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Why Do Dogs Get Weird If You Bark at Them?

Why Do Dogs Get Weird If You Bark at Them?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a conversation with your dog? The logical thing to do would be to talk to them in their “canine” language, right?

Barking at your dog seems like a great way to communicate on their level and could be a fun bonding exercise (depending on your doggos reaction, of course). But is it wise (and safe even) to bark at your dog, and what could the potential consequences be?

Let’s see why dogs get weird if you bark at them and if there are any potential risks involved when doing so.

Why Do Dogs Get Weird If You Bark at Them?

A dog’s bark can mean different things based on the tone of the bark and the body language used (similarly to humans). When you bark at your doggo, your tone and body language can mean anything from “I want to play” to “I’m anxious,” and it can even mean “get away from me.” Your bark could unintentionally confuse your pooch and be misinterpreted.

Let’s take a closer look at a few reasons why dogs get weird if you bark at them:

Surprise Reaction

If you were to suddenly bark deeply and intensely at your dog (especially in close proximity), this would catch your dog by surprise, as it wouldn’t understand the intentions behind your bark.

Intimidation Feeling

When you bark at your dog, you make direct eye contact with it. Dogs don’t always respond well to direct eye contact (or being face to face with you, for that matter), as they feel intimidated and threatened. Feeling unsure causes your canine to behave out of character and become stressed.

Assessing the Situation

Your doggo will tilt its head to the side to see your face clearly to assess the message you are trying to convey when you bark. A tilted head movement is entertaining for some people to watch, and people will often deliberately bark at their dogs to achieve this reaction. This trend is very popular with the TikTok community (#barkatyourdog challenge).

Distrust of the Unknown

When you bark at your dog in an unintentionally aggressive way, you can startle and irritate your pooch (especially if you do this often). You could undermine the relationship you have with your furry friend and cause unnecessary fear and trust issues.

What Happens If You Bark at a Dog?

Depending on the temperament and personality of your pooch, your dog reacts in different ways. Your pooch doesn’t have an official canine language. Dogs communicate through body language and tone. Although your pooch won’t understand you, it will react in the way it recognizes and interprets the tone of your bark. 

In more detail, here are a few reactions you can expect if you bark at your dog:

Whale Eye

You can learn a lot by looking into the eyes of your dog. When your dog’s eyes are wide open, and the sclera (whites of the eyes) are visible, this is known as “whale eye” or “half-moon eye.” If your dog has reacted to your bark by doing this, your doggo is expressing discomfort and anxiety. 

Whale eye is a sign your pooch is fearful and may act aggressively toward you. Although this may look “funny,” it can be pretty serious as an anxious dog is likely to bite you. 

When your pooch exhibits whale eye, it’s trying to show you that your bark has made it uncomfortable, and it is hoping that you’ll stop. 

Pinned Back Ears and Tensed Body

If your dog’s ears are pinned back tightly against its head, your pooch feels submissive, anxious, or intimated. This is a defensive position for your dog, and the tighter its ears against its head, the more fearful it feels.

If your pooch feels intimidated, it may lash out at you in defense. But if your pooch’s ears are pinned back but more relaxed and not so tight against its head with relaxed body language, this generally means it is happy and expects a pat on the head or a kiss. 

It’s imperative to watch your pooch’s body language.

Returning Your Bark

Your pooch barks for many reasons. You’ll need to determine the “why” by paying attention to their body language, tone of bark, and the stimuli that caused your dog to bark at you (in this case, it would be the fact that you barked at your dog).

Here are a few examples of the types of barks your dog can display when you bark at it: 

  • The “let’s play” type of bark has a playful sound.
  • A piercing yelp shows that your dog has been caught by surprise and is fearful. 
  • The serious bark is a deep sounding bark followed by a growl that shows your pooch is anxious and fearful and is giving you a warning. Your pooch may even bare its teeth at you.
  • Whining and yelping show your pooch is displeased with your sudden outburst. 

Licking Its Lips

If your pooch licks its lips at you when you bark at it, your pooch feels submissive and is trying to diffuse an awkward and tense situation.

This is your doggo’s way of trying to ask you to calm down. 

Showing Its Teeth

Again, it’s essential to take your doggo’s body language into consideration when it shows you its teeth. Your doggo might show you its teeth in a smiling gesture (a sign of respect). This indicates that it accepts you as its leader, and your dog’s body language will be relaxed. 

But, if your pooch’s body language is rigid and tense, your dog isn’t happy with the situation and feels threatened, and it’ll often react aggressively out of fear. 

What Do Dogs Think If You Bark at Them?

Unfortunately, your pooch is unable to translate your bark and vice versa. But you can look for signs in your dog’s body language and barking tone to try and interpret what it may be thinking when you bark at your dog. 

If your pooch wags its tail and jumps around excitedly, it thinks you are trying to communicate with it. Your dog possibly enjoys this game. But, if your pooch backs away with its ears down or has an aggressive stance, your dog thinks you are threatening it. 

Your doggo might sit with its head tilted in confusion as it tries to figure out why you are barking at it and what you are trying to communicate.

Your doggo will show you what it thinks about the tone of your bark by:

  • Sitting down
  • Being attentive
  • Tail wagging with alert ears
  • Barking back
  • Growling
  • Backing away
  • Whining