Barking: Annoying or Helpful?

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CHARLOTTE – A frequent problem many dog owners have with their dog is barking. Barking can be startling, annoying and irritating to us humans. From a dog’s perspective, it’s all information.

Dogs bark for many reasons and when we understand the reasons more clearly, we can address them with training. Turid Rugaas, who wrote Barking, The Sound of a Language, groups the different barks into six basic categories.

  1. Excitement – a series of barking with short breaks, may include some whining, and usually includes wiggly body movement and hopping.
  2. Warning – short, single barks, with pauses in between. The dog is usually standing alert and focused on the “intruder”. Many years ago, this was the bark that helped many farmers recognize danger in the area.
  3. Fearful – repeated, high-pitched sounds, sometimes with whining/howling at the end. Fearful body language accompanies this sound, like a tight tail tuck and pinned ears.
  4. Guarding – a deeper bark, may be curling lips back, growling in between barks. Body language is usually forward, lunging may occur.
  5. Frustration – this is a repeated static bark and sounds the same each time it is repeated.
  6. Learned – this is an attention-seeking bark. The dog has learned that barking gets human attention.


Never punish a dog for growling! The dog is expressing that he/she is uncomfortable and needs help. Punishing the growl will cause the dog to skip it in the future and go straight to a bite.

Sit, Stay, Play Dog Training & Behavior (704) 641-1042

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