Vets advise against doing TikTok’s Bark at Your Dog challenge

bark at your dog challenge
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Another day brings with it yet another TikTok challenge video involving pets; this time it's the ‘Bark at Your Dog’ challenge.

This social media trend sees TokTokers posting videos of themselves barking at their dogs then recording their reactions - and it's fair to say that it's received mixed comments, including genuine concerns that the pet owners participating in this challenge are doing more harm than good.

Sometimes the dogs look nonplussed, and at others they become friendly and/or submissive. At other times they get scared, and on other occasions they get defensive and angry, baring their teeth in the face of a perceived threat.

dog baring teeth

A dog's body language can be misinterpreted by their owner (Image credit: Getty Images)

According to veterinarian Jo Woodnutt, the reactions to some of the dogs in the videos indicate that the experience isn’t something that they’re enjoying.

“When dogs bark, they can mean different things – the tone and body language can mean anything from ‘play’ to ‘I’m worried’ and even to defensive ‘stay away’"

"In this trend, people are barking at their dogs without regard to their body language or tone, and there’s a risk this could be misinterpreted."

“I’ve seen several videos where the owner is sitting very close to the dog’s face, and staring at them – which is an aggressive move in the dog world. Reading the dogs’ body language, many of them are already a bit nervous about the situation and aren’t sure what’s going on – they’re on edge.”

"As well as risking scaring your dog, this challenge could potentially put yourself at risk by making your dog act aggressively. Partner that with the wrong type of bark, and they could surprise your dog into biting."

Woodnutt explains that even dogs that aren’t as on edge and see it as a play invitation are most likely confused.  

"This might be ‘cute’ and ‘funny’, but it’s important to remember that making your dog uncomfortable for a video trend is unkind, even if they put up with it.”

With the above in mind, we would advise steering clear of this particular challenge, Instead, why not give them a tasty-looking treat? Or take them on a nice Christmas getaway?

Steve Wright

Steve writes and proofreads buying guides, news stories and advice for Pets Radar, drawing on his lifelong experience as a pet owner. Currently sharing his house with two cats and a dog, he draws on the many highs and occasional lows of pet ownership he has borne witness to in his writing. He has worked in publishing for 15 years as an editor, sub editor and writer on a range of titles, such as SciFiNow, How It Works, All About History, Real Crime and Horrorville. You can follow him on Twitter @stevewright22