Dogs are man’s best friend and they’re a great source of joy and companionship; however, many of us struggle to understand how our furry friend is trying to communicate with us. Dogs rely on body language to express how they are feeling, so it is important to learn the subtle ways your pup is trying to convey its emotions. In this article, we will explore 45 different ways your pup communicates with you, from facial expressions to barking sounds. Understanding your pup’s body language and vocal cues can significantly deepen the bond that you share. So let’s dive in and discover how our canine companions communicate with us.
1. Ears Forward
When a dog’s ears are forward, it typically signals that the dog is alert and paying attention to its surroundings. This usually signals that the dog is ready to register any sudden and unusual sounds in their environment, and may indicate that the dog is excited, curious, or interested in something.
2. Ears Low and Back
When your dog’s ears are low and back it usually indicates that they are scared, nervous, or experiencing stress. This behavior can serve as an alert to you that your dog is uncomfortable or feeling threatened by something in their environment. It is important to be aware of their body language to help ease their stress.
3. Nose Licking
When a dog licks their nose and lips, it typically indicates they are feeling relaxed, comfortable and content. This mouth licking may also indicate a seeking of attention behavior. A dog might lick their nose and lips when they are unsure of an unfamiliar person, scent, or situation. It is a sign of self-comfort and should not be interpreted as a sign of aggression.
4. Licking Paws
When a dog licks their paws, it is a way for them to self-soothe or ask for comfort. It could be an attempt to groom or clean themselves, or a sign of stress. A lick could mean that their paws are itchy or sore from excessive licking or that they are experiencing some kind of discomfort. In any case, it is important to determine the cause of the behavior and make sure that the problem is addressed.
5. Licking Humans
When a dog licks humans it is often interpreted as a sign of affection and pleasure. It can also indicate submission and respect, most likely in response to physical contact from a human they recognize as a leader. Dogs also lick humans to get attention, as a gesture of appeasement, or simply because it is enjoyable. By licking people, a dog can also express joy, affiliation, and excitement.
6. Tightly close mouth
When a dog has a tightly closed mouth, it generally indicates they are stressed or uncomfortable. This could be due to the dog feeling threatened by something like a stranger or loud noises. A closed mouth with the lips pulled back can also indicate aggression. It’s important to be aware of this closed-mouth behavior so you can react appropriately.
7. Downward Dog
A downward dog is a yoga pose usually performed when a dog stretches its back legs out with its hind quarters in the air and its front legs and torso on the ground. When a dog does this, they are deliberately stretching out their back and providing minor relief to tired muscles. It can also be a sign of playfulness or relaxation.
When a dog is shaking, it often means they are feeling anxious, scared, or stressed. There can also be medical reasons for shaking, but an anxious or fearful response is the most common. If you see your dog shaking for no apparent reason, this may be a sign that they are feeling overwhelmed by their environment or something specific to them.
When a dog is trembling, it usually means they are feeling fearful or anxious. Trembling can be a response to various situations, such as meeting new people or being in a new, unfamiliar environment. Trembling can also be a sign of physical pain, excitement, or even extreme cold. It’s important to understand the possible causes of trembling in order to help your dog stay safe and comfortable.
When your dog is trimming to make themselves look smaller, they are trying to make themselves appear smaller in size, usually by curling into a ball or tucking in their legs and tail close to the body. This may be done in an attempt to appear less threatening in certain situations, or as a sign of submission.
11. Tail tucked
When a dog tucks its tail, it is a sign of fear or anxiety. It is a way for the dog to appear smaller and less threatening, possibly in response to perceived danger. This could be an indication that the dog is feeling uncomfortable or threatened in its environment.
When a dog paces back and forth it is usually a sign of anxiety. The pacing dog may be feeling stressed, insecure, or trying to get your attention. It can also be a sign of an illness or medical issue. If the behavior is persistent, it can indicate the need to give a dog more exercise, or that they are not getting enough mental stimulation. Consulting with a veterinarian is recommended to determine the root cause of the pacing.
