Trust me. I know. The barking drives me to insanity too.
Someone told me once that I should be keeping a bark journal for Molly. Ya. Right. Who has that kind of time? Molly barks if the air is blowing in the wrong direction. Not kidding. She is constantly barking at something or nothing.
Dogs communicate with all sorts of yips, yaps, howls, growls, grunts and whines.
If you want to translate for your dogs, there are some things to remember that go along with the sounds.
First: Pitch, Duration and Frequency
1. Low pitch, for example growling, indicates threats, anger and possibility of aggression. The low pitch suggests the animal (dog) is larger and dangerous
2. High pitch represents come closer, it is safe to approach me, I'm small and non-threatening.
1. The longer the sound means the dog is making a conscious decision about the nature of the signal and his next behaviors. For example a threatening growl of dominance has every intention of not backing down.
2. If the growl is in shorter bursts and only held briefly there is an element of fear present and the dog is worried about whether it can successfully deal with an attack.
1. Sounds that are repeated often, at a fast rate represent a degree of excitement and/or urgency
2. Spaced out, not repeated indicate a lower level of excitement
Second: Body Language
High stiff wag: Shows interest, forward body posture (A new person or dog comes around)
Low fast wag: Fear, uncertainty, submission. For example, the dog is not happy, but is trying to diffuse a scary situation
Sweeping mid tail wag/circle tail wag: Happiness, comfort. Our favorite wag!
Forward weight: Moves toward object, curious, friendly, confident
Backwards weight: unsure, dog wants to move away from something
Translation: Types of Barks
Alert Bark: Most common. Rapid strings 2-4 barks with pauses: Means call the pack, there is something we should be looking into
Imminent Problem: Fairly continuous string, lower pitch and slower than alarm bark: There is an imminent problem. Intruder is close, not friendly, get ready to defend yourself. Usually combined with hackles down the back and growling combines with teeth flashes, snarls and forward weight. This dog means business and a bite will follow.
Lonely dog needing company: Long string of solitary barks with deliberate pauses between each one
Alert bark with recognition: Starts as an alarm bark, but when visitor is recognized turns into 1-2 short barks, high-midrange pitch.
Stutter Bark:(Harr-ruff) front legs flat on the ground, rear end held high: Let's Play! Play bow bark, wiggly and bouncy body language
Mild interest: Occasional bark or two at a window or door
Hope this helps translate some barking. I'm pretty sure Molly fits into the imminent problem along with alarm barking categories. Except, there's usually nothing there. (that we can see anyways.)