Why Do Dogs Bark?

One of the great things about owning a dog is that you always know when there is someone at the door, when the dog is hungry, or when your furry friend is just plain excited. Barking is the main form of communication that dogs use to let you know what they are thinking. Rare is the dog that does not bark. But why do some dogs bark more than others? Moreover, why do dogs bark at all?

Domesticated dogs bark for a slew of different reasons ranging from boredom to excitement to anxiety. This behavior began hundreds of years ago as a way for dogs to ward off predators. Through interaction with humans, canines were taught that they could communicate by barking. In fact, the majority of dogs bark because they have learned that if they do, they will be rewarded with food, freedom, or attention. This conditioning is why dogs bark in many different situations.

Reasons Dogs Bark


Dogs are pack animals that are very protective of their territory and other pack members. This is why dogs bark when people come to the door or when another animal or person walks on your property. Barking is your dog’s way of alerting you to this potential danger and warding off the threat. This type of bark will generally be very loud and intimidating.

Attention Seeking

What better way to get a person’s attention than to make a lot of noise? If your dog wants something, he or she may give a yelp to let you know. They could be trying to tell you that they are hungry, want to go outside, or just want some love and petting.


A dog will often bark if it is afraid or startled. This may happen when the dog encounters something that takes them by surprise. Startled dogs may also exhibit aggressive behavior like lunging or biting.


Some dogs bark when they are happy to see their owner or another dog. This is particularly true for puppies and young dogs when they are playing. A dog that barks when it is excited may also jump up and down and wag its tail.


Dogs also bark to express their frustration. This may happen if they are confined and pining for freedom, or if they crave a treat or a toy. In addition to barking, a frustrated dog may whine or whimper.

Separation Anxiety

A lonely dog that misses its owner may bark when the owner is not there. This could be accompanied with whining, howling, pacing, or destroying things. This can also be an indication of depression.

Dogs may seem like they bark for no reason, but this is simply not true. A barking dog is trying to express something. If your dog barks, you can safely assume that it wants something or that it is trying to alert you to a possible danger. Understanding why your dog barks is the key to forming a good relationship with your pet.


Helen Billet is a freelance writer based in MA. She shares her home with 2 dogs, 4 cats and a handful of fish. And oh yes, her husband and 3 kids too.

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