What happens if I bark back at my dog? Let’s Explore

Their ‘funny’ reaction is actually a trauma response.

In case you blinked and missed the TikTok #barkatyourdogchallenge, it’s exactly what it sounds like: A person barking at their dog. More specifically, the goal of the challenge is to take a video of your dog reacting to you barking at them, in their face. Watch

The dogs’ startled reactions are supposed to be funny, but according to animal experts, their expressive eyes and faces are really signs of stress and fear. Here’s why you should never bark at your (or any) dog.

One video, shared by @adrianchateau, has gained more than 32 million likes. Others have racked up many millions of views.

Similarly, face licking may appear to be a show of affection, but it can be a tool that the animals use to calm others down.

“A slow tail wag, often held low or under the body, is more likely to be showing uncertainty and worry. A slow tail wag is trying to communicate that a dog is unsure what to do in response and they are not proving to be a threat to the dog or person, causing them to feel worried,” she said.

Rob Bays, a canine behaviorist and training manager at Battersea Cats and Dogs Home in London, told Newsweek that the eye contact often seen in these prank videos can be threatening to pets.

She added: “The majority of dogs wouldnt understand the intention behind the bark or in some cases where it has come from.”

What happens when you bark at your dog

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the “funny” reactions are actually ones of stress and fear. Some examples include:Advertisement

  • “Whale eye” (where they open their eyes and make them extra big)
  • Stiff body and facial features
  • Pinned back ears
  • Barking or vocalizing back at the human
  • Licking their lips
  • Showing teeth
  • Trying to get away
  • Other reactions are a little more obvious, and let you know that your dog definitely is not a fan of you barking in their face (or whatever else you did to startle them). The AKC says these can include:

    Of course, all dogs are different, but to be safe, the AKC recommends avoiding this challenge.

    Bark At Your Dog Challenge | TikTok Compilation

    Ever since I came to really understand natural dog behavior I could not help but take notice of the way people interact with the dogs around them. More often than not, the communication between the canine animal and the human is not in sync. Knowing people do not want to hear random dog advice from a stranger I started wishing I was not seeing the interaction because it is hard to watch and not help out. I decided to write down what I see in hopes of helping others out there understand how to communicate with their canines. This list will be added to on a regular basis.

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