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Dogs barks happen. Sometimes they happen a little too much for non-dog owners’ liking, but barking is one of the primary ways dogs express themselves. Whether it’s a high pitched, single bark or a long howl that accompanies a siren, dog barks have their own rhyme and reason.

The team at Kings Trail Animal Hospital wants to explore the meaning of dog barks to inspire a greater bond with your pet. No bones about it, that bark matters!

Yip, Yelp or Mighty Woof?

A dog’s pitch ranges from high pitched to low or grumbled pitches. A higher pitch can denote pain, fear, or uncertainty, as well as excited or joyful feelings. A shriek type sound that is sudden and occurs only once can mean they experienced a sharp pain or injury. 

Quick, yippy barks are often connected to playfulness. This is an invitation to play with other pets or with their owner. This can mean, “I’m happy to see you”, “Play with me”, or some other form of exuberant communication. 

Low level pitches can mean that your dog is confident, alert, or is trying to warn something or someone away. Low growls can say to others, “Stay away” as a warning not to enter the yard, home, or come closer. 

Stop Barking Already!

When a dog barks, they can do so in quick successions or in low, slow howls. The duration of the bark can be related to what the dog is trying to say and their actions associated with the bark is one of careful deliberation. 

The longer the duration of the bark, the more thoughtful and confident the dog is in what they’re attempting to do or get. Dogs who are fearful or less confident often bark in shorter durations, or it could indicate that they are worried or confused. 

Frequency and Repetition of Barking

How much your dog barks in repetition, or the frequency of the type of barks that come together, can illustrate what your pet is paying attention to. If they hear barking coming from the neighborhood or another sound that isn’t threatening, they may do a quick, leisurely bark as a response. 

If your pet is barking continuously, this is a sense of urgency in what they are communicating. It may mean someone is outside and they are trying to scare them away, they’re trying to get something, or want your attention in some other way. 

Understanding Dog Barks

Now that you know something about the frequency, duration, and pitch of dog barks, let’s put it together.

  • Hello bark – One or two short barks at a higher pitch.
  • Play with me bark – Lower pitch with a stuttered or broken duration or frequency, which sounds a bit like “ruff”.
  • Back off bark – Low pitch with a “grrr” sound and long duration.
  • Look at that bark – Continuous barking with a higher pitch to get attention or directed at something. 
  • I’m in pain bark – Rapid, high-pitched yelp
  • Whining bark – Longer duration, exaggerated sound or tone, raising and dropping pitch.

The Meaning of Dog Barks

Does your dog communicate their needs clearly through the sound of their barks? Have you noticed any unusual barking from them and wonder what it means? If you would like more information on the meaning of dog barks, we are here to decipher