13. Sweating paws
Sweating paws in dogs can be caused by a variety of things such as stress, nervousness, excitement, or a medical condition. The sweat can be more severe in areas between their toes, as these tend to be extra sensitive to extreme temperatures. It can also be a sign of an allergic reaction, or a response to a stressful situation. If you see your dog’s paws sweating, seek medical attention as it can be an indication of an underlying medical condition.
14. Raised fur
When a dog raises its fur, it is a sign of fear or aggression. It is often seen as a form of protection for the dog, either to protect itself from a perceived threat or to intimidate another animal. The dog will raise its fur to make itself seem larger and more intimidating. It is also a sign of submission when a dog lowers its fur and tail in order to appear smaller.
When a dog stiffens their body, it can indicate that the dog is feeling anxious or uncomfortable. This response can be seen during various situations, from social interactions with other people or dogs to being around an unfamiliar noise. The stiffness of the body is a sign of stress and can help indicate that the dog needs more reassurance.
16. Wrinkled nose and curled lips
A dog with a wrinkled nose and curled lips usually indicates they are ready for a fight. It could also mean they are hesitant or uncomfortable in the current situation. In a less aggressive scenario a wrinkled nose could indicate that the dog has detected an unfamiliar smell, while the curled lips suggest they are trying to identify the source of the scent. It is a sign that the dog is unsure or anxious.
17. Baring teeth
Baring their teeth is a sign of aggression from a dog and can be a warning to another animal or person to back away. It is an involuntary response in the dog, typically done to protect itself or its territory. It is important not to challenge the dog when it does this and to move away slowly.
18. Eyes wide with direct stare
When a dog has eyes widened and a direct stare, it is a sign of dominance, often accompanied by a raised hackle or “raised fur.” It can signify an imminent attack and is a warning to back away and not to invade the dog’s space. It is a sign of defense, but can also indicate that the dog is feeling threatened or uncertain.
When a dog starts spinning, it is typically a form of self-soothing behavior. It may mean the dog is nervous, excited, or overstimulated and is trying to calm themselves. Additionally, some dogs may spin for attention, play, or in order to release energy. Understanding the degree to which a dog spins, as well as their body language and environment, can help indicate why they are spinning.
20. Circling before lying down
Circling before lying down is a behavior commonly seen in dogs. It is a canine instinct that signifies they are ‘making a nest’ or creating a comfy and safe space in which to rest. Circling can be done with both body and paws and can also look like spinning. It often calms the dog down and helps them relax and settle.
21. Avoiding eye contact
When a dog avoids making eye contact, it can mean that they’re feeling intimidated or submissive in the presence of the person they are avoiding eye contact with. Eye contact can also signify tension or aggression, so if a dog is avoiding eye contact, they may be trying to avoid any sort of conflict. It is usually a sign that a dog is uncomfortable in the situation.
22. Rolling over to show belly
When a dog rolls over to show its belly, they are displaying a submissive gesture to show they are not a threat. This can mean they are willing to accept a dominant role and trust their owner – which can be seen as a sign of affection and trust. It can also be a playful gesture for attention or for a belly rub.
23. Wagging Tail
When a dog is wagging their tail, it is usually a sign of happiness. Tail-wagging can also indicate curiosity or anticipation. Dogs can also use their tails to communicate their dominance or submissiveness. Often, a dog will use their tail to communicate their feelings to other dogs or humans.
24. Curved Tail
When a dog curves their tail, it means they are feeling confident and happy! A curved tail is often a sign of contentment and excitement, so cherish that wagging tail – your pup is telling you they’re in a good place. This is a great time to initiate some play time with your pup.
25. Tall, erect stance
When a pup stands tall and proud, it means they are getting ready to party! Maybe they smell something delicious or they just really want to show off. Either way, when a pup takes this dominating stance, you know they’re ready to go!
