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Have you noticed that your dog doesn't bark like other dogs in the neighborhood? For some dog parents, having a dog that doesn't bark might be something they can only dream about. But for others, it might be cause for concern.
Dogs bark for a lot of different reasons. In addition to warning intruders to stay away or alerting you to a potential threat, a dog might also bark because he's frustrated or bored, or because he simply wants your attention. Dogs also sometimes bark to express emotions such as fear, anger or excitement.
There are almost as many reasons why some dogs don't bark as there are reasons for barking. Here are some of the most common possibilities why your dog doesn't bark.
Some breeds, such as the Basenji, possess quiet temperaments that aren't geared toward a lot of barking. This might not mean that they never bark, or that they don't express themselves in other ways, such as howling or whining. But in a general sense, these dogs simply don't bark much.
While breed temperament can play a role, dogs are individuals, each with a unique set of personality traits. Some dogs are simply too laid back or friendly to bother with barking, while others may not like the sound of their own barking.
If your quiet dog is newly adopted, it could be that he's too shy to bark. Often, dogs adopted from a shelter or rescue tend to be on their best behavior during the first days or even weeks following adoption, says Cuteness. If this is the case, your dog may begin to bark more as he becomes more comfortable in his new surroundings.
Vocal Stress or Health Issues
If you have a dog that has suddenly stopped barking or appears to be trying to bark without making any noise, it could be that too much barking has strained his voice. Recent surgery is another reason your dog might be more silent than normal, or he simply might not be feeling well. However, if your pooch suddenly goes silent, it could also be indicative of a health issue. You should contact your veterinarian to discuss possible causes.
Training or Debarking
If you're dealing with a shelter dog or one whose history is unknown, it's possible that his previous owners had him debarked, which is a surgical procedure that involves trimming the vocal chords to reduce the volume. Debarked dogs are still capable of barking, they simply can't do so loudly. This is a procedure that we would not normally recommend — training should be your best course of action for teaching a dog not to bark. Another possibility is that your dog was previously trained not to bark, or that he was forced to wear a bark collar that suppressed his barking and broke him of the habit. Sadly, it could also be that your pup suffered abuse that made him fearful of barking. In such cases, with love and time, your dog might eventually get over his fear and go back to barking normally.
Ultimately, you know your dog best, and you're in the best position to decide whether being able to say "my dog doesn't bark" is bragging rights or a cause for alarm. If you're concerned about your dog's silence, talk to your vet to rule out medical or psychological issues. But if it turns out your dog is simply the strong, silent type, relax and count your blessings!
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.