LET BARKING DOGS BARK by ELLIN CURLEY

In a recent blog I said that I didn’t think anyone would be interested if I wrote about my views on why my dog barks all the time. The comments to the blog indicated that, in fact, readers are interested in the topic of barking dogs. Apparently the topic hits a nerve, which means that there must be a lot of people who, like us, live with serial barkers.

So, here are my thoughts on why some dogs bark so much. First, their hearing is far more acute than ours. So we have to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are actually hearing something when they suddenly jump up and start barking and howling hysterically. (We have one barker and one howler).

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But why do some dogs feel the need to comment on every sound they hear while others don’t?

Some dogs are specifically bred to be guard dogs and protectors. Their DNA literally programs them to alert us to any and all potential threats.

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How they define ‘threats’ is a different question. It may just be anything outside the norm for the household. This means that the presence of other dogs, or even squirrels, in the immediate neighborhood could be seen as a potential threat. Cars pulling into my neighbor’s driveway always seems to present a clear and present danger to my dogs.

My husband used to joke that our dogs were actually protecting us from invading intergalactic space aliens. Then he realized that he might have stumbled upon the truth. There may really be space invaders (or ancient demons from the underworld, take your pick) who regularly attempt to take over the earth.

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These predators may emit sounds that only dogs can hear. So the late night attempts at world dominion are thwarted, every time, when the evil doers hear the warning barks of the canine earth protectors. The invaders fear these protectors. They may be particularly sensitive to the sounds that dogs emit. They may even be rendered powerless when exposed to the frequencies of dogs’ courageous barks.

So when your dogs wake you at night barking frantically, don’t yell at them. Thank them and pull the covers up over your head.

32 thoughts on “LET BARKING DOGS BARK by ELLIN CURLEY

    • I would like to get my anxious dog to reduce the number of times she barks hysterically. I don’t mind a few warning barks when they hear a car in the driveway.

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  1. My little jack russell barks when a bird passes wind… like the boy who cried wolf, I can’t trust that her barking means an intruder which lead me to ignoring her barking recently whilst someone was steeling items from my back yard. Lesson learnt, I now investigate every bark… not much sleep happening here 🙂

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    • Wow! I never heard a bird passing wind. However I’ve done what you did after you learned the hard way. I tried this with my own two pack mates, and one I was “dog sitting” and it works just fine.

      What we may not realize is that dogs are a gift to man, either from God or nature. When a dog commits to being your friend and companion he does so unconditionally.., it’s the only real unconditional love we’ll ever experience.., and I mean more so than from your life partner or spouse.

      So, that being said, you now become part of “the pack”.., an honor to be sure and he/she will begin to include you in “pack stuff” giving you a vote, so to speak, in major decisions etc. One of these functions is to be privileged to receive warnings of impending danger.., or “bird farts”, which I’m not sure are not? You may even be thought of as “alpha” and as such, consulted for a final decision in many pack matters. I began, through respect for my neighbor’s need for quiet, checking out every bark alarm, and sounding the “All Clear” when nothing was found amiss. My pack buddies seemed happy with this arrangement and would cease barking and return to their guard post in anticipation of the next emergency. Ironically if I ignored a warning they would come to get me just in case I hadn’t really heard it. My advice..,Check out that alarm.., and watch Caesar Milan.

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      • A bird fart must be disguised as a “Tweet” fitting right in with the general ambience, not like us where it’s a “Toot” hee, hee… Now I understand why Donald likes to tweet.

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  2. There is also something I call the evening bark, where all the outside dogs sit in their respective yards and communicate with all the other dogs. It’s kind of a telegraph system, I suspect, and they pass the news on along the line. We live on a high point of land, so our dog was privy to more dog barks than the others. In the early evening he would go out, and sit, and listen, and then answer. Barkbarkbark, listen. barkbarkbarkbarkhowlhowl listen. If it was really good news he would get so involved he would start rotating and barking at the same time. A 50 pound rotating dog is a sight to remember…

    At one point in his life he was shot by a neighbor, right between the eyes (long story there) and the vet said the bullet had lodged behind his windpipe (the trajectory was probably from a second story window) and not going anywhere, so we left it. But he also said Ralph would have a sore throat for a few days.

