Learn to speak ‘bark’

Don’t you wish you could understand your dog’s barks or your cat’s meow? Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly what your dog was trying to tell you when he barks a few ‘doggy words’ to you, or your cat with her meows? We’ve got a short guide of what he might be trying to communicate, but it is extremely important to understand that each pet is unique and will communicate differently. If you spend lots of time with your cat or dog, you will start getting an idea of what he is trying to tell you.

Complex language

As pet owners, we spend a lot of time teaching our dogs various cues, and we learn about their body language. But people haven’t spent that much time learning ‘bark’ and it has become obvious that it is in fact a complex language for humans.

Dogs understand each other, but there might be much more to it than just listening to a dog’s bark. Just like us, dogs also ‘read’ each other’s body language, as well as listening to another dog’s bark.

So, we as humans need to look at the entire situation when we try to figure out what our dogs are saying. Does your dog seem aggressive, or is he frightened? Does it look like he wants to charge something? Is he looking at you? Is he trying to get away? All of these signs need to be ‘listened’ to when your dog is barking.

Also keep in mind that no two dogs’ barks necessarily mean the same thing. Two dogs could bark in the same way, but it might have different meanings. For instance, one dog might get excited when there is someone at the door and greet them with a high-pitched, short bark. Another dog might have a similar bark when it is time for a bath. Both dogs are clearly excited – the one is excited to meet and greet the people, while the other is not excited in a good way, as he is trying to get away from the bath.


The pitch of your dog’s bark is a good indicator of how is feeling or the message that he is trying to convey. High-pitched barks can normally be associated with excitement. Just think of how he barks when you play a game of fetch, or if you’re about to go for a walk. But a high pitch can also mean that your dog is scared, in pain, frustrated, lonely or unsure of a situation.

A low-pitched bark, on the other hand, can mean that your dog is serious. It could be another indication that he is scared, or that he is trying to scare someone away.

Bark intervals

Listen to how often your dog barks, and the length of the interval between the barks, as these are other indicators of his message. A once-off bark might be a sign of surprise, almost like he’s trying to say: “What?” or “Excuse me?”

Barking for a longer period might mean that he is trying to get someone’s attention, but it’s not working, so he will continue until he achieves his goal. There is most likely more intention behind  longer barks.

Short bursts of barks normally come from an aggressive dog who is trying to warn someone to stay away, or that an attack might follow soon.


Then, there are the times when our dogs just want to chat to us. This will depend entirely on how vocal your dog is. He might want to remind you that it is dinner time, that he needs to go outside for a comfort break, or that he wants to play with you or his furry friends.

Growls and howls

Your dog might also throw in other vocalisations with his barks, like growling, whining or howling. These sounds can also indicate that he is feeling aggressive, is in pain or is simply trying to get your attention.


By listening to the type of bark, you might get an idea of whether your dog is trying to warn you about something, wants to get your attention, is just chatting to you, is greeting someone or is trying to convey his frustration. Or it might be compulsive behaviour. Take note of the different types of  barks and see if you can work out what they mean. But always consider your dog’s body language as a whole, before making any assumptions.


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