Monday, May 26, 2008

Dogs That Don't Bark A Lot

How do you find a dog that doesn't bark a lot? There are few things to consider.

Dogs that are more likely to bark will have one or more of the following traits:

a. Breeds. Most of the guarding and herding breeds are barkers. They were bred to be territorial and bark to warn off strangers. Herding breeds were also bred to bark to move herds of animals. Scent hounds were bred to bark and bay. Terriers were created to bark. Mastiffs were bred to bark. Most retrievers will bark. Pointers will bark. Almost all the little breeds bark... a lot. Spaniels bark. Setters bark. Bulldogs will bark. Nordic / spitz breeds will bark. In other words, dogs BARK!
b. Fearful: A fearful dog is much more likely to bark than a dog that isn't fearful. If you get a shy dog, then your dog is more likely to bark than if you had gotten a friendly dog.
c. High Drive: Dogs that have high desires for certain stimuli can more easily break out into barking when they are blocked from obtaining something they want, or when their particular drives are being stimulated. Thus, a dog that has a high desire to play fetch is more likely to bark than one that doesn't fetch. For example, a dog that likes to fetch will tend to bark if they can't get at the toy they have lost under the couch. Dogs that are more sociable are more likely to bark when you enter the door and they are seeking your greeting and attention and play. They will get excited about interacting with people. Dogs that have high prey drive, always on the hunt, are more likely to bark, whether they are baying hounds or barking terriers. Working dogs that want something to do are more likely to bark than couch potatoes. Dogs that are status seekers are also more likely to be barkers.
d. Talkative: Some dogs are just more noisy than other dogs. If you've ever owned a dog that tends to "talk", then you know what I mean.
e. Reactive: Dogs that have very low thresholds for being stimulated, and who have very little ability to inhibit their behaviors, are more likely to bark. This is the type of dog that might be used as a "hearing ear" dog, for example. They will bark at the smallest sounds, and never can be taught to not bark. They never get used to, or habituate, to normal sounds in their environment. They often have exaggerated temperament traits, too, making them more difficult to own as pets.

If you are so concerned about getting a dog that barks, then maybe you shouldn't get a dog at all. Most dogs bark, and in some circumstances are more likely to bark than in others. It really isn't fair to put a dog in an environment that they will get in trouble for being themselves, and the only way to manage them is to crush them with harsh training methods. It also isn't right for us to medicate them, or use vocal surgery, or social isolation, or to enforce ridiculously strict anti-barking legislation to make them quiet. It isn't right to make a dog have a miserable life so you can have a peaceful one.

So, what are your options if you still want a dog that doesn't bark much? Look for a lazy, friendly, couch potato dog. Otherwise, rule out most dogs, regardless of the breed. Or, it just isn't the right time to get a dog.

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