Dogs are truly man’s best friend, and it can be fun to try and communicate with them in their language.
But what exactly does your dog think when you do this?
What do dogs think when humans bark?
What Do Dogs Think When You Bark at Them?
Most dogs don’t like it or are confused when humans bark and often feel stressed or afraid.
When you bark at your dog, you may notice their eyes widening, them freezing, or barking back.
These are common signs of stress in your pet dog.
In this article, we will look at whether your dog understands you when you bark at them, why it’s not a good idea to bark at your pup, and list a few better ways to communicate with your dog.
Related: Do Dogs Think in Barks or Words?
Does Your Dog Understand When You Bark at Them?
If you have owned a dog at any point in your life, chances are you have tried barking at them to see its reaction.
Often dogs will respond to your bark with a strange look, barking back, cowering, or even completely removing themselves from the room. But what does it mean? Does your dog actually understand your bark?
Your dog can somewhat understand your bark.
Dogs understand a bark’s tone just as they decipher the tone of a voice when humans speak.
However, dogs don’t generally enjoy being barked at by their owners and often become stressed or afraid.
Be careful when barking at your dog to avoid sending the wrong message. For example, a deeper bark could indicate aggression.
A softer bark might indicate a playful happy tone.
The tricky thing is it’s hard to know for sure what you’re conveying to your dog when you bark at them.
So the simple answer in most cases is not to bark at your dog.
NOTE – You might also be interested to read about why dogs bark when the doorbell rings.
It is Best to Avoid Barking at Your Dog
Dogs don’t have a verbal, word-based language like people do. However, they do use their barks to communicate with humans and other dogs.
For example, there is no one barking to signal that a dog is hungry or scared; they simply bark and indicate their predicament.
This is why it’s so easy to make your dog uneasy when you start barking at them. You’re not a dog.
Therefore, your dog will have difficulty reading your body language and thus the barking intent.
Not to mention, can you imagine how freaked out you’d be if your pet just started speaking the same language as you one morning?
It’s essential to be careful not to stress your pet out too much. For example, there is currently a popular trend on TikTok where dog owners suddenly get into their pup’s faces and bark.
You can see that many of these dogs react scared or upset, and while it might look funny, the dogs are not having a very good time.
If you want to see what I am talking about when I say that these dogs appear stressed and confused by someone barking at them, you should take the time to watch Jose Ahonen’s video on how dogs react to humans barking at them.
IMPORTANT – This short video exemplifies why you shouldn’t stress your dog out by barking.
Just click to watch:
NOTE – Click here to read our post looking at: why can’t dogs talk?
Better Ways To Communicate With Your Dog Than Barking at Them
Now that you know a little more about why you shouldn’t bark or growl at your dog – even just for fun – it’s time to talk about better ways to communicate with your pup.
Even if barking didn’t upset dogs, it still wouldn’t be the most effective way to communicate with them.
So let’s look at some of the best ways you can speak with your furry friend.
1. Use Your Voice To Convey Your Mood and Wishes
Dogs respond to the tone of your voice and can tell in the inflection what mood you wish to convey.
However, we must keep a calm temper with dogs even when they do something we dislike.
When your dog is exhibiting behavior you like, it’s essential to use a happy higher-pitched voice combined with happy body language—dogs like it when their owners are so glad and will strive to get a positive reaction.
Likewise, when a dog exhibits poor behavior, you can use a stern voice to show that you’re not very happy.
However, you must never yell or hit your dog.
These reactions will only harm your relationship with your pet and get you nowhere in terms of changing their behavior.
NOTE – You might want to take a look at this post asking the question: do dogs find humans cute?
2. Use Treats To Convey Your Wishes to Your Pup
Another great way to communicate with your dog is through treats.
Dogs love snacks, and what better way to get a dog’s attention than through food?
When your dog exhibits desired behaviors, giving them a treat is a great way to ensure that behavior is more frequently exhibited.
Not to mention it’s far easier to teach a dog new tricks with the incentive of a tasty snack!
Related: Can Dogs Get Tourette’s?
3. Teach Your Dog To Use Communication Buttons
A more obscure but fun way to communicate with your dog is through dog communication buttons.
This fascinating new invention has become increasingly popular as of late, and many pet owners are purchasing these buttons to help their dogs better communicate their needs.
Each button is color-coded and has a recording stating words like water, food, out, walk, treat, etc.
The goal is to train your dog that the same thing will happen whenever they hit a specific button.
For example, if they hit the water button, you would bring them water; if they hit out, you would take them outside.
Over time you can add more buttons and see how many words you can teach your pup.
Final Notes On What Dogs Think When You Bark at Them
Ultimately, dogs aren’t sure what to think when we bark at them.
Some dogs get upset, while others appear scared. So it’s better to refrain from barking at your dog and stressing them out.
There are many other ways to communicate with your dog, such as the following:
- Use the tone of your voice.
- Give them treats for desired behaviors.
- Teach them commands or tricks.
- Use dog communication buttons.
Ok, so thanks for reading this post looking at the question: what do dogs think when you bark at them?
And thanks for stopping by to visit The Factual Doggo!
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!