How To Speak Dog – What Is Your Dog Saying When He Barks?

All dogs bark. Some more than others. 

And while most dog owners wish they could translate their dogs barks into human language, there’s actually quite a bit of information to be gotten from analyzing your dog’s sounds.

Of course, as anyone who has been around dogs can tell you, dogs are not limited to simple barks, but actually have quite a range of vocalizations from barks to whines to howls and growls and more.

Dr, Stanley Goren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and an expert of dog communication, believes that dogs adhere to a form of communication that is common among all animals that is based on three dimensions: pitch, duration and frequency.

A low pitched sound, such as a growl, instantly communicates anger, a threat and watch out for aggression. A high pitched sound, such as a whine or whimper, mean just the opposite.

If a sound is of long duration, such as a low steady growl, you can be sure the dog is serious in his intent. If the growl is short and interrupted frequently, then the dog is probably not so sure and there may be fearful as well.

If the dog is making sounds that are frequent, such as a series of barks that is very fast, the dog is pointing out the urgency of the situation and that he is paying close attention.

Dr. Goren describes the bark as an alarm sound and says it’s the pitch, duration and frequency that gives the bark its meaning. 

For example, the most common form of barking is two to four barks that have pauses in between them. Your dog is saying “There is something going on here. Better come check it out.”

You can read more about what Dr. Goren has to say about dog communication in his book, How To Speak Dog: Mastering The Art of Dog-Human Communication.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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