Sometimes It’s Okay To Reply To Your Dog’s Bark

My husband is outside shoveling snow. I’m upstairs writing. Honey, who just finished breakfast, is downstairs barking.

What should I do? How should I reply to my dog’s bark?

Honey the golden retriever plays out in the snow.

It’s snowy. So we belong outside playing.

I won’t keep you in suspense. I went downstairs to see what Honey wanted.

She sounded anxious. But she didn’t want to go outside.

So I knelt down on her pillow and she came up to put her head in my lap.

All Honey wanted was a little comfort.

Honey the golden retriever puts her head on my leg.

Sometimes a pup just needs a little comfort.

Mike was outside and she could see and hear him through the door. I was upstairs and she wanted to be with me too.

Once I reassured Honey that everything was okay, she followed me upstairs to lie on the couch like she usually does when I write.

If you google questions about dog barking, you’ll only find everyone’s and their mother’s suggestions for stopping it. And sometimes that’s important. You don’t want a dog barking out of anxiety. And you don’t want to be evicted from your apartment.

But what if sometimes we just listened to our dogs trying to talk to us and asked them what they needed? It sounds like common courtesy to me.

And now, if you ask google, there’s at least one search result that says sometimes it’s okay to reply to your dog’s bark.

Your Turn: Does your dog bark to talk to you? What is he or she saying?

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  1. I have conversations with my dogs every single day. My hubby thinks it’s it’s funny because I will sit there and talk to him. I know what you mean though, sometimes we just need to take a step back and really know what our dogs are saying.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  2. Great post! And you’re absolutely right: dogs are very communicative beings and they like to talk to us! We just have to have the love and the patience to learn to listen and understand what they’re saying.

  3. Cardigans are nothing if not great communicators. They understand A LOT of English and they are also good at telling you what they need. My guys tell me when a dog is in our court, the mailman is here, when they want out in the back yard, when it’s time for a game of squeaky in the basement, when they want a treat from the jar, when the water bowl is empty, want some attention like a belly rub, when a toy is under the sofa. This probably sounds like all they do is bark, but it is very easy to tell what they are referring to based on body language and the tone of their barks.

  4. Oh, and Jimmy even has a bark for when we have the nerve to leave something in his favorite chair. It is adorable! He comes and barks at you, runs to the chair, barks again. I move the offending item, and up he jumps.

  5. I check out all barking, it usually mean’s someone is getting in trouble or something is going on that needs to be addressed. A little cuddle time is always nice.

  6. He really only barks when there is something to bark at. When he hears the doorbell, garage door opening, etc. He barks at the bunnies when they are in the yard too. I assume he is trying to tell us that there is a dangerous threat in the yard. 😉

  7. Blueberry doesn’t bark very often – but when she does it is usually to say, “There’s an owl!” “There’s a cat!” “There’s a dog pooping on the front lawn!” Usually, I just reply, “Good job, Blueberry, I see it.” and she stops. I’ve had barking maniacs before so it is kind of nice to live with a dog that is seldom verbal.

  8. Torrey and Roxy both only bark if they need to. We know if Torrey barks, something is outside and we should go look.

  9. Our older dog is very vocal, but doesn’t bark often. He will bark at me to tell me it’s time for our morning walk, if he feels I’m taking too long to finish my coffee :-) An out-of-the-blue bark usually means there is a car pulling up in the driveway. We’re far from the road, so this ‘announcement’ is appreciated.

  10. It really depends on the bark or howl. When we are just making noise, which some how Mom can tell, we get in trouble and have to stop, but when we have a purpose, she listens.

  11. I have a couple of persistent barkers – it took Willow about 4 weeks to find her one, and since then she’s not stopped using it – Harvey ‘talks’ (well yells) all the time – although I’ve learned what each kind of bark is. Earlier today in fact I heard a distant squeal – the last time I heard that particular squeal, I had found Harvey in the Room of Doom (aka Studio) with a ball of screwed up gaffer tape stuck to his paw (it was from a backdrop I’d taped up) anyway (cor, this is getting long!!) the gaffer tape was in no way restricting his movement, but he just couldn’t bear the thought of it on him – and squealed – today I heard the same squeal – he’d shut himself in the bathroom the big doughnut he is!! (I’m not sure I needed to write that all out!! hehe, you’re welcome 😉 )

  12. I ALWAYS respond to Mauja and Atka’s barks because it was what they were bred to do. They not only alert us, but keep any perceived ‘predator’ away from the house. I want to acknowledge (and thank) them for doing their job and then reassure them that I have everything under control so they can relax.

  13. My dogs have very specific barks, so I know which ones to respond to and which to ask them to quiet down on.

  14. A funny story to do with barking. BD is usually very quiet unless someone sneezes or coughs, then he will give a good bark. It works a treat when I feel a little threatened, I cough and BD barks and ‘grrrs’. Anyway, one evening when I was still living with the ex I was sneaking into the house late, while he was upstairs asleep. I felt this sneeze coming on, I couldn’t fight it. I sneezed, BD barked, the ex was down the stairs in 2 seconds flat to check out why BD was barking (as it was so unusual) It took him a little while to recover!!

  15. Haley only barks when she’s “on-duty” and sees or hears something she thinks needs checking out, then she comes running into the room with a look on her face like “Why are you still just sitting there?” Haha.

  16. Since we live in a fairly remote spot, my dogs are allowed to bark when a vehicle or person appears outside our windows. My trainer suggests saying “thank you” and then “enough” (meaning that it’s time to stop barking). It works for everyone except when one of the family arrives home! Then the barking goes on until they walk through the door!

  17. I’ve heard many pet parents talk about their dogs barking to communicate. Harley doesn’t do that very often. He uses his tail and his head. He will stand there staring at you, all the while tilting his head and when you ask him a question he will swish his tail frantically a few times as if to say “try again” When I say the magic word, he will proceed in the direction of whatever it is he wants – a treat, a Greenie, outside, his toy box, etc… So I do believe they find their own way of getting their point across.