A handy glossary for interpreting your dog’s barks

Dogs are wonderful. The way they greet you when you come home! The way they wag their tails when they’re excited! The way they bark their heads off for no reason whatsoever! OK, maybe that last one isn’t so awesome. But seriously, if your dog is barking, he’s probably got a legit reason. And as your dog’s human, it’s up to you to figure out what it is.

The truth is that dogs barks for all sorts of reasons. Sort of like the way we talk, or even cry, for all sorts of reasons. I cry when I’m hurt. I cry when I’m sad. But I also cry when I’m happy. And when the book I’m reading is just really, really great. I also cry when The Mindy Project hits me right in the feels. (Come on. You know you do it, too.) Just like there are a different types of tears, there are different sorts of barks. Here’s a glossary so the next time Spot starts talking to you, you might be able to tell what he’s trying to say:

Something Dangerous is Happening and I’m Your Mighty Protector

Dogs are protectors by nature. That’s one of the reasons they like to stare out the windows. Think of them as your own personal (albeit furry) superheroes. If they sense danger, they’ll try to let you know. (Because dogs are cool like that.) PetSafe says that a dog trying to alert you to danger will have a piercing, recurring bark. And it’s usually really loud.

Keep in mind that what’s scary to a dog might be a little different than what’s scary to you. Think the mailman. Then again, maybe your particular mailman is just really outrageously scary.

I Want Something and I Want it Now

This dog bark is the equivalent of sending someone a Hellooooooooo text. It means pay attention to me because I want something. Right now. The Whole Dog Journal tells us that the bark itself is usually loud and sounds a lot like an alerting bark, but instead of staring at something else (the mailman) they will be staring straight at you. My dog is doing this right now, actually. And he’s standing near the back door, so I’m pretty sure he wants to go out in the backyard to you know, do his thing.

Help! I’m Scared (Or Help! I’m Hurt)

Ugh. The sound of a dog whimpering breaks my heart, guys. But it’s important because the dog is trying to tell you something, obviously. Dogs will whimper when they’re hurt and also when they’re frightened. They also whine. And yelp. Repeatedly. One of my doggies is a major drama queen. If I’ve just slathered lotion all over my legs and she gets close to me and the hair on her tail sticks to my leg for a nanosecond, she will yelp at least three times in succession. I’m not joking, you guys. (I apologize, of course, for using such scary, mean, horrible lotion.)

I’m Soooooo Lonely (or I’m Soooooo Bored)

Repetitive, non-urgent barking that’s aimed at nothing in particular is not only pretty annoying, it’s also a sign that Spot is under stimulated. According to “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan, this type of barking is like a little kid saying, “I’m sooooo bored.” Dogs are generally more social than cats. They don’t want to be alone all day. If this sort of barking is a problem in your house, try and take your furry friend for a walk before you leave for work in the morning and again when you come home. Even just 10 minutes can be enough to make most dogs happy and let them know you’re not abandoning them forever and ever when you leave.

I’m Having Such a Good Time Playing Right Now

If your dog yips when you’re playing chase or just generally acting goofy together, it doesn’t mean you’ve accidentally hurt him. PetSafe says it probably just means he’s having a really great time. This is my fave kind of bark. Obviously.

Dogs are awesome and we love them, so of course we want to know what they’re trying to say. Most of the time, they’re probably saying, “I love bacon.” But occasionally they might actually need something. We hope this handy guide helps. (Also, dogs are right. Bacon is delicious.)

[Image via Shutterstock.]

Filed Under