I have found that one topic most dog parents love to talk about is barking. More precisely, excessive and/or loud barking and howling. Apparently many people live with serial barkers, like we do.

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).

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.

Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark.

How they define ‘threats’ is another 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 inter galactic 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. 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.

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.


  1. My dogs have mostly been moderate barkers, neighbours, neighbour dogs, people entering or parking outside our house are all legitimate reasons to bark. Sometimes there have been the barking at nothing I can see or hear occasions, that must have been aliens.


  2. I’m chuckling away at your post, Ellin. One of our neighbours has a tiny dog that is an incessant barker. Maybe it is his size that makes him do it. You’d never see him, he’s so tiny, so he makes his presences known by barking. Our daughter’s dog is mid sized and almost never barks. There are probably many reasons.


    • I’ve never had a small dog but I hear that they do bark more and in general, are more aggressive than larger dogs. The big dogs are supposed to be the sweetest and the calmest. Maybe their siaze gives them security and confidence with other dogs. The little ones know they are exposed and vulnerable so they have to bark loudly and carry a big stick!


      • It also has to do with breed. Hounds bay (howl, if you will) because that’s how they tell their owners that they have found something. Pretty much ALL hounds are considered “noisy.” Many field dogs also bark to tell everyone they’ve located something. They are supposed to do it, so even when what they’ve found is a bird on a branch or the neighbor walking his dog, hey, they HAVE FOUND SOMETHING and they have to tell you — everyone — all about it. If it weren’t for the neighbors and my occasional need to sleep, I wouldn’t care.


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