If you’ve had a dog for some time, you’ve no doubt noticed that his bark sounds a bit different when he’s excited than it does when he’s showing aggression. In fact, dogs have quite a wide range of different barks and calls they use to communicate with other canines. If we pay close attention, we too can discern the difference between our dogs’ varying barks to help us get a better feel for what it is they’re saying.
It sounds like: A rapid series of 3-4 barks at mid-range with pauses in between.
You might have heard it when: Your dog sees someone unfamiliar passing outside the window.
What it means: Your dog uses this “alert” bark to tell the pack that something unfamiliar and potentially threatening is coming near.
It sounds like: 1-2 short barks at middle-to-high range (Arf, arf!)
You might have heard it when: Your dog spots your significant other approaching the door.
What it means: An excited “hello!” for a familiar face.
It sounds like: One loud, sharp bark at lower range.
You might have heard it when: Another dog is playing too rough at the dog park.
What it means: Your dog uses this quick warning bark to say “stop” or “back off.” It’s often used toward other dogs.
It sounds like: A stuttered bark at middle to high range (Arrrruff ruff!)
You might have heard it when: Your dog is asking to go outside and play, waiting for you to throw a ball, etc.
What it means: Your dog is signaling that he’s ready for play to begin. You’ll spot the familiar stance of his head and shoulders lowered, rear end and tail held high in the air like he’s ready to pounce.
It sounds like: Soft, clipped bark at the lowest range (Woof. Woof.)
You might have heard it when: Your dog hears a strange sound in the middle of the night.
What it means: “Beware.” Your dog is asserting dominance and letting anyone who’s there know not to come any closer.
It sounds like: A short, single yelp.
You might have heard it when: You accidentally step on your dog’s paw.
What it means: “Ouch!” Also, a signal of surprise when your dog is startled.