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Writing Dogs in Fiction

Hello everyone! Today’s post is the second part of my Animals in Fiction series, and it will focus on how to write realistic dogs in fiction. Some of these go without saying, like dogs in real life aren’t able to talk (at least not that we know of). Other tips, however, are going to cover some common myths about dogs that many people believe. Let’s dive in!

Tip #1: Not all dog barks are identical.

Some dogs bark intensely everytime a car drives by, while others barely bark at all! Some dogs are silent until someone knocks at the door, or they sense another canine in the vicinity. Sometimes dogs bark when they’re excited, other times they bark when they’re angry or scared. Think of the dogs in your life. How often do they bark, and why? Consider this when writing your own fictional dog. 

Tip #2: Cats and dogs can get along!

Although the saying “fighting like cats and dogs” exists for a reason, it’s not uncommon for dogs and cats to coexist peacefully, or even become friends! Cats and dogs have opposite body language, so they often misunderstand each other. For example, when a dog wags its tail, that means it’s happy, but if a cat rattles its tail, you should run. Despite their differences in body language, though, many dogs actually get along fine with cats. There is a stereotype in fiction I’ve noticed where dogs hate cats on sight, but that’s not necessarily the case in real life. Some dog breeds are more likely to get along with cats than others, and the individual temperament of the dog is a major factor as well. If you ever need some cheering up, just Google “cat and dog friends” to see some adorable examples of this.

Tip #3 Not all dogs are eager to swim or fetch or engage in other traditional dog activities.

Some dogs live for catching balls and sticks or a game of tug of war. Other dogs are content to simply lie by your feet. It all depends on the dog, which in truth could summarize most of these tips. 

Treat your canine characters like individuals in your writing and they’ll stand out that much more to your reader! 


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