head.

With repeated experience, he should settle down more.  Of course, if he snarls or snaps, that has to be dealt with right away.  Don't hit, but give him a stern "NO" and remove him from the room.  Give him a time out and if he is quiet in another part of the house, re-introduce him a few minutes later, praising him for not snarling.


Answer by Dakota
Submitted on 6/4/2004
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Actually, and this is true with most small breeds, a gentle tap on the nose and a stern "no" works very well.  Chihuahuas, and this goes for most, don't listen.  My chi can bark at someone for hours and never get tired of it, so in that case it needs to know that what it's doing is wrong.  A rolled up piece of paper works well, nothing to thick and hard, they tend to take stuff very personally, and you still want them to love you.


Answer by new proud owner
Submitted on 6/11/2004
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Once again DAKOTA, I must say I disagree with you when you say a rolled up piece of paper works well. Do not make them afraid of you. Infact don't physically touch them. This trick works well and is affective. The secret to this trick is to never let the dog see you do this. When he barking, or biting on something you don't want him to. Make a loud noise whether you roll up a piece of paper and slap it against your hand, fill a glass jar with pennies, drop a phone book on the floor in another room. Anything that's loud and will kinda scare him. He will relate those loud, scary noises to barking or chewing up something. Make sure he never sees that it's you making those noises. He'll think that it's him. Make sure you praise him immediately when he stops to look and see what that noise was.


Answer by chimama
Submitted on 6/21/2004
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I agree with new proud owner, hitting doesn't work, especially on the nose.  NO matter how lightly you tap, it's a major big deal.  His/her technique works well.

If you must physically chastise your chi, do what the momma dog does.  My girls let me pick them up, and if they continue to bark after I tell them "Enough", I pick them up and ever so gently scruff them on the back of the neck.  Do NOT exert much pressure, and never hang them or pick them up that way, they're not cats.  This immediately stops the barking so they get praise and I remove my hand.

For behaviors where you can't get to them, new proud owner has the right idea again.  Another thing that works, especially if you have problems with Come is to perfect your throwing arm, and bean the dog with a Nerf ball.  OK, reserve judgment until I finish please.  I'm talking about a small Nerf ball or a kitchen nylon scrubby puff.  No tennis balls, golf balls, bouncy balls, rubber balls, styrofoam balls, shoes, bones, stuffed toys, etc.  

I got this idea from several very good and humane trainers who would rather retire than ever hit an animal.  The Nerf gets their attention and stops them in their tracks, 'cause they can't figure out how mommy's arm got so long.  It really does work as a last resort if loud noises doesn't work.


Answer by proud new owner
Submitted on 6/28/2004
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Great answer Chimama (as always...) :) You have to be extremely delicate, especially because he's a rescued chi! The ball would work great! It would just get his attention. He may be barking because he doesn't trust humans yet. They may be a threat to him. Remember if he's a rescued Chi, he must have gone though something...


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