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Why do dogs bark?

Have you ever wondered what makes dogs bark? Well it turns out that there isn’t just one trigger that makes our pooches get vocal, there are many.

Most pawrents aren’t big fans of their dogs barking but many aren’t sure how to prevent it and what to do when they start. The key to reducing ‘shouty’ behaviour in your dog is to get a better understanding of why they bark in the first place.

The ‘I’m afraid’ or ‘sound the alarm’ bark

This bark tends to be continuous and rapid. It’s your dog’s way of saying they feel threatened or warning you of a perceived threat by sounding the alarm. It’s important to take note of your dog’s body language to make sure you are reading their bark correctly. Typically, a dog feeling threatened will have a lowered body, dilated pupils and tail tucked or down.

How to respond:

The best thing to do in this situation is to reassure your dog that everything is OK (if that is the case) while trying to find the source of their fear and showing them that it doesn’t pose an actual threat. For really anxious dogs, creating safe zones in the house that they can escape to might help reduce their stress too. You can also try distraction, especially if they are a young dog, getting used the sights and smells of new environments. Play can often be a really effective way help reduce their fear.

The ‘I want something’ bark

This bark is common in puppies who get used to lots of snuggles and love from everyone they meet. Who can resist a cute puppy? This bark tends to be a short, sharp single bark that says, ‘I’m here, I want something’!

How to respond:

Unfortunately many of us are guilty of accidentally reinforcing this behaviour by reacting to this bark but it’s advisable to ignore them and even turn away until they stop. Once they do, they are exhibiting good behaviour and should be rewarded with some belly rubs or a treat.

The ‘let’s play!’ bark aka ‘arr-Ruff!’

This is the one that most people recognise! A playful ‘arr-Ruff’ sound combined with a high wagging tail, paws bent with head low to the ground. This is an invitation to come and play.

How to respond:

What do you think?! Let’s go play!!

These above are just a few different barks explained to help give you a better insight into your dog’s behaviour but if you have any concerns, vets and animal behaviourists are a great source of support.

/We all know it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of our dog’s needs especially when it comes to health. A healthy dog is a happy dog! PitPat helps you keep your dog happy and healthy by promoting an active lifestyle. The app sets activity goals in minutes based on your dog’s age, weight and breed, and lets you know if you’ve hit your daily goal.