Picture: one dog is clearly smarter than the other

Dogs, like cats, entertain us. You can’t help but be amused by this photograph. It makes you wonder why the dog on the left is doing what he is doing. Clearly, he can’t see anything other than a blurred image of a curtain. I sense that he followed his friend to the window and as his friend occupied the only available space, he ended up looking at the curtain. I would hope and suspect that he adjusted his position soon afterwards.

Picture of one smart dog and one not so smart
Picture of one smart dog and one not so smart. Picture in the public domain.

Dogs and windows have a relationship

Sometimes dogs look out of windows at people who pass by and bark at them. Or they might stare that person down. They may lunge at the window leaving the person outside upset, perhaps. Or your dog might sit at a window a lot, perhaps every day.

The best theory as to why dogs like to sit at the window and look out is one that applies equally to domestic cats: it is stimulating. Dogs can see pretty well although it is not their best sense. They can see what’s going on such as animals and pedestrians passing by.

Sometimes a dog wants to interact with what is going on outside. The most common reaction is to bark. Often times this is because your dog wants to alert you to something that is going on outside. It’s the same sort of barking that dogs engage in when they bark at the mail person.

Sometimes dogs become frustrated at not being able to play with something that is happening outside or engaging in outside activity. They may become angry and this may lead to aggression.

If a dog is constantly frustrated when looking out of a window, he or she may become more aggressive towards strangers and external stimuli in general. You may want to take action on this. You can try limiting the amount of time that your dog is allowed to spend at the window.

Or you may try and prevent your dog from looking out of the window. You should then encourage them to play with toys inside the home and reward them for it. Inside the home should be just as stimulating as outside.

The experts seem to refer to this as “barrier frustration”. It can become ingrained and if so, it can be difficult to remove. Barrier frustration means being frustrated at external stimuli. A dog should be rewarded for remaining calm and not barking at passing strangers.

You may notice your dog becoming tense when looking out of the window. You should try and calm him down and then reward him when he finds another activity which is stimulating to him.

A linked topic is what is called “chain rage”. It refers to dogs being chained to a leash outside all day. You see this quite a lot in Asia for example where dogs are security animals. They become frustrated because they can’t interact with objects out of their reach. Frustration leads to rage. This behaviour can complicate other behavioural issues. Barrier frustration is a sign that a dog is feeling a lot of stress. They may try and dispel the stress in other behaviours which are unwanted.

There are some more serious articles on dog behaviour below if you are interested.

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Speciesism - 'them and us' | Cruelty - always shameful
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Post Category: Dogs > dog behaviour