Born To Bark: Why Your Dog Howls, Growls, and Grunts!

What's behind that bark?


If you could change one thing about your dog, what would it be? Not his soulful eyes. Not his wagging tail. Not the way he smothers you with affection. There’s a lot to love about man’s best friend, but what about his barking? Not the “ruff ruff, woof woof, happy to see you at the end of a long day” barking, but the incessant, ear-splitting, “I’m going to kill that suspicious looking candy wrapper on the side of the road” barking. It’s enough to send you running for the Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, or at the very least, a pair of industrial strength ear-plugs.But don’t write off Fido just yet. One of the most important things to understand about your dog is, baby, he was born to bark.


Dogs use many types of vocalizations in order to communicate. As puppies, they “mew” when searching for food or warmth, or make louder crying sounds when hurt or frustrated. Later in life, their vocalizations can be divided into five main categories; howling, growling, grunting, whining, and, of course, barking. Dogs may howl in reaction to sirens or car horns, growl to show dominance, grunt in a show of contentment, whine for attention, or bark in order to defend their territory. Throughout history, humans would actually breed dogs based on such behavior. This made them useful as watchdogs, and served as a primitive alarm system.


Although these sounds arise from a natural need to communicate, excessive barking can become an issue. As a dog parent it is unfair and unrealistic to expect your dog to become mute, there are many great tips to help you live with the occasional bark!


It is equally important to provide your dog with the physical and mental stimulation it needs.  Dogs are pack animals, and are not meant to be on their own. They need attention and companionship, exercise and purpose. So if you can’t convince your boss to make every day  a “Take Your Dog to Work Day”, at least take your pup for a long jog when you get home.

Animal Fair breaks the process down into an easy to follow 10 stage program.

• Try to determine the cause of your dogs barking.

• Have your dog’s favorite treats on hand.

• Praise dog for barking at the outset, by saying “good job.”

• When barking continues, ask, “What’s the matter?”

• Tell the dog to “Be quiet.”

• Put the treat in front of your dogs nose. The smell should distract him from barking.

• Praise the dog for being quiet. After three seconds of quiet, give him the treat.

• If barking continues, offer up another treat. Only give the treat after five seconds of quiet time. The dog is learning that he will be rewarded for quiet time.

• Scold your dog for any mistakes, by saying “Be quiet”, in a firm voice, then continue to increase ‘quiet time’ by three second intervals.

• Don’t give in to your dog’s whines when you are training them.



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