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What’s In a Bark?

Author: Andrea Obey | Date: July 8, 2013

A lot of the time we think of barking in terms of an unwanted behavior or annoyance. It certainly can be problematic and annoying but sometimes we forget that it serves a real purpose. There are a ton of papers written about research done on decoding barks in domesticated dogs that are fascinating.  Then, you get into very detailed research on communication in domesticated dogs, and then vocal communications of many animals in general! I’ve seriously read some of these until my head began to spin. It seems research is showing more and more each year and as you’ll be able to tell by some of the articles I’ve linked here, times change and information progresses.

But let’s start with a fun, interactive quiz.

Take it without reading any of the scientific articles listed below pitcfirst and see how you do.  I’ll wait right here for you while you click here to take the quiz.

Okay, how did you do? I have to tell you, I got one wrong!  But I will say that the pitch was similar between the correct and wrong answer.

You probably know your own dog’s barks better than the ones in the quiz but everyone (dog owner or not) should have a general idea about how barks sound different and have different meanings. If your dogs are anything like my dogs were, they’ll sometimes surprise you with a freaky sound that you’ve not heard before.  The first time my dearly departed Harley went in the lake to chase tennis balls with her “brothers” my cousin’s dogs, she sounded like a coyote trying to sing soprano at an opera audition!  I never heard anything like it!  She was clearly conflicted, poor thing, but she ended up having a great time and I never heard that vocalization again.

If you want to get into the really cool scientific stuff, here are some more recent summaries and studies.  They range from the how to the why.  In the end though, it’s really about communicating with your beloved companion.

What are Dogs Saying when they Bark?

What Do Barks Mean?

Humans Guided Evolution of Dog Barks

Barking in Family Dogs

What different types of barks does your dog have to communicate with you?


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