Decoding a Dog’s Bark

Don’t you sometimes think about how wonderful it would be to understand your dog’s language? While we aren’t quite at the Dr. Doolittle stage yet, there’s got to be some sort of way to analyze what they’re saying, right? Turns out a professor of canine psychology at UBC has done a little more research and discovered that there are a few ways to determine what your dog is trying to say.

In general, he found that by altering one or more of the following they can create a range of different sounds conveying very different meanings:

  1. The pitch of the bark
  2. The duration or length of the sound created
  3. The frequency or repetition of barking

Sound the alarm

This is rapid string of 2 to 4 loud barks with pauses between is the most common form of barking. It means, roughly, “There’s something going on that should be checked out!”

If your pooch continues barking at a lower pitch and slower speed, this suggests that the dog senses an imminent problem. It means “Danger is very close. Get ready to defend yourself!”
Hello there, I know you!

1 or 2 sharp, short barks of high or midrange pitch is the most typical greeting sound, and it usually replaces alarm barks when a visitor is recognized as friendly. Many people are greeted in this way when they walk through the door. The message here is simply “Hello! I’m so excited to see you!”
 Let’s hang out!

A long string of solitary barks with a deliberate pause after each one is a sign of a lonely dog asking for companionship. So next time you hear your dog barking in the yard, listen to see if he is actually asking to be let back in with his dear family!
Let’s get ready to rumble!

A stutter bark, which sounds something like “harr-ruff,” is usually given with front legs flat on the ground and the rear held high. It’s pretty obvious that your pup isn’t acting aggressively when they do this. Kind of like a child trying to get their parents’ attention, it just means ” Hey! Let’s play!”


Hopefully this quick reference will help you build a better, more understanding bond with your four-legged BFF!


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