When your dog barks or growls, have you any idea what your furry friend is trying to say or communicate?
In this article, we'll look at 10 dog barking moments & what your dog is trying to say, plus 5 different ways in which your dog may growl.
10 Dog Barking Moments
1. 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!"
2. 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."
3. 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.
4. One or two sharp short barks, midrange pitch
"Hello there!" This is the most typical greeting sound.
5. 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.
6. 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!" My cairn terrier, for example, who loves to jump, will give this single bark of joy when sent over the high jump. Other dogs give this same bark when given their food dish.
7. Single yelp or very short high-pitched bark
"Ouch!" This is in response to a sudden, unexpected pain.
8. Series of yelps
"I'm hurting!" "I'm really scared" This is in response to severe fear and pain.
9. 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.
10. 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!"
A Dog's Growl & What It Means
Growls can stand alone or be used to modify barking sounds to add a degree of threat.
Below are 5 different ways a dog may growl, and what they are trying to communicate by that growl.
1. Soft, low-pitched growling
"Beware!" "Back off!" This is used as a threat and usually causes the listener to move away, giving the dog more space.
2. Low-pitched growl-bark
This is a clear growl that leads to a bark. It means "I'm upset and I'm ready to fight!" This is a clear warning that pressing the dog will lead to aggression.
3. Higher midrange-pitched growl-bark
"I'm worried [or frightened], but I will defend myself." This is the threat of a less-confident animal who will, however, most likely fight back if pushed.
4. Undulating growl
This is a growl that goes from low midrange to high midrange with a kind of a semi-bark often added as the pitch rises. It means "I'm terrified. If you come at me, I may fight or I may run." This is the fearful-aggressive sound of a very unsure dog.
5. Noisy growl, with teeth hidden from view
"This is a good game!" "I'm having fun!" It is usually part of the play sequence and may be tucked in between a series of stutter-barks. It usually indicates intense concentration, as in a tug-of-war or play-acting aggression.
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