The canidae family also includes wolves, coyotes, foxes, jackals, and hyenas, along with dogs. Just like animals in the wild, dogs use their sounds to talk to other animals and to us.
Most dogs have different sounds they make that show what they want and how they feel, such as when they are happy, scared, happy, excited, annoyed, or agitated.
The sounds a dog makes have many different and sometimes strange meanings. The staff at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center is here to help us figure out what some of these barks, growls, mumbles, and yips mean.
Dogs make a variety of noises.
Dogs don’t just say “ruff, ruff”; they have a lot of different sounds. Each of these sounds means that your dog is telling you something. Let’s look at some of these common dog sounds.
Barking: A dog can bark as a warning, an invitation, a distress call, or just because it’s happy. Your dog barks for many different reasons, but it always means it wants to tell you something. If your dog is upset or scared, it may make a high-pitched sound over and over again. Your usual “gruff” and “ruff” sounds usually happen when you’re happy or having fun.
When your dog barks in a low tone that sounds like rumbling or growling, it is telling whatever is bothering him or her to back off. If a dog growls before it bites, you should take it seriously. When your dog wants something, like a treat, it barks sharply and over and over again. When a dog is alert, like when it sees something scary in the distance, it barks in a high-pitched, staccato way.
Wild dogs don’t bark very often, but they do whine, howl, rumble, and growl. When a wild dog barks, it is only to warn of danger and call for help.
Howls: Does your dog’s howling come from its wolf side? Most likely not. When your dog howls, it doesn’t always mean it wants to meet other dogs. Many dogs howl when they hear sirens, alarms, bells, or even when we howl for fun. Sometimes, howling is a way to find people, including yourself. It could also be a way for a dog to get your attention if it feels ignored, stressed, or worried.
Whining: Whining is often caused by anxiety, such as worry or anticipation. People often do it as a way to beg for food, table scraps, or treats. Whining can also be a sign of pain or discomfort, so check with our vet if this is a new or very noticeable behaviour.
Snorts and low mumbles: When your dog snorts, mumbles, or grumbles, it may want you to do something, like pay attention, let it on the bed, or feed it. When they want something from us, some dogs make a lot of muffled sounds that are very expressive. When greeting someone or when the leash comes out and the dog knows it’s going for a walk, these sounds can also show excitement.
Growling – is a sound that dogs make when they are scared, acting aggressively, or when they think something in their environment is a threat. If your dog acts aggressively, these sounds should tell you to get your dog away from the situation, strangers, or other pets. Growling that doesn’t stop should be talked about with our vet or Pet Behavior Specialist during a behaviour consultation.
Growling can sometimes be a sign that your dog is having fun, especially if he or she is doing something fun or roughhousing with other friendly dogs. Puppies often play-growl at their friends to get them to play or to show them how excited they are.
Even though a growl is a warning, it is something that dogs do all the time. Growling at puppies is a common way for older dogs to tell them to behave.
Pitch, Sound, and Length
The pitch (high, medium, or low), the rate of barking (fast vs. slow), and the length of time the dog barks all play a big role in what the dog is trying to say.
The more you listen to your dog bark and watch how it acts when it barks, the more you will understand him or her. It will also help you understand what it needs and wants from you in your relationship.
Seek The Meaning
Dog sounds are very interesting and have more going on than you might think. They tell us what a dog is thinking and feeling and are a fascinating area to explore with our dog friends. Trying to figure out what our dogs are trying to tell us deepens the special bond we have with them.
If you want to know more about how to figure out what your dog is trying to say when he barks, or if you want to set up an exam or behaviour consultation for your dog, please call us. We want you and your dog to have a great life together.