Alarm Systems: What We Can Learn from Dogs

A happy smiling dogEstimated: 3 minutes to read

The following is a list of things my new dog has alerted me to since she came to live with me on Friday:

  • The reflection of the TV in the windows
  • A pot that she nudged off the window 
  • A child who changed his clothes
  • Me wearing glasses
  • A fox prowling around my quail coop
  • A garbage can that had been moved
  • A person wearing a hat/mask/with a prosthetic limb

My new four-legged love is a watch dog breed. She has a beautiful, finely tuned, intricate and well-wired alarm system that has evolved over eons to be what it is today. I mean think about that for a sec! How absolutely amazing is that? This perfect sentient being, the result of time so vast I can’t even wrap my brain around it – and she’s here, trying to tell me about what I might not see. 

A fluffy white dog happily exploring the forest
Hiking day

However much I love and appreciate her alarms, she needs a little guidance from someone with a broader perspective about which environmental triggers are actually threats that warrant action. And given her track record, I think that should be me. 

Not that my track record is that great either, but I do know (most times) that when kids change clothes they haven’t become a different being. So, I think I still have the advantage. 

When my little squish barks loudly at a potted plant that she knocked over, I thank her for her diligent warning, give her a treat, and say “good girl, thank you, that’s enough.” I let her know that her alarm going off was right and give gratitude to this amazing being who can sense things better than I can. Then, I step in and let her know that I’ve got this one. She can chill and not worry about the plant. 

A few nights ago she was barking at the window and there was a fox crawling around my quail coop. I praised her so much and opened the door and gave the command “Go find! Go find!” She went into action and chased off the threat — quite proudly I might add. 

A big dog smile following a happy excursion in nature
Big smile

I wish we could all think of our own alarm systems this way; as loveable, fluffy, snugglers who have evolved perfectly over eons to protect us, but who just need a little wisdom to recognize when to take action and when to chill. 

Somehow it’s easier for me to give my dog a big hug and say thank you for telling me that there is a reflection in the window (!) than it is for me to beam gratitude at my churning mind at 3 a.m., reliving the so-called biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. 

But I at least thought I’d let you all know what my dog has taught me about loving my alarm system. Maybe we can all be a little friendlier to our inner alarms moving forward and learn when to chill and when to take action.

One thought on “Alarm Systems: What We Can Learn from Dogs

  1. I absolutely love this post! I have a rescue dog who has a protection system that rivals any ADT system. Our household tends to bark at her when she springs into action but I have learned to thank and tell her I can take care from here when the alarm in her doesn’t turn off. How great to think about turning inward to recognize and appreciate my internal alarms. I love the possibility you bring forward here! Thank you so much!

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