Why Do Small Dogs Bark So Much?


When someone gets a small dog, they’re shocked by how much they yap! One of their first questions is, “Why do small dogs bark so much?”

Our quick answer is always, “For attention.”

Yet, after years of training many types of dogs, we know it’s never that simple.

Read on to find out more.

Small Dog Breeds

Small dogs are classified as being shorter than 18 inches and weigh less than 22 pounds. Here are a few examples of small dog breeds:

  • Chihuahuas
  • Terriers
  • Beagles
  • Bichon Frise
  • Dachshunds
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Shih Tzus
  • Corgis
  • Papillons
  • Pugs

Why Small Dogs Bark More

Small dogs tend to bark more than bigger dogs for several reasons. The most obvious is that it makes them feel more imposing than they actually are.

In this article, I’ll discuss other reasons why small dogs behave this way. I’ll also include a few tips to help you correctly train and manage your dog’s excessive barking.

Before we begin, let’s find out why some dogs are called ‘small.’

Small Dog Syndrome

Small dogs are adorable. We know it and they know it. It’s one of the reasons why they think they can get away with anything!

They’re raised to be pampered and have everything taken care of for them. Dog experts call this behavior “small dog syndrome“.

When they yap at bigger dogs or innocent passersby, the owner doesn’t seem to pay much attention. Quite often, they just shrug it off and let their toy dog breed do whatever he wants.

As a dog owner, you should never forget that your small dog is smart. He’s way smarter than you give him credit for. So, keep an eye out for aggressive behavior that stems from fear and insecurity.

Small dog syndrome may include the following behaviors:

  • Growling at other dogs and people
  • Failure to obey commands
  • Snapping at perceived threats
  • Highly excitable behavior
  • Unwillingness to move off beds and sofas

Not Properly Trained

The first reason is that most people don’t feel like they should train smaller dogs. They’re much easier to pick up and move along wherever you want.  Yet, they need to be trained just as much as you would a big, intimidating dog.

As dog trainers, we encourage small dog owners to be more firm with their pets. A properly trained dog will stop his barking as soon as you order him to. Good training works equally on dogs of all sizes.

Make sure your training is upbeat and supportive. This will encourage your dog to be more attentive and follow your commands.

It’s also important that you remain consistent in your training techniques. You can’t let him get away with it even once. This will take some time, but it’ll be all worth it when you start seeing your dog on his best behavior.

Spoiled and Pampered

Another reason is that most owners aren’t good at handling small dogs. The problem starts when they continue to treat them almost as if they’re a cute cat or a harmless, cuddly baby.

It’s your responsibility as a dog owner to treat your small dog as you would a large dog.

For example, if he begins to bark when he wants to jump up on the couch, ignore him. Don’t allow him to get your attention in any way.

When he stops barking, you can praise him for good behavior.

This also goes for anything he does without asking for permission, as:

Leader of the Pack

When you don’t reinforce rules and discipline on your small dog, he doesn’t take it to mean that you’re devoted to him. He takes it to mean that he’s now become the leader of the pack.

That means it’s now his responsibility to protect you and your home. It also means he can now get you to feed him and clean up after him on command.

You’ll see this clearly in where he chooses to sleep, and in his defiance when you tell him to get off the bed. That’s when you know he’s got you right where he wants you.

So does that mean you’re forever doomed to spend your days listening to incessant barking? Is there some way you can restore the pack order?

Luckily, there’s hope for you yet. First, you have to reinstate yourself as the leader. This must be done in a gentle, yet assertive way. Eventually, he’ll come to understand that you’re the leader rather than the other way around.

Ignored and Brushed Aside

Imagine this: a big dog growls or starts barking. What does the owner do? He’ll look up and try to determine what’s causing the barking.

Now, think about when a small dog barks. You’re much less likely to notice, let alone stop what you’re doing. So what does your small dog do? He becomes more vocal, just to get your attention.

When your dog does this, don’t ignore his barks. He could very well be alerting you of approaching danger.

If he barks when a stranger’s at the door, instead of ignoring him, acknowledge that he’s trying to help by praising him. Then, say ‘Enough!’ this way, he’ll understand you’ve got things under control.

Alone and Bored

Do you leave your small dog home alone when you’re at work? While this is a normal part of owning a dog, it may make your dog anxious.

This may lead to behavioral problems, with one of the symptoms being excessive barking. They don’t like feeling left out, and they’re not shy about letting everyone know how they feel.

Remember, this isn’t your dog’s way of misbehaving or lashing out. He’s just looking for someone to engage with and waiting for anyone to respond.

We recommend that you provide your dog with toys that’ll keep him mentally stimulated and too busy to bark. Some toys are puzzle-like snack dispensers. The point of toys like these is to challenge and amuse him until you get back home.

Anxious and Afraid

You may notice your small dog yapping nonstop at the window at someone passing in the street. They do that because they sense a potential threat, and are letting you know about it second by second.

It’s important to teach your dog that there’s no reason for him to be frightened. The best way to do that is the next time he barks, stand next to him. Look out the window, then say, “Enough!”

After that, walk away. It may take several attempts, but he’ll come to understand that if you’re not bothered by what’s happening outside, neither should he.

Remember to reward your dog each time he stops barking on command. You can give him a treat or an affectionate hug and pat.

Some Small Dog Breeds Are More Aggressive

Another reason why small dogs bark more is that some breeds are more aggressive than others, regardless of their size. Some of these include:

  • Papillons
  • Beagles
  • Cocker spaniels
  • Dachshunds

If your small dog happens to be typically more aggressive, there’s still hope. Besides proper training and discipline, make sure you give your dog enough exercise.

He needs to go out to run and explore. By getting fresh air and proper exercise, he won’t have any energy left to do any barking once he gets home.

Going out for daily walks also reduces your dog’s stress, so he’ll be calmer and more agreeable afterward. Luckily, he’ll be too tired to stir up any trouble.

Final Thoughts

Barking is how dogs communicate. The funny thing is that some people think the smaller the dog, the smaller the bark.

Why do small dogs bark so much? It’s in their nature.

However, if you want your dog to change his behavior, it’s up to you to guide and encourage him to be better.