I get a lot of questions about why dogs do certain things. Last week, we talked about some of the functions of barking, but this barking-specific question from a Citizen Canine subscriber is a little different.“My two Havanese go crazy and bark when the theme music for a particular police show comes on in the evening. They don’t bark at any other television shows. They are very consistent and do this every time they hear the music for this show, which happens to be one of my favorites. Why are they doing this?“
Without seeing the dogs and running some experimental conditions, I can’t say for sure, but here are some thoughts I had:
- First, I’m guessing one dog had the issue with the music and the other dog is just reacting and joining in the barkfest.
- Could it be the sound? Is there a siren in the background that is setting them off? The dogs could be responding to pitch or tone if there is no siren. Would they bark if the sound was turned down so the music was less audible?
- Is there something in the theme song that sounds like your doorbell or some other sound they are mistaking? For example, if I make a sound in the kitchen that sounds like someone is knocking on the door, my dog barks. He also barks at doorbells on television. This is a conditioned response to situations where the sound occurs, then someone shows up on the front porch.
- Could any conditioning have gone on here? So, you’re a big fan of this particular show and on some nights, you’ve taken your snack to the couch to sit down and watch the show. The dogs were a part of the action. Now, they get excited and are basically trying to get you to sit down and get the petting and couch time started each time they hear the music for what is one of your favorite shows. Have you ever acted excited and as the theme song was playing got them wound up and excited? Would the dogs bark if they heard the theme song in another room (such as on a television in the bedroom rather than the living room where this always happens)?
Citizen Canine readers, so many of you are dog savvy…what is your take on what could be happening here? Do any of you have dogs who have a reaction to something like this?