    When we brought him home, the first thing he did was vault out the door, bark bar– and silence. OW.
    By the next evening he had figured it out. When the evening bark came, he couldn’t bark, but he could howl. The doggy equivalent of jello instead of crackers. whoooo wooooo whoooooh. It was eerie.
    within ten seconds a neighbor was on the phone, asking if everything was alright up there. lol

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    • Garry calls it “the news.” They all go out and every dog everywhere joins in. That’s how they keep up with events. No need for TV or an internet connection. Just a lot of barking.

      Shot? On purpose? It’s just as well we live too far away for even a stray bullet. Someone would have to actually walk to the yard, aim, and fire.

      Oddly, the two scotties don’t bark so much. They bark a little, then apparently get bored or tired and come inside. I think it was Bishop who was the Head Barker. Before that, it was the hounds. The scotties have specific interests. Passing cars and other dogs on our property — or near it. Otherwise, short of the local bobcat dropping by, nothing is so exciting. They are Dogs-of-the-World, a bit world-weary and too sophisticated for random shouting in the yard. Unless a car pulls in the driveway or better yet, a delivery truck!

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      • Another goodie, Ellin!
        Bonnie now sits upright on a sofa elbow, front paws on a pillow. It’s her “lookout” position. She surveys all that’s going on outside. If she sees something hinky, she barks out orders and Gibbs races outside to see what’s happening. Bonnie doesn’t budge. She waits for Gibbs to return with details.
        In the evening, Bonnie and Gibbs go out for the block meeting. You can clearly hear the shared conversations with other dogs. Sometimes when the barking becomes heated, I know they’re discussing politics.

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        • My house is a bit isolated but there are a few dogs within hearing distance and I do hear what sounds like conversations sometimes. But my guys seem to respond as much to the sounds of the woods and the road as to other dogs. Half the time I don’t have a clue what they are barking at, so they could be part of the neighborhood dogs gossip circle.

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      • We had a neighbor who used to put his female dogs outside when they were in season, and when the males in the neighborhood gathered around he’d shoot them. I guess this shot knocked Ralph out for quite a while, he was totally covered with mud and exhausted when he got back.
        It was what you might call a rough neighborhood sometimes…

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        • Well, it’s fall and the mice are dropping in for a little warmth and comfort. My Scottish Terriers, supposedly the world’s most dedicated veminators, have NO interest in them at all. They want a comfy sofa and a nice cookie.

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      • I’ve heard that some breeds aren’t big barkers. I always have rescue mutts so my dogs always seem to have healthy doses of the barking breeds in them!

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    • So sorry to hear that your dog was actually shot by a neighbor! Horrifying! But so glad he learned to adapt to his disability and now howls happily with the other dogs.

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  3. I miss the bark, the interaction, but where we live they have changed the rules, and dogs no longer run free, which is a mixed blessing. And there is always the possiblity of porcupines or skunks, of fisher cats, of coyotes.
    It’s a worry, always. And I despise seeing a dog tied outside all day or never allowed off the leash.

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  4. Its cruel, and if I had a dog he would have a fenced in area of about ten acres, at least. I despise cages, I’d be the one who let the animals out at the petting zoo, or the circus.

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    • I have a huge fenced in area around half of my house and a doggy door. I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I had to downsize, I would still make sure I had a fenced in yard and a doggy door so the dogs could come and go as they pleased, even if their roaming area would be smaller.

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  5. I live with a barker. It’s worst when the neighbors are up to something, like taking out their garbage, watering their gardens, or greeting visitors. I always figured he was just a nosey gossip who wanted to make sure we were all informed of everyone’s coming and goings. But that demon alien thing makes sense, too. Maybe my neighbors are aliens just biding their time until the invasion? Hmmm. Lots to consider…

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