How to know what your dog is trying to tell you

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Last Updated on November 23, 2020

Dogs are absolutely amazing. They keep us company, give us unconditional love, and grant us wonderful bonding moments and memories that we end up cherishing forever. We basically grow up and learn a lot thanks to them. But wouldn’t it be great if you and your dog spoke the same language?
Interestingly enough, people who have been living with their dog for the longest time can easily decode their dog’s intentions through his behavior and barking. And the opposite is also true. Over time, the relationship between pet and owner develops in such a way that communication seems to be perfectly possible – and it kinda is.


Dogs are vocal animals. They bark very frequently, and you can clearly distinguish differences in the frequency, pitch, and duration of their barks. Obviously, different types of dog barks mean different things.
If you are an inexperienced dog owner and you are still trying to know your puppy, here’s what you need to know to understand his bark.

Frequency: the frequency with which a dog emits a barking sound is usually related to urgency and excitement. This means that if a dog barks repeatedly and continuously, they see the situation as urgent. On the other hand, if the barks are spaced out, it probably isn’t anything that the dog considers important.

Pitch: higher-pitched sounds are usually related to non-threatening situations. So, if your dog is making high-pitched barking noises, you probably have nothing to worry about. On the other hand, lower-pitched sounds are a sign of aggressiveness – therefore, the dog is probably feeling threatened and is fearful of the situation he is dealing with.

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Duration: when a dog’s bark is long, it usually is a sign that he is making his intentions known. The dog probably will act aggressively if he perceives that the situation he is facing might put him in danger.

Keep reading to learn what different types of dog barks mean.

1. Compulsive barking

Compulsive barking in dogs is one of the most common types of barks. It can be triggered by almost anything. From a stranger passing by to a flock of birds flying close to the ground, or the sound of a siren, for example. Dogs often bark compulsively out of boredom. That’s right. So, when you hear your dog barking this way, it is probably a good idea to throw him a little dog toy so he can play or to take him for a walk. In some cases, dogs may bark this way because they are anxious about something.

2. Dog howling

Sometimes dogs bark in a way that resembles a wolf’s howl. It is very easy to identify and, to be honest, it sounds really cool. But why do dogs howl, you ask? Well, they often do it either to threaten other dogs or to reveal their location and make their presence known. Higher-pitched sounds such as alarms and sirens may also trigger some dogs into howling.

3. Aging dog barking

One of the most common symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction is precisely excessive barking with no apparent reason. This form of canine dementia is common among senior dogs. It makes them feel confused, disoriented and scared in situations that may seem regular to everybody else. That’s why they start barking. It is important to keep your dog engaged in mentally stimulating activities to help his brain stay in shape as he ages. Comparable to what happens with humans.

4. Intruder alert barking

Every time some stranger approaches your house, your dog will probably start barking very loudly. They are trying to warn you that something out of the ordinary is happening. These barks start high-pitched and, after a while, become deeper. Generally, this is the type of barking that dog owners identify first. The dog will stop barking as soon as he realizes that the stranger passing by is gone or that he doesn’t present a threat to anyone. Some dog breeds have a natural talent to be great security guards for your house!

5. “I want something” barking

There’s a specific type of barking that is a sign that your dog wants food, a particular toy, or your attention to show you something. It might sound like he is whining, and if you give him what he wants when he does it, he might take advantage of that behavior. For example, he probably will start barking non-stop until you finally give him his favorite dog treat or food. From time to time, you must restrain yourself from giving in to your dog’s demands.


6. “I want to play” barking

Do you know what your dog is telling you when he starts barking in a high-pitch tone while trying to push you at the same time? It’s simple, he just wants to play with you. Time to grab your dog’s favorite tennis ball and take him to the park to play some good old fetch. Don’t be surprised if he starts behaving similarly when he sees other dogs. He’s just feeling playful and wants to have a good time.

7. Separation anxiety barking

If your dog starts barking excessively every time you leave home, he might be dealing with separation anxiety – a condition that experts believe to affect about 2 in every 10 dogs. These barks are often long and spaced out, and sometimes might sound like howling. Other symptoms of this disorder include destroying pieces of furniture, scratching the front door, and urinating around the house when left alone. This condition can be exhausting for both the animal and the owner, so don’t ignore it and just wait for it to stop. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, schedule a vet’s appointment and discuss your concerns with the medical expert. He will tell you exactly what to do to manage the situation and help your dog overcome this anxiety. Remember that it is very important to keep your dog healthy, both physically and mentally.

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