Posted on

If only dogs could talk – Part 3


Vocalizations Bark:

Dogs bark for many reasons, such as when perceived intruders (humans,dogs, or other animals unknown to them) approach their living space, when hearing an unfamiliar or unidentified noise, when seeing something that the dog doesn’t expect to be there, or when playing. Barking also expresses different emotions for a dog, such as loneliness, fear, suspicion, stress or pleasure.{{more}}

Playful or excited barks are often short and sharp, such as when a dog is attempting to get a person or another dog to play.

Dogs generally try to avoid conflict; their vocalizations are part of what allows, other dogs to tune into their emotions, ie., whether they’re aggressive or in a playful mood.

The bark of a distressed or stressed dog is high pitched and repetitive; it tends to get higher in pitch as the dog becomes more upset. For example, a dog left home alone who also has separation anxiety, might bark in such a way.

Some breeds of dogs have been bred to bark when chasing, such as scent hounds whose handlers use the bark to follow the dog if it has run out of sight. Coonhounds and bloodhounds are good examples. This kind of barking is often called “singing” as the sound is longer and more tonal.

Some research has suggested that dogs have separate barks for different animals. Including dog, cow, human, cats etc. I am sure that lots of us who are in tune with our dogs can easily tell by the sound of the bark if there is an intruder, if it is an animal or if it is a friendly bark, meaning that the dog recognizes the person in question.


Growls can express aggression; a desire to play, or simply that the dog doesn’t want to participate in what’s about to happen next (being picked up for example). For this reason, most pet owners are urged to treat growls with special attention. This includes always considering the context of a growl, and exercise caution. If the threat is very serious, the dog will usually start off with a very low toned but strong growl and then if the threat isn’t heeded the tone of the growl gets progressively higher in tone.


Howling may provide long range communication with other dogs or owners. Howling can be used to locate another pack member, to keep strangers away, or to call the pack for hunting. Some dogs howl when they have separation anxiety.

I live close to the sea and my dogs howl whenever a ship sounds its horn. They howl when my daughter plays a flute. Or sometimes just for the fun of howling.

Most of us growing up in the Caribbean have heard of the myth that when dogs howl, especially in the wee hours of the morning, someone that we know will die. In my many years of association with dogs, there are lots of anecdotes I could share with you about them, but I really cannot say that they are psychic.


Whining is a high pitched vocalization often produced with the mouth closed . A dog may whine when it wants something (such as food) wants to go outside (possibly to go to the bathroom) , wants to be let off the leash (possibly to greet another dog or a person) or just want attention. A very insistent dog may add a bark at the end of a whine, in a whine- bark pattern.


A whimper or a yelp often indicates the dog is in pain. This is often heard when dogs play – fight, if one dog bites the other dog too hard. The whimper or yelp is used only when the dog intends to communicate its distress to a pack member (or human) to whom they are submissive or friendly and the other dog or human is expected to react positively to the communication; dogs engaged in serious fights do not whimper, as this indicates weakness. Dogs also whimper when they are physically abused or neglected by people. Whimpers can also indicate strong excitement when a dog is lonely and is suddenly met with affection, such as when accompanied by licking, jumping, and barking. Whimpering is distinct from barking in that it is softer, higher pitched , and of lower volume.

For further information, contact: Dr. Collin Boyle
Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd. Tel: 456 4981