Have you ever wondered why your dog barks at certain things? Barking is one type of vocal communication that dogs use, and it can mean different things depending on the situation. Here are some reasons why dogs bark:
The underlying reason for why dogs bark and growl is because it’s there natural means of communication. Dogs are especially vocal because they are a social species.
The reason for this is that it was essential for them to communicate with other members of their pack when they were in the wild. Sociability means that it is important you understand your dog’s expressions, as this will not only help you to care for your dog, but it will also help your relationship flourish.
Before you start trying to understand your dog’s bark, it is important to take account of it’s breed. Dogs of different breeds often bark at different times and will possess varying pitches and levels of sound. An example of this is the German shepherd which has as many as 12 different vocal variations of barking.
In contrast, breeds such as the Great Dane or Newfoundland may not be as varied in the way they communicate with their owners. Moreover, your dog’s breed can also contribute to determining the excessiveness of their barking. The Terrier being a good example as it is well known for it’s excessive barking. However, genes are not everything as it is important to also account for your dog’s own individual personality.
A dog’s body language
It is important to take into account of your dog’s body language, as this can help you understand it’s barking better. It is worth seeing if your dog is showing it’s teeth when it’s barking, as it may be a sign of aggression. It is also worth observing your dog’s eyes in order to gauge it’s mood. For example, when your dog is barking, pay close attention to what it is looking at. This can help you understand what changes your dog’s mood.
You may also want to look at what your dog does with it’s head when it is barking. A dog that is very confident will often bark with it’s head held high and his eyes directed at other dogs, and prick it’s ears forward. In contrast, a dog that barks with it’s ears pressed to his head and tail tucked in, is often afraid of it’s surroundings. A dog that is scared may actually bark more aggressively than a confident one.
The pitch of your dog’s bark is a useful way of understanding the message that your dog is seeking to convey to you. The general rule is that a low pitch indicates that your dog is taking a dominant stance, whereas in contrast, a high pitch indicates insecurity and fear.
A dog that’s pitch that is varied, is often emotionally conflicted. Therefore, it is recommended that if your dog’s pitch is like this, you may need to make more effort in giving your dog direction and make it feel secure.
Types of barking
Continuous or rapid barking
This is often a means to alert a dog’s owner to a potential danger. Rapid midrange barking is often a means of calling you over because someone is coming into your territory. If this has three or four pauses in between, it usually means your dog is expressing that they suspect there to be a potential intruder in your territory. An incessant bark is often an expression of loneliness.
Single or short barks
These barks are often expressions of basic communication by dog’s. One or two midrange barks are usually an expression of a greeting. A single lower midrange pitch bark is usually an expression of annoyance. A single sharp midrange bark is often an expression of surprise at finding something. If it is repeated two or three times it means the dog is asking the owner to come and look to see you. A similar kind of bark can also be expressed when a dog is seeking to go out, or is happy that it has received food.
A yelp is often a sign of pain. A single yelp is often in response to an unexpected pain and a series of yelps is usually an expression of being scared or in severe pain.
There are also unique barks that dogs express when they are playing. The stutter bark which has a midrange pitch is usually a sign that your dog wants to play. The rising bark is associated with a series of barks which start in the middle, but can rise sharply in pitch, similar to a yelp. It is an expression used during rough and tumble games.
Growling is a dog expressing a warning sign that aggression will ensure if you, or someone else persists with what you are doing. The recommended responses to this include stopping what you are currently doing, or taking steps to eliminate, or limit the cause of stress to your dog. Dogs are more likely to growl more if they are stressed, so it is important you do not shout at others in front of your dog.
Dogs also often growl when they are playing tug of war. A dog that is known for doing this are Rottweilers, as they often grumble when they are playing, or even when being petted. However, it is important to observe your dog’s body language when growling no matter what breed it is. If you have any doubts, take a break and let him calm down.
A howling sound is often triggered by external sounds to your dog’s immediate environment. A common cause of a dog’s howl is a police or fire siren. The reason dogs howl is believed to derive from their origins as pack animals.
This was a means of communication between pack members. In order to locate other pack members, or to call the pack for hunting. This is why your dog will also often howl in response to other dogs howling. However, dogs may also howl if they feel distressed in response to separation from their care giver.
Whimpering / yelping
Dogs often yelp or whimper as a means of communicating distress or pain to other pack members, and now to their human care givers. The dog will do so in the hope that their care giver will respond positively to this communication.
However, your dog’s yelping and whimpering can also be in response to strong excitement when an owner returns from work. This will often be accompanied by licking and jumping, and barking if the dog is excited.
(Article source: Jordan Creed)