Can You Hear Me Now? The ABCs of the Canine Bark
“Barks are expressions of emotion,” says Pryor. “An animal can bark because he's alarmed, and that’s the ‘stranger danger’ bark. And an animal can bark because he's calling for help.”

And then there’s that most domesticated of barks: “Animals often learn to bark to get you to do something,” says Pryor. “That’s called ‘demand barking,’ and this is definitely something you don’t want to encourage.”

Howling, on the other hand, is a more primitive habit. “That’s a more instinctive type of behavior,” explains Hallgren. “Dogs are born with it.” Baying at the moon — or a neighbor’s Cockapoo — may hark back to an innate need to strengthen pack bonds. Wolves, for instance, will wake up and howl in unison before heading off to hunt.

One thing that always precedes howling is what experts call a “key stimulus,” such as another dog or a fire engine. In other words, there’s usually a good reason why a dog lets loose.

But if he starts to howl when no one is home, it may be your behavior that needs changing. “The dog is calling you and asking you to come home,” says Hallgren. “It’s a symptom that he feels lonely.”

Of course, there is one ubiquitous bark that can (and should) be corrected — barking at the door. “This is a bark we treat totally wrong,” says Hallgren. “We rush after the dog, and try to silence him.” The problem with this approach? When the dog hears the doorbell, he wants the whole pack to go with him because he knows there’s strength in numbers.

Instead, Hallgren advises dog owners to equip everyone who passes through the door with a treat, so that the dog learns to equate the doorbell with a reward for good behavior. In other words, take a wag the dog approach to bark management.

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