Though it’s completely natural for dogs to bark, there’s always a motive behind it. As one of the few ways that dogs can effectively communicate with us humans, barking carries multiple nuances. Is it a cry for help? A yearning for attention? A warning to step back? In this article, we’ll debunk the 10 most common reasons why your dog is barking and how you can identify each message.
#1. Barking for attention
This is the number one reason that your dog barks. Dogs have not been gifted with the complex vocal folds that humans possess. Equally, we humans don’t have the same smell and hearing senses that dogs do. So barking is the most effective way of calling for our attention.
⚠️ How to identify a bark for attention: A bark for attention will be even pitched and short.
#2. Barking out of fear
If your dog is frightened, it will likely bark as an instinct. It’s a warning to the perceived threat that they are not to be messed with. It’s also a signal to you as their caregiver that they are in need of protection. It’s odd how distinctive a bark out of fear can be.
⚠️ How to identify a bark out of fear: It depends on your dog but generally, it will be more high pitched.
#3. Barking due to anxiety
Isn’t anxiety a form of fear? Philosophically it’s on the same spectrum but anxiety is more specific. An anxious bark is less out of fear and more a general sense of impending dread. Anxious barking is a common cause of excessive barking, particularly if they are suffering from separation anxiety.
⚠️ How to identify a bark due to anxiety: It tends to be high pitched and repetitive.
#4. Barking to protect their home
Territorial barking is part of your dog’s DNA. They want to protect the roost from the dangers of neighbourhood dogs, loud school children and postal workers. This isn’t a very avoidable type of barking but it’s certainly helpful if your home truly is in danger for any reason!
⚠️ How to identify territorial barking: Territorial barking is low-pitched and loud.
#5. Barking to signal pain
If your dog has injured themselves, they may bark as a cry out for help. It calls your attention and lets you know that something is wrong. This could be an internal pain as well such as stomach issues or bruising. Accompanied by a fraught facial expression, you’ll know if your dog is crying in pain. Give them security and investigate the source.
⚠️ How to identify barking from pain: Pain barking will be short and laboured.
#6. Barking out of confusion
When fireworks sound, your dog may bark out of fear but also confusion as to what is happening. This isn’t a particularly aggressive bark and may sound similar to anxiety barking. The most common times you’ll hear the confusion in your dog’s voice is if they are suffering from Canine Cognitive Dysfunctional Syndrome or CCDS. This is similar to dementia. Dogs with this condition will bark out of confusion and worry during the night.
⚠️ How to identify barking from confusion: Similar to anxiety barking, typically not aggressive sounding.
#7. Barking out of loneliness
A lonely bark can often be mistaken for howling as it has a similar tone. Dogs need social stimulation to be happy and healthy. Your dog may bark more often when you are away from home. This is particularly severe in dogs with separation anxiety issues. If your dog gets lonely during the day, consider pet daycare or dog sitters while you are away. Alternatively, there are tools to boost your dog’s confidence so that they feel more at ease in separation.
⚠️ How to identify barking from loneliness: Will sound similar to a howl that leads to a common bark sound.
#8. Barking with the community
We’re being slightly tongue-in-cheek with this point but you have certainly heard it before. The chorus of dog barking where one pup begins and the entire neighbourhood joins. It’s quite entertaining but also a nuisance when excessive.
⚠️ How to identify community barking: Listen for not only your dog’s bark but others in your local community.
#9. Barking because they’re in heat/roaming
If your dog hasn’t been neutered or spayed, barking can become a mating call. Male dogs in particular will bark when they are roaming in search of a female. You’ll know this is the issue if your dog is pacing around the garden or home while they bark.
⚠️ How to identify barking while on heat: Listen for an excited bark that can lead to a howling sound.
#10. Barking out of boredom
dogs can bark out of sheer boredom. Some dogs do this more than others depending on their tolerance for boredom. If you have an active dog with plenty of pep in their step, they may start barking to express their boredom more often than a dozy dog who loves to chill inside. Boredom barking will be paired with restlessness. Sometimes it’ll have an upbeat tone as if to say “let’s play a game!”
⚠️ How to identify boredom barking: Repetitive short barks can sometimes be paired up with a whine.
We hope this article helped you become a better dog whisperer. Remember that your dog is an individual. Although these guidelines will surely help you identify why your dog may be barking, as your bond deepen you’ll attune your ear to your dog’s unique calls and what they may mean.
A content collaboration with Gentle Dog Trainers