Dog Speak

Deb D’Andrea

Nederland, CO

There’s a great NOVA program called “Dogs Decoded” that is an absolutely fascinating program every dog companion should watch. It is available on DVD and Streaming via Netflix. For one segment of the show, 36 human participants (12 who had Mudi dogs, 12 who had other breeds, and 12 who didn’t have a dog) listened to recorded barks of Mudi dogs experiencing various emotions: aggression, fear, despair, playfulness and happiness. Each human participant had to guess which bark aligned with what situation.

Amazingly, researchers found all human participants, even ones who didn’t have dogs, were able to 100% identify each bark they heard. This research supports the concept that a dog bark is essential to our canine-human interaction. Other research has shown dogs understand upwards of 200 human vocalizations, and that dogs have deep and rich emotional lives – which comes as no surprise to anyone who has been around dogs. I didn’t need a research team to tell me that!

For those of us who have been around animals, we understand their subtle or not so subtle communication methods. These forms of communication can be as in-direct as your pup curling up next to you to be close; or very direct with them throwing toys at you and lifting your hands off the keyboard with their nose. My Tiki girl will come over, snag my elbow with her nose and toss my arm off the keyboard if I’ve been on the computer too long!

Dogs are very social creatures and their barks can be loud and harmonic, or a combination of barks to express emotions or sound the alarm to alert other dogs, people or animals to a situation. I can tell what’s going on based off the tone and type of my dogs’ bark, sometimes with both my girls chiming in; other times only one will kick into high gear and the other just hangs out. It’s fascinating to me, and I always get up to look at what they’re trying to tell me about.

If you want to check out the NOVA dog vocalization test mentioned in the beginning of this column, visit “”. The interactive ‘test’ is very cool. If you have resting pups under your feet when you listen to the barks be prepared for your pups to react — both my girls popped right up and started barking when they heard the first recorded bark!

Till next time! Deb D’Andrea, founder of 4TheLuvOfDogz, provides Petz Nanny Services, mobile Canine Massage, and Canine Agility. Deb’s home-made dog treats are sold at local stores and K9Birthday Cakes are available direct. Deb Petz Nanny’s for dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses, etc. Contact Deb at or 720-675-7078.