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Karen B. London
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Singing Around Our Dogs
How do they react?

You know how everybody says that they can’t sing and then you hear them and they’re really not that bad? Well, that’s not how it is with me. I’m truly dreadful, and when people hear me sing anything, even Happy Birthday, they probably think I’m kidding. Even dogs don’t enjoy my musical moments.

I was in the car last week with Marley, singing along to the radio, and he began to whimper. I was concerned that his harness was bothering him, so I pulled over to check the straps, and he seemed just fine. Then I kept driving (and singing) and he whimpered again. I checked on him again, and then all was well. Puzzled, but pleased that he seemed okay, I kept driving. Though I had stopped singing by that point, I didn’t make the connection between my silence and his silence until later.

I was at home, singing again, and my son said, “Mom, don’t sing! Look what you’re doing to Marley!” He had his ears back, his brow was furrowed so that he looked worried, his whole body was tense, and he was looking away. You could practically see the cartoon bubble over his head with the words, “Help! How can I make it stop?” In this picture with me singing, you can see that he looks less than thrilled.

Many dogs join in with a howl when people are singing. Others ignore it or walk away or whine. Still others pay extra attention, perhaps either enjoying it or trying to figure out if any relevant information is in the vocalization. How does your dog react when you sing?

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

Photo by Evan Hofstetter

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