A tan dog trying to get across the meaning of his barks.
What is your barking dog trying to tell you?

Most loving dog owners are sure they know what their dog is thinking and feeling at all times. The problem is that our furry friends don’t come with a bark dictionary, so we are left wondering what each sound actually means. 

If your dog is the chatty type, we can help decipher those barks into a relatable vocabulary. The team at Androscoggin Animal Hospital is here to explain the meaning behind dog barks.

Decoding Dog Barks

Trying to figure out their dogs is a great pastime for many canine aficionados. After all, the bond we share with our pawed pals is immeasurably rich and meaningful!

There are a few common sounds or barks that have some specific reasons behind them:

  1. The howl  – This “call of the wild” sound may seem like your pet is trying to channel their inner wolf. This loud, lonesome song is not just a way for dogs to signal to their peers that they are nearby, but also a way to get attention. The howl is often accompanied by a police siren, a firetruck, or other loud noise that sounds off nearby. It can also mean your pet is lonesome or bored, which is why they sing the blues.
  2. The happy yap – This playful bark sounds like a series of high-pitched yips and yaps, almost like squealing. It’s a sign your pet is excited about something, whether it is a game, food, or the sight of someone they love.
  3. The growl – No one wants to hear this from our pets, but a growl is actually a useful expression. Growling signals “back off,” and should get the attention of a pet owner that whatever is occurring needs to stop. If the growling occurs while dogs are playing together it’s most likely a “play-growl,” which is especially seen in puppies who are learning their social cues.
  4. The sharp, rapid bark – When your pet reeeeally wants you to pay attention to something they may begin rapid-fire barking. Sensing an unfamiliar animal in the yard, or seeing something in the distance, can prompt rapid barking. Unfortunately, dogs may also feel the need to do this when someone rings the doorbell!
  5. The whine – Everyone’s favorite, right? Not so much. Still, your dog whines because they want something or they are in pain. Sometimes, whines are ways to express their dissatisfaction with something they aren’t getting or when they are “miffed” about something you want them to do, like take a bath.
  6. The woof or ruff – These are your typical playful barks intended to greet you or others. Woof barks are short in duration and have a mid- to lower pitch to them. They are your standard bark to say “hello” and “hey.” This comfortable bark means all is well in your dog’s world.

Summary: The Meaning Behind Dog Barks

We hope this explanation of some of the more common dog sounds has given you greater insight into your dog’s thoughts and feelings. Barks can be much more expressive than we know, but at least we can identify some of our best friends’ ways of communicating. 

If your dog is super talkative, have you noticed any variations on the standard bark? We would like to hear more! Just comment on our Facebook or let us know when you come in next.

If you would like more information on the meaning behind dog barks, or to schedule your dog’s wellness checkup, please give us a call