When Do Puppies Start Barking?

german shepherd puppy barking
image from youtube

Depending on your perception of barking dogs, you may be eagerly looking forward to the day your puppy starts to “speak” or dreading the cacophony of noise associated with barking dogs. Knowing when your puppy will begin barking will enable you to assess their rate of development and implement training strategies to encourage or discourage barking.

Puppies start barking at 2 to 3 weeks old. As the puppy matures, their bark will deepen and become more sophisticated as they use different bark intonations to convey various messages. Some puppies are naturally silent, while others bark at every opportunity.

Barking is an integral part of canine communication. Learning to interpret the sounds your puppy makes is essential to managing barking behavior and understanding what your puppy is trying to communicate.

When Do Puppies Start Barking?

The puppy’s eyes slowly open at approximately 14 days of age to reveal pale, milky blue eyes, and their ear canals open shortly afterward at 17 days old. By 25 days, the puppy’s eyes and ears are fully functional, and they can respond to visual and auditory stimulation.

As the puppy’s brain learns to process this new world of sound, the puppy’s auditory communications evolve from simplistic mewling and soft grunting to more sophisticated whines, growls, and barks.

A puppy can produce a high-pitched puppy bark at approximately 2.5 to 3 weeks of age. As the puppy matures, their bark will deepen, and the puppy will learn to use different intonations to convey various messages with their bark.

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When Do Puppies Start To Vocalize?

Many people assume that puppies are born mute, deaf, and blind. Half of this statement is true; puppies are blind and deaf at birth, but they are certainly not mute!

Puppy vocalization begins soon after birth. Puppies are neurodevelopmentally immature at birth, and the sounds they make at birth and during the first few weeks of life are involuntary responses to discomfort.

The postnatal vocalizations are unformed and unique to a newborn puppy. Older puppies and adult dogs are incapable of mimicking the soft mewling of young puppies.

As puppies mature and achieve specific milestones, their auditory communications become more sophisticated in line with their:

  1. Sensory development
  2. Neural maturation
  3. Awareness of social behaviors

Why Do Puppies Bark?

Wolves rarely bark, preferring to remain as invisible ghosts of the wild. However, domesticated dogs have long since lost their need for secrecy. Domestic dogs have enthusiastically embraced barking as a helpful communication strategy.

Puppies and adult dogs will bark for a variety of reasons:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Boredom
  3. Excitement
  4. Aggression
  5. Attention-seeking

It is easy to see that puppies use barking to communicate a range of emotions to other dogs and their owners. When deciphering your puppy’s bark, it is essential to consider the context in which your puppy barks, their body language, and the bark’s intonations.

Decoding Your Puppy’s Bark

Barking Type Bark Sound Body Language Context
Anxiety High-pitched, interspersed with whimpering and or whining Tail tucked under the body, crouched down When left alone or faced with an unfamiliar or frightening situation
Boredom Monotonal repetitive barking Relaxed body language, often these dogs will be sitting down while they engage in a long barking session. When being left alone or are under-stimulated
Excitement High-pitched yipping quality to the bark interspersed with “play huffs.” Tail up and wagging, head up, jumping, pouncing, or engaging in play behavior Alerting to guests or potential prey (e.g., a squirrel ran up the tree) or playing with other dogs and humans
Aggression Rough, deep pitched rumbling quality, paired with a growling Hackles up, stiff body posture, charging the target of their aggression, snarling, baring their teeth Warning strangers or other dogs to stay away from their property, food, toys, or other items they consider to be theirs
Attention-seeking High-pitched and repetitive Eye contact with the owner, dashing between the owner and where they want the owner to go, bumping the owner or other dog. When they are bored and feel they are being ignored by their favorite human or dog friend
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When Do Puppies Start Barking At Strangers?

Puppies go through two natural “fear periods.” These heightened fear periods are an essential evolutionary adaptation as they protect the vulnerable puppy from wandering into dangerous situations.

The first period occurs between 8 to 11 weeks, and the second period typically starts at 6 months and gradually tapers off by the time the puppy is 14 months old.

Puppies will often anxiously bark at strangers during the two fear periods. As the puppy transitions from puppyhood to adulthood, their barking will switch from anxious to more aggressive protective barking.

The transition from anxious barking to aggressive protective barking is dependent on the dog’s socialization, confidence levels, and dominance.

Well-socialized, confident dogs are unlikely to engage in aggressive barking unless forced to defend themselves or their families. Naturally anxious dogs may never transition from nervous to protective barking and will continue to display anxiety-linked barking behavior.

How To Stop Excessive Barking?

Excessive barking is a nuisance that can drive you and your neighbors crazy! Many people resort to citronella sprays, shock collars, and other aversive training techniques in an attempt to stop their puppies from barking.

However, suppressing your puppy’s communication strategies is rarely the answer. Puppies bark for a reason, and it is essential to identify why your dog is barking to address the unwanted behavior successfully.

Is It A Problem If My Puppy Doesn’t Bark?

While some people may be delighted to find themselves with a silent puppy, others may be concerned that their puppy’s lack of barking is an indication that something is wrong.

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Some Puppies Are Naturally Quiet

Not all dogs are Chatty Cathy’s! Puppies may be disinclined to bark due to their personality or a genetic predisposition. Greyhounds, French Bulldogs, and Whippets, amongst others, are known to be relatively quiet dogs, although they are still capable of barking in the right circumstances.

Other dogs, like the Basenji, are known as bark-less dogs. These dogs have been bred to produce a yodeling-like howl courtesy of their atypical larynx shapes. While these dogs are far from silent, they cannot create a typical short, sharp bark like other dogs.

Can Health Issues Influence Your Puppy’s Barking?

A puppy who does not bark is rarely a cause for concern unless it’s a noisy puppy who has suddenly fallen silent.

A puppy who has unexpectedly stopped barking may be sick with an underlying condition that makes them feel too unwell to engage in their normal happy barking.

A sudden behavior change is always a cause for concern, and these puppies should be taken to the veterinarian for a thorough examination.

Some Puppies Are Too Shy To Bark

A puppy will often move to their new home during their first fear period. Depending on your puppy’s personality, they may feel too anxious and insecure to draw attention to themselves with barking.

As your puppy matures and gains confidence, its normal barking will resume.

Conclusion

A puppy will first start barking at approximately 2 to 3 weeks; however, the amount they bark depends on their personality and genetic predisposition.

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