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Do You Understand What Your Dog is Trying to Tell You?

Your beloved pooch has a language of his own. Here’s how to understand it better.


dog looking at laptop

For us humans, language is a sophisticated structure of symbols and phrases, which change drastically depending on where we are in the world and who we’re speaking to. The sound we use for “food” in English sounds nothing like “comida” in Spanish or “taeam” in Arabic, yet we are all saying the same thing. For animals, communication is much more primal and universal.

The different sounds your dog makes (barking and otherwise) have various signals in them which can indicate fear, contentment, sense of danger and affection, but there are actually more complex messages that your pooch might be trying to get across. Basically, you could be missing out on what your beloved best friend is saying to you - and this guide can help you understand much better. What a woof-ly idea!

Barking mad, or barking sad?


While it sounds obvious that your doggie has different types of barks, you might be surprised at just how many variations there are, and what they can actually indicate. Ever heard your dog give off a chirpy “har-ruff” sound when he’s playing, or trying to get you to play? This, for example, is known as a “stutter bark” which is usually a sign of contentment and lightheartedness, heard more in young sprightly puppies. Other barks you might hear:

‘Long string’ bark

A long string of solitary barks with momentary pauses in between each one may sound meaningless, but it’s actually a sign of despair. The deliberate pauses in between followed by another string of barks is actually an indication that your pooch is feeling lonely and in need or attention.

Sharp and short

One or two sharp short barks may be loud and perhaps even startling, but your dog is actually greeting you, or recognising someone as familiar/friendly. If your doggie makes this sound towards a visitor or stranger, it’s a very positive sign, as it means they don’t see them as a threat. A typical greeting ritual with no harm meant whatsoever.

Rapid 3-4 barks

The key is in the speed here, as rapid barks indicate stress or sense of danger. Rapid strings of barks, (generally 3 or 4 before a pause) is essentially an alarm bell, either to warn of imminent danger, to alert other dogs of danger, or to warn off a stranger. The postman is likely to be the most familiar with this bark. He should probably make himself scarce when he hears these rapid barks!

Low growling bark

Similarly, this is a sign of warning from your dog. It’s usually quite a low pitch and quite slow barking, which is used to express they sense an imminent problem. It’s also a sign of defence, which can be read as “don’t come any closer” or “leave me alone”. It’s a sign of feeling threatened, but it can in some cases also be a threat, and could be warning before being bitten. So if you hear this, your doggie isn’t in the mood to play ball.

Paws for thought


Taking the time to understand your beloved pet will go a long way towards improving his happiness, and your relationship overall. Similar to human beings, being understood is the cornerstone of any good relationship. You won’t be surprised to know, (also similar to humans), your dog has body language as well as vocal communication. There are a lot of signals and signs in his movements, stance and even tongue to show you various states of mind.

Signs your dog is frustrated, or even experiencing depression, are:

*  Relaxed posture that you can see occurring

*  A softer gaze

*  Head lowered

*  Avoiding eye contact

*  Yawning in some cases

*  An energetic shake in some cases

*  Stretching or running

This doesn’t mean to say that a stretching dog is automatically a depressed dog by any means, but using this guide along with your gut instinct can help you decipher your doggie.

It’s also true that different breeds of dogs can vary, as their personalities and willingness to show emotion are different. If you’re still in the process of choosing the dog that is right for you and your family, it’s worth trying the SuperDog Selector from Vitabiotics to see which breed is suited to your lifestyle and personality. Getting the right match in the first place is a sure way on getting off on the right foot towards a long and prosperous relationship.