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Dog Behavior 101: Why Do Dogs Bark?

Dog Behavior 101: Why Do Dogs Bark?

Isn’t it funny to think about how our dogs can communicate with us and how we can communicate with them? We live with actual animals, but we can interpret and convey messages back and forth with each other. We love them so much, but the entire idea can be a wild one when you think deeply about it. We’re social, and so are they!

Our dogs understand “treats,” dinner,” “bath time,” “vet,” “walk,” and countless other words. We also know that they act accordingly to whatever word they hear. We witness this by our dog getting all tippy-tappy and excited when they hear a word they like or hiding behind a piece of furniture when they hear a word they don’t like.

It’s clear that our dogs understand us. We can see that they comprehend our words and actions through the canine training process (and their reactions to things we say and do).

The big question is, do we truly understand them? Dogs communicate in various ways, and the most famous way they make themselves known is through their bark.

Let’s dig in on what our dog’s barks mean and if there are ways that we can figure out what they are trying to tell us.

Why Do Dogs Bark?

Out of all the sounds in the animal kingdom, a barking dog is probably one of the most well-known and recognizable sounds. Dogs use their bark to communicate, and just like humans use their voices, barks can be used in a variety of ways.

Of course, barks can sound different from breed to breed. Larger dogs will have a more intimidating boom of a bark, while smaller breeds will have a high-pitched yap. As the relationship between you and your dog grows, you’ll recognize their barks and determine what they are trying to communicate.


Do you have a built-in welcoming committee when you walk through the door every afternoon? Your dog is excited to see you, especially if you have been at work all day. You may see them act the same no matter if you’ve been gone for thirty minutes or eight hours.

Either way, it is a sweet way to be welcomed home, and we appreciate our furry best friends for always being excited about our presence.

With their happy barks, your dog is showing that they are thrilled to see you and have missed you. Their barks will be more high-pitched and can be compared to a cheerful “Hey! You’re home!” This is often seen with a wagging tail. Your dog may even hop around and jump on you during their welcome greeting.


Does your dog hang out by the window all day and bark whenever another person or animal passes? Your dog is telling the passer-by that they are encroaching on their territory.

These barks might go on for longer and be louder than the “I’m hungry” barks. This will likely be partnered with a stiffer stance with direct staring at the trespasser in question. Essentially, the more worked up your dog is about something, the more excessive the barking.

To our dogs, it doesn’t matter if it is a mail carrier dropping off a package or a cat slinking through the yard, someone is in their area, and your dog is going to tell them and you all about it.

Attention Grabbing

When your dog is trying to get your attention, they’ll use different sounds along with their bark to indicate that they want something. Maybe their food or water dish needs to be refilled, or they need to relieve themselves outside. Either way, your dog may have more of a commanding bark along with other vocalizations to indicate that they need something.

Your dog may pair their vocal calls with certain body language, like trying to lead you to the door or to their empty dish. Depending on the urgency, like the call of nature, dogs may whine to indicate that they are in a hurry.


Do you ever catch yourself whistling or singing when you are doing a monotonous task? If your dog is bored, they may bark as a way to alleviate the silence and stillness that is around them if they are left alone for long periods of time. They are looking to release pent-up energy and seek attention from anyone or anything that will respond to their bark.

To ensure your dog doesn’t resort to barking to alleviate their boredom, give them ample opportunities to exercise and stimulate their mind. If you work out of the home, leave your dog with chew toys and treat puzzles to keep them occupied. You may also want to arrange a dog walker or take them to doggy daycare, depending on how long you’ll be away.

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Bark Up the Right Tree With AskVet

As your relationship with your dog grows, you’ll be able to determine what your dog’s barks mean. You’ll know when they feel excited or when it’s time to take a potty break.

Sometimes though, our dogs may bark at things we don’t hear, see, or smell. While we know that a dog’s senses can differ from ours, sometimes it’s hard to tell if our dog is barking at something tangible or if there is a behavioral issue occurring.

Enter AskVet. Our experts can help out when you are having a ruff time with behaviors your dog is exhibiting. If excessive barking is giving you and your home a headache, our team of Certified Pet Lifestyle Coaches™ can help with tips and tricks to help reduce any unwanted barking.

Schedule a virtual session with a CPLC™ and see how our experts can help with not only problem-solving solutions but also creating wellness plans so you and your pet can enjoy all the time you have together.


Ethology of Barking – Why Do Dogs Bark? | Australian Institute of Animal Management

The Meaning of Your Dog’s Barks | American Kennel Club

Do children understand man’s best friend? Classification of dog barks | ScienceDirect

Canine Olfaction: Physiology, Behavior, and Possibilities for Practical Applications | PMC


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