French Barking Dogs

By | 18 Feb 2015

woofWhy do French dogs seem to bark more?

Every time we take our dog for a walk (and also when our dog is not with is), we always set off all visible and even non-visible dogs barking.  The ones we can’t see are encouraged to bark by the others who are barking.

I don’t know why but it’s something I feel embarrassed about, so I try to walk a circuit when I can, rather than re-tread the same path and so set off all the same dogs again.

It obviously depends on the dog itself – our own pooch is French, adopted from a refuge and selected by H because this doggy was the only one sitting calmly whilst all around him were bouncing up the walls and making a lot of noise.

Of course, we get him home and it’s a different story.

Fortunately, H and I both like character in animals as well as people, but especially fortunate as the more our doggie relaxed with us, the more character he showed.  Ours still rarely barks though, unlike the other dogs we pass.

Is it nature or nurture?

One difference to the UK that has struck me is that most houses in France have their front and back gardens connected, so their dogs are patrolling their full perimeters where we pass.  Whereas in the UK, passages to the back are usually closed off,  gardens are also usually back to back, and the dogs will normally be in the back garden or inside, so missing the passing strangers.

A lot of French dogs sleep outside too, despite notices in the bulletins from the Mairies asking people to ensure their dogs are not left barking at all hours of the day and night, which encourages those dogs to guard 24/7.

There was also a notice in the recent Mairie bulletin asking people to not let their dogs wander alone in the roads.  I thought this related to dogs escaping, as our own darts out the moment the slightest gap is left or if there is an unlocked gate he can nudge open .  (Apparently wanderlust is in his breed along with his strong sense of smell that takes him careering off onto the horizon – I have asked him nicely to refrain as it’s making it look as though we don’t take care of him.)

But reading this blog post it appears that some French think it normal to let their dogs walk themselves, even in busy towns:

I’ve been living here for quite a few years and have never come across this before.  We have seen a couple of strays and taken them to the local S.P.A. but that’s it.

Maybe it’s an older practice that is phasing out.  In the countryside though, there are often no boundaries to land, so it would seem more normal to me for a dog to roam and return – apparently an intact dog can smell a bitch on heat from miles away.

In the last place we lived, which was a small town,  they may well have had a highly efficient council service removing dogs from the streets so that we didn’t see them.  The department certainly existed, as when our own ran out chasing another dog the day after we’d adopted him, I called round all relevant places in case my little darling was brought into their care.

Back to the barking though… could it be about sterilisation?

There are so many unwanted litters of dogs and cats, I’m pro sterilisation especially of roaming animals like cats.

Do non-castrated dogs want to guard their premises more aggressively?

Although the barking isn’t just when we pass other people’s houses – our darling seems to elicit barking from a fair few dogs walked on leads too.

He was castrated by the S.P.A.,  and will bark if he thinks there is an unwanted intruder, but that person has to be inside or trying to come inside our grounds, and be someone he hasn’t met before, and be someone I’m not expecting – i.e. not very often at all really.

Oh yes, as I’ve mentioned before, he does (rather more gratingly) bark at bees.

So what’s your take on why French dogs bark more than British dogs?  Or maybe you don’t think they do.

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