Internally Motivated Vocalization Strategy …

… or Why Dogs Bark So Much

“Barking is not a special form of communication between dogs and
humans. “What we’re saying is that the domestic dog does not have an
intentional message in mind, such as, ‘I want to play’ or ‘the house is
on fire,’” explains Lord.
Rather, she and colleagues say barking is the auditory signal associated with an evolved behavior known as mobbing,a cooperative anti-predator response usually initiated by one
individual who notices an approaching intruder. A dog barks because she
feels an internal conflict―an urge to run plus a strong urge to stand
her ground and defend pups, for example. When the group joins in, the
barks intimidate the intruder, who often flees.”

Ff Well, maybe. Maybe not. I can say for sure that my dog has a special bark noise that he makes when he’s calling to to the dog next door and she makes the same noise right back. It’s kind of an excited, higher pitched barking that he makes no other time. The corgi people among you will also agree that the odd sing-song greeting  that they make when one of the pack (in this case, Sami or I) return from outside the house. Not sure if that’s technically a bark, but it sure is vocalization.

Anyway, the conclusion of these researchers – that dogs don’t have a special message when they bark – is in direct conflict with something I saw in a magazine 10 years ago which instantly made the whole thing clear to me. I still cling to this interpretation:


That photo of Stedman, by the way, is one of our little games called “Feet Face”. This is the whole game: you hold out your legs and say “Who wants to play Feet Face?” Then the dog comes over and puts his head between your feet. Then you stare at each other. It never gets old! Does he look unhappy to be trapped between feet? He’s not – he’s entranced with happiness.


5 thoughts on “Internally Motivated Vocalization Strategy …

  1. He is such a handsome little guy!
    I’d have to take issue with the aforementioned barking hypothesis… at least in reference to our Collie. She has separate barks for many, many things, including telling us what she wants or to alert us to an uncertain situation.
    Then there are her conversations with Maggie, across the street.
    Wonder if the researcher actually *has* a dog?

  2. Fi says woowoowoowoo, Gus says aaarrrroooo.
    And knucklebones were a big hit yesterday, right up until they started barfing, and didn’t quit until the wee hours. What will corgis do with all the food they could ever want? Eat them selves sick, that is what they will do.
    That picture makes it look like Steads is wearing a life perserver.

  3. And here I thought all my neighbors’ dogs barking all the damn night was:
    “Hey? Hey? Hey? Guys? I’m here, outside? I’m, like, all ALONE? Where’s the rest of my pack? I miss my pack! Hey? Hey? Hey? Guys? It’s dark out here!”
    Or, now that my other-side neighbor has a dog:
    “Hey? Dog next door?”
    “Hey? Yeah?”
    “Is it boring over there too?”
    “Yeah it’s boring over here. I can see the monkeys inside watching the flicker-box but they won’t pay attention to me.”
    “Hey? Wanna make some noise? That might make them pay attention to you?”
    “Hey? Yeah. That sounds like a good idea.”
    In my mind, dogs say “Hey?” a lot.

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