If you're not into a fun, silly blog, you might want to skip this one. I wrote this originally in 2009 when my Tibetan Terrier was about 18 months old and I was blogging about him (Wigglebutt Duncan the Tibetan Terrier on Blogspot). The first 2 years of a puppy/dog's life are so much fun to watch, particularly the changes from puppyhood to being an adult dog. And then reality hits. The ... this is what is going to be .... forever ... unless you are a master trainer and can always be vigilant to the cues and intervene even before the "bark, woof" starts. At this very moment, Dunkie is barking at a pregnant woman's belly on television. I have no clue why.
I must acknowledge that I've read so many books about barking and unsuccessfully tried so many reward based interventions with respect to barking that I've had to simply develop a sense of humor about it, especially since I now have another year-old Tibetan Terrier who barks in tandem with Dunkie. So, intermittent "audio-chaos" reigns supreme in our home, with one barking dog triggering the other even if they are clueless as to why they are barking. If you want to learn more about dog barking language, good resources are "Barking: The Sound of a Language" by Turid Rugaas or "How to Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication by Stanley Coren (pages 58-63). If you want to figure out what to do about it, you might read "Control Unleashed: Creating a Focused and Confident Dog" by Leslie McDevitt. I've read them and read them again. I'm still struggling with "The Bark" (not the magazine).
So this is my coping mechanism. I laugh, and then write about it from what I imagine he must be thinking. The photo below is obviously from a more quiet moment. How can you get upset with a face like that? Here it goes:
Wigglebutt Duncan's view of barking:
I know I was bred as a sentinel (watch) dog, but my owners didn't recognize that as I aged, I would find my voice. Now that I am an adult TT, my bark reigns supreme. My owners are still trying to figure out how to minimize it. As if .... let me tell you what I bark at:
1) The TV: My owners are naive to the dangers of the world. Don't they know that the TV is a window to a world of danger out there? It is my job to warn them, so I bark at other animals on the TV; I bark at dangerous looking people on TV; and I bark at dangerous looking objects. I even bark at pregnant women on TV. Then I run into the room behind the TV to see if there is danger there to let them know about. The room is always empty. I get confused, but does that stop me from barking? NO, absolutely NOT, not on MY watch! This is called the "Crazy TT TV Bark."
2) Dusk: It's a dangerous world out there. It's my job to prevent bad things from happening to ME and to my owners. So when I get taken out at dusk or at night, I either trot purposefully on my walk or I watch carefully for signs of danger. That being said, I still announce going outside with a volley of barks to scare away anything or anyone who might hurt my family. This is called the "It's my job to protect you Bark."
3) Intact male dogs: How dare they keep their 'parts' when mine have been eliminated? I bark to let them know that even though they have testosterone, I am still one tough TT to contend with, especially the larger dogs. They better not mess with me. This is called "The Preemptive Bark."
4) Thunder: I am NOT afraid of thunder, but it's important that I alert my owners that thunder is happening. I bark loudly and fiercely. My owners are now treating me during thunderstorms, waiting for a clap of thunder and timing it with a treat. I'm not scared, but it's a win-win for me. I must keep them engaged in this game. This is called the "Let me scam you Bark."
5) Recycling bins and large garbage cans: There may be something in there that could be dangerous so I used to avoid it like the devil. But now, I'm finding that there may be good droppings around them, so I'm not so avoidant. This is called the "Should I bark or not, so I may as well bark."
6) Finally, the bark at the door. My owners are actually happy about that one because it means I really need to go out and do my business. This is the only bark they REALLY like. This one is called "The I Need To Do My Business Bark."
In sum, my owners get annoyed, frustrated by my bark; however, they should TOTALLY appreciate the fact that I rarely whine. (Unless I want to be fed.) And then I try to be cute.
If you have any good ideas about how to minimize your barking dog, I certainly would love to know as long as your solution doesn't involve e-collars.