Dogs Barks’ Have Meaning, Researcher Says

Different types of dog barks mean different things, according to research.

Posted: March 17, 2007, 5 a.m. EST

Several dog species have learned to communicate with humans via an increasing spectrum of barking sounds, according to a researcher with a German zoological institute.

“Some of the more modern dog species like the terrier and sheepdog have a wide barking spectrum which is intended as a means of communication with man,” according to Dorit Feddersen-Petersen of the Zoological Institute at the University of Kiel.

Feddersen-Petersen, quoted in the latest issue of the German magazine Dogs, said that canines had learned many nuances of communication during the 14,000 years they’ve lived with humans.

A high-pitched barking coupled with tail wagging and the paws pressed to the ground mean, “Play with me,” while a deep bark with upright tail and hair on end says, “Stay away from me or else,” Feddersen-Petersen said.

It can therefore be very useful for dog owners and people in general to understand some of the nuances of dog language, the researcher says.

However, barking isn’t for all canines; the wolf, a close relative of the dog, hardly ever barks, nor do older dog species like the Alaskan Malamute and Samoyed, according to Feddersen-Petersen.


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YoYo-Pete   Ann Arbor, MI

5/4/2010 6:43:14 PM

I have a little mutt (beagle/dachshund/aussie), and she has a large vocal variation. She has different barks for outside for bathroom vs outside for sunshine vs outside for something's in the yard. I can really understand what she's trying to convey because of the variations (and well cause she's trained me to them). I agree with research and am kind of amazed that it's not been more realized in the past.

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Courtney   Baltimore, MD

4/29/2009 7:51:50 AM

I think all dog owners already know this. My dog has several different barks and I know what they all mean. She has play barks, mad barks, wants something barks, bored barks, territory barks, attention barks. Need I say more. She has a lot more barks and they all sound different. I know what each and everyone sounds like and what they mean. Even though my dog prob barks a lot more then most I'm sure all dog owners can agree with me on this.

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Ingrid   Woodlawn, TN

3/18/2007 2:02:52 PM

Duh, you have to research
this?
I have known this for years. I could always tell by my dogs bark who was coming to visit, friend or foe. They have a different bark when it's time to eat or going for a ride. My dogs bark tells me lots of things. They communicate so well, we as humans just have to take the time to understand,

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