The Barking Dog

Today’s post is something of (sort of) an experiment. I’m going to tell you a joke. I’ll explain some of the words in parentheses () just like we usually do. At the end of the joke, I’ll explain a little more in case you didn’t get it (understand it; laugh).

The experiment is this: Is a joke still funny and worth reading in English if there are explanations with it? I’d like to ask you to (a) read the joke and then (b) answer the poll (survey) question below.

Are you ready? Okay, here we go…


The Barking Dog

A dog who was normally quiet began barking (making a loud noise) every night at around 3 a.m. Irritated (angry) and sleepy, the dog’s owner searched the back yard (behind his house) for what might have disturbed (caused a problem; angered) this otherwise (usually) peaceful (quiet) animal.

For three days he found nothing amiss (nothing wrong). When the dog woke up the neighborhood (barked so loudly that everyone in the area woke up) a fourth night at 3 a.m. with loud barking, the owner finally went around the house to investigate (see what the problem was).

There he saw his neighbor throwing pebbles (small rocks or stones) over the fence (something that divides two areas, usually tall pieces of wood or metal) at the dog. The owner asked his neighbor what he was doing.

“My mother-in-law (his wife’s mother) is visiting,” the neighbor explained. “If she gets woken up in the middle of the night (late at night, when everyone is sleeping) one more time, she says she’ll leave!”


Explanation: The man was trying to make the dog bark to anger his mother-in-law so that she would leave his house early.

Okay, so maybe not the funniest joke in the world, but not too bad, right? Now for the poll question. Please answer as truthfully (honestly) as you can.

[poll id=”15″]


Photo credit: Boston Terrier, Wikipedia CC

Joke credit:, CC


This entry was posted in Jokes and Humor. Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to The Barking Dog

  1. Booda Kamal says:

    Haha, it was fun and i gained a new word 🙂 please , there are more to come 🙂 Thanks

  2. Val says:

    I got the joke even without explanation. It’s pretty clear. I’m not sure if there are some difficulties for someone to understand that. But this one is pretty trivial. I usually like more witty and sophisticated jokes. Anyway, I’m glad you’re trying to do something new. Thanks.

  3. Dan says:

    Hello Dr Jeff and Everyone,

    Although I am not very fond of jokes, I do not see anything wrong in reading a joke here every now and then.

    That’s why I voted the first one, even though I did not find it that funny. Not bad though!

    It probably depends from the joke, if a joke is funny it remain so with explanations.

    As everything else you have to find the right balance, not to much eplanations nor the contrary. Not easy! I know.

    Thanks Jeff, Have a good day!

  4. Peter says:

    Hi Jeff,
    In all honesty ,it is a funny joke man ,in another words ,there joke lands regardless the audience.
    I like all Mother in-laws’ humor .they crack me up.
    I happen to know some more jokes in the moder in low department. But,they ate mostly black jokes. They are a teensy bit suggestive and volgure. Eslpod wouldn’t appriciate them.
    But ,Jeff ,you always crack me up.
    You are a funny man.
    Throw more jokes at us,they enlighten the mood. Eslpod’s funny tone always soften this other wise serious language learning routine we got going on here.



  5. Peter says:

    Boo ,on the third option
    If there is no explanation ,how on earth we will comprehend it.

    One can choose not to read the explaination.
    I have been living in the united states’ neighboring speaking English Country “Camada” for 9 long years ,and still, find the explainations of words and expressions offered by our good people at Eslpod quite Educational.

    Keep up the good job eslpod

    You guys are my personal heros that my 9-year stay in Toronto never learned me the did.

    Eslpod rules

  6. emiliano says:

    Well I think it is good, a smile is on my face.

    Thanks a million dear Jeff.


  7. Artem says:

    Although I didn’t quite like this joke in particular, the idea seems pretty appealing to me. Any new possibility to learn a couple of new words and phrases worth it (as for me, after I read the joke I was able to add to my vocabulary several expressions that I’ve never used before).
    And what is even more important, it is unquestionably much easier to memorize these words in connection with some short but vivid scenes. An image created by such a story is far more likely to sink deeply into one’s mind. Therefore I think this idea has every chance to turn into a viable one.

