What is a dog conveying when he makes a single bark or two?

Dogs rely on barking, whining, howling, yelping or even body language to convey their feelings to people and other animals alike. Many dog owners want to know what it means when their dog emits a bark or two. One or two barks often signify a greeting, and the dog’s way of saying “hello” to you. If the dog emits a single, short bark, it could be a sign of annoyance. For example, this may occur if you are waking the dog up unexpectedly. This type of barking can also indicate confusion or that they need to go outside.

Uncontrollable barking should never be allowed, and if your dog begins to display this behavior, you’ll want to discuss it with your veterinarian immediately. However, your dog could be barking for any number of other reasons, which may range from conveying boredom and loneliness to reminding you that it’s time for dinner. One of the best ways to tell what a dog is expressing through barking is by recognizing the associated body language.

If the bark becomes three or more short barks, the meaning can change to “come look at this,” or even become an alarm, used to alert the owner that there is an intruder or ringing doorbell.

Since barking is a form of communication, it’s important to be aware of the following:

  • The warning bark: This is a low and quiet bark, but with a noticeable growl that increases in intensity and ultimately turns into a howling growl. The dog will continue to bark until the threat is resolved. It may also employ some body language such as baring teeth, moving the ears back, or staring aggressively.
  • Prolonged barking: Signifies loneliness, boredom and the need for companionship. Sometimes the dog will bark in different pitches and styles and might even include a howl or two to hoping to attract attention.
  • Stutter and rising barks: Sounds like “Ar-ruff!” These barks convey excitement and a desire to play.
  • Yelping: A recognizable bark that indicates, “I’m hurt!”
  • Howling: Usually, this indicates loneliness and will often accompany the prolonged barking. However, dogs howl for many different reasons, so it can also be an expression of frustration or anger. Take time to examine your dog’s body language to determine what is behind its barking.

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