Barking is natural and our canine friends wouldn’t be themselves without it. Whether you have a howling Husky or a deafening Dalmatian, dogs use barking to not only communicate with other dogs, but you too! Unlike us humans, dogs can only change the pitch, frequency and duration of their bark to get across their point. No matter how much we connect with man’s best friend, like a new born child, we cannot always suss out what the problem is.
In most scenarios, our dog’s bark is a positive. It is likely they are welcoming us home, are excited about a swim or are having a chat with a new friend in the park. However, there can be times when your dog barking can become troublesome, or is indicating you that they are in distress or in pain.
This article will provide you with a basic guide to understanding your dog’s bark, what it may mean, and how to rectify any negative behaviours.
What Does My Dog’s Bark Mean?
Midnight screechers and guttural woofers, the dog community has them all. You will likely notice that your dogs bark changes. Often, wanting to be let out to relieve themselves is a soft but frantic bark, whereas warding off the postman can be much louder. Understandably it will depend on the breed of your pooch, but you will notice different characteristics and special quirks of your dog.
My Dog Barks All Day
The length of time that your dog holds his barking phase for is indicative of how they are feeling. Often, dogs that have to spend some time in the house alone can be the culprits of these barking sessions. It is only when the neighbours inform you of the issue that you have any clue it was happening.
Dogs that bark continuously, whether alone or in the presence of others, tend to be frightened or anxious. Moving house, strangers, separation, and unusual activity inside or outside the home can all be factors that contribute to elongated barking sessions, which can be very draining for poor old pooch.
To get a handle on this you may want to utilise the skills of a dog behaviourist. They are trained to read your dog and teach you the best ways in which to tackle the situation. Products such as the ThunderShirt or Adaptil Diffuser will help calm your dog and alleviate any fear or anxiety. Alternatively, try introducing your dog to more people, situations and sounds. Or, leave the radio on if you need to pop out.
My Dog Barks at People
If your dog is barking at people when you are simply taking him for a walk, this is a serious issue and you will likely need expert help. If your dog is a rescue, they could have trust issues and their barking (although it may seem aggressive) is a defensive mechanism and a way of telling you, as their loved one, to stay back because this person is dangerous. This barking is likely to be lower in pitch and accompanied by growls or snarling. Don’t panic, your dog needs some TLC. Introducing them to individuals will need to be a slow process, they are likely frightened or feeling threatened.
On the other hand, if the sounds coming from your pup are fast, high pitched and frantic, you have an excited dog on your hands. Does this happen when you reach for the lead? Does this happen when you brandish a ball? Does this happen at the dog park? There is no need to do anything about this kind of barking, it is simply your dog showing they are ready to play or walk. This is often accompanied by extreme body-wiggling tail wagging!
My Dog Barks at Other Dogs
The reason your dog is barking at other canine companions is down to two things; fear or fun. A little lead pulling and barking from your dog is completely normal, especially in puppies and dogs that are simply full of beans. You will be able to tell if your dog is barking because they want to play – the barks will be higher in pitch and in short, sharp bursts. The lead tugging can be annoying, but some simple training in your garden at home will rectify this. If you know that the other dog is friendly too, sometimes it can be easier to let extremely happy pooches off the lead so they can let off some steam with their pal.
If your dog is doing any of the following whilst emitting a low, elongated bark, you will need to address the issue:
- Lunging in hand
- Baring their teeth
Whilst these might sound like traits of a feral, nasty or vicious dog, it could be anybody’s pet. Inevitably there are problem pooches in the world who have not been raised correctly and show these signs whilst barking, but some are simply petrified and their anger is actually a defence mechanism. Dogs that were not socialised at a young age, or those that have been attacked by another dog can often display this behaviour. It can be difficult to correct as fear is an overrdig
My Dog Howls in the Night
Howling is another form of vocal communication from dogs. Sometimes you will find your pet howling in response to a high-pitched sound; an emergency vehicle or another dog’s howl can set them off. For some breeds, howling is a way of saying hello and announcing their presence. Those who own Beagles, Malamutes and both Blood and Basset Hounds will know exactly what we mean!
Whilst howling can be a healthy characteristic in some dogs, for others it could be a sign of something negative. If a dog feels cornered, ill, or injured chances are they will howl and/or whimper. Howling is essentially a way of vocalising pain in this instance, whether it be physical or emotional. Anxiety can also be the reason for any midnight howling.
For those with puppies or new dogs, howling at night can be part and parcel of the experience. If your new pet is being crate trained at night or restricted to an area in which you would like them to sleep you are likely to hear them throughout the night. Don’t worry, this will get better.
If your dog has started howling recently, you should visit your vet to eliminate any medical issues and see the help of a dog behaviourist.