Husky howling in the snow
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10 noises your dog makes and what they mean

By Ashley Murphy Content Writer

Updated on the

Check out this list of 10 noises dogs make. Whether it's howls, whines, or a high-pitched bark, there is a wide variety of dog vocalizations that you need to know about!

If you hear your dog making any of the below sounds, chances are he's trying to communicate with you! So it's important to know how to interpret them!

Read on to see why dogs make these noises, and how dog owners should understand them.

1. Barking

Barking is a domestic dog's primary form of communication. In fact, wild dogs bark very little, and wolves don't bark at all. Experts think barking evolved as a direct line of communication between domestic dogs and their humans. This might be why a dog's bark has so many more textures and tones when compared to the noises made by its wilder cousins.

2. Growling

A dog will growl for a few different reasons. It might be that your dog is feeling nervous, afraid, or displaying his natural protector instincts. A growl is a warning that the dog is uncomfortable, and it should never be ignored or punished. In some cases though, growls, such as play growls, are harmless.

3. Whining and whimpering

This is your dog's way of saying they're in pain or uncomfortable. They might want some food, a few treats, or just a bit of affection. Whining is common in young pups suffering from separation anxiety.

4. Grunting

Some dogs will grunt, especially when they're satisfied with something. It usually happens after a big meal or just before a nice long snooze. Grunting is associated with the release of any tension as the body begins to go into relaxation mode.

5. Honking

Otherwise known as the reverse sneeze, “honking” is a reflex action caused by irritation in the throat or on the palate. Smaller dogs with flat faces or shorted windpipes are the most likely “honkers”. However, this might be a sign of infection, so if your dog makes this noise it should be checked by a vet.

6. Coughing

An odd cough is nothing to worry about. But if the coughing persists, then get your pooch to a vet. They may have picked up a dose of kennel cough (the doggy version of the common cold!). Persistent coughing can also be a symptom of more serious issues like congestive heart failure and lung disease.

7. Howling

Packs of wolves use howling to communicate with each other and warn off any potential rivals. It may be that howling is a way to call out for group members. When dogs howl, its as if they are getting in touch with their inner wolf. Some dog breeds who are closely related to the wolf are more likely to be caught howling than others. This is the case for Siberian Huskies, for instance.

8. Barking or whimpering when asleep

Our dog's dream! Research has shown that their sleeping brains go through the same electrical patterns humans and other higher primates. As they enter into deep REM sleep, they may start "acting" out their dreams.

9. Sneezing

The occasional sneeze is not a cause for concern. Sneezing is an involuntary reaction that clears the airways. But if it just won't stop, it’s time to see a vet. Your dog might have an infection. Other causes of canine sneezing fits include exposure to irritants, sinusitis, and rhinitis.

10. Snoring

Snoring is common in flat-faced breeds and is related to the shape of their faces and airways. But keep an eye out for any potential breathing problems or a significant increased frequency or intensity of snoring. Excessive snoring is related to a bunch of medical issues such as obesity, sleep apnea, and hypothyroidism.

Understanding what your pooch needs is really important. So keep an ear out for any sound they might make; they might be trying to tell you something important!

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