Most of us have playfully barked at our dogs, just to catch their reaction. However, the recent “bark at your dog” trend on TikTok might be causing more confusion and stress for our furry friends than we realize.
Jenna Stregowski, RVT and Daily Paws’ pet health and behavior editor, notes that while each dog’s reaction varies, many videos from this trend— which have garnered over 300 million views in the past month— show dogs displaying signs of distress or even aggression.
“Consistently doing this might make your dog anxious or wary of you,” Stregowski warns.
Even if some dogs seem okay with their human’s barking, thinking it’s a playful interaction, Stregowski advises against joining the trend. Instead, she suggests more conventional bonding activities like playing fetch or giving your dog some affectionate pats.
“Barking at your dog might do more harm than good,” she concludes.
The TikTok Trend: Barking at Dogs
The format of these TikTok videos is pretty straightforward. Owners sit with their dogs, close enough for their pets to feel the vibes. Then, out of the blue, they bark—either mimicking a dog themselves or letting a pre-recorded bark from the app fill the silence. And the spotlight turns to the dog, waiting for its reaction.
In a few trending videos, the dogs’ reactions are unmistakable. Their eyes go wide—a clear indication of potential aggression, says Stregowski, with over two decades of experience in the field. Other dogs show their unease differently—some back away startled, some tuck their ears back, and some even display aggression by growling or showing their teeth. And while you might think a slow tail wag is a relaxed gesture, according to Stregowski, it might actually signal anxiety.
Interestingly, some dogs react by affectionately licking their owners after the sudden bark. But this seemingly sweet gesture might also be a sign of underlying stress.
@adrianchateau bruh this shit has me WHEEZING #fyp ♬ original sound – Savyy
Barking at Dogs: The TikTok Trend Explained
Many TikTok videos feature owners suddenly barking at their dogs, capturing their reactions for all to see. The most common scenario? An owner sits close to their pet and barks—either on their own or using a TikTok sound effect. Then the camera captures the dog’s response.
The reactions vary widely, but according to Stregowski, who boasts over two decades in the field, widened eyes in dogs can signify aggression. Other dogs might retreat, flatten their ears, or even growl. Even a seemingly harmless slow tail wag could be a dog’s way of showing discomfort.
Intriguingly, some dogs respond with affectionate licks, but this might not be as innocent as it looks. “It may seem like a sign of affection,” Stregowski points out, “but it could be the dog’s attempt to pacify the human, much like they’d do with another dog.”
Why are the dogs reacting this way? Stregowski believes it’s the mix of surprise and confusion. Dogs aren’t used to humans mimicking their sounds, and most of the barks sound like warning signals. Plus, the sudden change in the owner’s behavior can be disorienting.
While some dogs might find it amusing, others could feel threatened, which might result in unintended harm. So, is it a good idea to bark at our dogs? Most of us have tried it out of sheer curiosity, wanting to see our furry friend’s reactions. But given the potential risks, Stregowski advises against it, especially up close.
And if you still want to see your dog’s reaction, it’s safer to do it from a distance and ensure you can guide your dog with familiar commands. But Stregowski suggests keeping these moments private.
“Even if your dog seems entertained, sharing the video might encourage others to try it, leading to unforeseen consequences with their pets,” Stregowski warns.