Revere: Do dogs understand barks?

Whenever the big dog over the back fence barks, our little dog goes racing to the back door, barking like crazy. Forget the fact that if the two dogs actually came muzzle to muzzle, the other dog would eat ours with one mouthful. On the other hand, when dogs bark on television, our dog either lifts her head briefly or keeps on snoozing. I often wondered if dog barks meant anything except making dog noise. You can still assume dogs communicate without requiring them to do it through through barking. And if barking means something, is it just the barks of a dog’s own breed or is their cross-breed understanding? Are their “bark languages”?

I’ve got things to say about this, but I stuck my comments over on Effect Measure’s site.

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  1. #1 Karen
    May 1, 2008

    Sometimes big and little dogs interact strangely. I recall sitting outside with a friend and her chihuahua on a bright spring day, when along came the neighbor’s German shepherd, escaped from his backyard. Chihuahua went charging out to the sidewalk, yapping away, determined to defend his territory. The shepherd stopped and stood, just staring down at the chihuahua, a bemused expression on his face and in his body language. He seemed to be thinking: it sounds kinda like a dog and it smells like a dog, but dogs don’t come that small!

    At that point my friend caught up to her chihuahua and dragged him back into the house, while I petted the shepherd. Scritches seemed to distract Shepherd from his confusion. Chihuahua carried on his territorial dance in the livingroom window, but Shepherd ignored him.

    That incident convinced me that dogs don’t have “language” in their barks.

  2. #2 Alan Kellogg
    May 1, 2008

    What does a gay man bring to the second date?

    Second date?

  3. #3 Andrew
    May 1, 2008

    What does a gay man bring to a second date?

    Answer: A friend.

    (Or at least that is how it usually goes. The joke, that is.