Barking Up the Wrong Tree?
by Cesar Millan
I get questions about barking almost every day. And unlike other common behavior problems, with barking it’s almost always the same problem and solution. What I tell people is this – barking is natural! It’s one of the most important ways dogs communicate. Energy is their main form of communication, but some barking is normal. It can be a form of warning or protection; it can be to let others know “this is my territory;” and it can even be a form of excitement, such as when a dog barks when he wants a ball. The bottom line is simple – as the pack leader, you should be able to control the barking if it becomes excessive or obsessive. And if it’s normal barking, it isn’t something that you’d consider “a problem.”
In general, when I see people who cannot manage their dog’s barking, I see people who have trouble managing their life too. People who are not balanced. The dog, therefore, is following an unstable leader and is looking to be challenged. He can’t express this lack of stimulation, so he barks. He’s telling you he’s bored! Obsessive barking is the manifestation of a dog telling you “my needs are not being met” over and over and over again. The result? A frustrated human.
Seeking Professional Help
People say to me – “Cesar, I’m taking my dog for walks every day, I love him so much, I give him everything he needs, but he’s still barking. I think it’s just the way he is!” And to them I say, “Do you think you might be barking up the wrong tree?” The biggest challenge in my work is getting people to realize that it’s not the dog. It’s the human behind the dog. People say they watch the show all the time, but when it comes to recognizing where they are falling short of their dog’s needs, they don’t see it. They can talk the talk, but they can’t walk the walk. Literally. This is why I recommend calling in a professional trainer who can help the human see what they are doing, so they can be the solution, rather than the problem.
Fulfilling Your Dog
What a barking dog needs is the fulfillment formula. He needs Exercise, Discipline, and then Affection. He needs the physical and psychological stimulation. The question is – can the human commit to this every single day? We have to understand that balance doesn’t happen because we love our dogs. It happens because we fulfill their needs. That to me is the meaning of love.
Is your dog a barker? Tell us all about it in the comments.