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Decoding Pup Speak: What Your Dog Means

Decoding Pup Speak: What Your Dog Means

By now, you probably know when your dog has to go potty or when they're hungry. But dogs like to tell you even more than that! Here are some ways to decode what your pup's saying to you. 


You might have a dog that barks a lot, or maybe one that doesn't bark at all! But this common way of communicating can have a few different meanings. It's best to use your context clues to figure out what their barks might mean in the moment, but you also might be able to tell what they mean by the type of bark.

  •  "I'm very happy right now!" - Short, small barks usually mean that your pup is excited or happy. You might notice this when you get home or when they get to go for a ride. It essentially means,
  • "Please back off!" - Short, sharp barks are usually used towards someone else, whether it's another dog, a cat, or a human. This is a way for your dog to quickly and safely communicate that they need space. Usually other dogs understand this meaning pretty quickly.
  •  "Please come back, I'm feeling anxious!"- If your pup barks and howls while you're gone continuously (we're sure your neighbors would let you know!), this signals that they're struggling with separation anxiety.
  • "Watch out! Danger!" - If your dog is barking loud and consistently when you're home, then they are most likely alerting you of something. This might be another person, another animal, or even vehicles. It's their way of saying, 


Yipping can seem scary. It typically has two meanings, and you should be able to tell which one your dog means based off of context clues. 

  • "Ow!" - Yipping is a pretty good signal that they feel hurt. This typically happens with a quick pain, like hitting their head or stepping on something sharp. 
  • "I'm Scared!" - If your pup yips, it also might mean that they were frightened. Think of "jump scares" in movies and how you gasp when they happen - the same thing happens to your dog when they're caught off-guard.


We're all guilty of getting a little whiny sometimes! Just like we might whine if we really want or need something, so do pups, since they realize that whining gets our attention! You might be familiar with your pup's whining by now, but you never know if they might mean something else.

  • "I have to go potty." - Whining is a pretty easy way for your pup to communicate that they have to use the potty. 
  • "Hurry up!" - Did you tell your pup that they were going for a ride but ended up taking a phone call instead? They might remind you that they're getting impatient for their adventure by whining. 
  • "I'm not feeling well." - Unlike yipping, which can indicate brief/sudden pains, whining might indicate more of a chronic pain or discomfort. Your pup might turn to whining if their stomach hurts or if they have a fever. 


Growling is an interesting way for your pup to communicate because it might mean two completely different things.

"I'm having fun!" - If your pup is growling lightly, especially if they're playing with your, toys, or other dogs, this usually just means that they're having a great time.

"I feel threatened." - If your pup's growls are lower in their register or if they're paired with any teeth-baring or hackle-raising, that's a pretty good sign that your pup is feeling threatened. It's best to give your dog space when this happens and to remove any other dogs/animals/kids from the area until they feel more comfortable.

And remember, don't be afraid to ask for help! While we love our doggos, we might not always know exactly what they mean.


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Jenna Gomes

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Jenna Gomes