We adopted Charlie in the middle of the night. I didn’t want a dog so when my friend showed up with him I wasn’t thrilled. My friend also knew that I would just hold Charlie once and fall in love with him. He was right. It only took a minute in my arms and I had a dog. Charlie’s former owner was having a baby and feared Charlie would wake the newborn. He was also an apartment dog and not used being taken on walks. He used puppy pads to do his business so not only was Charlie a barker, but he wasn’t house broken.
Chihuahuas are stubborn dogs little dogs who appear fearless. They may be only a few inches off the ground, but they behave like they are the biggest dogs on the block. Charlie was no exception. He barked at everything. I didn’t mind when he did it when the door bell rang, but Charlie would start barking after I let someone into the house. He barked at cars passing by the window, children playing in the street, the dogs next door. He seemed to be in frenzy when it happened and not likely to listen to you tell him “No”.
Charlie was only 2 years old when we got him 5 years ago. He is a sweet lap dog and warms up easily to people. Although a nervous dog, he never bites. In fact we can’t even get him to chew on toys or things made for dogs. He is more interested in just being with you and having to touch you at all times. When they describe lap dog in the dictionary they modeled it after him.
Years passed and we tried everything except a shock collar. I felt they were cruel and I refused to use one. Positive and negative reinforcement did nothing. We never hit him. Charlie weighs all of 5 pounds soaking wet so even a tap would be too much. The barking was very stressful for all of us. If he heard a car in the middle of the night we were all woken up by him. After 5 years of listening to this insane dog take over our lives we had all had enough.
One day I was watching TV and it so happens a can of silly string belonging to my youngest was left next to the couch. Charlie heard an imaginary sound and went into his frenzy. Out of desperation I picked up the can and pressed the nozzle lightly. I just couldn’t take the noise any longer. Much to my surprise the sound of the can and the light spray of the silly string stopped Charlie dead in his tracks.
You may ask why had I not tried spraying him with water. The answer is simple, he likes it. He tries lick at it so I was very surprised he hated the silly string.
The next day we let Charlie out into the back yard. I repeated the phrase “No Barking” and Charlie ran to the fence in a barking frenzy. When he returned he was greeted with a light squirt of the silly string. Again it shut him up and he ran to his “No No Pillow” (our time out for dogs pillow). By the end of the day Charlie started associating the words “No Barking” and being quiet. When he managed to do this he was given his favorite treat, bacon. When he barked he received a blast of the can. By day too Charlie knew what was coming and if he barked he started looking guilty and would run to us, flip on his back and give us his belly. That’s his sign for “I am too cute to punish”.
Day 3 ended Charlie’s barking frenzy behavior and he is much happier for it. He can now sit quietly outside in the yard and enjoy the sun. This is one of his favorite things, but he could never do it because he would bark and disturb my neighbors. He is much calmer around other dogs and no longer chases cars. Who would have guessed a dollar store purchase would solve years of behavior problems.
We also tried this with my cat, who loved to go up onto my computer desk. It only took 3 blasts of the silly string and the problem was solved.