Is there anything better than the moment you finally bring your little, furry puppy home? You’ve thought through everything, where they’ll sleep, what food is best for them, and perhaps even how to introduce them to your other pets. You might also be thinking when do puppies start barking – especially if you’ve got neighbors close by! Are they all the same? Is there something wrong if they’re not barking yet?
Here’s what you need to know about when dogs start barking.
Why do dogs bark?
There are many different reasons why dogs bark and why puppies learn this behavior. The main one is to communicate. They bark to get attention – whether that’s to hurry up bringing their food, encouraging us when we go for the leash, or letting us know when someone is walking up the garden path. It’s generally a good idea to listen when a dog barks as they’re normally trying to tell you something. This isn’t, however, the same as encouraging barking. Excessive barking isn’t something that we (or our neighbors) want.
Related article: How do I prevent my dog from barking?
When do puppies start barking?
It isn’t a case of one collar fits all. All puppies are different and when they start barking depends on their individual personality, breed, and the environment they’re bought up.
When pups are born, they spend the first couple of weeks doing very little. Their eyes and ears are closed and they normally just shuffle around with their brothers and sisters. Although their vocal cords are fully formed, you won’t get more than a soft grunt out of them. It isn’t until they start to walk properly and open their eyes that they begin to really vocalize – but even that might just be a little whine.
At around 6 weeks old, they’ve perfected their whines so much that they gradually turn into barks. These won’t be the same as the barks they make when they are adults. Even breeds with low-pitched barks, like Rottweillers, start off with high-pitched, squeaky barks.
You might also notice that when one puppy in the litter starts to bark, the others quickly copy. There’s no better way of learning than from your siblings!
When thinking about when dogs start barking, it’s also important to acknowledge what triggers them to do so. When a puppy is still with their mother, they might be more encouraged to bark to let her know they want milk or to ‘talk’ with their siblings. Play and excitement is also a normal trigger for puppies to find their voice. If you have another dog at home that likes to bark, you might find your puppy mimicking them too.
Should you encourage puppies to bark?
Barking is an important skill to learn for puppies. But if they don’t learn when to do it correctly, it can become a bit of an issue. It’s important you listen to them if they’re hungry, scared, or trying to communicate with you, but you should reinforce quiet time when they stop barking with treats, petting, and positive attention.
There’s no straightforward answer to when a puppy starts barking, they’re all individual, and just like humans, some of them like to use their voice more than others! When did your puppy start barking? Let us know in the comments below!
Alex Wrigley is a professional writer and blogger who loves travel, technology and dogs. She is originally from the UK but currently lives in Nepal with her three dogs: two pugs and a golden retriever.