Why Do Dogs Bark? 10 Dog Barks Translated

By on June 16, 2010

Unless you’re the proud of owner of a Basenji (the non-barking dog breed) there is every chance that once in a while your dog lets rip with a bark or barking session and you have no idea what they’re trying to say. Well wonder no more, we explain the common reasons behind 10 different dog barks….

Wait a sec…before you go on to read about all the different dog bark translations below, would we be right in thinking that you’re interested to learn about dog body language, understanding dog signals and communication? Well, did you know our newsletter contains some really interesting info on those exact types of subjects (and more!) – would it be too much of a pun for us to say – you’d be barking mad not to subscribe?

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1. Continuous rapid barking, midrange pitch: “Call the pack! There is a potential problem! Someone is coming into our territory!” Continuous barking but a bit slower and pitched lower: “The intruder [or danger] is very close. Get ready to defend yourself!”

2. Barking in rapid strings of three or four with pauses in between, midrange pitch: “I suspect that there may be a problem or an intruder near our territory. I think that the leader of the pack should look into it.”

3. Prolonged or incessant barking, with moderate to long intervals between each utterance: “Is there anybody there? I’m lonely and need companionship.” This is most often the response to confinement or being left alone for long periods of time.

4. One or two sharp short barks, midrange pitch: “Hello there!” This is the most typical greeting sound.

5. Single sharp short bark, lower midrange pitch: “Stop that!” This is often given by a mother dog when disciplining her puppies but may also indicate annoyance in any dog, such as when disturbed from sleep or if hair is pulled during grooming and so forth.

6. Single sharp short bark, higher midrange: “What’s this?” or “Huh?” This is a startled or surprised sound. If it is repeated two or three times its meaning changes to “Come look at this!” alerting the pack to a novel event. This same type of bark, but not quite as short and
sharp, is used to mean “Come here!”

Many dogs will use this kind of bark at the door to indicate that they want to go out. Lowering the pitch to a relaxed midrange means “Terrific!” or some other similar expletive, such as “Oh, great!” My cairn terrier, for example, who loves to jump, will give this single bark of joy when sent over the high jump. Other dogs give this same bark when given their food dish.

7. Single yelp or very short high-pitched bark: “Ouch!” This is in response to a sudden, unexpected pain.

8. Series of yelps: “I’m hurting!” “I’m really scared” This is in response to severe fear and pain.

9. Stutter-bark, midrange pitch: If a dog’s bark were spelled “ruff,” the stutter-bark would be spelled “ar-ruff.” It means “Let’s play!” and is used to initiate playing behavior.

10. Rising bark: This is a bit hard to describe, although once you’ve heard it, it is unmistakable. It is usually a series of barks, each of which starts in the middle range but rises sharply in pitch – almost a bark-yelp, though not quite that high. It is a play bark, used during rough-and- tumble games, that shows excitement and translates as “This is fun!”

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23 Comments

  1. Amanda

    July 2, 2010 at 3:11 am

    My dog does the #3 bark any time I leave her at the back door..she’s telling me she wants to come in, or if she’s inside, she’s telling me the door better open before there’s an accident! :D

  2. Bryan Pinkerton

    July 3, 2010 at 8:21 am

    love u

  3. sarah Shah

    July 3, 2010 at 10:36 am

    FANTASTIC post! thank you for helping me understand what my dog wants me to know!

  4. Mark

    July 3, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Very informative post! Would love to hear some sample sounds too.

  5. Mike

    July 29, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Dog barks everytime I leave him after a walk or leaving him alone for awhile

  6. chappiethewonderdog

    September 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    You can certainly tell alot from a dogs bark. The teritory bark is in my opinion the most common bark you will here. Giving your dog plenty of excercise is the key to stop the barking.

  7. Steven Love

    March 9, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Wow, Great answers to the barking and of course it makes perfect sense…..

  8. molly

    April 29, 2012 at 6:20 am

    cool did not know that

  9. Derik Gray

    June 10, 2012 at 7:48 am

    You guys should check out my dog howling.
    http://youtu.be/nOI_GFFqNek

  10. heskey

    July 6, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Intruder in our territoryy DEFEND YA SELFFF

  11. POLICE MAN

    July 6, 2012 at 10:09 am

    HURRY DOG GET OUT OF THERE FOR FS

  12. heskey

    July 6, 2012 at 10:11 am

    i am heskey,
    hear me roar,
    i am a,
    black dinosaur.

  13. Pingback: WOOF! | repurPAWS

  14. peter

    November 5, 2012 at 7:46 am

    I have always been a dog lover and some of the points you’ve raised have really chuckled me. It’s so amazing how some of the barking facts come out. Really interesting.

  15. Dawn

    December 30, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I actually have a question. I have a dog that is slightly over a year old and she is a mixed mutt. She has this very weird “bark” and I was wondering if anyone has had this before and what it may mean. It’s starts as a bark “ruff” but then goes into a howl “like a hound dog” but then finally bleeds into what sounds like a hurt whinning/dying coyote. She’s always fine when we hear it and check on her. Any ideas?

  16. Christine Cloutt

    February 15, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    My rising 5 Labrador has always barked in the evening, although he is now beginning to bark during the day. He is with us 24/7 and is a lovely natured neutered boy. This is very irritating and he usually will stop after he gets told off or we bring out the ultimate deterrent – the water spray! I just need to know why he feels this is essential to his routine, we have tried to stop this becoming a habit but fear this is too late and he has settled I to this routine – ho can we stop it.? Any help would be gratefully received and hopefully, acted upon! Just to mention we are not new dog owners we have had dogs over the past 40 years but this one has us totally foxed!

  17. I am awesome

    March 18, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    When training a dog, you can do the high pitched yelp if they bite you so they understand you hurt. If you just put them in their cage, they won’t understand why.

  18. sarah

    April 2, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    i did not know that
    because i have two dogs and i wanted to know facts

    • sarah

      April 2, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      But I do know #8

  19. Heavenly Snow

    June 4, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Sometimes i wonder if my dog just likes to listen to herself.

  20. Kimberly

    July 31, 2013 at 5:57 am

    Looking forward to the newsletter so I can understand my dog better!

  21. Nashville News

    January 7, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    A dog may be man’s best friend, but if people ever figure out what dogs are really thinking, will the friendship sour? Device promises dog barks will be translated into words – See more at: http://www.nashville.com/news/national-news/device-promises-dog-barks-will-be-translated-into-words

  22. kuehl112

    October 29, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Hi there,
    I wasn’t feeling very good last night and went to bed early. My daughter said that my dog was standing at the end of my bed looking at me and giving one sharp bark. She said that I didn’t wake up and was concerned. I didn’t hear anything, but woke up about 4 hours later and she asked me if I was feeling OK and this is what my dog did.

    What did my dog do this and what was he barking at?

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