Dogs have several types of vocalizations, like whining, barking, and growling. Dogs make these sounds to show their emotions and intentions. For instance, if your dog barks when you leave the house, he might be communicating that he’s sad you’re leaving him alone.
Dogs bark (appropriately or not) for many different reasons. If you have a dog that’s too vocal, it might be time to take a closer look at your pet and figure out what its motives are.
Eighteen Reasons Why Dogs Bark
1. Alarm Barking
A dog’s barking may be similar to how a bird would chirp or how a cat would meow. They’re letting their family know that there’s someone outside, and it could potentially be dangerous. Dogs bark to communicate fear or anxiety: Dogs often bark when they’re afraid of something in their environment. This could be a loud noise that startles them, such as a garbage truck coming close to the house.
2. Greeting Barking
When our canine friends bark, they’re trying to get the attention of both people and other pets in their environment. Sometimes these barks are part of a social ritual, such as when a dog barks once in front of your door when he sees you.
3. Territorial Barking
Dogs bark to alert other dogs, people, or intruders that they’re on that dog’s property and need to clear off.
To scare away intruders or animals entering your property: A good bark is usually effective in alerting people to the presence of an unwanted visitor.
4. Excitement Barking
Dogs excited by new toys, food, or treats may be vocalizing their excitement. When dogs encounter interesting smells or sights, they may be excited and try to let you know.
5. Frustration-Induced Barking
Dogs that are left outside for hours at a time or those that spend too much time in kennels or crates may bark simply because they’re bored or frustrated.
6. Separation-Anxiety Barking
Separation from their owners causes stress and anxiety for dogs, so they may bark to let someone know that they’re near.
7. Attention-Seeking Barking
Dogs may bark when no one is around to get your attention or make you aware of their presence or express pain.
When playing with other dogs, it’s common for dogs to bark during a play session. This is usually a positive play behavior.
The more we feed our dogs, the bigger their appetites, the more likely they are to bark to get more food.
10. Excitement Barking
When our dogs get excited about a new toy, hunky dog neighbor, or activity like hiking or swimming, they may bark nonstop to let us know that they’re having fun. Dogs may bark nonstop when they encounter interesting smells or sights.
11. Boredom-Induced Barking
Dogs that are left outside or in crates for long periods often bark to let their owners know that they’re lonely and bored.
12. Avoidance Barking
Dogs may bark to make unwanted people go away.
13. Stress-Induced Barking
Dogs that live in high-stress situations will bark as a way to communicate something on their mind, such as a fear of thunder or being left alone for too long, that they are lonely.
14. Terrified Barking
Some dogs may bark when they’re startled by something.
15. Socially Facilitated Barking
Some dogs bark excessively only when they hear other dogs barking. This kind of barking occurs in the social context of hearing other dogs, even at a distance—such as dogs in the neighborhood.
16. Pain-Induced Barking
Dogs will bark when they’re in pain in a specific area of the body, such as their foot, nose, or ears.
17. Stress-Induced Amelodic (no-vocal) Barking
When dogs are stressed, they tend to ‘fade’ their vocalizations. They show their stress through body language like trembling, increased urination, defecation, or licking/biting at themselves.
18. Compulsive Barking.
Some dogs bark compulsively. Some dogs bark excessively and move repetitively, like a broken record. For example, a dog who’s compulsively barking might run back and forth along the fence in his yard or pace in his home. Compulsive barking is associated with stress and anxiety and may require behavior modification for treatment.
The above list is not an exhaustive list of all the reasons why a dog barks. But, it is a good starting point in identifying barking problems so they can be addressed accordingly. Once we recognize whether our dog’s barking is normal or not, we take the first step to problem-solving.
Although barking serves different functions for different dogs and owners, learning and recognizing the appropriate behaviors is essential.