Dogs bark; whether you find that amusing, scary, or irritating, you probably wonder what your pooch is saying when it barks at the wind.
While humans haven’t created a dog-to-human language translator yet, it is possible to get a good idea of what your dog means when saying, ‘Woof!’
Different types of dog bark and their meaning
Anyone who lives with a husky may at least understand that dogs are not simply limited to barks. Instead, they have a large vocabulary of growls, yips, grunts, sighs, whines, and howls.
While you try to translate what different dog barks mean, we will consider all the other sounds they make.
As per a dog expert, dogs vary their vocalizations in three major ways. These are:
The pitch of a dog’s bark varies from individual to individual. However, it can also give away inner motivations. A higher-pitched dog bark usually indicates a dog is in pain, unsure, or scared. A lower-pitched dog bark is quite threatening and may come from a terrified dog or a confident dog trying to scare you away.
Dogs may draw out their barks into a ‘Wooh-Wooh’ kind of bark or a howling call. A drawn-out, longer bark seems to indicate more intention behind the bark. For example, a sudden, short ‘yip’ is likely to come from a place of surprise, while a longer howl-bark may have more meaning.
A repetitive bark at a fast pace indicates excitement, stress, or urgency for the barker. Dogs that bark fast try to communicate something exciting them.
We believe that trying to understand a dog’s bark is quite similar to understanding a baby’s cry. While mothers’ can easily tell from a baby’s cry whether they are hungry, hurt, or need a diaper change, it is not easy to decode the bark of a dog.
When babies grow up, they can express themselves by talking, but what about dogs? They can’t talk like humans to express what they are feeling, so they try to communicate thru their body language and with their barks!
We’ve tried to explain what their barks really mean to make it easier for you to understand what your pet dog is trying to say:
1. Incessant and fast-paced barking at a medium pitch
This kind of barking means that the dog is trying to communicate with its pack for help. This kind of bark can be commonly heard when stray dogs try to call their pack to help them deal with a territorial issue.
A pet dog will bark like this, if it feels threatened about its territory, for example, its bed!
2. Short and fast-paced barking in bursts with a few pauses (from low to medium pitch)
You might notice this kind of bark when you leave your dog home alone for a longer duration. They bark in this tone to get your attention!
3. Non-stop barking at intervals
This kind of bark can be commonly heard from guard dogs or even small toy breeds. They bark like this when they believe there is a problem or danger around you or them.
4. Single or couple of barks at a medium pitch
This is a general type of bark commonly heard from all kinds of breeds. It’s like a greeting bark, you can notice them when you take them to a dog park, or when they meet a new dog or a new person.
5. One quick and small bark at a lower pitch
It is their way of saying to stop doing whatever you are doing to them at that moment. You can hear this kind of bark when you are trying to bathe a dog who doesn’t like it!
6. One jagged and tiny bark at a higher pitch
This is a curious type of bark. They bark like this when they are confused and don’t understand what’s happening around them!
7. Just one yap at a high pitch
When your dog is hurt, he will bark like this. A sudden pinch or pain can cause them to bark like this!
8. Series of howling type barks
Hearing this type of bark is considered inauspicious as per some Indian myths. However, this kind of bark means that the dog is hurting and needs help.
If you hear this type of bark coming from a stray dog or your pet dog, rush them to a vet!
9. Very short barks at a medium pitch
They usually bark like this when you are getting ready to take them out for a walk or going to play with them.
10. A fun bark starting from lower and rising to the medium pitch
This kind of barking is like music to the ears of a dog lover. It means that they are having fun and very happy!
Apart from the dog’s barks, their body language plays an equal role in helping to understand their exact situation.
Interpreting Canine Body Language
It is a bit frustrating for a dog parent, but your dog’s body language is still one of the best ways to interpret their barks. It might be easier to speak a tonal language like Chinese, but deciphering dog bark tones is quite challenging for humans.
Even the most vocal dog may be mute compared to the vocalizations of the quietest human. Humans often rely on vocalizations to communicate more compared to other animals. Dogs largely use body language and pheromones to communicate.
A Note on Wagging Tails
Tail wags are not all the same. Like a human smile, tail wags indicate uncertainty, aggression, submission, fear, or happiness. Do not make the mistake of assuming that a tail wag indicates a comfortable, happy dog. Here are a few points you must remember:
- A stiff, high tail indicates arousal or interest. It is often paired with upright and forward body posture. It is not ideal to see when a dog is introduced to a dog or human.
- A low fast tail wag indicates submission, uncertainty, or fear. The dog is not truly happy and is more likely to diffuse a scary situation.
- A sweeping mid-level circle or tail wag indicates comfort and happiness. It is the tail wag we love to see.
It is essential to look at your dog’s barks along with body language. The reason is that dogs can communicate through scent and body language far better than through vocalizations.