Is your dog talking to when it barks?

As a dog owner, you no doubt spend a lot of time with your pooch giving it all the love and attention in the world. Dogs deserve that kind of love and kindness, as they are just so easy to spend time around. Dogs love us, and we love them. Yet when your dog starts barking, how often do you just reach for the treat or the toys that you know it likes? How often do you actually pay attention to the context of its barks?

When a dog starts to bark, you might wonder if it actually is saying something. Most of us joke and add our own translation – often to do with going for a walk, going to the toilet, or playing fetch – to what our dog is ‘saying’ when barking. Yet if your dog is barking, it is not actually saying something – it’s still a form of vital communication from owner to canine. If you ignore your dog barking, you might be making a pretty big mistake!

Dog barks are much more than just a generic noise they make to draw attention to their presence. In fact, a bark is more akin to the kind of noises we make when we want something. So, if your team scores a goal, you are cheering like “Yeahhh!!” – or when you stub your toe on the couch, you make a noise akin to “Arghhhh!” – that is more like what a bark is for a dog. It’s not actually going “Food! Food!” – but it’s making a call that lets you know it wants something.

A dog bark, then, is more like a call that should alert you to something. It’s letting you know how the dog feels, but not why it feels that way.

Barking is the dogs equivalent of a howl

As you might know, dogs and wolves share a huge amount of lineage. Dogs are descended from the great grey wolves in some way or another. And while the similarities are basically obvious from looking, one big change is that wolves don’t bark. Instead, they howl – if a dog is howling, it’s usually to do with something very sad and painful for the dog.

Dogs barking always sound urgent and frantic, so you naturally assume that your dog is looking for something. Dogs make this noise because they want something, and they need help. Wolves don’t bark because they don’t need help and support; they are stronger, scarier, and generally much more capable of self-sustainability than the happy little dog sleeping next to your shoes.

Wolves howl because they want to bring the pack together, or because something is worth of the packs attention. With a dog, though, the bark can be something far more simplistic. The bark is a call to action; the call that they need help and need something, or someone, to help them handle a situation. It could be that they are hungry and cannot find food, or they have spotted an intruder and want to bring them to your attention.

You need to get used to learning about the barks of your dog, then, as different barks are for different things. Some are a bark in panic, others a bark in affection and cheer to a passing dog. Your dog isn’t so much as talking to you, as opposed to simply letting someone know that it needs assistance.