  8. Barbara says:

    Thanks Dr. Jeff,

    Before I read the explanation, I thought “the mother-in-law” is a ghost,

    so the neghborhood was out of fear throwing pebbles.

    Anyway it is a good idea to let your relatives leaving without any word.

  9. Kurumi says:

    Hi Dr.Jeff and everyone ,
    I enjoyed it .Thank you.
    As for the explanations,it didn’t bother me at all.Besides I am old enough to understand the situation,which is common all over the world.
    If this joke was about something that is very American,I may not be able to understand it . Good choice!^o^
    I’m looking forward to another one.

  10. Infgeoax says:

    I feel a little uneasy choosing the first option, which I mostly agree, and I’d like to have a fourth choice:
    “I don’t think the explanations made the joke any less funny — those of the words and phrases, not the last one after the joke — even though it is not one of the funniest jokes itself. “

  11. Fernanda-Brazilian says:

    Hi, Dr. Jeff

    I found this joke a wonderful first step.
    Please keep doing it with more difficult expressions! =) Bye, bye….

    By the way, I would like to know if there is a mistake on this phrase that you have wrote:”The man was trying to make the dog bark …”. The word “bark” should not be written in this context with an “s” at the end because it a third person, isn’t it? Or is it correct? If yes, why?

    Hugs from Brazil!!!!

  12. Claude says:

    I like that.With or without the explanation .It’s clear to me.Thank you Jef

  13. Tania says:

    Hi! Dear Fernanda-Brazilian, I think it is not necessary to add “s” as the phrase is “The man was trying to make the dog to bark…”

  14. Tania says:

    Hi! Yes, I like all kind of jokes, knock-knock jokes with their punch lines including detailed explanations to be sure we understand the meaning correctly.
    And it is very useful to repeat, to repeat … even if we know the words. And if a word has more meanings… very usual in a joke…

    We have many, many jokes with mother-in-law. I do not know why, but we all laugh. Innocent jokes.

    Thank you. All the best to you all,


  15. Tania says:

    Hi! Dear Emiliano, thank you for your smile. Every thing will be O.K. You will see.

  16. Val says:

    Fernanda-Brazilian, the phrase :”The man was trying to make the dog bark …” is correct. Because the dog in this case is the object. And the subject, i.e. the man, performs the action on the dog. I mean the dog is not the subject in this sentence. Here the man makeS the dog bark.

  17. Li says:

    Hi Dr. Jeff,

    Usually, I cannot get the jokes even with full explanation which is not funny any more. But this one is pretty clear and trivial, I got it without explanation. I was happy and laughed.

    I would like to read more like this which can help to improve English to understand the jokes.

    I hope I will be a person with a sense of humor to make everyone laugh. If we use it in daily life, we will see a lot of happy faces…..

    Keep up good work !


  18. lilian says:

    hi jeff
    I think its a very good way to learn english through such a funny way since it makes it less the way i really enjoy it and appreciate your sence of humour:)

  19. Connie says:

    Hi Jeff!

    Well done! I like your joke, even though it is very simple.
    Maybe we can start from this one, and then go to some more complicated ones.

    Thank you!

  20. Genji says:

    100% got it ,how uncomfortable the neighbor guy was, here, without explanations would be better. Thank you Jeff.

  21. Tania says:

    Hi! Talking about dogs, I have seen on CNN Channel that many dogs have their name of Oprah after Oprah Winfrey,
    “the most influential woman in the world” as you told us you, too.

  22. master says:

    very funny, we hope to see more

  23. Tania says:

    Hi! Talking about James Beard with his “I love to eat” TV Show, I remember of books called “The Chicken Soup for the Soul” (English Cafe 318/2011),
    “soup” for nourishing our soul. And jokes can nourishing our soul, our mind…

  24. Tania says:

    Hi! I think we have the same joke when nobody wants to answer:
    “Don’t everybody speak at once.”

    How exhausting is it to manage a ESL PODCAST?

    I like “Managing a Classroom” lesson.
    How many years have passed since we were pupils in our desks?

