It’s been a problem for hundreds of years, presumably. Since people have kept dogs as pets, those pets can annoy neighbors with barking. Especially at night, or when you want some peace and quiet. I don’t know why it happens, but for some reason dogs seem to like making noise when you have friends over in your backyard or when you have to get up early and really need to get some sleep.
It seems that there used to be a lot more dogs roaming around when I was younger. I guess leash laws are responsible for that. It wasn’t unusual to see small packs of dogs running around town — not that they were wild. I think it was sort of like “friends” out for a Saturday run around the neighborhood.
There’s something strange that happens with barking dogs, though. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s something about the volume. A dog can bark during the day and it isn’t even that noticeable. Of course there are cover noises like traffic and people out and about. There are the daily sounds that we pretty much ignore. Construction can consist of hammering, electric saws, workers yelling at each other, jackhammers and generators. Then there’s the hot rod with revving engine and honking horn; there’s the garbage truck with big claws scooping loads of stuff we paid for but throw away anyway. There are moms yelling at kids and kids yelling at each other. Compared to all that, the dog’s bark is miniscule. However, as nighttime rolls in the dog seems to get louder and louder. By midnight, the dog has increased his volume tenfold. Now the bark overpowers the radio and TV. The constant “yap yap” grows by the minute to decibel levels that are seldom heard even in jet planes.
Now there are those who defend the barking. “If Fido is barking, it’s because there is a masked stranger with a crowbar peering in the basement window.” If that’s true, then the dog is a true hero and should be given the appreciation he or she so richly deserves. More often, though, the dog is barking at a leaf. Or its own shadow. Or maybe a bug. Heck, my neighbor’s dog barked at a mushroom in the yard until they went out and kicked it away. (The mushroom, not the dog. Sheesh.) Dogs will bark at strangers, but also at kids, neighbors, airplanes, spiderwebs, and barbeque smoke. Dogs will yap their heads off at passing cars, other dogs, heat, cold, and rainstorms. Nothing is off limits for a hound just wanting to be heard, and nothing will get them going more than some human asking politely for peace and quiet. It seems to set them off with renewed spirit when you ask them to stop.
I guess there is no answer to the age-old question of what to do about a barking dog. If it’s your own animal that’s one thing, but more often than not it’s a neighbor who you don’t know that well or don’t like. That makes it even tougher to get some relief from the mind-numbing din of a canine intent on spoiling your night. Maybe the best thing to do is get a good set of headphones. You can listen to the TV through them or just tune into some “white noise” or waves on the beach from a relaxation recording. Maybe you can put a pillow over your head like they do in the movies. I don’t think it works that well but it’s worth a try at 2 a.m. It’s tempting but not recommended to throw a shoe at the poor beast. Even if you miss intentionally, someone will see and call 9-1-1. There are no barking dogs in jail, but there may be “Bubba” and he makes a yapping dog seem like a picnic.
So if faced with the repetitive “yip” or “woof,” “arf” or howl of a four-legged pooch, just remember the old folk remedy. Get a five dollar bill, an olive, a pork chop, and a pair of comfortable shoes. Toss the pork chop at the dog’s feet, get your shoes on and drive to a motel. Put the olive in a martini, get five dollar’s worth of movie rentals and get some sleep. Just don’t watch any movies with Lassie, Bubba, or Cujo in the title. It’ll give you nightmares.