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If you’re like me, you respond to each bark, growl, and whine your dog elicits.  Yes, Johan, they can understand me and I understand them.  I know each of my dogs by their bark and I’m familiar with their different barks.  I bet most dog owners can say the same, but that doesn’t mean we’re right.

Here’s a list of the reason behind 10 different barks from K9 Magazine and what they mean along with my person experience.  Enjoy!

What Does My Dog’s Bark Mean?

a dog bark translation guide

Continuous rapid barking, midrange pitch: “Call the pack! There is a potential problem! Someone is coming into our territory!” Continuous barking but a bit slower and pitched lower: “The intruder [or danger] is very close. Get ready to defend yourself!”

We can see two neighbors from our property and our dogs will engage in this barking when one of them has the audacity to exit their home.  I’m pretty sure Diane (not her real name) is convinced our dogs hate her.  They’re just letting her know not to come over (not that she has in the 3 years we’ve lived here).

Barking in rapid strings of three or four with pauses in between, midrange pitch: “I suspect that there may be a problem or an intruder near our territory. I think that the leader of the pack should look into it.”

Coyote (or dog or deer) alert.  Something it walking along the perimeter in the middle of the night (our dogs have access to their yard 24/7) and the dogs have decided to investigate vocally.

Prolonged or incessant barking, with moderate to long intervals between each utterance: “Is there anybody there? I’m lonely and need companionship.” This is most often the response to confinement or being left alone for long periods of time.

At our house, this bark is a Rodrigo trademark and translates to “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.”  The dogs just want to be in the house with us and Rodrigo only does this when he knows that I’m home.  The dogs know that Johan isn’t such a pushover.

One or two sharp short barks, midrange pitch: “Hello there!” This is the most typical greeting sound.

I get this bark along with lots of running and three happy faces; you know, the typical You Finally Made it Home parade dogs throw us every day.

Single sharp short bark, lower midrange pitch: “Stop that!” This is often given by a mother dog when disciplining her puppies but may also indicate annoyance in any dog, such as when disturbed from sleep or if hair is pulled during grooming and so forth.

Rodrigo and Sydney shares this vocal when Blue won’t stop biting her ankles or pulling her tail and she’s not in the mood to play.  Blue barks this way when Rodrigo is threatening to take a way a loved toy.

Single sharp short bark, higher midrange: “What’s this?” or “Huh?” This is a startled or surprised sound. If it is repeated two or three times its meaning changes to “Come look at this!” alerting the pack to a novel event. This same type of bark, but not quite as short and sharp, is used to mean “Come here!”

Many dogs will use this kind of bark at the door to indicate that they want to go out. Lowering the pitch to a relaxed midrange means “Terrific!” or some other similar expletive, such as “Oh, great!”

In our house, this is Rodrigo’s way of letting us know that he has to go out.  Maybe he’s saying “oh, great, I have to pee again.”  Once he’s reached a point of barking, he’s ready to go.  Sydney and Blue go to the door when they need to go out.

Single yelp or very short high-pitched bark: “Ouch!” This is in response to a sudden, unexpected pain.

This one breaks my heart and when Rodrigo and Sydney were puppies, this yelp was soon followed by “come to Mommy” and now they look for me when they get hurt.  We heard this after bee stings, pulled muscles, and play that was too rough.  We investigate, examine, hug and then go to the house or to the vet depending on what we find.

Series of yelps: “I’m hurting!” “I’m really scared” This is in response to severe fear and pain.

Sydney did this one when she pulled a muscle and it broke everyone’s heart.  Even the veterinarian apologized to her many times after making her walk.  We used to hear this one when our dogs were puppies (someone stole my toy, I want Mommy, etc), but now it only comes up when they’re injured.

Stutter-bark, midrange pitch: If a dog’s bark were spelled “ruff,” the stutter-bark would be spelled “ar-ruff.” It means “Let’s play!” and is used to initiate playing behavior.

In our house, this bark is another Rodrigo trademark.  He was taught not to bark in the house, so if he needs to tell us something (Blue has my toy, I can’t reach a toy, I want a toy) then he’ll do this bark.  Enough to get our attention, but not enough to end up in Time Out.

Rising bark: This is a bit hard to describe, although once you’ve heard it, it is unmistakable. It is usually a series of barks, each of which starts in the middle range but rises sharply in pitch – almost a bark-yelp, though not quite that high. It is a play bark, used during rough-and- tumble games, that shows excitement and translates as “This is fun!”

In our house, this is the “we’re going for a walk” or “we’re going bye-bye” bark and we usually only hear it with the boys.  Sydney is pretty mellow and just runs from door to door with her tail wagging.

 

Now it’s your turn.  Can you interpret each of your dog’s barks?


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