Why Won't My Puppy Bark?

by Chris Miksen
    "These humans make me too uncomfortable to bark."

    "These humans make me too uncomfortable to bark."

    Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    If you've had experiences like most people, you probably think dogs could be summed up in an Abraham Lincoln-like statement: you'll find all dogs bark some of the time, some dogs bark all of the time, but you won't find a dog who never barks. But some canines really don't bark. While that could be the case with your puppy, his lack of woofs may stem from uncertainty and a lack of confidence.

    Comfort Zone

    When you first bring your furball home, he's out of sorts. He's just been plucked from his previous house and is now surrounded by weird sights, smells and people. Just as some children might not seem very vocal when they're in unfamiliar situations, your puppy may choose to stay silent rather than speak his mind, at least until he gets situated. After a few days to a few weeks, most puppies come around and show off their personality, and that means lots of woofs. But every puppy is different. Yours may not make a peep until adolescence, when he becomes more confident and sure of himself.

    Not a Barker

    Some dogs think barking is for the birds—or in this case other dogs—and stay mostly silent from puppyhood into and throughout their adult years. This certainly isn't the norm in the canine world, but as the American Animal Hospital Association says, some dogs simply don't feel the need to talk very much. You won't know if this is the case with your pup until he grows up, but if it is, don't sweat it. He'll likely still bark when someone knocks on the door or in similar situations. Even breeds who tend to bark more than others, such as herding dogs and hounds, have the occasional representative who doesn't bark too often. Note that a basenji does not bark, but the breed still makes various noises.

    Don't Encourage

    If your puppy decides to finally let out a woof after days or weeks of silence, it might be cause for celebration, but pretend nothing happened. Don't act excited or praise your little guy, because you'll just reinforce his barking and possibly turn him into a woofing machine that doesn't shush. Generally, well-socialized dogs bark less than poorly socialized ones, so you lessen the chance of his barking becoming a problem so long as you socialize him and avoid rewarding him for barking.

    Medical Problem

    If your pal physically opens his mouth and attempts to bark to no avail, he's likely dealing with some sort of medical condition, such as laryngeal paralysis or laryngitis. Most conditions that affect barking occur either in older dogs or result from barking too much or from trauma, so it's unlikely that your puppy will be affected, but it's not impossible. If you notice your pup try to bark, or you hear only a raspy sound when he tries to bark, call your vet.

    Photo Credits

    • Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

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