Decoding the Canine Language: What Does Your Dog's Bark Mean?
Posted on September 26 2018
Dogs have been our trustworthy companions since the dawn of time. Nowadays, no matter where you go, there will always be dogs. They have proven themselves to be trustworthy, loyal, and understanding. They always seem to be able to get what we want to convey. However, have we ever got what they say even just a little? Us dogs trainers have been training our pups to understand what us humans say for a long time. We spent such a great deal getting them to see what we are saying, but we never put any effort into trying to learn what our canine companions are trying to tell us. Our pups communicate through a lot of ways, from their scent to their body language, their barks, their whines, etc.
Out of all the ways dogs try to communicate with us, the one that is the most straightforward is the barks. You may think that all dog barks are the same, but there is far more complexity involved. Barks that dogs made in one situation will sound completely different than ones made in another situation. They also are far more likely to carry different meanings. The barks are a lot more emotionally complex than we believe them to be. Usually, we all believe dogs bark to get us to pay them attention or when they are excited. But that is not the case, they also bark when they are lonely, irritated, frightened, etc.
What do the pitches of dogs’ barks mean?
When a dog gives out low pitched barks, it usually means that the pup is giving out threats, it is angry and aggressive. Obviously, this kind of barks means “stay away”. On the other hand, the high pitch barks usually mean the opposite, either it means that the pup is requesting permission to come closer or it is giving out permission for another to come closer. Now, why do they use this rule of pitches? The answer is relatively simple, as the big and dangerous creatures usually give out really low pitch sound. Even though the dogs are usually relatively small to medium-sized, but when a dog tries to communicate, he knows that the other animals in the vicinity are listening to his sounds, so he can utilize the pitch to make them understand what he wants.
For example, if the pup wants the other animals to stay out of its way, they can send out a lower pitch signal, which will suggest that it is a larger and more dangerous creature. On the other hand, a higher pitch signal like a whimper can suggest that it is rather small and it is safe to approach. Likewise, even the bigger pup can use the higher pitch signals like whimpering or whining when they want to convey that they mean to harm when they are approaching another smaller animal. Another example is when a stranger comes into your house, your dog will bark at him in a generally lower pitch than what he barks at you when you come home.
How about the duration of the barks?
In general, if the dog is barking in a long duration, it is likely that he is contemplating about what the signal will mean and what will his next behavior be. Consequently, if a dominant pup that is holding his ground with no intention of backing down decided to threaten by growling, then his sound will be low pitched, long and sustained. On the other hand, if he growls in shorter bursts that are held briefly, then it means that there is surely a hint of fear mixing in and the pup is worried that he will not be able to handle an attack.
What does the frequency of a dog’s bark mean?
It is common knowledge that the more frequent a dog keeps repeating a sound, the more excited or urgent he is feeling when facing a certain situation. Thus, when a dog is repeating a sound really fast and at a continuous pace, then it is likely that they are saying that the situation is quite urgent and important. On the other hand, if the pup does not repeat the sound or the repetition is really stretched out, then there is a high chance that he has lost interest and is not really bothered about the situation at hand.
For example, if your dog is out in the yard and is barking at something one or two times in about a few seconds, then it is likely that he is not really interested in or giving too much regard to what he has discovered. However, if he is giving many rapid barks in a quick succession and repeats them many times, then he really believes the thing he has found to be really urgent and extremely important.
Some example of the most common dog barks explained
Now, I will put out a list of some of the most common and recognizable barks along with their most universally accepted interpretations. However, as we still haven’t managed to completely figure out about the way canine communicate and some recent researches have pointed out that animal communication is far more complex than we initially thought, so the same bark may have a completely unique meaning if the context and the situation are different.
This is what a dog typically uses to greet when they someone or another pup that they are familiar with. It usually contains one or two short and sharp barks in a medium or high pitch. This is literally “Hello!” in the human language.
This is the possibly most heard form of all the barkings a dog can make in its lifetime. Your pup has a high chance of using this signal when they feel an intruder getting inside their territory, something really serious is happening that the family needs to be alerted. It contains continuous and fast barks in a series of two or four and in a medium pitch.
This signal is usually what a dog will give when it wants to play. There is a high chance that you will hear it when your pup is waiting for you to throw the ball to them or before starting a game of tug. There is also a high chance for you to hear this when your dog is playing around with another canine friend. It usually consists of a stuttered bark in a medium pitch.
4. Ready to fight
This comes from a confident dog that is annoyed and ready to fight. Your dog will also use this signal when he needs support from his pack when he is faced with a threat. It is usually a growl followed immediately with a low pitch bark.
This is what a dog uses when he was unexpectedly hurt or felt a sharp pain suddenly that instantly goes away. We usually hear this when we accidentally step on our pups’ paws. It is a really short and high pitch yelp.
This is what a startled or surprised dog will release. It may be similar to the “Ouch!”signal, but as it is only caused by surprise, so it is generally a single sound that is lower in pitch than the “Ouch!” signal.