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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

The communication of the dog includes the acoustic signals like when a dog barks. By making sounds, their body language is emphasized and emotions are expressed. The spoken language must also be considered in its entire context. Here is a list of typical sounds and their possible meanings.

Pitch, tone length, volume and timbre are considered. Each dog has its own individual voice colour. Also the frequency of barking depends on breed, experience, age etc.

Typical sounds

Howl: Promotes a feeling of togetherness, contact and can be heard over long distances. In contrast to the wolf only few dogs can howl. Dogs usually howl in case of separation anxiety.

Growl: Warning when threatened. In play sometimes out of excitement.

Whining: Loneliness (separation anxiety), indisposition, rather social insecurity, restlessness/stress, fear, pain, frustration (for example, because he does not get something)

Whimpering: Long-lasting whimpering is often vocalized after whimpering during mental or physical stress (cold, hunger, rather environmental insecurity, fear …). Short whimpering is shown in case of shock or pain.

Nagging: High-pitched, as exaggerated barking (often in Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers)

Screaming: strong excitement about: protest, joy, expectation, fear, fright. Especially with pain or threat that has been associated with pain.

Hum: Displeasure sound

Yowling: Fear, pain, attention

Sighing: Well-being, contentment

Hoofing: muffled, short barking. He wants to draw attention to something, for example, because he has heard a sound he wants to draw attention to. Typical are pauses between the woofs in order to locate the possible threat.

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Not all barking is the same

  • Clear, bright bark: Feel unwell
  • Short, loud, high-pitched barking: Attention. Dogs usually don’t stop until they get what they want.
  • 1-2 times medium-pitched barking: Greeting, if not reciprocated, barking is repeated.
  • One short, deep barking: Uncomfortable, like when he doesn’t want to be touched. As a correction, if he feels disturbed.
  • Throws followed by short, medium, fast barking: Vigilant dogs warn of impending danger.
  • Fast, excited barking in a medium tone: Alarm
  • Fast, excited, high-pitched barking: Stress
  • Short, deep bark: Threat, combat readiness often combined with growling and snarling.
  • High, hysterical barking: Fear, often in combination with howling.
  • One-sided, monotonous barking: frustration, underchallenge
  • High/shrill, excited barking: Joy, excitement, like when someone comes home.
  • High/medium, fast barking repeatedly with short pauses: defence, for example when a conspecific approaches too closely
  • Light, short barking, panting or whimpering: Invitations, for example to play, often turn into barking when ignored
  • Bright, fast, barking partly with howling: Trace sound during hunting

So when a dog barks it can have many meanings. Pay attention to which emotions can be behind the barking. Often the barking is learned. Your dog has learned to get what he wants for barking (attention, toys, food, …).

Noises in puppy age: Mucking (short, successive mh sounds), quacking (long, nasal ähh sounds)

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When a dog makes a sound, you should take it seriously and listen carefully to the emotions behind it. It is also important to look at the dog’s whole body and consider the situation. Sounds belong to their behavioural repertoire and their language. With some more, with some less.