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Do You Know Why Dogs Bark?

I was asked this question by Marty Unger on Questionland today:

“My golden-doodle is incredibly sweet and wouldn’t hurt a fly but when she sees someone outside, whether she knows them or not, she barks like she wants to rip their head off. If she could speak english, what would she be saying?”

My answer:

Thank Dog they don’t speak English. I think dogs would just tell us how silly and boring we are. But it would help keep humans from making dumb mistakes, like patting dogs on the top of the head, as if they liked it. I would LOVE to be able to explain a few things to my dogs, though!

Your dog is probably simultaneously shouting “Intruder!” to the folks in the house and “Go Away!” to the people approaching. You’ll probably hear a change in pitch once she recognizes the people, getting higher when she realizes it’s a friend, not a foe, out the window.

The bigger question is, why are you training your dog to bark like that? Ditch the perch – close blinds (Roman shades that open from the bottom are great), move the furniture, whatever it takes to keep her from feeling like she has to guard the house all day. She’ll relax more and probably live longer. Stress kills.

If she’s still young, under 2 or 3, be careful. This can be the start of a bigger problem, like biting people at the door. You might think about getting a trainer or behaviorist in to help – not one that will use pain or intimidation to correct the barking, but one who teaches her what *to* do, using reinforcement.

It could also be just what it already is, annoying. Many, many dogs bark at things they see outside. But it’s definitely fixable!

Related Link: Private dog training in Seattle