Your Dog’s Bark… DECODED!

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In an article from Psychology today, Stanly Coren, Ph.D dissects a dog’s bark to help pet owners understand what our dogs are trying to tell us. “Barking is an alarm sound. There is no threat of aggression signaled by the dog unless it is lower pitched and mixed with growls. Let’s consider the interpretation of the most common barks,” said Coren. Rapid strings of 2 to 4 barks with pauses between is the most common form of barking and is the classic alarm bark meaning something like “Call the pack. There is something going on that should be looked into.” Barking in a fairly continuous string but lower pitch and slower than the usual alarm bark suggests that the dog is sensing an imminent problem. Thus this sound means “The intruder (or danger) is very close. I don’t think that he is friendly. Get ready to defend yourself!” One or two sharp short barks of high or midrange pitch is the most typical greeting sound, and it usually replaces the alarm barks when the visitor is recognized as friendly. Many people are greeted in this way when they walk in the door. It really means “Hello there!” and is usually followed with the dog’s typical greeting ritual Long string of solitary barks with deliberate pauses between each one is a sign of a lonely dog asking for companionship. A stutter bark, which sounds something like “Harr-ruff” is usually given with front legs flat on the ground and rear held high and simply means “Let’s play!” Hopefully these bark translations will help you understand your pooch better, the next time they are trying to get your attention!

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