  25. Tania says:

    Hi! Always with my dictionary in my front… “Palm” means and the inner part of the hand and a tree (palm tree).
    I have heard of this vacation area associated with Hollywood, but I have never translated its name Palm Springs… a poetical name.
    And the springs… are they in the desert?

  26. Tania says:

    Hi! Indeed, the palm tree is the symbol of this wonderful and hot place.
    I have walked in Palm Springs using Wikipedia.

    New phrases to me : high-end gifts…

    Thank you.

  27. Tania says:

    Hi! Thank you for the information about the painter David Hockney.
    After Henry Moore (1898 – 1986), an English modern sculpture artist specializing in abstractions of the human figure,
    now David Hockney, another British painter, photographer, designer, with drawings on 25iPads and 20iPods.
    Watching his works on Wikipedia, I think it is easy to understand him with his wonderful blue and green although he has an affinity with Cubism.

  28. Tania says:

    Hi! Painting “A Bigger Splash ” in California, David Hockney said:
    “And I love the idea of painting this thing that lasts for two seconds; it takes me two weeks to paint this event that lasts for two seconds.”
    I like “Man Taking Shower in Beverly Hills”; “A Lawn Being Sprinkled”; “Pool with Two Figures”.
    And “Pearlblossom Highway” … with many wastes in California.

    Thank you for revealing us such great modern artists.

  29. Fernanda-Brazilian says:

    Hello to everyone!
    And a special “Hi!” to Val and Tania, I have appreciated your explanations! Thank you so much! =)

    Val the original sentence was “”The man was trying to make the dog bark …”, without a “to” before the word “bark” for this reason I didn’t understand why it is sentence could not carry the “s” of the third person.
    But I saw after that Dr. Jeff only forgot the “to” before “bark”. So your explanation is Ok and I agree with you.

    Tania your explanation brings me some news about grammar. Thanks!!!!

    Are you Brazilians too? ( I make this question only for curiosity, but it is not much important! I have liked you both!)
    See ya to all ESL students!

  30. Fernanda-Brazilian says:

    Sorry, lol!
    He made no modifications. I saw really quick so I saw things that weren’t there.
    Sorry in this case, Tania explantions answer my question!

    Thanks again!!!!!

  31. Fernanda-Brazilian says:

    I mean Val explanations. Val brings me a part of grammar that I didn’t know.

  32. Hilario says:

    MORE JOKES PLEASE: Jokes, sayings and idioms are part of the universal cultural heritage and a good sense of humor is the only feature kind of wisdom which I recognize as a real form of human intelligence. This is for Jeff and team. Why not setting up a section, a blog section, dedicated to smart jokes? You could always moderate them publishing only the best ones. I consider that you have enough criteria about and it would be funny in the end but … please guys remember the golden rule, that saying: Good If Brief, Twice Good.

  33. Val says:

    Hi, Fernanda!=) No, I,m not Brazilian, I’m Russian. I remember when I was a child or a teenage girl I liked to watch Brasilian TV-series. There were a lot of them on our television at that time. Wow, I even remember some titles! My favorites were Andando nas nuvens and Suave Veneno. For more than 12 years I haven’t been watching TV-series, besides, maybe, American TV-shows like Friends, The Big Bang Theory and so on. But I have a lot of good memories about those good old times when I would come home from school, turned on TV-set and enjoyed the favorite TV-series. =)
    Of course I would like to visit Brasil, maybe I will sometime in the future.

  34. Annie says:

    I voted to option 2 by mistake.

    I thought option 2 was: Yes, it’s funny but I don’t really want to see more explanations.

    I like jokes with too much explanation, which will impair the sense of humor.

  35. Annie says:

    to correct my words: I like jokes without too much explanation.

  36. Tania says:

    “…so here are strawberries
    Sun-flushed and sweet, as many as you please;
    And here are full-blown roses by the score,
    More roses, and yet more.”

    Christina Rossetti, June

  37. Fernanda-Brazilian says:

    Hello, Val
    It is very interesting to know this. I didn’t know that Brazilian series were watched in other countries specially in Russia because your country is so far from here.
    I watched these series, too, a long time ago.

    =) See ya!

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