It is a common mistake to imagine that a barking dog is threatening someone. It appears to be making a loud fuss aimed directly at you, but this is a misrepresentation.
In reality, the barking is a canine alarm signal and is directed at the other members of the pack, including the human pack to which the dog belongs.
The bark’s message is: ‘Something strange is happening here … Attention!”. In the wild this has two effects: that of the puppies seeking shelter and hiding, and that of stimulating the adults to take action.
In human terms, it is akin to ringing a bell, striking a gong, or blowing a horn to announce that “someone is approaching the gates” of a fortress. This alarm does not tell us if those who approach are friends or enemies but warns that necessary precautions must be taken.
This is why loud barking can greet the arrival of a relative of the dog’s owner as well as the intrusion of a thief. Once the newcomer has been identified, the barking will be replaced either by a friendly greeting ceremony or by a serious attack.
In contrast, the true attack is completely silent. The aggressive and fearless dog simply runs up to you and bites. Demonstrations by police dogs, attacking men posing as criminals on the run, confirm this.
When the man, with his arm carefully protected, runs across the field and the police dog is released by his handler, there is no barking or the slightest sound. The silent leap of the dog ends quickly with the jaws fixed on the padded arm, holding it with force.
The flight is equally silent. The dog desperately trying to escape remains completely silent as he wanders off into the distance. Essentially, vocalizations are indications of conflict or frustration.
The fact that he almost always accompanies aggressive encounters with dogs just means that even the most hostile of dogs is usually a little scared. The complete silence of the true police dog attack is less common than the snarling attack.
Growling with the lips retracted to show the fangs is typical of a dog that is very aggressive but has a little fear. The slight tinge of dread is what turns the silent attack into one with snarls, but it is not a dog to be played with.
The urge to attack is still too strong. Next, in order of increasing fear is the grumbling dog. He who grumbles is more afraid than he who grunts, but the risk of an attack is still great.
The grumbling person may feel even more defensive; however, there is still a great enough aggressiveness to explode in a real attack from one moment to the next.
When the balance is slightly off-balance from the sheer attack and the fear advances a little further into the lead, the grumbling begins to alternate with barking.
The low growl suddenly “expands” to a deep bark. This is repeated: growl-bark, growl-bark. The message from such a dog is as follows: “I would like to attack you (growl), but I think I will call for backup (bark).” If the fear element increases more and more and the aggression begins to dominate, inside the dog’s brain, the growling of the exhibition disappears and only the barking is heard, very loud and repeatedly.
This can go on for an irritably long time until either the foreign element that caused it wears off or the human “pack” has come to investigate what is happening.
The main characteristic of domestic dog barking is that it occurs in machine-gun explosions: woof-woof-woof… woof-woof-woof-woof-woof…, woof…, woof-woof-woof, etc., in an excited stream of powerful noises.
This is due to ten thousand years of selective breeding of dogs, and not the wild ancestors of our domestic animals. Wolves bark, but the noise they make is far less impressive.
The first time you hear a pack of wolves barking, you immediately know what it is; but it is hard to believe that it is something so modest and so brief. The wolf’s bark is neither loud nor very frequent, and it is almost always monosyllabic.
It can best be described as a staccato sound. It is usually repeated several times, but never evolves into the loud machine gun sound so typical of its domestic descendants.
And what is even more curious, it has been reported that wolves that stay quite close to dogs today end up learning, after some time, to emit their long bark. Therefore, it is clear that the transition from a yelp to a super bark is not that difficult.
Despite this ability to learn, it seems highly probable that, in the first centuries of dog domestication, there was a fairly rapid selection by early dog owners for an improved “barker” to act as an alarm against the dogs. burglars.
Starting from the modest howling of the wolf, they selected the pups with a more persistent and louder bark from the litters, until today’s extremely noisy guard dogs were developed.
Today, Almost all dog breeds retain the genetic qualities that gave them improved bark, although some breeds tend to be more impressive in this regard than others.
Only the basenji, or silent African dog, seems to have completely escaped this trend. That particular breed developed from a quiet little hunting dog in ancient Egypt more than five thousand years ago, and, in its long domestic history, it has never been tasked with guarding duties.
To sum up, it can be said that the saying “little biting barking dog” is based on the real truth. Thus, the barking dog is not usually brave enough to bite, and the biting dog does not bother to bark for reinforcement via the alarm call.