7 Possible Reasons Why Dogs Bark

7 Possible Reasons Why Dogs Bark

Author WDF Staff


Communication is the key in all kinds of relationships; partners, friends, parents and children, business associates, and the relationship between the dog and their owner. Communication might seem difficult between dogs and owners since one side can’t speak. However, once you know how to communicate with your dog and understand what your dog’s trying to tell you, you will see that that is the most honest communication there is.

Dogs use their whole bodies to communicate with us. They use verbal and non-verbal cues to tell us how they’re feeling, and barking is one of the most straightforward ways dogs communicate. Many dog owners wonder, “Why do dogs bark?” and the answer might be more complicated than you think. There are different types of dog barks, and they all have different meanings. Here’s what you should know.

Why do dogs bark?

Dogs can bark for different reasons. The key thing to understand why a dog is barking is to examine the situation and circumstances in the time of the bark. Dogs will rarely bark unprovoked, and there is always a reason behind it, even if the cause is boredom. Here are the most common reasons dogs bark;

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chihuahua bark

1. Defensive bark

The term “defensive” barking actually refers to three distinct types of bark. Still, since they are pretty similar, we will include them under one category. The three types included in defensive barking are fear, territorial, and anxiety. These barks come from similar emotions and usually happen when the dog is under some kind of “threat.” For example, a biker or a jogger might be an innocent by-passer, but your dog doesn’t know that. The dog will start barking “just in case.” They might be warning the “threat” to stay away from their territory. Scared dogs or dogs that are anxious will start barking. They are feeling vulnerable, and the best thing they can do is be very loud to scare the reason for fear or anxiety away.

2. Play or excited bark

One of the most common reasons dogs bark is because they’re playing. These barks happen when they’re in dog parks or playing with their owners. They will become so happy that they will have to let out a sound. The excited bark is similar to the play bark. Excited barks usually happen when the dog’s owner gets home, and the dog is very excited to see them. This type of bark is generally accompanied by “tippy-taps” or even spinning. Play or excited barking is usually high-pitched, and the dog lets out one or two quick, happy barks.

dog-boarding playing

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3. Pain bark

Dogs that are in pain will start barking. You can notice these types of barks during play, but one dog gets hit too hard. In the wild, canids used these barks to call their pack for help or let others know something is hurting them. When two dogs fight, this type of bark might come out. This bark was described as being “higher pitched and often has a staccato quality.” Dog owners should notice these types of barks because they might need to interfere. If you cuddle with your dog and notice they do the “pain bark,” it’s time to get them to the vet. Something is probably hurting them, and the safest thing to do is get it checked out.

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4. Surprised bark

Like the name says, surprised barks happen when the dog gets surprised. You can see and hear it if something spooks your dog. For example, if you’re walking your dog and they weren’t paying attention while someone was walking towards you, they might let out a surprised bark. This is an involuntary reaction of the dog’s body, kind of like our reaction to being spooked. There’s no specific body position because the dog wasn’t prepared to bark; it just happened.


5. Boredom barks

Unfortunately, bored dogs can start barking. This is considered a behavior problem, and the owner needs to do something about it. The dog has too much pent-up energy in them, and they start barking out of sheer frustration. This type of bark usually lasts a long time, and many dog owners have problems because of it. However, if your dog generally gets enough activities, both mental and physical, they might produce a boredom bark because they’re inviting you to play. Those barks are usually singular and are accompanied by the play bow.

6. Food or attention-seeking bark

This is a pretty self-explanatory bark type. It usually happens when a dog looks for its owner’s attention or food. It will stop once the dog gets what it wants, or when the owner ignores the dog long enough, the dog decides to give up. The dog should have a relaxed overall posture, and barks are usually single with slight pauses between them. If your dog barks because they want treats, you should be careful. By giving them treats every time they bark, you will teach them that barking is rewarded. You might accidentally teach your dog a bad habit.

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7. Responsive bark

The responsive bark happens when your dog hears another dog barking. It is their way of communicating. The dog might be greeting other dogs or simply letting them know they’re present. Some dogs might bark when they hear other dogs because they want to socialize, and others might bark because they aren’t properly socialized. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that some dogs bark when they hear other dogs bark.

World Dog Finder team

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