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What is Barking?

All dogs bark at one time or another but they usually have a reason. Believe it or not, they are not just doing it to get on your nerves, even though it may feel that way sometimes. Barking is your dog’s only way to communicate, so he is probably trying to tell you something. You have to get to know your pet before you know the answer. Most dogs bark if they see a threat, to protect their owner, food, or home, while playing, when anxious, for attention, or just because they are bored. A bark can be a bunch of low-pitched rapid barks, prolonged barking without provocation, high-pitched barking or whining, or yipping and yelping.

  • Warning or alarm
  • Aggression
  • Pain or illness
  • Nervousness or fear
  • Boredom or attention 

Most of the time, it is not serious unless your dog is in severe pain. If that is the case, he will likely be yelping and whining along with other symptoms that you may not have noticed such as pacing or not eating. However, barking for dogs is like talking is to humans so you have to expect your dog to bark sometimes.

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Why Barking Occurs in Dogs

Warning Bark

A low-pitched continuous barking is an alarm or territorial bark that is meant to be a warning to you about what your dog perceives as a threat. This may happen when he hears something or sees other animals or people walking by your house. A warning bark is one of the main reasons that some people get dogs; to alert them of threats.


A low-pitched bark accompanied by a growl is an aggressive bark to warn a person or animal to back off. This may be just a way to tell another pet that he does not want to play or it can be a warning to a stranger. It is important to address this type of bark right away to keep your dog from attacking a visitor or another pet.

Pain or Illness

This type of bark is more of a high-pitched whine or yelp with barks in between and is meant as a cry for help. You should always check your dog if you hear this type of bark to see if your dog is hurt. 

Nervousness or Fear

Single short high to mid-range pitch barks with some whining or yelping can mean your dog is nervous or afraid This kind of bark should be addressed to see what is really bothering your dog. 

Boredom or Attention

All dogs get bored and want attention sometimes just as we do. However, if they are barking to get attention and you give it to them, you are starting a habit you may not want to continue. It is fine to check on your dog to make he is okay, but do not give him attention or play with him at this time or he will think that is how to get your attention every time he wants it.

What to do if your Dog is Barking

Aggressive Barking

Aggressive barking can become a major problem if your dog attacks a guest or one of your other pets. A behavior therapist may be a good idea in this case. Your veterinarian should be able to suggest someone that can help or you may be able to find someone by looking it up online.

Pain or Illness

If your dog is barking or whining because of pain or illness, you need to take him to see a veterinary professional right away. Even if you check your dog all over and do not see anything wrong, if he is still whining and just not acting “like himself,” there may be an underlying condition that you are not aware of. Only a veterinary professional can detect certain signs such as heartbeat irregularities, abnormal blood pressure, and breathing problems.

Boredom or Attention

If your dog is barking due to a behavioral issue like boredom or attention, you have to learn to ignore this type of bark to get it to stop. However, if your dog continues to be a problem barker, there are behavior therapies that you can try. Call your veterinarian and see what you can come up with to stop the barking.

All other types of barks mentioned above are normal and there is no need for veterinary attention. Remember, dogs have no other way to communicate so try to understand what he is telling you.

Prevention of Barking

Preventing your dog from barking depends on the reason for the bark.


Socializing your dog is the only way to prevent aggression. If your dog is older and has not been raised around other dogs or people, aggression is normal to a point. However, you have to teach him to control this aggressive barking. Try behavior therapy recommended by your veterinarian first. If this does not work, you may want to see a veterinary behavior specialist. 

Pain or Illness

The veterinarian can help you relieve the problem if your dog is barking from pain or illness. 

Boredom or Attention

This is another case that an animal behavior specialist can be helpful with. If you try ignoring your dog instead of giving him attention when he barks and this does not help, call your veterinarian for recommendations.

Cost of Barking

The cost of treating barking in dogs varies, depending on the reason for the barking and whether your pet responds to training. If your dog’s behavior is a serious problem and you need to see a behavior specialist, the cost can be up to about $4000. However, the average treatment is approximately $350.