Dogs communicate with us in many ways, from body language to barking. And when it comes to barking, your pup is trying to tell you that they want something, and the context of the bark will help tell you what that something is. I’ll decode six kinds of dog barks and give you some tips for how to stop dog barking:
Demand Barking: “Throw the ball! Pet me! I’d like a treat now, please!” Your dog may let you know that he needs something by barking at you. Demand barking comes in the form of mid-tone barking that remains consistent until they get what they want or need. Bark. . . wait. . . bark. . . wait. . . bark. . . wait.
What do you do about this kind of barking?
Well, you’ve got two options: 1. Give them what they want. 2. Wait it out. I recommend option 2 if you want this barking to stop. It’s called behavior extinction, and the only way to do it is to patiently wait for your dog to stop barking at you. It’s going to take all the willpower that you have, but stick it out! If you’re weak, your dog will know it and the barking will only get stronger.
Play Barking: “Let’s go! Get off the couch! Time for a game!” Play barking happens when your dog is excited to get moving and wants you to do something with him. It’s usually accompanied by loose, wiggly body language like play bows, spinning in circles or zooming around the house, and perhaps by other vocalizations like growls or yips.
How do you deal with this kind of barking?
Go play with your dog! Dogs are the gods of frolic, and they need lots of mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. So get out there and hang out with your dog.
Alarm Barking: “Intruder alert! Intruder alert!” Alarm barking happens when your dog suspects that something is amiss on the home front. This may be triggered when a visitor arrives at your door or if your dog is woken up from a nap unexpectedly. These barks are generally strung together in a series of rapid-fire loud, deep barks.
What do you do if your dog is alarm barking?
Generally, I thank my dog and move on! If my dog is barking because the doorbell rings, I tell him “Good job buddy, now sit and stay while I let the person in.” However, if your dog is sounding the alarm at everything or everyone, it may be time for some training. Seek out a certified professional dog trainer to help you through these issues.
Painful Barking: “Don’t touch me, I’m scared or hurt!” Painful barking occurs if your dog has a sudden injury or illness and wants to communicate with you that it hurts. Painful barking tends to be rapid, high pitched and panicky sounding. If you hear your dog barking and suspect they’re in pain, a trip to the vet is in order ASAP!
Lonely Barking: “When are you coming home? I’ve been alone for too long!” If your dog hasn’t had enough mental or physical stimulation lately, or if you’ve been logging particularly long hours at work, you may hear the long, drawn out barking or howling that signifies that your dog is lonely. This may last only a short time until your dog gives up and extinguishes the behavior on his own, or it may persist all day long until you’re back.
What to do about loneliness in dogs?
Try to make the day pass more quickly for your dog by offering him puzzle toys and chewies while you’re away. And make sure you’re giving your dog plenty of exercise, playtime and training when you’re home so he’s sufficiently tired and content when you leave.
Warning Barking: “You’re too close, back off!” Dogs are very conscious of their space. And while some dogs like nothing more than for you to be as close to them as possible (we’re talking about you, Golden Retrievers!), others can be uncomfortable with unsolicited touch. If you intrude on their space by moving too close while they’re eating, sleeping, playing with a favorite toy or while they’re generally uncomfortable with you being around, you may get the business end of your dog. These barks generally come in the form of one loud woof or snarl directed right at the offending party.
What to do?
Give the dog some space and assess the situation. Did your dog have a reason to give that bark? Or is this something you need to talk to a trainer about? For more information about warning barking, check out this blog about what to do if your dog is growling.