Many dogs snark to express their emotions, and many dog owners grow concerned about the behavior.
However, as scary as a snark may appear, the good news is that it's a form of communication.
Deprived from the gift of voice, dogs rely on their body language and vocalizations to express their underlying emotions.
This form of communication is rather ritualistic, basically a way to avoid physical harm.
It's a dog's way of "using his words," basically getting one's point across without risking a physical battle which can be costly in terms of risks for injuries.
Let's therefore discover why dogs snark, and most of all, what seem to trigger dogs to snark and what you can do if your dog snarks at other dogs or people.
Firstly, What is a Dog Snark?
A snark is a loud vocal display that takes place often quickly and unexpectedly.
If your dog emits a loud, scary noise with an open mouth that appears aggressive, most likely you have witnessed a snark.
Why Do Dogs Snark?
You are likely to see a snark take place when there is a resource on the ground (think a toy or a bone) and two dogs.
One dog may suddenly snark in hopes of gaining access to the resource, and discourage the other dog from approaching it first.
It's as if the dog was saying something along the terms of "that's mine!"
You may also see it when two dogs meet and one dog does something the other dog doesn't seem to like or considers "pushy" or "rude" leading to this loud and scary vocalization. In this case it may be similar to saying to the other dog: "Stop that now!"
A snark is quick and straight to the point. The dog on the receiving end is likely to understand it and backs off as if saying: "OK, OK, you may have it" in regards to the resource or "OK, I didn't mean to" in regards to doing something the other dog didn't like.
Are Dog Snarks Bad?
No. In several cases, a snark is appropriate. Some dogs can engage in pushy behaviors and other dogs may communicate their dislike with a snark.
If the dog understands the warning, and this helps him learn that not all dogs like this approach, this could turn into a valuable teaching moment without nobody getting hurt.
However, it's important recognizing that there may be a problem. Basically, if a dog had to escalate and rely on a snark, he or she was likely trying to get a point across through earlier warnings.
It may therefore be important taking steps next time to prevent things from reaching this level.
When Snarks Turn Problematic
However, in some cases a snark may lead to problems. This can happen when another dog ignores the snark, or when the dog won't tolerate a snark and responds to it aggressively.
It should also raise concerns about why the dog is snarking in the first place.
Is the dog struggling with a certain interaction because he wasn't properly socialized? How are his social skills? What can be done to address the issue?
Should You Correct a Dog's Snark?
No, just as you shouldn't correct a dog's growl. A snark, once again is communication.
If you correct a snark, then your dog may bypass it next time, and go straight to a bite when he feels nervous about something.
It's like turning off the a smoke alarm, you want your dog to use his words rather than escalating and getting physical.