Do Dogs Understand Other Dogs Barks?

Do Dogs Understand Other Dogs Barks?

Owners can usually tell why their dog barks. It could be that they are trying to get your attention when the doorbell rings or to alert you to what they perceive to be danger. They could be asking for playtime or a walk, maybe it’s dinnertime. The pitch and volume of the bark tells us how the dog is communicating, along with other body language signals. These include position of the tail and ears and if the dog’s hackles rise. However, do dogs understand other dogs barks?

Here we take a look at verbal communication between dogs.

Do Dogs Understand Other Dogs Barks?

Do Wolves Bark?

Although wolves in the wild make noises like howling and growling they don’t bark like domestic dogs do. If a wolf barked whilst hunting it would only scatter prey and give them a chance to hide . Wolves call their pack members by howling which carries for a further distance than barking.

This signifies that barking is a learned behaviour of domestic dogs.

Dogs are loyal creatures. They want to protect their owners from danger. They have also learned that barking has benefits when they communicate this way.

Have you noticed your dog seems to reply when he hears a dog barking in the distance?

It is thought that dogs can differentiate between an ‘alone bark’ or a ‘stranger bark’. They are more likely to react quickly to the ‘stranger bark’.

How Dogs Communicate

Do Dogs Understand Other Dogs Barks?


When two dogs meet there will be plenty of bottom sniffing going on. Dogs communicate with each other by sniffing and spreading pheromones, anal gland secretions (through faecal matter) and urine deposits

If dogs bark loudly at each other it is because they feel uncomfortable, threatened or scared. They will read each others body language in conjunction with the verbal signs and decide whether to approach or retreat.

Quieter barks will signify that one or both of the dogs are excited and eager to play.


When a dog growls at another dog it means they feel threatened or cornered. This happens more when dogs are on leads. Don’t ignore growls, it is a signal that the dog feels very uncomfortable. If the dog continues to growl after calm reassurance, remove him from the situation.

Friendly growls occur when dogs are playing together. This is normal behaviour and doesn’t signify dominance or aggression. Only stop this if the growling accelerates significantly.

Do Dogs Understand Other Dogs Barks?


Have you noticed that when one dog makes a high pitched howling sound other dogs join in?

Just like the wolves mentioned before, they are announcing their presence or calling for attention.

A dog with severe separation anxiety may howl until their owners return.

Sometimes dogs will howl in response to a high pitched sound like a car alarm.


When a dog whines on meeting another dog it can have several meanings.

  • If the whine is accompanied by a waggy tail it is a friendly, excited greeting
  • It could show anxiety or fear when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • The dog may simply want to get closer to the other dog, but is constrained by a leash.
  • It could be appeasement behaviour to show another dog that he/she is not a threat.

When mixed signals occur the owner must rely on his/her knowledge of his own dog and observe body language.


Puppies often cry or whimper when they are hungry, need comfort or are left alone. This is how they naturally interact with their mother, and older dogs continue this behaviour.

Dogs will cry at the door to go outside, cry in excitement for a treat, or cry with frustration if they don’t get their own way.

Also, a dog in pain may whimper or cry.

Unlike humans, dogs don’t cry tears and it doesn’t mean they are sad.


Dogs communicate with each other by using both verbal communication and body language.

They also pick up signals from pheromones and stool and urine deposits.

Verbal communication (e.g. barking) can signify excitement, anxiety or fear. They bark to alert owners if they feel they are in danger or to ask for something.

Additional Reading

If you have a dog that barks all the time, it can be annoying. The following post from this blog gives helpful tips to stop unwanted barking.

15 Ways To Stop A Dog From Parking

Sometimes it seems like two dogs just don’t get along. This post explains that this can change with time and patience.

What To Do When Two Dogs Don’t Get Along





One thought on “Do Dogs Understand Other Dogs Barks?

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: