How to interpret my dog's barking


The barking of the dog is different, as you wish to express different feelings or moods

  • Author: By EVA SAN MARTÍN
  • Publication date: February 7, 2017

Dogs bark to express themselves. But what do they say with each bark? Some are greetings, a kind of "hello, friend" in canine version. Others express fear. With other barking the dog shows his boredom, and others warn that the animal is angry. This article is a guide to know why do dogs (and wolves) bark and what do they say with each of their barks: from the friendly short bark (one or two short barks) even the most angry canine growl.

why do the dogs bark?

Dogs bark for many motives. They bark as a warning signal (hey, there is something there!), Out of boredom or when they want to ask for something. But dogs also bark out of fear. Other times, as a result of stress. And they even do it when they play.

But why do they bark? Social animals are much louder than those who lead lonely lives. And the dogs are, like their ancestors, the wolves, pack animals. Dogs and wolves are animals with a clear social structure, and this explains why they both produce a wide range of different vocalizations, which include barking, howls, groans and grunts, among others. And not only that: dogs don't always bark in the same way, their vocalizations differ depending on what they mean.

"The barking that a dog emits when it wants to play is different from those it produces when it protects a bone from another dog and even when it tries to scare a stranger", explains the ethologist Tamás Faragó, coordinator of the study 'This bone is mine, affective and referential aspects of dog barking', published in the scientific journal Animal Behavior, which analyzes what dogs say when they bark.

What do dogs say when they bark?

Veterinarian Sophia Yin has also studied how dogs vary barking in different situations, and what they mean when they bark. His conclusion? "The barking changes depending on what the dog expresses with him," says the veterinarian. In this way, Yin distinguishes three types of barking that also sound differently.

The first are the "alteration barking"They occur at something unexpected for the dog, such as when a stranger knocks on the door." These barks are more intense and serious, often lower, "he describes.

The second type of barking are called "barks of loneliness or isolation", which occur when the dog suffers anxiety from separation from his human or suffers stress due to excessive loneliness.

A third type is the barking game. "Both the loneliness and the game barks are of higher frequencies, more acute, and are vocalized with a greater number of tones and frequency modulations," explains the veterinarian.

What does the tone and duration of the dog's bark say?

Barks, consequently, express different things depending on the tone. In this way, the barking or sounds of lower tones, like a growl, they are a canine way of saying, "I'm angry, get away from me."

In other words (or barking)? A dog that barks at a stranger will do it in a more serious and intense tone. And it will sound differently when it barks before going for a walk, since in this case it will be more acute and with more varied vocalizations.

But even the grunts Canines can have different meanings, depending on their duration. "In general, the longer the duration of the sound produced by the dog, the clearer its intentionality," says Stanley Coren, a psychologist specializing in canine behavior.

A growl of long Duration carries a message of aggression or tension: it is a warning for us to stay away, and it should be taken into account. On the contrary, if the growl is choppy and brief"It is indicative that the dog is afraid and even that he is worried," says Coren.

What does the dog say when it barks repeatedly?

A dog that barks in shape repeated and fast It usually indicates urgency and excitement. And on the contrary: "A dog that emits a bark isolated and with low frequency it expresses greater tranquility and a lower degree of excitement, "says expert Coren.

How does this translate to canine language? A dog that barks once or twice when looking out the window is interested in what it sees, but little. What happens when you see something that interests you, like a friend in the park? Then the dog will emit multiple barks, repeatedly: this is his way of saying that the situation is important to him.

Interpret the barking of the dog: from hello to I want to play

The barks serious, in general, they express a more dominant and even threatening message. While the barking treble They say the opposite: insecurity and fear or excitement.

"A sequence of three or four rapid barks with pause in between suggests that the dog is interested in a situation but not alarmed, "explains the canine expert. On the contrary, the barking without pause and with a more serious tone It is what is known as the "basic alarm bark": it is more agitated, but without anxiety. This happens, for example, when there is a strange person nearby or in a situation unknown to the animal.

One or two short barks It is the typical canine greeting. It's a "Hey, friend, how are you?", In doggy version. Meanwhile, a sequence of elongated and lonely barks, howls, with pauses between them, is his way of saying that he is alone and wants company.

And what about those barking type barking or as if sputtering? "Then the dog emits a sound like harr-ruff and it is a bark that expresses an invitation to play that is accompanied by a blow with both front legs on the ground, "concludes the expert.

How to interpret the barking and other sounds my dog ​​emits. Learn to understand your dog through his particular oral "language"

Heartbreaking howls, slight grunts, dry barks ... the sound repertoire with which a dog communicates is wide and varied, a collection of "signals" with which our dog tries to express not only his feelings, but also his feelings. Learn to unmask what you mean to better understand your can.

As a starting point, we will focus on the types of barking your hairy can emit:

One, short and sharp: use it as a greeting, especially if it occurs when you return home.

Short, low tone: is the one that females serve to scold their puppies.

Uncontrolled: if your furry is faced with an unknown stimulus, which is imposed (for example, rockets and fireworks during the Fallas and Bonfires of San Juan) will react in this way. Another one of the moments in which it can occur takes place when a stranger walks around the house, in which case he will be alerting you that something out of the ordinary is happening and trying to move away.

Choppy: It happens when they are excited, happy, try to incite you to the game, want to go for a walk or are having fun.

Repetitive and insistent: They are frequent in hunting animals, trained as rescuers and the like. They are pointing out that they have found something.

Others: it is likely that, with age and aging, the dog shop to bark with greater frequency and intensity. Such behavior responds to two simple facts: he is becoming deaf and unable to modulate his bricks, or suffers from a disease such as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.

Generally speaking, dogs howl (perhaps their most direct association with wolves) to express their pain or that of another person who has been injured. But there are some nuances:

Long and continuous howl: with him they communicate their fear, their pain. It is likely to be combined with a half bark.

Symphony of howls with other dogs: they use it to delimit their territory.

Moan of a puppy: as a sign of complaint and demand for attention and / or affection.

An imitation: they use it, simply, with the purpose of imitating the sound of sirens, that of the train, police patrols, ambulances and the like that may have been part of - or are part of at that time - the environment. The explanation for this procedure is found in his high ear, capable of capturing other frequencies.

Other howls: They are very useful when determining if your dog suffers anxiety, is afraid or has a depressive picture.

Soft, low tone: he is telling you to stay away, that he is the dominant male, and that you stick to the consequences. They can broadcast it during the game.

Growl-bark: if he is tall and directs him towards another animal, he indicates distrust, while if he is low, it implies aggressiveness or attention call.

Wavy: that changes tone and modulation. The dog is nervous or about to attack. Faced with such a circumstance - and especially if he is already showing you his teeth - get away slowly and avoid looking him in the eye, as it is a challenge.

In any case, if your dog emits any of these sounds insistently, and you are unable to determine its cause, you should go to the specialist, not only for a mere practical matter (you can end up with the nerves of the end) but also to rule out anomalies in the mental and physical health of your dear partner.

Águeda A. Llorca Bravo
Journalist and photographer

How to interpret my dog's barking is a tip for Dogs, and talks about General Topics.

Looking forward to spree

But they don't just get angry. They laugh too. It's about ‘social gasping’, a noise that dogs make before playing and that indicates that they are having a pipe. It has also been proven that the issuance of previously recorded social gasps causes other dogs to bark less, relax and show less signs of anxiety.

And finally, the characteristic and annoying barking. Horowitz differentiates three types. The 'barks to the stranger' - of a serious and rough tone, as if spitting out and sometimes linked to each other to form an aggressive super-drain - the 'barking of isolation' - of higher frequency, are thrown into the air one after another one going up and down in intensity and make the listener think that the dog has 'fear' - and the 'barking of the game' - high frequency and more repeated than isolation. They are aimed at someone (dog or person) -.

To recap. Dogs communicate - between themselves and with humans that are part of their environment - and understanding them can improve coexistence and, in case of aggressive dogs, avoid the occasional disgust.

Animal dictionary

This ethological dictionary that circulates on the Internet is very useful as a summary but, of course, it is not refuted by any University or expert. Judge you.


-Continuous and fast lads, in intermediate tone: Alert. Problems. Someone enters our territory.

-Continued and slow lads, in low tone: Intruders or near danger. Ready to defend themselves.

-Quick and paused calls every 3 or 4: Notice of problems approaching, and request the ‘boss» ’to investigate what happens.

-Long and uninterrupted runs, with long intervals between each: I am alone and I need company. Usually occurs when a dog has been isolated for a long time.

-One or two sharp and short barks in intermediate tone: It is the most common greeting.

-A sharp and short bark, in a low tone: Enough is enough. Indicates discomfort

-Short message in a high tone: Indicates surprise. If it is repeated twice it means ‘look at this!’. If it is longer, it is a call. Many dogs use it when they want to go outside. In medium tone expresses joy.

- Howl or bark very briefly in a high tone: Oh! Response to a sudden pain.

