Dogs bark! Much like us humans, dogs use verbal and nonverbal cues to communicate. Your dogs bark is like talking is for us – completely normal and the most effective way they communicate with other dogs and people.
But do you know the main reasons that dogs bark? For owners to understand their dogs and know what they may need, it’s important to know the reasons your dog may be barking and how you can help them. In order to help you help your pooch, here’s a breakdown of the most common reasons dogs bark.
Excitement. – We all get excited, and dogs are just the same. Life is a fun, exciting place with lots of thrilling and enjoyable experiences! Do you ever notice your dog barks when you come home from work? Or they start barking when they know you’re reaching for the lead or opening their food? This is all an expression of excitement (I certainly know the feeling; I get VERY excited when I hear a bag of M&M’s being opened near me!).
Excited barking might be expected more from puppies or younger dogs who haven’t been trained, but it is still quite common in older dogs too. Many dogs will bark whilst playing with you or other dogs. Much like children, dogs love fun and playtime!
Not all dogs will bark at the same thing in excitement though, most dogs have certain triggers that they learn mean something fun or different is about to happen. Ike mentioned before, the sound of the lead being picked up, a car door shutting, keys in the door. For the most part this reasons for barking isn’t a problem and can actually be quite endearing – it’s nice to know that your dog has missed you whilst you were out.
Most of the time, barking in excitement is also accompanied with a wagging tail and an alert – but happy – body position. This show that they are incredibly happy and ready for any fun or excitement that may be coming their way!
Attention Seeking. – A lot of these reasons for barking are weirdly similar to behaviours shown by small children. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing – we’ve mentioned in the past that dogs are thought be about as intelligent as a human toddler! It’s adorable!
With that, comes attention and even food-seeking behaviour too. When a dog wants your attention, one of the most effective easy to achieve this is to bark. At you, near you or in your general direction any way to make you notice them and o their way. Weirdly…it does sound a bit like toddlers I know…
With attention seeking barking likely comes a relaxed and less energetic body language – their tails might be wagging or straight, their ears down or natural or at attention. This is behaviour that is not overly excitable nor aggressive. Just, wanting your attention and only using their voices to do it!
It’s best to be careful with this type of barking though, if a dog uses this to ask for treats or special treatment (e.g. going out late at night or being let int rooms they’re not usually allowed in) and you give in too many times, your dog will learn that this is the way to achieve what they want. You’re giving in teaches your dog that this kind of barking is effective and are likely to repeat and bark all the time.
But this kind of barking isn’t all bad – sometimes it can just be your dog wanting your to throw their toy that they’ve dropped at your feet, or that they need to go outside to answer the call of nature.
This can be useful if you’re a little distracted (talking to another dog owner in the park) or in another part of the hose away from your dog. They’re kinda good like that, Making sure you don’t forget about them and their needs!
Boredom. – Dogs can and do get bored. Just like people and other pets! When dogs are bored, they may bark at you, another dog or pet, or just in general, to engage someone or something else into playtime or mischief. This kind of barking is typically a singular, gruff, bark and accompanied by a neutral posture or their ears drawn back and straight tail.
Sometimes a bored dog will bark jus to release excess energy or even as a signal of loneliness. Which is just so sad! Make sure your dog has plenty of toys to pay with or even a companion to spend time with If your tend to spend long periods of time out of the house.
It is very important as dog owners to make sure your pet has enough mental and physical stimulation, to ward of any and all destructive behaviours your dog may develop to counter their boredom and frustration. This can include barking, chewing, whining, toilet troubles and eating of things they shouldn’t!
Make sure your dog is taken on regular walks, have plenty of fun and challenging games and lots of toys they can occupy themselves with. As mentioned many times before, we have a huge range of Dog TV episodes on our YouTube channel (links in the show notes) that can help stave off boredom in your dog and help they stay mentally active and healthy.
Pain –. It sounds like an obvious one but is a kind of bark you should definitely understand. Dogs bark when they are in pain. In the wild this will be communication to the rest of the pack that something has hurt them and is a danger.
Typically this kind of bark occurs when the dog has accidentally been stepped on, bumped, or physically surprised.
If you touch or pet your dog and they bark/yelp, it could be an indication that they are hurt in some way. Either they have sustained an unseen injury, or they are anticipating pain. If this happens it’s important you get your dog to the vet to see what’s wrong.
Please do bear in mind that everything in this post is strictly advisory and has been gathered from various reputable sources from the internet. We’re not vets, and you should always seek professional advice if you ever have concerns.
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