Dogs bark for various reasons, but it’s always an essential part of their communication. However, the sounds must not be viewed in isolation to understand barking in dog language properly. The following tips will help you decipher the meaning of dog barking.
If you already have a lot of experience with dogs or have lived with a four-legged friend for a long time, you can usually understand your pet’s barking intuitively. But if you’ve never had dogs before or a new dog is moving into your home, grasping the meaning of dog language can sometimes be tricky. However, with these pointers, it will be more straightforward:
Barking is not just barking.
Unfortunately, the dog barking cannot be translated as quickly as the vocabulary of a human foreign language. Our fur noses do not communicate with words but with an interplay of sounds, facial expressions, and gestures. In addition, barking can have different meanings for different dogs and in different situations.
In general, however, it can be said that lighter pitches are primarily meant to be friendly and playful. Sometimes mixed with growls, lower angles usually indicate that the dog feels threatened or is “voicing” a warning. However, smaller dogs like Chihuahuas or Spitz tend to have higher voices overall than larger dogs like Saint Bernards or Bernese Mountain Dogs. However, voice pitch can also vary due to head and body shape. Therefore, the rise of the pitch should always be considered about the general slope of the dog’s voice.
You can listen to the “dog voices” of different breeds in the video below. However, the respective dog breeds can only be seen as photos, so the exact meaning of the barking cannot be recognized here. But it gives an excellent impression of how different barking can sound in dogs.
Meaning depends on the context.
Dogs bark when they want to tell their favorite people or conspecifics something, depending on the context. They may want to draw attention; sometimes, they want to warn or play with us. It is also possible that the four-legged friend is bored and feels under-challenged. Then he barks because he has nothing better to do. Excessive dog barking is also a bad habit because your furry friend has noticed that they get attention when they bark. If that’s the case, and you’ve ruled out all other reasons – such as fear, basic needs like eating, drinking, walking, and warnings – you can ignore the barking.
If you are unsure, pay close attention to the rest of the dog language and the situation. If you are still at a loss and your dog seems physically fit and healthy overall, an animal psychologist or an experienced dog trainer may have advice. If your dog seems sickly, noticeably aggressive, or more reserved than usual, it is better to consult a vet beforehand; then, the barking can also indicate that your four-legged friend is not doing well.
Consider dog language in its entirety.
While dog barking sounds funny at times, don’t underestimate or dismiss it. You should only ignore it if you have ruled out banal reasons for your four-legged friend’s nose. Otherwise, you are disregarding an essential signal of dog communication. If other sounds are mixed in with the bark, such as whines and yelps or growls and rumbles, this can provide further clues to the meaning of canine language. A whining dog bark can mean that your dog feels abandoned or demands your attention. On the other hand, Growling dog barking indicates defense, defense, or threat.
In addition, body language and behavior are essential in interpreting the meaning of the sounds. Backward body language coupled with a snarling bark suggests your dog feels threatened. On the other hand, if it puts its front legs on the ground, stretches its rear end up, and barks in a higher pitch, it usually wants to play. In the video below, you can watch different situations when dogs bark and understand what the animals are trying to say. For example, the initial Chihuahua backs away, growling; the camera is probably getting too close to him. The little bulldog, after that, probably wants to play with the cat, which in turn would prefer to be left alone.