Understanding Why Your Dog Barks
Understanding what your dog is saying Many years ago I had a large Borzoi dog who was very picky about his people friends. To be fair, he liked most people. He just didn’t trust a few. And if he didn’t trust them, he tried to stay just out of their reach, but kept ever watchful. A business associate of my husband’s thought the dog was afraid of him and whenever he was at our home, he would joke about how afraid the dog was. I tried to explain that it was not fear, but rather lack of trust. However, not believing, he just laughed it off as the dog was scared of him. I kept a close eye, knowing that although he was not aggressive, he might react if the man approached him.
Like many people, this man just could not read a dog’s body language. He saw the dog back away from him and thought he was afraid. He did not see the dog’s strong watchfulness, his tense, upright body, and his positioning himself between me and the man. A dog in fear will show more submissive reactions, a lowered head, lack of eye contact, tucked tail, and he might even lower himself to the floor and rollover.
Knowing what your dog is thinking, what his actions are saying, helps you in countless ways. It’s a bit like having a friend who speaks a different language. Until you understand what he is saying, you will have trouble communicating. Dogs read our cues amazingly well. However, we often confuse them when we don’t react to their communication. Once you understand his language, you will react as he expects. That allows you to develop a stronger bond that will enable you to work more efficiently together.
Barking is often the first dog talk we consider. Why does your dog bark? A yappy dog is not only annoying, but he can be quite difficult to train, as well. So why does your dog bark?
Often barking indicates a sign of fear, a warning, or uncertainty. Your dog might warn an intruder or a noise he considers to be an intruder, to stay away. The warning does not always seem reasonable to us; you might be watching tv and he hears an actor knock on a door. To the dog, that is still an intruder. He barks. It’s preceded by, or accompanied by, a low tone growl.
Sometimes he barks because he is protecting his territory from a person or another dog. When a person comes to your home, he might bark at them. His bark has purpose: he is just establishing his territory. Again, he might growl along with his barking, and the tone is quite deep.
He might bark playfully, out of excitement, when you return home or when he wants to play. This kind of barking is usually centered around some change in the environment. You return home, the kids come in the house, or his favorite dog buddy is in the yard and he barks a welcome. You actually hear the excitement in his voice.
Another higher-toned bark is that of genuine fear. Dogs that have a strong fear response, quite often small dogs or dogs that were not well socialized and might even have been abused. But also older dogs that are blind or have other disabilities, afraid, and will bark as a warning to others to stay away. Unlike the bark that is a strong warning to an intruder, the fear bark is often higher-pitched and quite sharp in nature.
Many dogs bark when they want to chase something they see running. You can hear the excitement as they bark and often jump at the fence or whatever is holding them back. They rarely growl during this type of bark; its pure energy and excitement, rather than a warning.
Another type of bark that is usually not accompanied by any growling is that of the bored dog. A dog that is lonely or bored will often bark or howl in an effort to get attention and to relieve some of the stress of the nothingness happening for him. You won’t hear excitement, no growls, and usually no sign of anger. He actually sounds sad and lonely.
Once you understand why your dog barks, controlling the bark can be much easier. Stop by tomorrow for insights and training helps for your pet’s barking.
Next…..come back tomorrow for part 2: how to control the barking dog!