Why do dogs bark and growl?
Dogs that bark and growl to communicate with people. Growling also occurs in wild animals, such as wolves and foxes. This system is intended to protect itself against (possible) dangers and situations that appear threatening.
Research has shown that dogs probably evolved the barking system to communicate with humans. The wolf, from which the dog is descended, does not bark. Wolves only howl and growl. This research also found that people usually understand this system of barking as well. There are different barks for every kind of situation. For example, the dog has a bark for when his or her owner comes home, a bark for when the dog is playing, if someone breaks in or if he really attacks someone.
Dogs use a whole arsenal of sounds, each of which has its own meaning. When dogs bark, it usually means danger or a warning for intruders entering their territory.
The domestic dog barks much more than its ancestor, the wolf. During their evolution, they have developed a bark code that can be distinguished in several types:
- Continuous, rapid succession and medium-hard barking means intruding into the dog’s territory.
- When the continuous barking becomes less rapid and less loud, your dog is ready to defend itself against the intruders.
- Not all barks have a defensive character. For example, if the barking is prolonged and with longer pauses between each bark, your dog is looking for company.
The barking also serves to communicate with the owner. If you come home and your dog receives you with a short and loud bark, it means that he is angry, while if he wants to play with you, he will bark in quick succession.
Although your dog prefers to bark, he also uses other signals, each with its own meaning. Howling can be a response to a high and loud tone, but will normally be used if your dog is suffering or ill at ease. So is the soft whine of puppies when they want attention from the mother. When an adult dog whines softly, it usually means pain or fear.
In addition to the bark, a dog also uses growls as a warning signal. Dogs growl at people as well as other animals and usually presage an attack. However, if a dog growls during the game, it means your dog is challenging you to continue.