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Decoding Dog Barking Sounds and its Meaning
Decoding Dog Barking Sounds and its Meaning

Decoding Dog Barking Sounds and its Meaning

Have you ever wondered what your pooch is trying to say when they bark?

Each time you hear your dog’s barking sounds, you’ll know they want to convey something to you. And each of these barks can determine which mood your dog is in. Maybe they’re trying to say that they are hungry. Or they are trying to get you to play with them! You can also better understand what their barks mean when you connect it with your dog's body language positions

In a study conducted by specialists to analyze dog barking sounds, it was found that barking can be deciphered into six different types of emotions: happiness, sadness, hopelessness, a call for help, caution, and a call for attention. What's more interesting is that each type of feeling was also analyzed in depth to emote 28 expressions. In total, there were 168 emotions displayed through dog barking sounds. For now, let us understand a few common reasons why dogs bark

Why do dogs bark?

  • They want your attention

    One of the most common reasons behind a dog’s barking is that they wish to get your attention. Maybe you have been too busy to play with them and they wish to play with you. Or they simply want to be fed. For either reason, they will try to draw your attention toward them by barking. Just call out you dog's name and see if they come to you along with their adorable tail wagging. You'll know if they just wanted your focus on them all along!

  • They are alerting you to a potential intruder

    It is also common for dogs to start barking at strangers at your door. Whether it is a delivery person or your friend whom they have never seen before, they will bark to alert you and let the intruder know they are protecting you and your house. This way, they also mean to draw your attention toward a potential intruder.

  • They’re excited

    Did your dog just begin barking when you told them you were taking them for a walk? If so, you may even have noticed that they actually seem and sound joyful. This is because they wish to convey their excitement in the same way kids do by screaming.

  • They’re anxious

    Dogs also tend to let out high-pitched barks when they are feeling anxious or stressed.If they are feeling scared or afraid,they may let out a growl along with barking sounds.You may have observed this behavior if your dog is scared of thunder

  • They’re bored

    If your dog is feeling very energetic or stimulated and wants to let off some of their energy, they may start barking. Out of boredom, they may also bark to get your attention so that you may play with them.

  • They’re in pain

    If a dog is in a lot of pain, they may whine and bark. This is very similar to the concept of humans vocalizing pain. This may also happen if you accidentally touch a part of their body that’s hurting them.

  • They’re calling or responding to a call from another dog

    Dogs may let out high pitch barks to call other dogs, whether out of pain, danger, or any other reason. They may also let out loud barks to respond to another dog who is calling out to them

Dog  barking sounds and body language

To better understand the meaning behind a dog’s barking, it is also important to take note of the body language displayed during barking. This helps you understand your dog better. A few commonly identified body language signs displayed by dogs while barking are as follows:

  • When scared:

    They will bark while cowering or keeping their head low, their hair raised, and their tail curled between their hind legs.

  • When aggressive:

    They may keep staring at the person or object of aggression and even jump at them.

  • When they’re playful/excited:

    They will display free body movement, a wagging tail, and a body held upright with excitement, while barking.

  • When they seek attention:

    They will appear low on energy when barking.

  • When they are bored:

    They will be in a neutral position when barking, with their ears pulled back and their tails sticking out.

Types of barking sound dogs make

Each breed of dog has a different frequency of barking sounds even when they are expressing the same feelings. A Japanese invention called Bow-Lingual helps identify the mood of a dog when it barks. Bow-Lingual is a microphone and vibration meter tied to the dog’s neck, and it detects the frequency of barking. The device then conveys the meaning of the frequency to the owner, indicating what mood the dog is in. But since the device is not easily available to everyone in the world just yet, it is better to understand the meaning behind those frequencies by ourselves. Here are a few commonly identified frequencies of a dog’s barking, and what they mean. These were studied on a dog taken for a walk in a garden.

  • A series of 3-4 barks with small breaks in between means "Look at what's here, it’s interesting!"

  • Barking in rapid succession in a medium tone means "Something distrustful is approaching."

  • Barking and stopping, barking and stopping, consecutively for a long time means "I'm feeling lonely."

  • 1-2 short barks means "Hello, would you like to be my friend?"

  • One short fierce bark indicates annoyance and means "Stop messing with me!"

  • One short bark while looking at the owner means "I'm hungry" or "I need to pee."

  • Barking constantly and getting louder means "So exciting!"

Besides  the frequencies, you can also determine the meaning behind a dog’s barking, from the pitch and duration of the barks.

  • Pitch:

    If a dog is letting out a low-pitched bark or a growl, they are feeling threatened and need some space. On the other hand, a high-pitched bark with an upbeat tone, means the animal is feeling playful. A high-pitched bark in a melancholic tone can be a sign of anxiety or fear.

  • Duration:

    Barks with a short duration are an indication of the dog’s excitement or alertness. These short barks tend to have a higher frequency. And if a dog is letting out a longer barking sound, especially in a low pitch, it is feeling defensive or aggressive.


FAQs on dog barking sounds

  • Why do dogs bark for hours?

    Dogs bark excessively either to get the attention of their owners or because they are stressed out. It is also possible that they are bored and just reacting to the things going on around them.

  • Do dogs get tired of barking?

    Even though it looks like it is taking up a lot of the dog’s energy, barking will not tire a dog out. This is why dogs can bark excessively at times.

  • Are dog barks a language?

    Barking is a form of communication for dogs, which can be deciphered via the pitch and frequency of barking. Along with barking, dogs also communicate via body language.

  • What does it mean when a dog barks at you for no reason?

    If your dog is barking while looking at you, they may be trying to convey that they are bored or hungry. Dogs also bark at their owners when they are feeling anxious or wish to alert their owners. If someone else’s dog is barking at you, the dog maybe trying to convey that you are intruding in their territory.

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