Why Do Dogs Bark? 10 Dog Barks Translated

Have you ever wondered what your dog is trying to tell you when they bark? Have you ever wondered why dogs bark at all? This guide translates dog language so you can have better conversations with your dog.

Unless you're the proud 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 communicate to you, why do dogs bark?

Have they heard something you didn't? Do they need to go out? Or are there aliens landing which we need to know about? Well wonder no more, we explain the common reasons behind 10 different dog barks...

Why Do Dogs Bark? 10 Dog Barks Translated

Translated dog barks: what is your dog saying when they bark?

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.

Why Do Dogs Bark? 10 Dog Barks Translated

5. Single sharp short bark, lower midrange pitch: "Stop that!" This bark 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 their 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 sudden, unexpected pain.

Why Do Dogs Bark? 10 Dog Barks Translated

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 spelt "ruff," the stutter-bark would be spelt "ar-ruff." It means "Let's play!" and is used to initiate playing behaviour.

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!"

Summarising how to understand why dogs bark:

1. They are happy.
2. They are sad.
3. They are excited.
4. They're nervous.
5. They're feeling threatened.
6. I'm hurting or in pain.


  1. 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. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. Our pupply of 4 months quite often will start nibbling at your feet like as shes trying to say, I want to play, play with me. When she bites to hard my reaction to her is to stop. From there she’ll look me in the eye and co tinually bark before moaning like a child would when they moan. Is this her way to initiate play time??

  8. My dog cry like a rooseter when she has to use it its cute she even knows what eat eat is lol 4 months blue pit

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