26. Tall, relaxed stance
When a dog has a tall, relaxed stance it means they feel safe and confident. It’s like they’re telling the world ‘I’m not worried about anything, I’m cool and collected!’ They’re feeling like their best self, and ready to take on whatever comes their way!
27. Mouth open
When a dog’s mouth is open, it can mean a variety of things. It can indicate engagement, interest, and curiosity. Alternatively, if the mouth is wide and panting, it could be a sign of excitement or stress. If the mouth is slightly agape and the tongue is slightly out, the dog may just be relaxed. If accompanied by a growl, it is likely a warning or sign of aggression.
Panting is one way that dogs cool themselves off. When a dog is panting, their body temperature is cooling down due to the increased airflow. Panting can also be a sign of excitement or distress, so if it doesn’t stop after a few minutes, it may be important to assess if the dog is okay.
29. Dilated Pupils
When a dog’s pupils are dilated it means they are aroused or aroused by something in the environment. This can be a sign of excitement, fear, anticipation, or aggression. A dog’s dilated pupils become larger, making the eye appear darker. This is a biological response to stimulus that the dog encounters in their environment.
30. Leash aggression
Leash aggression occurs when a dog is on a leash and exhibits aggressive behaviors towards people and other dogs. These behaviors can include barking, growling, lunging, snarling, snapping, and lunging. This type of aggression is usually a result of anxiety or fear, and can be prevented by teaching the dog how to stay calm in high-stress situations and correct behavior when needed.
31. Low Growl
A low growl from a dog typically indicates that the dog feels threatened, wary, or irritated and is a warning signal. The behavior is often an attempt to communicate that an animal felt uncomfortable and wanted space. A low growl could also indicate aggression and should not be ignored as it may lead to more serious negative behavior.
32. High Growl
A high growl from a dog typically communicates an aggressive response, for example if the dog feels threatened or is challenged in some way. It is a sign of displeasure and can also be a visual deterrent to assert dominance amongst other dogs.
33. Long Growl
A long growl from a dog is a warning sign that it may become aggressive if it feels threatened or perceives a potential threat. It is often a sign of its readiness to protect what it deems important and defend itself or its territory. It serves as a reminder that the dog may become violent if provoked.
34. Short Growl
When a dog does short growls it is usually a sign of aggression or assessing the situation. They could be a warning that is meant to scare away anything or anyone that is deemed a threat. It’s important for owners to be aware of the context in which their dog growls in order to help manage their dog’s aggression.
A dog groaning can be indicative of several different things. It could be a sign of discomfort, anxiety, or tiredness. It could be distress due to a health issue, warning of a potential threat, or simply an attempt to communicate a need. Owners should be mindful of any changes to their dog’s behavior and investigate if they observe any groaning.
Whining is a common way for dogs to express their emotions. This could mean they are feeling anxious, unhappy, or uncomfortable. They might also be trying to get attention or show submissiveness. It could also be a form of begging or an attempt to communicate a need such as hunger or the need to go outside.
Yawning in dogs can be a sign of a variety of things, such as being sleepy, anxious, stressed, or feeling comfortable. It may also help them regulate their body temperature and can be used as a calming mechanism. Dog yawning can also be a form of communication to indicate submission to another dog or person. Ultimately, why a dog yawns may depend on the specific situation and context.
When a dog purrs, it is usually an expression of contentment and satisfaction. It is similar to a cat’s purr, and is usually accompanied by gentle licking and a relaxed posture. It usually is a response to a calm and nurturing environment that the dog is in.
39. High-pitched bark
When a dog does a high pitch bark, it typically indicates excitement. It could be an attempt to get attention or indicate the presence of something new and exciting. Alternatively, the bark may indicate displeasure or threat at a potential intruder, warning them to stay away.
40. Low-pitched bark
A low-pitched bark from a dog often means they are feeling defensive or defensive. It may be an indication that they see something or someone unfamiliar as a potential threat and they want to assert their dominance. This type of bark is often louder than a high pitched one and tends to carry farther. It usually means the dog is feeling aggressive and is ready to defend itself.
