What on earth are you barking at?

We were pulling through McDs drive through for our after workout coffee on the weekend when I heard barking.  I looked around to see where it was coming from and could not locate the sound.  My husband said "it's the dog behind us."  There in an old truck sitting in the passenger seat was an old dog; a mix of maybe a husky and lab.  His face was grey, his ears were upright but only half way with the tips flipped over.  He looked old, he had that old crooked face look and he was barking.  I watched him for a bit and realized that he was barking at everything.  His owner smiled at him and they had a bit of a conversation; not sure what it was about but the dog seemed to enjoy it.  His bark was a happy one, like he was happy to be out with his Dad bark.

A bark can mean a thousand different things.  Do you know why your dog is barking?  Yesterday Luke was being dried after a bath.  He didn't want to be dried so he went to the edge the concrete steps in our yard and barked.  It was a "I'm busy barking" bark; one to let me know that he did not have time for such nonsense like being dried.  He lets out the same bark when he is being groomed and isn't in the mood.  He pretends like there is important things that he needs to bark at.  What a guy.

Then there is the fake out "look something to bark at" bark to get someone to drop their toy and come to see.  All of my dogs have used this over the years; it is quite brilliant.  Luke was the easiest to read when he was planning on using it.  You could see the whole scenario play out in his eyes before he even made a move.  He'd look at Tilley with a bone, look at the door and back at Tilley.  Then he'd let out one of his small "I think I hear something" barks first to test the waters.  Next came the full on barking and run to the door which inevitably got her up and leaving the bone that he wanted.  A quick pivot and he would swoop it up.

Serious barking is deep and ferocious sounding; quite scary when I hear it.  I don't hear it often from any of my dogs but when I do it always amazes how truly intimidating they can sound. It is meant to warn and it does if you are smart.  Even the smallest of dogs can sound scary; when they mean business.

Dogs have so many reasons to bark.  I really hate when I see people yelling at their dog to shut up. Sure there are times when a dog just goes off on a tangent.  Often when they are bored a dog will go on and on and on.  Maybe they are feeling a little bit stressed or anxious; barking can ensue.  We went through a big barking period when we first moved to this house.  Everyone was sort of on edge due to a new home but the cause was Jessie.  After coming home to a riled up pack of frenzy barking a couple to times I attempted to figure it all out one day.  I stood outside the front door after pretending to leave.  Watching through the front door I saw Jessie run up the stairs after the poodles and then the barking started.

I opened the front door as quietly as I could and tiptoed up the stairs.  Jessie was barking her little head off and both Luke and Tilley had started as well.  What I saw when I got upstairs was a very angry little Jack Russell who could not manage to jump high enough to get onto the bed where the poodles were.  She was angry and frustrated about the situation which was where the barking started.  Her barking caused the poodles to think that there was something to bark at so they all kept going, it was crazy.  From that moment I closed my bedroom door when we went out and the barking stopped.

Barking is not just barking; there is a reason, there is always a reason.  Even if it is frenzied, none stop barking; there is a reason.  It can be caused by happiness, excitement, anger, frustration, anxiety, stress, insecurity, loss, desire, boredom, you name it.  Elsa barks when she is excited; it is one thing that really annoys me but it is typically short lived.  She is learning to talk rather than bark which I can tolerate and is quite cute I might add.  Much better than barking.

When your dog barks; listen.  At what and why are they barking?