Don’t Keep A Dog And Bark Yourself

Meanings of “Don’t Keep A Dog And Bark Yourself”

The phrase/proverb “don’t keep a dog and bark yourself” means when you have employed a person to do the job, do not do it yourself. Also, it means when you have got someone/something to do something, let that person/thing work, and do not dabble your fingers in it.

Origin of “Don’t Keep A Dog And Bark Yourself”

The phrase/proverb “don’t keep a dog and bark yourself” has been traced back to Philotimus: the Warre Betwixt Nature and Fortune, a book, written by Brian Melbancke published circa 1583. The phrase goes in its archaic spellings thus; “It is smal reason you should kepe a dog, and barke your selfe.” Later, it was transformed into a proper proverb, having used in several literary pieces in the same meanings but with standardized spellings.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Dialogue I. by Jonathan Swift

Lady Answ: Good miss, stir fire, that the tea-kettle may boil. You have done it very well: now it turns purely. Well, miss, you’ll have a cheerful husband.
Miss: Indeed, your ladyship could have stirred it much better.
Lady Answ: I know that every well, hussy; but I won’t keep a dog and bark myself.
Neverout: What! You are stuck, miss.

These lines present a lady and a person talking about her likely having a good and cheerful husband over which the girl is much delighted. However, the person Neverout questions her stand. The phrase/proverb has been used by the lady who suggests her to marry again but in the meanings of how she should do it. The phrase has been used as a metaphor.

Example #2

Paddy the Piper by Alexander Whitelaw

Go aff,’ says, he ‘ Shamus, the minit you’ve ate your breakfast, and dhrive her to the fair.’ ‘Throth I don’t like to dhrive her,’ says I. ‘Arrah, don’t be makin’ a gommagh of yourself,’ says he. ‘Faith, I don’t,’ says I. ‘Well, like o rno like,’ says he, ‘you must dhrive her.’ Sure, father,’ says I, ‘you could take more care of her yourself.’ ‘That’s mighty good,’ says he, ‘to keep a dog and bark myself.’

This conversation is between a father and a son. The father is of the opinion that the son should drive the lady to the fair at which the son tells his father that he should take care of her instead of asking the son. He means that if he has a son, he should not take care of her as she is his wife. The phrase/proverb has been used as a metaphor, showing irony.

Example #3

The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy By Daniel Yergin, Joseph Stanislaw

All of this was totally perplexing to Stalin, who thought there must be a trick. After all, as V. M. Molotov, Stalin’s foreign minister, suggested to Attlee, surely Churchill could have “fixed” the results of the election. At Postdam, Attlee was not at all bothered that trade-union leader Ernest Bevin, his new foreign minister, seemed to do all the talking while Attlee sat silent, wreathed in pipe smoke, nodding his head. “You don’t keep a dog and bark yourself,” he explained, “and Ernie was a very good dog.”

The passage in this book talks about their politics in WWII. The phrase/proverb has been used in its clear sense that when you have employed a huge army, you must not do the fighting for yourself. The phrase/proverb shows its denotation use here.

Example #4

British Prime Ministers From Balfour to Brown by Robert Pearce, Graham Goodlad

The Deputy Prime Minister was an exceedingly poor wordsmith. In one speech, he managed to include almost as many clichés as sentences, including ‘socialism without tears’, ‘put first things first’ and ‘strike whilst the iron is hot.’ On other, more venturesome occasions he did indeed advance into the realm of platitudes. ‘You don’t keep a dog and bark yourself was one of his favorites.

The passage talks about the British prime ministers. The writers have carefully crafted the passages not to disrespect them but to point out the weaknesses of the prime ministers. They seem to suggest how a prime minister was a poor wordsmith that he used several hackneyed phrases or clichés. The phrase/proverb has been included in clichés as a proverb and shows itself as a denotation.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “He is mostly keeping himself away from work acting upon the proverb doesn’t keep a dog and bark yourself.”

Example #2: “If you are acting upon the saying don’t keep a dog and bark yourself, then you are doing the right thing. You need to step away from the responsibility and let your junior Stephen do it.”

Example #3: “Most of the time, Sammy says don’t keep a dog and bark yourself and when you bark yourself, don’t keep a dog.”

Example #4: “King Richard was not a person to keep a dog and bark himself. Instead, he always acted upon the opposite and made a nuisance of himself. .”

Example #5: “As a professor of anthropology, Jake has always tried to unearth hidden meanings behind proverbs and axioms and the proverb doesn’t keep a dog and bark yourself is no exception.”