My best friend is my dog. Are you already judging me from behind your computer screen? It’s okay, you can laugh. Yes, my best friend is furry and approximately a foot and a half tall. But you know what else? She’s always smiling and she’s always down to have some fun. We both love to run and play soccer. We love the beach and the great outdoors. We’re both scared of strangers and of the dark. And most importantly, we can always count on the other: whether I need some cheering up or she needs me to fill her water bowl.

Delilah and I’s friendship is going on a whopping 10 years, which is really exciting because you know what they say: if a friendship lasts longer than 7 years, it’s bound to last a lifetime. So I’m looking forward to remaining by her side for another 10 (or hopefully more) years. But, I’m taking this opportunity to recognize that there’s always room for improvement. So, in order to prevent some of our future arguments—yes we fight like every other pair of best friends—we’ve been working on our communication skills. And now I understand Delilah better than I ever thought possible. And you can understand your best dog friend better too! Here’s a list of 5 types of dog barks and what they really mean:

1) Continuous rapid barking in a medium-ranged pitch

This is Delilah’s favorite bark. She sits by the front window and every 30 minutes or so just starts rambling. I used to get really annoyed by it, especially when it interrupted my work or my equally important Netflix binges. But now I know that she’s just trying to warn me of a potential threat. Dogs engage in this kind of barking when they think someone might be invading their territory. This explains why they love to bark at the mailman and every child who speeds down the street on their bicycle.

2) Nonstop barking, broken up by intervals

I only ever heard Delilah bark like this when she was a puppy. But now that I know what it means, it makes total sense. You may notice your dog has a fit every morning when you’re getting ready to leave for work: you grab your coffee and your car keys and your hand’s on the doorknob when they just start barking like crazy. Basically, they’re telling you they don’t want you to go. And they most likely continue to bark like this while you’re gone because they’re lonely and don’t want to be by themselves. Delilah would do this as a puppy when I left for school, but learned to cope with the separation and channeled it into excitement when I returned everyday.

3) Single yelp or quick high-pitched bark

There’s no mistaking this bark—it typically translates to “Ouch!” and is in response to a sudden, surprising pain. One time, Delilah was roughhousing with her favorite guys—my two brothers and nephew—when one of them fell directly on her leg. She let out a sharp cry and limped to the corner of the room. After a few minutes, just as I was about to call the vet, she wagged on over to me and assured me that she was okay. But now, I pay extra attention to these barks. I know that they mean something bad has happened and that she’s in some serious pain. Additionally, if your dog releases a series of yelps, this is further indication that they’re in pain or that they’re scared. Thankfully, I’ve only ever heard Delilah do this in her sleep. Needless to say, she has some crazy nightmares.

4) Stutter-bark in a medium-ranged pitch

This one’s a little harder to explain, unless I’m barking at you. But I’ll give it my best. So, normally an average bark is spelled “ruff”. Well, following that guideline, this stutter-bark would look something like “err-ruff”. And it might accompany your pup bowing down and wagging their tail. Have you guessed its meaning yet? This one translates to, “Let’s play!” and simply means your dog wants to have some fun. Delilah always does this when I’m getting ready to throw her tennis ball. She loves to dart across the room for it, but her favorite part is making me chase her to get it back.

5) Rising bark.

This bark typically follows the previous one and should assure you that your dog is having fun! It usually presents itself as a series of barks, beginning in the middle range but rising sharply in pitch and is a sure sign of excitement. Delilah always brings out this bark when she’s playing with the boys. She circles around them as they wrestle and run around and certainly doesn’t hold back the enjoyment it brings her. As long as she’s engaging in this type of bark every now and then, I know she’s living her life to the fullest and making some great memories.