Why Do Small Dogs Bark So Much – How To Reduce Barking

There are so many great reasons to have a small dog, even with these reasons there can be challenges. A common consensus is that small dogs tend to bark more and so we take a look at the reasons why and what you can do about it.

The main reason small dogs bark so much is that their size brings about reactions such as fear and the need for attention. A louder and more continuous bark can help them to compete in an environment that is challenging for them.

In this article, we explore the reasons why small dogs bark so much, whether it is a natural instinct, environmental reaction, or behavioral issue. Not only do we touch on why small dogs bark so much but we also discuss what owners can do to reduce excessive barking and enjoy the company of a small dog.


Why Do Small Dogs Bark So Much

Small Dogs Need Big Voices

As dog lovers, we will know what breeds of dog will have the loudest bark, and most of the time small dog breeds would not come under this list. Of course, loudness and consistency are two very different things, with smaller dogs being known for barking more excessively than bigger dogs.

Small dogs will bark more often because they feel they cannot reach the volume levels of larger dogs. You may find that this behavior happens mostly when meeting other dogs on walks, although the environment is spacious small dogs may still feel intimidated and subsequently bark.


Small Dogs Can Be Territorial

All dogs have a territorial instinct within them, whether it is fairly subtle or not. Larger dogs will simply use their bodies to strut into an area often walking up to other dogs and shoving their bottom towards them. Smaller dogs are not able to use their bodies to show strength or confidence and therefore they will use their voice instead.

Barking can often be instinctual and a way of making other dogs know that an area is theirs. When meeting other dogs, smaller breeds will become protective of their owners and most likely bark more when other dogs come near you.

They Want To Get Your Attention

Let’s face it all dogs want to get your attention, but when you’re a little bit smaller than the average dog, then getting your owner’s attention is a lot more difficult.

Small dogs will seem to bark more often as they know they will struggle to get the attention they need. with larger dogs, this is not a problem as they just walk right up to you and invade your space, so you have no choice but to interact. This is why smaller dogs might also jump up when barking a lot.

They Are Excited About Something

Dogs are excitable creatures and this is the general rule for most dogs. So this section may not be totally isolated to smaller dogs, as larger dogs tend to bark when they are excited. Despite this, it seems that smaller dogs can get overly vocal when they get excited.

The reason for this most likely lies in the fact that smaller dogs are used to expressing their emotions through barking. If you’re used to doing something for various reasons then you may use that same outlet through different emotions.

Something May Have Scared Them

Fear is certainly one of the biggest emotions smaller dogs face. Because of their size, feeling threatened can seem like a regular occurrence, such as coming across a larger dog on a walk. Of course, the intentions of the larger dog are not usually bad and it is simply the smaller dog wanting to get ahead of the situation and make itself heard first.

If your dog does tend to get worked up in situations like this, comforting them can help. Just letting them know you are there is a great way to calm them down. Alternatively, one of the best ways to fight this fear is getting a larger doggy companion. I see many dog owners with one large dog and one small dog and they always seem less scared of my big dog than those smaller dogs on their own.

The World Can Look Very Different Close To The Ground

Remember it’s a different world closer to the ground, and something smaller dogs have to learn about quickly. Barking can help smaller dogs be noticed more easily, this means they won’t be trampled or even lost. There are not many owners can do about this and it is up to your smaller dog to get used to their environment. The creation of this environment may well cause barking, but it should only last momentarily, just so long as owners keep reminding their little pooches that they are there with them.

walking dogs together

They May Have been Hurt

Pain can always manifest itself as a vocal response. Of course, this is true of all dogs including those larger breeds. Small dogs may bark more often when hurt as they know it’s difficult to be noticed. You may not notice your dog has hurt themselves, especially whilst they are on a walk or playing. Even my larger dog seems to not notice an injury until he is home and starting to relax.

Learned Behavior

If your small dog is bark lots it can become difficult the get them to stop. If you have multiple dogs and they are also small, your other dogs will learn traits from them and barking can be one of these traits. Of course, learned behaviors do not only come from external sources, they can also be learned through use. By this, I mean that if your dog tends to react to things by barking it will become more of a habit to bark at something even if it isn’t warranted.

How To Reduce Barking

Now the big question is how to reduce barking in small dogs. If you are worried about how much your dog is barking whether they are small or large then have a look at some of our expert tips below.

Improve Your Training

This may seem like an obvious one but when it comes to managing the different behaviors that dogs have then training should be an owner’s number one goal.

