Dogs make many sounds when they are talking to us, but what do these sounds even mean?

Barking is often misinterpreted as being aggressive and whining or whimpering can be misunderstood as a dog being sick or in pain (which can be the case, but not always). It is very important for dog parents and their caregivers to know what dogs are trying to communicate. Any Cutler Bay dog walker with Dances With Dogs knows what dogs are really trying to tell you!

So, when a dog barks he isn’t being aggressive? And when a dog howls, he isn’t just being loud?

Here a few ways your dog is speaking to you, and what she is really trying to say:


Barking is typically used to alert a homeowner of a sound, like the mailman, or a stranger walking by on a dog walk. Dogs with separation anxiety can be heard by their neighbors and will bark because they are stressed. Some dogs will bark to greet someone because they are happy and just saying “Hello”. If a dog is being aggressive, they are barking will be met with some other factors, like lunging, baring teeth, and/or biting.

For example, many dogs will bark if they hear a noise at the door, the doorbell rings, or someone enters the home. This does not mean they are being territorial; some dogs are just saying hi!


Howling, like barking, can be used an alert to people or pets in their surrounding area that something is “off”. Dogs might howl if they hear a sudden noise, like a firework or car horn/alarm. Dogs also howl if they see something, like another animal in the yard. So, if the dog has hunting tendencies, alerting you with howling is probably common and has to do with something new in the yard. Some dogs will even howl if they are left alone and feel stressed. They are calling out as a response to the separation. Much like wolves, dogs howl for a few different reasons. It is definitely a warning or possible sign of stress (like separation anxiety).


Growling is the most definite warning sign from a dog. A growl does not have to be followed by barking in order for the dog to show his aggravation. Growling means, “Stay away,” and can mean the dog is scared or territorial. Additionally, your dog is growling as a habit (for example, around new people), it’s time to learn why, and help your dog with this behavior.

How can a Cutler Bay, Fl dog walker help you speak dog?

At Dances With Dogs, we offer training (Fear Free) and can work with dogs and their owners on barking, howling, and growling issues. If your dog isn’t incessantly howling, for example, this can be a normal way dogs talk from time to time. Incessant barking, however, needs to be remedied. Please contact us if your dog is talking back too much!