Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, is famous for teaching dog owners how to be calm, dominant pack leaders. Understanding dog psychology, as Millan does, is key to correcting any bad behaviors your dog has acquired, such as excessive barking. Millan wants dog owners to realize that their furry friends are picking up what you are putting down, so to speak. Dogs can read their owner's energy like a book. They are looking to you for leadership, and if you don't provide it, your dog will take that role, and that is where the misbehaviors begin. Just as a toddler needs to be guided into being a civilized adult, your dog needs guidance into being a civilized dog.
Exercise, Discipline, Affection
When a dog develops behavior problems, it is the dog's owner who needs to be rehabilitated, not the dog. If you can change the way you relate to your dog, you should be able to correct the bad behaviors, including excessive barking. Dogs need exercise, rules, boundaries and limitations in addition to love and affection, and usually in that order. When you follow this formula, you should be able to correct most behavioral problems in dogs.
Nothing can be more annoying than a dog that is continually barking. It grates on everyone's nerves and can damage your relationship with your dog, not to mention your relationship with your neighbors. It doesn't have to be this way, but it will take some commitment from you to fix the situation. Dogs bark to communicate with us. Ongoing and excessive barking is not normal dog behavior. Your dog is probably trying to tell you that something is wrong, according to Cesar's Way. You are probably not meeting your dog's needs.
It's hard not to be flattered when you arrive home to a dog that greets you excitedly at the door by jumping, running around and barking. You probably feel loved and appreciated by your dog. But, according to Cesar's Way, dogs do not greet each other this way naturally. The frantic greeting is your dog trying to communicate that something is amiss. Perhaps it is bored and lonely. The excitement is your dog's way of burning off the excess energy it stored throughout the day.
Barking is Natural
Barking is one of the reasons some people have a dog in the first place, to warn them when strangers are approaching and to guard the home. It's perfectly normal for your dog to bark when the mail carrier approaches, for example, but you want to keep the barking under control. You do this by establishing your role as pack leader. When your dog barks at a stranger, come over to your dog with calm, assertive energy to let it know that you have this under control and that everything is okay.
When your dog's barking crosses from natural to annoying, you must take action. Tell your dog to stop by using a look that it will understand, a sound or a physical correction. Physical corrections do not mean hitting, kicking or abusing your dog in any way. Millan does this by turning his hand into a mouth and simulating a bite a mother dog would give her puppy, accompanied by a short sound, such as "ch." The dog will probably stop the barking, but don't quit here. The dog may bark some more. Be patient and continue this exercise until it stops barking completely.
Check Your Anger
You cannot get your dog to stop barking unless you are giving off calm energy. If you are excited, angry and yelling at your dog, you are only making the problem worse. Calm yourself before attempting to calm your dog.
Go for a Walk
If your dog is barking too much, often it is because of pent-up energy. This is an easy fix. You can release some of the energy by taking your dog on daily walks for at least 45 minutes. You can make the walk more challenging by running or having your dog wear a backpack made for this purpose. You can also play with your dog more and maybe get into agility training or teaching obedience games. If you have tried everything and you can't get your dog to stop barking, you may need to call a dog trainer to show you how to do it.
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