Consultants Warn Towards ‘Bark at Your Canine’ TikTok Pattern

Viral videos and dogs are two things that go hand in hand. However, animal behavior experts are warning of the latest pet trend on TikTok.

In “Bell at your dog” videos, TikTokers approach their pets and howl in their faces in hopes of generating a humorous response to share online. Often times, users will overlap the sound of their barking with a popular audio on the app, but judging by the dogs’ reactions, it is clear that they are doing the same in person too.

A video shared by @adrianchateau received more than 32 million likes. Others have garnered many millions of views.

Reactions vary from dog to dog, but the prank often causes the animals to widen their eyes, bark back, lick their owners’ faces, or even bare their teeth.

Some TikTok viewers have expressed concern that these clips will popularize your dog’s barking, which could be dangerous. Newsweek asked dog behavior experts for their verdict on the stunt and it was unanimous – don’t.

“I’ve watched half a dozen different videos with men and women trying this trend with different breeds of dogs and the main factor I see with each one is that the dog is surprised and not sure what it is Response should do, “said Joe Nutkins, a Kennel Club-accredited dog trainer and behavioral scientist from south east England.

“When a dog barks very deeply and strongly [this] could easily be viewed by another dog as authority or even bossiness over a nervous dog. It would be absolutely a surprise if such a bark suddenly happened so close to a dog. “

She added, “The majority of dogs would not understand the intent behind the bark or, in some cases, where it was coming from.”

Nutkins broke the dogs’ body language in these videos, pointing to their big eyes, pinned ears, puckered lips, bared teeth, slow wagging of tails, and silence. In some clips, the dogs can be seen manically licking their owners’ faces.

While some of these acts are signs of discomfort, they are often mistaken for signs of happiness – particularly the slow wagging of the tail.

“A slow wagging of the tail, often held low or below the body, is more likely to indicate insecurity and concern. A slow wag of the tail tries to communicate that a dog is unsure of what to do in response and not poses a threat to the dog or the person causing them to worry, “she said.

Stock image of a man and his dog face to face.
Getty Images

Similarly, licking the face can appear as a sign of affection, but it can be a tool the animals use to calm others down.

Nutkins said, “Where some of the dogs didn’t have obviously big eyes or were frozen, they licked again very quickly to calm the situation – while giving themselves a natural feeling of being calmer.”

Rob Bays, dog behaviorist and training manager at Battersea Cats and Dogs Home in London, told Newsweek that the eye contact, often featured in these prank videos, can be threatening to pets.

“One of the things that dogs find quite difficult from a body language standpoint is making direct eye contact, or possibly face-to-face with humans, just because it can be quite intimidating,” Bays said.

“There is one in particular – one of the little dogs is actually starting to blink its teeth which, from a body language point of view, is the dog asking for space in a nice controlled way.

“So it’s really important that we listen to these body language cues. Because if we don’t, dogs are likely to escalate and escalate. You could then see, as I said, they show a bit more combative behavior to just try and ease the situation and get away from it. “

According to Kamal Fernandez, a canine sports and behavioral specialist, the animals’ misfortunes may not show up until later. “The problem is, you won’t know until it’s too late,” he said. “Some dogs are great at hiding their discomfort. It is only when the effects occur after a completely unrelated incident that you truly witness the damage caused … in which case the result could be disastrous.

“Alternatively, they can give clear signals to show their concern or concern that is invisible to the untrained eye. You won’t even realize that your dog is desperate. We read a lot about ‘unprovoked’ dog attacks, but when we go deeper we actually find that there were many indicators prior to this event. “

Nutkins also warned that the TikTokers “put themselves at risk of being bitten in the face and this could of course lead to a dog being classified as aggressive if not.”

She explained: It can become a learned behavior for an owner to continue this trend of portraying people as jokes. A dog can get to a point where it knows what is going to happen [and bites] to keep it from happening again or as a natural response to feeling threatened. “

According to Nutkins, other people or animals could be bitten long after the video was shot. “Another time, you might turn around and face another dog, a child, a person sitting on the floor and be surprised, remember the trend of barking and react accordingly,” she said.

Summing up the experts’ views, Ryan Neile, Head of Behavior Services at Blue Cross, UK animal welfare organization, told Newsweek: “Unlike humans, dogs will never understand jokes, mishaps or jokes. We abuse their trust in us when we treat our pets this way, and we are very concerned that these trends appear to be increasing.

“What we see in these videos are dogs experiencing shock, disorientation and fear. In the worst case scenario, you run the risk of a dog reacting defensive reflexively, which can lead to a bite in the face.

“One very real and possible consequence of cheap laughs and likes on social media is that you get hurt and your dog may lose his home or even his life.”

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