Why Won't My Puppy Bark?

Get to know your puppy's individual personality.
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The sound of many yapping puppy voices, raised in a symphony the likes of a canine Handel's "Messiah," can be deafening, but what if your puppy doesn't bark? Many factors, including breed, attention, exercise and possible previous trauma, will affect a puppy's vocalization.

Breed Affects Vocalization

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Certain breeds of dog are less likely to bark. In fact, the basenji, a small dog breed of African descent, is incapable of barking. Instead, the basenji emits a wailing sound similar to that of a yodel. Many small breeds of dog, such as pugs and schnauzers, are also less prone to barking. Some larger dogs also bark in moderation. Bull mastiffs, for instance, have been bred to bark to alert their owners of particular situations, such as to announce the presence of another dog, or an unwelcomed guest or intruder. Becoming educated on your puppy's breed will be helpful in understanding his propensity for barking.


Similar to their human counterparts, puppies need time to acclimate to their new surroundings and families. Once your puppy adjusts, he may become more vocal. Sadly, not all puppies come from loving homes before they arrive on your doorstep. A puppy who has experienced trauma, such as abuse, may be reluctant to bark, as previous barking may have resulted in punishment. Puppies also need time to familiarize themselves with their own bodies and abilities. Puppies don't become vocal until approximately 3 weeks of age, as their eyes and ears open, and may only whine at first. A puppy unfamiliar with the sound of barking will also be less likely to bark.


The amount of attention your puppy receives may also play a role in how much he barks. A puppy who has sufficient playtime and stimuli is more likely to be quiet and peaceful during rest time. A puppy can also be trained to feel comfortable and at ease during times of aloneness, reducing barking tendencies. Chew and biting toys will keep your puppy busy during times of your absence.


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All puppies should have a wellness examination by a licensed veterinarian. A healthy puppy will exhibit better behavior and tendencies, including playfulness, obedience and vocalization. Occasionally, health issues and congenital defects can affect a puppy's ability to bark. Only a licensed veterinarian can make a proper assessment of your puppy's good health and well-being.


Over time, your puppy will develop his own personality. Some puppies bark more than others, and not one particular factor can explain this. The way your puppy communicates with you, either through vocalizing or body language, will evolve as your puppy grows into an adult dog.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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