- Repeated howls at regular intervals: Shows intense pain or response to something that scares them.

-Cuttered halftone in middle tone: Request to play.

-Soft growl in low tone: Grunt of threat. It's advisable to stay away and leave space to the dog.

-Growing that leads to barking, in low tone: Willingness to fight. If the dog is pressed, it will attack.

-Growing that leads to barking, in a high tone: Insecure dog that would prefer not to fight, but that will attack if it is not left alone.

- Intense growl without showing teeth: Usually heard when playing with the dog. He is simulating a joke attack and indicates that he is having fun. It is usually interspersed with choppy barking.

-Soft whining: They indicate pain or fear.

-Long and intense groans: "Give me ..." or "I want ...". It aims to attract attention. Or he is waiting for you to feed him or take him out for a walk.

- Sigh: Indicates satisfaction if the eyes are half closed. If they are open it is a sign of disappointment because something has not happened that the dog expected.

-Rugido: Call to the hunt.

-Ladrido-howl: The dog produces it when he feels alone and seeks company.

-How: «I am here» or «This is my territory». A self-confident dog will howl to show his presence.

-Jadeo: It usually indicates excitement.


-Ears straight and facing forward: Show attention, or are studying a new situation. If they are accompanied by head-to-side loops and with their eyes fixed (for example, when you speak to them), it can mean both "this is very interesting", and "I don't understand anything, eh?" And it has to do with Contemplation of a new event. On the contrary, if they are accompanied by wrinkled nose and show their teeth, it is a threat of attack by a determined animal.

-Ears back and parallel to the head: Usually associated with any type of challenge. Some dogs place them like this when walking or running, but in this case they have no special meaning.

-Ears oriented slightly backwards: «I don't like this at all». The dog may be doubting between attacking or fleeing. They are equivalent to a look of suspicion.


-Extended horizontally but not stiff: It is a sign of attention. The dog is watching something interesting.

-Extended horizontally and stiff: Take this position when facing the dog against a possible intruder or unknown. It means "to see who's in charge here."

-Cola erect: It is a sign of authority of a dog that is dominant.

-Color upright and curved over the rump: Indicates confidence, control and self-control.

-Cola slightly low but away from the hind legs: The dog is calm and relaxed.

-Cola down and close to the hind legs: If the limbs are stiff and shake the tail slightly, it indicates ‘I don't feel well’. If the legs are slightly bent it is a sign that the dog feels a slight insecurity, usually when it is in an unknown place.

-Cola hidden between the legs: Fear or submission. The dog is afraid of being harmed, or, in the presence of the dominant member of the pack, he says that "I agree with my secondary role and I will not challenge you."

Tail movements:

-Slight agitation: It usually indicates greeting.

-Agitation tracing wide circles: ‘I like you’. When two dogs play to fight, this movement of the tail confirms that they are only playing.

-Agitation at a slow pace: When you are training the dog, this means ‘I am trying to understand you, I want to know what you say but I just did not understand it’. When he finally understands, the movement accelerates and increases in amplitude.


- Direct and fixed look: Challenge, or response to the challenge by the dominant dog.

-Eyered eyes: Response of a submissive dog to a challenge. Acceptance of submission.


-Mouth relaxed and ajar, tongue slightly visible: It is equivalent to a smile among people.

-Bostezo: In dogs indicates stress or tension. The dog is tense or restless.

-Closed mouth, lips raised showing teeth: First sign of threat.

- Mouth ajar, lips raised showing the incisors, snout: Second sign of threat. If the dog is pressed, it will respond with an attack.

- Mouth ajar, lips raised showing the incisors and gums, snout: Precedes an immediate attack. If we are ever faced with such a dog, you should never run away. It is so tense that the slightest movement on our part will cause the attack. You have to look down (show submission), open your mouth, and back slowly.

-Any threat expression, with the corner of the mouth stretched back: Shows a component of fear in the dog. He can still attack, but he can also run away if he feels attacked. He comes to say "I am afraid of you, but I can attack if you force me."

Attitudes and Body Language:

-Crouched dog, extended front legs, erect spine, head close to the ground: invitation to play.

- Erect and relaxed position, erect ears not advanced, head high, mouth ajar, tail low and relaxed: Dog relaxed and happy.

- Erect dog slightly tilted forward, ears forward, tail straight, eyes wide open and mouth closed, rigid members: Dog on alert. He wants to show authority.

- Erect dog slightly tilted forward, ears forward, tail erect and bristly, eyes wide open, wrinkled snout, spiky hair, stiff members: Very dominant dog, threatening to attack if challenged.

