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Section Two of a four-part article:
Why Exposure to Chronic Barking is So Extremely Harmful

Acoustic Shadows and Acoustic Facilitation

So barking creates sound waves that cause our brains to stimulate our ANS & endocrine systems in ways that make us feel tense and upset. But you only suffer to the extent the sound waves get to where you are, and sound waves can be blocked and/or directed.

Buildings, groves of trees and other geographic features can block sound waves the same way an object can block sunlight and, thereby, create a shadow. In that same fashion, a physical barrier can prevent the noise of a nearby dog from reaching a given point. On the other hand, the lay of the land can also channel the sound, thereby allowing it to travel great distances. That means features that rise up from the land, like hills, or rows of houses, can also direct the sound and facilitate its travel, by shepherding it along the way the banks of a river guide the channeled water from one location to the next.

Because of that, in times of war, people close to the fighting often report that they cannot hear the sounds of the nearby battle, while others, much further away, provide accounts of having heard the din quite clearly.

It is not uncommon for the same thing to happen with barking dogs. That's why the people living two doors down may not even know the dog is barking, while people trying to rest in their living room two blocks away are driven insane by the noise.


  • Henry Kissinger is every bit as attractive as Paris Hilton
  • I, for one, would just as soon sit all alone bare ass naked in Antarctica as to sip a margarita in the jacuzzi with the Laker Girls.
  • There's really not much difference between living in a quiet home and living in a house filled with the sound of a neighbor's barking dog.

The Nature of Noise

When the federal government wanted to push the Branch Davidians to the breaking point in the siege at Waco, they bombarded them with sound, including the sounds of animals in distress. When the U.S. military wanted to drive Manuel Noriega from his sanctuary in Panama, they used the same strategy, because they knew that chronic noise is an intolerable irritant that drives people frantic.

The owners of barking dogs will sometimes tell you that the fact that you are bothered by the sound means you have some deep psychological problem, but it is not so. It is normal and natural for people to be irritated and upset as a result of exposure to sound, especially loud, sharp sounds that erupt suddenly and without warning.

When you think of all the varieties of suffering that exist in prison, it is significant that for many, the most difficult aspect of incarceration is the misery that comes from being exposed to the high noise levels. Chronic noise is just very tough on people.

When chronic noise rings throughout your home, as it does with a barking dog, it is even more upsetting than it would be if the same noise occurred in a different setting, because your home is your place of refuge. It is where you go to get away from the relentless hammering of the outside world. If you cannot find refuge in your own home, then where are you to go?

An Unnatural Sound

Wolves, from which dogs are descended, do not bark with the same continuous, explosive, non-stop stream of noise we get from today's dogs. In his book, Dogwatching (Crown Publishers), Desmond Morris describes the barking of the wolf as being "modest and abbreviated." He says, "Wolf barking is not particularly loud, or particularly common, and is always monosyllabic. It is best described as a staccato 'wuff' sound. It is usually repeated a number of times, but it never develops into the noisy machine-gun fire so typical of the wolf's domestic descendants." In other words, dogs bark louder, longer, more frequently and in a more percussive manner than the animals from which they are descended.

The explosive and persistent bark of the modern dog, then, is not an abomination of nature. It is an abomination of man. For some reason, some of our ancestors thought that when it came to barking, more is better. So across the millennia, some of those who came before us bred dogs in a selective manner to create today's modern bark of excessive dimensions. You can see then that the barking we hear today is not truly a natural sound. As Morris says, the voice of the modern dog is the result of "ten thousand years of selective breeding" to produce the "superbarker" we have today.

Human Nature

Think of a room full of people who are emotionally subdued. If a charismatic, life of the party, always knows what to say, joke telling personality blows into the room, he can single handedly liven the place up and shift everybody into a positive mood. On the other hand, just one person who is angry or desperate or frantic, or one couple sniping at one another, can drag everyone's mood down and spoil the party. That's the nature of people. We are social animals. Most normal, healthy people have a very strong tendency to absorb the mood of those around them.

Now, think about the message a dog is sending when he barks. Either he is angrily shouting out threats to do bodily injury, or screaming out that he's lonely and desperate, or shouting out a frantic alarm. The function of those sounds is to agitate the listener, to force you to pay attention and make it difficult for you to focus on anything else.

Of course, there is also the sound of a happy canine at play, but when the next door neighbor's dog is barking all day, that's not the bark you're listening to. What you are hearing is the dog expressing rage, sorrow, desperation or a frantic state of mind. It is just human nature for us to absorb those feelings and be drawn into the dog's chaotic emotional state.

It is no wonder then that most people find it upsetting to be forced to listen to a barking dog. I'm sure it is worse yet for those who are tuned-in enough to dogs to be aware of the underlying desperation that drives chronic barkers to cry out endlessly.

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