Why Do Dogs Bark?

Your pooch isn't trying to wake up the neighbors (we promise!)

Incessant barking may be right up there with sirens and car alarms as some of the toughest-to-take sounds, but resist the urge to yell, “Pipe down!” Your best bud is just trying to communicate. Here are common reasons your pup barks and how the experts interpret this canine conversation.

Someone’s Stepping on His Turf

This forceful bark tells intruders, both two-footed and four-footed, "Get off my turf." No one wants to mess with your canine Dirty Harry when he's in this mode -- and that’s exactly what he wants.

He’s Afraid

Alarm or fear barking is your bestie’s way of telling you something's going on that he’s not entirely comfortable with (like a thunderstorm or your neighbor’s annual fireworks display). Dogs will usually inch forward with each r-r-ruff.

He Feels Left Out

Confine a dog to a room or behind a gate and you're sure to hear frustration barking. Dogs are social animals and don't appreciate being fenced in or left out.

He’s in Pain

A yelp is your dog's way of saying, "Ouch! That hurt." This is one bark you don't want to ignore. Unlike humans, most dogs don't fake it.

He’s in a Chatty Mood

Compulsive barking is nonstop and usually brings angry neighbors to your door, but it’s just your dog’s way of saying, "I love to hear myself bark.” These chatterboxes like to pace up and down during their monologues.

He’s Talking to Other Dogs

Pack animals by nature, dogs will readily join the neighborhood canine choir when barking begins. This social barking is no more than one dog telling another, "I hear you, pal." Caveat: If you yell at your dog to be quiet during social barking, he’ll interpret it as you joining in. So holler at your own risk.

He Misses You

Some dogs, like children, experience separation anxiety when mom or dad leaves. Kids scream; dogs bark. Anxious pups also become destructive or mess in their surroundings. It's their way of demanding, "Come home now."

He’s Happy

Of all the barks your doggie has, the happiest is the one that greets you when you walk through the door. With tail wagging and feet dancing, nothing is sweeter than the woof that means, "Gee, I'm glad you're home."

Karen B. Gibbs is a writer and editor based in Lacombe, La.

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