How To: Speak Dog

Some dogs are chattier than others but they all try to communicate with us in one way or another. We’ve broken down the different ways your dog is trying to speak to you so you can understand them better!

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A dog will bark for a variety of reasons from alerting you to an ‘intruder’ to demanding your attention. Some of these behaviours are natural and to be expected with dog ownership whereas others can become behavioural issues if left unaddressed.

Alert barking: Short, rapid barking. Your dog is trying to tell you someone is entering their territory. You can try acclimatising them to their triggers by following our step by step guide here.

Demand barking: Barking or whining at you until you give them what they want (usually food or attention). The best way to train your dog out of this is to stop giving in, let them know that this behaviour will only result in them being ignored.

Lonely barking: Non-stop barking that receives complaints from your neighbours can be hard to monitor since it’s likely happening because you’re not there. Read our tips on dealing with separation anxiety here. Also consider investing in a pet camera, like the Furbo. The Furbo will send an alert to your phone when your dog is barking, allow you to throw a treat from the device and speak to your dog to calm them down.

Play barking: High pitched, frequent and excited. Usually during play or whilst instigating a game! Sometimes a single, short bark is your dog’s way of telling their playmate that they’ve had enough rough and tumble.


Whining is often an attention tactic but can be associated with anxiety. Puppies are notorious whiners, most likely because everything is so new to them that it induces more anxiety than an older, more experienced dog. Always check that your dog’s whining isn’t pain related. If in doubt, we advise a visit to your vet.

Anxious whining: Loud, long, involuntary whines are usually a response to a stressful situation. Puppies will usually grow out of this as they learn that the new situation is not harmful to them. If your dog is still whining, the best way to deal with their anxiety is to eliminate the cause of stress or seek help from a behaviourist.

Needy whining: Usually a bit more half hearted than a fully fledged anxiety whine, your dog wants your attention! Generally, this behaviour shouldn’t be rewarded. Instead, wait for your dog to have a moment of silence and reward with affection or a treat. The sooner your dog realises whining gets them nowhere, the better!

Excited whining: Some dogs will whine when they greet you or another dog through sheer excitement. Try not to make too much of a fuss with your greeting as it can worsen some cases of separation anxiety. Wait until your dog calms down before you reward them with attention or try directing your dog’s attention to their toys.


Growling is your dog’s way of telling you they’re not happy, although some will growl during play to express excitement. The best way to tell the difference is to monitor the body language.

Play growling: Your dog’s tail is wagging, body rolling and generally fairly submissive. It’s nothing to worry about, all fine here!

Warning growl: Your dog is very still, hackles up and tail straight up – it’s time to end the play.

It’s worth remembering that a growl is a warning, and shouldn’t be a punishable offence. If your dog feels they can’t warn you of their displeasure, they may skip straight to the aggressive stage and bite whoever they’re playing with.


Yelping is often a quick, sharp, high pitched sound, indicating that your dog has had a fright or in pain. Has your dog got their paw or tail stuck somewhere? Or knocked something over? Again, if in any doubt over whether your dog is pain, a quick vet visit for a check up with the experts is always best.

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Work, family and social commitments mean that there often aren’t enough hours in the day to give our pets the attention that they deserve. Click here to find out how Tailster can put you in contact with hundreds of pet carers in your local area, meaning that you can rest in the knowledge that your pets are being well looked after.

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