sThey are not born to bark, just as children are not born to babble. They learn their voice, and then learn to use it – partly from others, and partly from the influence of behavior. With the eleven mixed puppy droppings I’ve observed since birth, I first heard bark coming out of a puppy’s mouth at three weeks. It was a bark suggestion, a bark evoked – as if saying “bark” in quotes. Two weeks later, most of these pups grew up in a home with several other barking dogs—and a noisy parrot—who would bark, and even bark in dreams. I remember the first day I heard about the dog I lived with in early adulthood, Pumpernickel, barking: She was two years old, and her dog friend Lindy, a leading German Shepherd, began to bark at a squirrel. She followed her friend’s driving pump; Watch the squirrel and run away. Since then, my dog has been barking too.
I now live with a barking dog. It came from that garbage. She has been trained to bark by other dogs. I have to admit, I hate barking. Intellectually, and as a canine cognition scientist, I totally accept that. Barking is simply communication – and like everyone else who lives with dogs, I want to know what my dog is saying. Wolves rarely bark, so it’s possible that we humans made descendants of ancient wolves (soon to become dogs) bark through domestication. In fact, it is suggested that because barking is produced in the auditory range of speech sounds, the barking was developed for dogs to communicate with us. After all, for dogs, we bark all the time.
Moreover, barking is a connection with a job – or indeed, many jobs. There is barking in play, barking of asking to play, barking of warning, barking of warning, and barking as requests. Each bark, to use the phonetic term, is “loud”: filled with broadband sound, different frequencies without a distinct tone. But they differ in length, tone, and even rhythm, and a keen listener can distinguish them. Dogs bark when they are happy, angry, scared, or unsure. They bark when excited. Of course, they bark at strange sounds and strangers, when they are in conflict or when they are in conflict. They bark when they find a passage. They bark to get attention. Even if my scientific brain knows this, my emotional reaction is: Stop it. Our dog, Quiddity, whose first year of life I detail in my new book year of the puppybarking what I call brazenlyusing human metrics. Barks at visitors to our house. She barks at good strangers who want to pet her. And they bark at smaller dogs – and only those smaller ones – than them. While I admire the sharpness of her awareness of her relative size, people who have small dogs do not share my admiration. Its bark is sharp: high-pitched. no escape. Her barking stops soon, and she often walks away carelessly, does not mitigate her effect. It’s a shock.
In cities, the most problematic for residents is the “single” bark: bark is heard “around the neighborhood” – except by dog owners who leave them alone at home. He barks even for a few minutes – his bark screams “Hi, I’m alone! Hello!” – is considered a general nuisance. Landlords can measure the length and frequency of the bark to begin gathering evidence of this civil infraction; Tenants can be evicted due to this noise. Some people abandon their dogs—in a shelter, for another pair of hands—for fear of losing their home. I have been on the receiving end of the neighbor’s constant barking. Although not pretty, the dogs’ plea for company leading to the potential for family loss was not lost on me. I will not report this dog.
I think it’s a mistake to think of barking as “misbehaviour”, as it is often the case. We define dog misbehavior as those things that they simply do and we I do not like itRegardless of whether your dog is equipped to understand or appreciate the rules he breaks. When our new pup chewed several rollerball pens, leaving expressive spots of black ink on our carpets and floors, I could scold this “bad” behavior. But really, I think this is my bad behavior: I shouldn’t have left the roller ball pens – and nothing else the pup would chew on. Likewise, when she barks at a person entering our apartment, I now see that it is my fault: I need to give her something else to engage her when the person arrives—or present her outside, or a tennis ball, her favorite game.
In the end, her barking problem is mine. I’ll give myself a break in this. After all, I know that in my heart, I’m a good dog.
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