When we adopted Toady, there were many things that we didn’t know about him. It was sort of like seeing a sparkle of light through a patch of dense fog—we knew we wanted him, but we had no idea what was in store for us.
One of the things that we did not know is that Toady would be such a barker. We have dubbed him the Barkathon 5000. The loudest, barkiest, most nosy model ever made. Toady barks at people, cars, animals, birds that fly over his head, frogs that hide in the garden, the vacuum, and even paper tubes. He barks when he thinks Manbeast is home, he barks when he is jealous of Mylo or Odin, he barks when you won’t give him his toys, he barks when he wants your attention. He is a barker. At first, it was irritating. We tried everything from positive reinforcement to a spray collar. Positive reinforcement did nothing. The spray collar worked until we realized that it must be really annoying to smell like lemons all of the time when you hate the smell. He is just a dog that feels the need to vocalize his feelings.
We have neighbour dogs on either side of us, both sides separated by fences. Toady knows that there are dogs there, so when we go outside, he runs to the back fence. He trots around for a moment, then stops to listen. If he can’t hear any dogs, he barks once. Loud, playful, and then stops to listen. If no dogs respond, he knows that they are inside. If they do, he has conversations with them about dog things that we silly humans cannot understand. We’re lucky to live in a place where dogs are plenty and they all bark at each other or else I am sure that we would have had a visit from bylaw by now.
The thing is though, dogs are dogs. It’s natural and normal and instinctive for them to bark. It’s their way of telling us when something exciting happens, or that there is a stranger at the door. We could train it out of him if we really wanted to, but it’s part of who he is. And we like him that way. I think that sometimes people forget that dogs are a different species and that to assume that they will behave like humans is irrational. Unfortunately, we do not share logic with them. They don’t care if they wake the neighbors, they don’t care if you are trying to work, they just want you to know something. Just like little kids who stand beside you and say your name over and over and over and over until you respond. It’s just the way they were built and I’m sure we do lots of things that irritate them as well.
Do you have a Barkathon 5000? Or even the next model? Do you do anything that you know irritates your dog?