When a dog starts howling it usually means the dog is expressing some kind of emotion such as joy, excitement, sadness, anxiety, or distress. It can signal how a dog is feeling or indicate a change in the environment like the arrival of a stranger or a warning about potential danger. It is a common behavior for dogs and is used to communicate with other animals and with humans.
42. Many Vocalizations in a Row
When a dog does many vocalizations in a row, it could indicate a range of emotions. It is possible that the dog is excited, anxious, stressed or trying to communicate a need. Paying close attention to the context and the type of vocalization is important to understand why the dog is making the noise. If it continues for an extended period, it may be a sign that the dog is distressed and needs help.
43. Crotch sniffing
When a dog sniffs people’s crotches, it may be a sign of curiosity or affection. Dogs are known to use their sense of smell to investigate objects or get to know their surroundings and people, so this behavior is natural. But if a particular dog behaves in this manner too often, it may be a sign of dominance that should be addressed.
44. Destroying household items
Destroying household items is a typical way of a dog expressing their unwanted behaviors. This could range from chewing furniture, fabric, or other items in the home out of boredom, frustration, or a way of getting attention. It could also be a sign of separation anxiety if they do it while the homeowners are away. The underlying cause should be identified to help stop the destructive behavior and keep the home in one piece.
45. Head Tilted
When a dog tilts its head to the side, it often indicates that they’re curious and paying close attention. By tilting its head, they’re likely attempting to better understand what’s going on around them. It can also mean your pup is interested in you, such as when they’re awaiting a specific command or they’re trying to catch your attention and figure out what you’re thinking. In some cases, a head tilt might indicate discomfort or confusion.
46. Scooting Butt
When a dog scoots their butt on the floor, it can mean several things. Typically, it is a sign of discomfort, such as an itch or irritation in their anal area. They may be trying to soothe their discomfort by dragging their bottom across the ground in an attempt to relieve it. It may also be related to diet and indicate that they have digestive issues. Additionally, the dog may be trying to mark their territory. In multi-dog households, this behavior is often seen when a dominant dog wishes to claim their space. Regardless of the cause, it is important to pay attention and try to determine why this is occurring.
47. Hanging Out Window
Dogs love sticking their heads out of car windows and feeling the wind ruffle their fur! They get an unbelievable sense of joy and freedom. Hanging their heads out can also be calming and soothing since they can take in all the smells around them. Dogs get to explore the sights and sounds of the outside world during car rides, and that can be a lot of fun for them. It’s their way of having a bit of adventure and pushing the boundaries of their daily routines.
48. Loose Floppy Tongue
When a dog has a loose, floppy tongue hanging out, it typically means that the dog is feeling relaxed and content. They are often seen panting or in a playful state. Loose or floppy tongues may also be a sign that the dog is too hot and is trying to cool itself down. The extra saliva also helps to make it more comfortable for them. Some dog breeds may be naturally predisposed to having a looser tongue, for example, Bulldogs and Mastiffs. Taking good care of your pup and looking out for their signs of discomfort or distress is important.
49. Side Sleeping
When a dog sleeps on their side, they are demonstrating feelings of security and comfort. This type of sleep is usually more relaxed than when they are sleeping on their back or standing up. Sleeping on their side can indicate that they trust their environment and feel safe in it. Generally speaking, it is a sign that a dog is content and relaxed, so it could be a good indicator of overall well-being. However, other causes such as physical discomfort could result in a dog sleeping on their side. It’s important to observe your pup for any signs of distress or injury.
50. Puppy Dog Eyes
Puppy dog eyes are a common behavior in dogs and form part of their language. It is an attempt to communicate and express their feelings, often when they want something. It also means they love and want to form an emotional connection with you. It is an endearing and irresistible combination of partially closed eyes and a slightly upturned muzzle that many dogs use to beg for treats or plead for attention.