Monday, April 14, 2008

Review: Barking, the Sound of a Language by Turid Rugaas

I read a lot. I rarely write reviews of the books I read, because it has always felt too much like a book report. But I'm going to review at least the dog training books I read. If you want to view my dog book library, just go here! I've been reading and collecting dog books for about 20 years now. I guess I will never win any kudos from just because of the dog books!

This 100 page soft cover book covers in detail the causes of barking and what can be done by concerned owners to reduce, eliminate, or encourage barking.

Wait, you ask, ENCOURAGE? Yes!

Rugaas has a very sensible approach to animal behavior. You won't find her recommending a bark collar to stop excitement or fear barking. Unlike the better know trainers of today, Rugaas starts with the cause to find a solution, instead of treating the problem, she treats the cause of the problem.

The book is divided into chapters covering six types of barking: excitement barking, warning barking, fear barking, guard barking, frustration barking, and learned barking. There is an additional chapter covering breed-related barking and expression.

I found the chapter on fear barking especially interesting. All dogs have fears. However, dogs are very good at hiding fear, so we don't often notice. My former neighbor had a dog that was always left out in the yard during rain storms. He had a thick coat that when wet had a pronounced odor. The poor guy eventually became terrified of rain, knowing that would banish him from the house. Of course, he barked. Mostly on cloudy days, and before a storm. He wasn't barking to be let in, not specifically. He was barking from fear, of the storm, and from the reprimand that was sure to come his way.

Of fear barking, Rugaas says: "Of course you cannot punish the dog for being afraid! If you do the dog will only become more afraid. Unfortunately it is a fact that fear barking is the kind of barking people punish most often and most severely. Maybe it is because the sound is so penetrating and heartbreaking."

Rugaas emphasizes that barking is communication from the dog to us. For each type of barking, she gives an explanation of how to recognize it, what the cause is, and how to manage it. Note, not how to stop it, just manage it.

This is another in the excellent series by Rugaas. I highly recommend it to anyone who has dogs, barking or not.

Next book up: Aggression in Dogs by Brenda Aloff


Rosana Hart said...

Hi -- found you from your tweet on twitter... I'm trainingdogs there. I encourage you to do more book reviews! I can't buy all the books myself and I love to read dog books too. I review some on my site BTW, if you post reviews (even short ones) at Dogwise, you get put in the basket for a chance at a $25 gift certificate each month for the reviews you posted then.

Rosana Hart

vicky said...

Love your book review. That makes so much sense to explain fear barking. We start a beginning class tonight. I'm sure that will be useful info!

Charlie said...

This book sounds interesting!
- Charlie's mom