Ellie, Get your Grr…

Patrick and Mindy asked me to consult with their dog, Ellie.  Ellie is awesome.  She’s a straightforward smart dog.

She also was driving Patrick and Mindy a little nutty with her barking. And it didn’t help that she got her brother dog, Trek, worked up too.

Terrier Types Have Minds of Their Own

So, after Ellie and I had some small talk (It’s always good to start with small talk!), I asked her why she barks.

Because it works. – She said.

She went on to explain that when people walked by the house,  if she barked, they kept going.

This wasn’t the first time that I had heard this rationale from a dog.

I admired her for her diligence and bravery and complimented her for keeping her family safe.

And then I said, I wonder if they all are planning on coming in, or if some are just walking by? 

She paused.

See, the barking is stressful for your family to listen to. And you’re a powerful pooch. So, how about you just use that power when it’s needed? 

I think, maybe, you could just wait and see if they don’t walk by. If they come up the walk, then you can bark. What do you think? 

I don’t know.  She said.

Keeping her owners safe, and keeping the wrong people out, that’s very important to Ellie.

You could make a little grr sound, if you’d like, I suggested. And then really bark when it’s necessary?

Okay. I’ll try it.

She actually tried it while we were on the phone!

Patrick said that he had never heard her to do that before.

I heard from Mindy a few weeks later. Ellie was still at her post, watching people go by, and every once in a while, she’d make a little grrr….but no barking.

It’s important that we understand what our dogs get out of their behaviors, and how they  think they’re helping us by doing what they do. It keeps us from confusing them, and hurting their feelings.  

And, then it’s easier to find solutions that meet the spirit of their intentions, while meeting our needs too.



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