I take Franny to the dog park nearly every day. She doesn’t realize it, but we have the great fortune of living three blocks from one of the most beautiful dog parks in the country, Alamo Square in San Francisco. I love Alamo Square for its fantastic views; she loves it because she gets the opportunity to be a dog.
For dog owners, the dog park can be stressful – and understandably so – a whole lot of sharp teeth and not much supervision. Etiquette is king at the dog park…but whose etiquette? Many of the good behaviors we require of our dogs are actually completely unnatural to them. One of these is keeping quiet: we don’t want them barking and we certainly don’t want them growling. But not every bark and growl should concern us because this is what your dog is really saying:
A short bark or “ruff” = Hi! Let’s play!
A bark rising in pitch = This is fun!
A soft and playful growl = I want to play!
A howl = I hear you! (usually becomes a group activity)
Rapid barking = An alert call to the pack
High pitch barking = Help! I don’t like this!
A single sharp bark = Stop! What is that?!
A long, deep, low growl = Back off! Beware!
A whine = I need something (or I really want something!)
A whimper or yelp = I’m hurt and scared!
A growl-bark = I’m upset and frightened!