-Position slightly tilted back, ruffled hair, ears back, tail between the legs, wrinkled snout showing teeth: Dog scared but willing to attack if provoked.

-Crouched position, low gaze, ears back, tail between the legs, non-bristled hair, leg raised: All are signs of submission to avoid fights. In total submission, it also lies on the back, showing the stomach and lower neck. Many dogs do so voluntarily before the leader of the pack. If the dog lies down to scratch his belly, what he does is accept that we are the boss.

-Place the head or paw on the back of another dog: Authority gesture. Indicates that mando I command here. ’

-Catch objects with your mouth: For example, wear the strap between your teeth when walking, or hold the owner's hand with your mouth. It is a challenge of power and may indicate that the dog does not accept the human being as leader of the pack. Beware of spoiling those attitudes.

-Place the leg on the knee of the owner: Attention request.

-Turn over the spine and rub it on the floor, rub the snout and chest against the floor: Very satisfied and happy dog. They usually do it before or after some pleasant activity.

- Scratch the ground, pluck grass with the legs: The dog has glands that leave a unique and distinctive smell. He is simply leaving a sign that he has been there.

-To urinate: Apart from the simple need to evacuate, it is to mark the territory (very small puppies still do not 'mark', and only pee once. Adults, however, contain themselves, to leave their signals for everything the way). If instead of urinating on the marks of other dogs, he does it on a dog or on a person, he is leaving a sign of authority and possession.

What do barking mean?

Barking is the way the dog has to not only express what he needs at that time, but also to ask for immediate attention. Depending on the duration and tone (acute / severe), we will be transmitting one thing or another:

    Danger warning: are lad> What do you want to express with howls?

Howls are vocalizations with those who express deep feelings. The dog uses them only in special situations:

    Do you feel lonely: are aull> What are the grunts for?

The dog uses grunts, not to fight, but to avoid conflicts. This animal is peaceful, and will only be aggressive if it feels threatened. For example:

  • Insecurity: It's a growl with a loud bark.
  • Nervousness: It's a medium growl with or without a bark.
  • Feels in danger: It can be a growl with a short bark or a low growl.

On the other hand, if he is happy and wants to play he can growl, but it will be a soft growl. This is done especially by puppies or very social dogs. It is no cause for concern.

I hope you now know how to communicate better with your four-legged friend.

Moans, groans and howls

Whining, whining and howling communicate submission, pain or fear. The real meaning depends on what the rest of the body "says." When your puppy vocalizes with groans, groans or howls while trying to stay away from you or another situation, the sounds indicate fear. The puppy's injury is often announced with repeated howls, and sustain or favor the injured paw.

But groans, groans and howls are also used as requests to a dominant individual (usually the owner). In other words, your baby uses these techniques to ask for attention, food or to get in or out.

Growls and grunts

Grunts and grunts are warnings. Dogs use them as signals that increase distance to tell others to back off and stay away.

Grunts show teeth and are not always accompanied by sound, they mean a slight fear. Grunts indicate a deeper concern and can be done with your mouth open or closed. A dog's growl is used in defense and as a threat. They are often used during play when your puppy attacks a toy or fights with other puppies.

While a menacing growl and growl can be scary, these sounds can be very important communication tools for your puppy and for you. Puppies that learn to growl are more likely to never bite without warning. That makes it especially important for all puppies to learn proper bite inhibition. It is important for your puppy to growl and growl in appropriate circumstances, during the game, when he is scared or in pain, so that he has a fair warning and can adjust his own behavior accordingly.

Yes, dogs laugh! It also doesn't sound exactly as you would expect. And while puppies and dogs use other groans, grunts and barks in other contexts, the dog's laugh seems to occur only during the game.

A dog laugh sounds similar to a human saying, "Ha ha ha ha!" But without sounding the vowel "a". It is simply an exhalation, according to researcher P.R. Simonet There is also research that points to a dog sneezing in certain circumstances to be similar to a "canine giggle" of delight.

Recordings of the sound of panting laughter that plays in the shelters have helped calm the stress of dogs. Sneezing can also cause reciprocal sneezing in your puppy, because after all, laughter is contagious and good medicine. Try it!

Mixed signals

Puppies are not always sure how they feel. They can mix vocal cues and make it difficult for owners to understand what they mean. Puppies that are not sure how they feel can bark, groan, growl and scream at the same time. That usually means they are more scared than aggressive. By learning to understand what your puppy says, you can help prevent dog bites and make sure you maintain an excellent relationship.