Why Does a Dog Bark?

The trick to managing a dog's behavior is to understand the motivation behind it.


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Case D: In the case of a fearful dog who barks as a precursor to retreating from a situation, you can usually predict this by the animals behavior. Not only will he give warning of his fearfulness by barking in short, high-pitched yipping-type barks, he will probably tuck his tail between his legs and lay his ears flat against his head. He may also turn away and present a side view to the perceived source of his fear.

When a dog is afraid, it is unwise and dangerous to pursue the dog or try to pet him. If the dog is on lead, you can use the lead to guide him away from the scene that's causing him concern. Do not coddle or console him. Instead, talk softly and casually so he begins to relax and refocus his attention on something else. You can encourage this refocusing by using familiar words and phrases that he will recognize as things he enjoys, such as taking a walk or playing with a favorite toy.

In the case of a dog that is demonstrating fearfulness while he's not on lead, you have less control to guide him into a less stressful position. Talking and slowly moving away from what is making him afraid, toward something he knows and likes, may be your only solution. As soon as the dog is away from the source of his fear, try to get him hooked up to his lead so you have more control.

Case E: As a warning before an offensive attack, barking is usually loud and deep-throated, rather than the lighter-toned fearful bark. The dog will be standing so that the bulk of his weight is on his front quarters and you can see him leaning forward. His ears will be erect, his tail held up and rigidly, and he will show his teeth with each bark.

If you ever see a dog behind a fence, warning a stranger to stay away, his whole body is saying, Get out of here now! That message is quite clear to everyone who sees the dog. Never try to approach a dog displaying these behaviors, as its almost certain that you will be bitten if you disregard his warning. Turn sideways to the dog, do not give him any eye contact and slowly walk away. Running will only incite him to more aggression. Threatening signals from a dog are meant to be respected and believed.

Next step: Barking for Attention-Getting

Reprinted from Better Dog Behavior © 2004. Permission granted by Kennel Club Books, an imprint of BowTie Press.

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Scott   Fridley, MN

3/27/2011 2:22:08 PM

The artical was good but not helpful enough in my situation with one of my dogs. I have a Morky and a Yorky. Felix and Oscar both are young 6 to 7 months The Morky , Oscar is a barker, he barks when he is excited , he barks when he first goes outside to see if anyone is out there, he barks at other dogs,and anyone that might be out and about, but what i am most concerned about at this time is he barks at cars and would chase them if given the chance.He watches them from a distance and then when they get close he lunges at them and barks to chase them away i would guess.So how do I get him to stop this behavior first. Then i will tackel the others.

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