If you have an obedient dog and they understand when you want them to stop doing what they are doing, such as eating or jumping up, then you can apply the same methods towards barking.

Check out the video below on training your dog to stop barking.

Ensure They Are Effectively Stimulated

Mental and physical stimulation can be one of the key aspects when it comes to getting your dog to stop barking so much. Owners can sometimes miss this vital step in the everyday life of their dog, especially when it comes to smaller breeds. It can often be a misconception amongst owners that their dog will simply get tired of barking, however, this is not the case. If dogs feel there is a good reason to bark such as danger or frustration then they won’t simply tire themselves out until this problem is solved. Check out our article for a more in-depth look at whether dogs can get tired from barking. 

If you are an owner of a small breed of dog then you may have been attracted to the lower amount of maintenance they require. Some owners will assume that because their dog is small it does need that much stimulation. Incorrect, all dogs need stimulation and one of the most important parts of stimulating your dog is mental stimulation, which small dogs require in abundance.

If you have a dog that barks a lot then try creating a more structured routine. This means taking them for a walk at a specific time every day, this will give them something to focus on. Again, mental stimulation is so important so, playing with your dog will help as well as leaving treats for them around the house, Dogs love to sniff things out and this can be a game that doesn’t require lots of effort on an owner’s part but will give your little dog a good mental workout.

Analyze Their Barks

Knowing your dog is important, and everything they do can help understand their wants and needs. If you spend enough time remembering how each barking sounds and what reaction followed, you will be able to determine what they are shouting about.

In some cases, you may not know what your dog is barking at and it may even be the case that they are barking at absolutely nothing. This is more of an emotional outlet for your dog, perhaps after being scared or excited about something. So even in this case your dog still had some sort of reason for barking it was just not as apparent as in other barking events. Check out our article on “Why Does my Dog Bark At Nothing”, this provides a little more in-depth view of your dog’s barking habits.

By knowing what each bark means you will be able to train your pooch more easily, telling them to be quiet when they are barking for no reason. Of course, all barks can be quite annoying, but you may want to consider letting your dog bark a couple of times if they hear a stranger noise downstairs at night. Yes, it is most likely the fridge or some other spooky sound, but on an occasion when it is an intruder you will probably want to be warned. Remember there is a difference between constantly barking and a couple of sharp barks to get your attention.

Remove The Catalyst

If you can see something obvious that is making your dog bark then remove it. This may seem simple at first but sometimes it’s something they love and barking is just the excitement coming out. Even if this is the case, as an owner you have to think about yourself sometimes, and if stopping your dog from barking is the main task then do it, after all, they probably won’t remember it anyway.

Ignore the Attention Seekers

As previously discussed smaller dogs may want to get your attention because they feel they will miss out. Of course, there is a line for this type of behavior and some dogs will take it further than you originally thought they would.

The only way to stem this type of behavior is the combined training and obvious ignoring. Attempting to ignore your dog when they are barking and doing a number of other things too can be hard. Try combining some stern commands followed by turning your back on them. This way they will learn why you’re ignoring them and not just try harder to get your attention.

Be Calm And Collected

Constant barking can be hard work, especially from smaller dogs, who tend to have very sharp barks that cut through you. Staying calm whilst you work out how to reduce the amount of barking your dog is doing is vital for it to work effectively. no doubt your dog may be frustrated too and if you begin to become frustrated yourself this can be easily picked up by your dog.

Do All Small Dogs Bark A Lot

Unfortunately, small dogs do tend to bark more often than larger dogs, of course, this isn’t a standardized statement. Despite the reputation of smaller dogs being louder and more prone to barking, the personal experiences of a person may have differing opinions, based on how many small barking dogs they have come into contact with. However there are some breeds that have a more renowned reputation for barking, see below for details.

Popular Small Dog Breeds That Bark A lot

  • Boston Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Beagle (Very Vocal)
  • Chihuahua
  • Jack Russel
  • Maltese
  • Cavalier King Charles

Of course, this list is not exhaustive and I have chosen to include the most popular small breeds I have come across that bark. Border Terriers would be my chosen breed for excessive barking and if I was to pick a breed that barked the least out of this list then the Cavalier King Charles would be my choice, based on my interactions with them.

If you want to check out more small dog breeds then have a look at this article on 50 small dog breeds. 


Small dogs are wonderful companions and a great choice for many dog owners. Although they have a reputation for barking, it is something owners can control fairly easily with some early intervention, and hopefully, this article has helped explain the reasons why small dogs bark so much and how to manage this behavior the right way. If you enjoyed this article don’t forget to check out our other articles on our homepage.

Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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