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Dog language: Barking and its meaning


Dogs bark for a variety of reasons, but it is always an important part of their communication. In order to understand the barking in dog language correctly, however, the sounds must not be viewed in isolation. The following tips will help you decipher the importance of dog barking. Barking Maltese dog: What do you think the sweet whisper wants to say? - Shutterstock / Mary Rice

If you already have a lot of experience with dogs or have lived with a four-legged friend for a long time, you can usually understand the barking of your favorite intuitively. But if you have never had dogs or a new dog moves into your home, it can sometimes be tricky to grasp the importance of dog language. With these tips, however, it becomes easier:

Barking is not the same as barking

Dog barking is unfortunately not as easy to translate as the vocabulary of a human foreign language. Our fur noses do not communicate with words, but with an interplay of sounds, facial expressions and gestures. In addition, barking can have different meanings in different dogs and in different situations.

It can be said, however, that lighter pitches are mostly meant to be friendly and playful. Lower pitches, which sometimes mix with growls, usually indicate that the dog feels threatened or "issues" a warning. However, smaller dogs such as Chihuahuas or Spitz generally have higher voices overall than large dogs such as St. Bernard or Bernese Mountain Dogs. However, the voice position can also vary due to the shape of the head and body. The pitch of the pitch should therefore always be considered in relation to the general voice of the dog.

In the following video you can listen to the "dog voices" of different breeds. However, the respective dog breeds can only be seen as photos, so that the exact meaning of the bark cannot be recognized here. But it gives a nice impression of how different barking can sound in dogs.

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Meaning depends on the context

Dogs bark when they want to tell their favorite people or their kind. What that is depends on the context. They may want to attract attention, sometimes they want to warn us or play with us. It is also possible that the four-legged friend is bored and feels challenged. Then he barks because he has nothing better to do. Sometimes excessive dog barking is also a bad habit because your fur nose has noticed that it is paying attention when it makes a sound. If this is the case and you have been able to rule out all other reasons - for example fear, basic needs such as eating, drinking or going for a walk as well as warnings - you can ignore the barking.

If you are unsure, pay close attention to the rest of the dog language and the situation. If you are still at a loss and your dog looks physically fit and healthy overall, an animal psychologist or an experienced dog trainer may know. If your dog looks sickly, strikingly aggressive or more reserved than usual, if you prefer to see a veterinarian beforehand, then the barking can also be an indication that your four-legged friend is not doing well.

Look at dog language in its entirety

Even if dog barking sounds funny at times, you shouldn't underestimate or dismiss it. You should really only ignore it if you have ruled out banal reasons for the sound of your four-legged friend. Otherwise you disregard an important signal of dog communication. If other sounds mix in the barking, for example whimpering and whining or growling and rumbling, this can provide further clues to the meaning in the dog's language. A whimpering dog bark can mean that your dog feels left alone or demands your attention. Snarling dog barks, on the other hand, indicate defense, defense or threats.

Body language and behavior are also important to interpret the meaning of the sounds. A receding body language combined with a growling bark indicates that your dog feels threatened. If, on the other hand, he lays his front legs on the floor, stretches his rear end up and barks in a lighter tone, he usually feels like playing. In the video below you can look at different situations where dogs bark and get an idea of ​​what the animals want to say. For example, the chihuahua at the beginning backs away and growls; the camera is probably getting too close to him. The little bulldog afterwards would like to play with the cat, who in turn would prefer to be left alone.