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Sound The Alarm! Listen To What Your Dogs Are Saying | Families

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Sound The Alarm! Listen To What Your Dogs Are Saying

By Kevin Simpson, WHS Director of Training and Behavior

In the wee hours one morning I awoke to my youngest dog, Dallas, barking at some random noises coming from outside my house.  In my half-conscious state I told her to go back to sleep and ignored her - not realizing that the house directly behind mine was a blazing inferno.  Had she been a person, she would have called 911.  But as a dog, in essence, I am her 911 when things aren’t right ...I just wasn’t answering her call that morning. 

Whether it’s a conscious or subconscious thought in our dogs, I find it interesting how they assume similar roles in our home and follow many of the same processes.  An example here is something dog trainers refer to as “alarm barking”.  Alarm barking is one of the responsibilities of a mid to lower ranking dog in the family pack.  For our dogs, alarm barking, by definition, would be to sound the alarm bell and alert the higher ranking pack members to possible intrusions and other community or pack related emergencies.  For multi-dog families, this first line of defense is often more recognizable between dogs, but we see it in their behavior with humans too.

It’s evening (alert behavior is more sensitized during night time hours) and your dog hears a noise while laying on the sofa, barks for a moment, and then waits to see what happens next.  If your dog has assumed the role of alarm barker they will then look to, or wait for, the reaction of the lead dog or person in the family for their next move.  If you acknowledge them with a mere thank you many of these dogs will settle right down.  Get up to investigate the source of the sound and they will be right by your side, loyal to their pack.  However, the primary job of an alarm barker is to alert “the authorities” and not to handle the situation on their own.  Everyone has a role and dogs are no exception.

If you would like to learn more about alarm barking and other types and functions of barking, join the WHS Behavior & Learning Center counselors this Thursday for an upcoming, original seminar: 

Decoding the BarkInterpreting and Managing your Dog’s Excessive Barking

 Thursday, March 31st, 2011 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Pre-registration required / Class fee: $15.00 each

 For registration details please visit us on the web at www.washhumane.org/blc or email us at AsktheTrainer@washhumane.org


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