What Is Your Pooch Telling You? Understanding Dog Behaviors To Better Care For Your Furry Friend

Published on 02/24/2020
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Compared to us humans, dogs see the world in a different way and they rely on body language when they communicate. Continue reading to see how dogs use demeanor and actions to show their emotions and feelings. Some of the things here will certainly shock you.

Here Is What The Behaviors Displayed By Your Dog Means

This Is What Your Dog’s Behaviors Really Mean

On Hind Legs

A dog standing on their hind legs could mean a number of things. Perhaps the pooch is showing affection and just wants a hug, like humans do sometimes. If the doggo does this around other dogs, they are likely just being playful. As long as your dog is not growly or acting aggressively, they are probably just playing.

On Hind Legs

On Hind Legs

Furniture Chewing

Pups like to chew on different things when they are teething but if older dogs chew on objects, there is another reason for it. They are not bad dogs, though. They just need to have more physical activity as they are currently not getting enough. If you notice your dog is chewing at the furniture, take them for a walk to treat the behavior. Give them the exercise they need.

Furniture Chewing

Furniture Chewing

How They Bark

Dogs bark for different reasons. If the barking is frequent and loud, it might be due to something urgent. They might be sensing danger and are trying to tell you. Loud barking may also mean the dog is in pain. On the other hand, softer and shorter barks mean they simply want to play. Pay attention so you can figure it out!

How They Bark

How They Bark

Bringing You Toys

When your dog is carrying a toy in their mouth, it is not always because they want to play. One theory suggests a dog brings someone a toy because they think of that person as the alpha and want to earn that person’s respect. According to another theory, the object is really valuable to the dog, so bringing it to someone means the pooch trusts that person. Of course, it is possible that your dog simply loves you so much they want you to enjoy their prized possession. Therefore, do not toss the ball away because you just might hurt their feelings!

Bringing You Toys

Bringing You Toys

When Dogs Yawn

The common reason humans yawn is they feel tired or bored. Dogs, on the other hand, yawn because they feel secure and safe. Yawning is a sign of submission for doggos, but it can also mean that they feel stressed or they are anticipating something. If you take your dog to the vet and you notice they are yawning there many times, it can mean they are nervous. If your dog yawns before a walk, they are likely trying to control their excitement. Dogs also yawn when they are tired, just like humans.

When Dogs Yawn

When Dogs Yawn

Like A Caterpillar

Seeing our dog getting a good wiggle makes us super happy. They kick their legs up and wiggle on their back – an image we simply cannot get tired of. Sometimes, a dog does this to scratch an itch. However, they might also do it just to get your attention. Your best response is to shower them with your love!

Like A Caterpillar

Like A Caterpillar

Before You Go

Even though they leave to work, pet owners still feel guilty when their pets are left at home alone. Some owners even take their pets to day cares so that they can feel better leaving their dogs! You will surely understand this when you see your dog’s sad face. However, that calm face your doggo is wearing should not worry you since the pooch knows you will soon be back. That face is telling you they trust you; they are not sad!

Before You Go

Before You Go

Pacing Back And Forth

Your dog paces because they feel excited, nervous, or bored – the same reasons that humans have for pacing around the room! If you see a dog going around in circles or dogs chasing one another when they meet, you are looking at a sign of playfulness. The dog wants to play!

Pacing Back And Forth

Pacing Back And Forth

Pointing Their Snout

You might have noticed a dog freezing up and nudging their snout toward something. They might have lifted a front paw as well. Apparently, this is a common thing that dogs do, especially hunting breeds. Dr. Ellen Vindell explained, “Dogs are just dogs, and there are certain behaviors that probably any dog that’s a dog can do…. You’ll see a sporting dog who circles like a herding dog, and you’ll get some herding dogs who point.”

Pointing Their Snout

Pointing Their Snout

Showing Discomfort

Aside from feeling comfortable, dogs also yawn when they are exhausted. If they yawn in public, they hope to have an afternoon nap. On the other hand, yawning can mean discomfort and anxiety, so if you notice your dog yawning a lot in an unfamiliar place, you should take notice. They might not be that comfortable there.

Showing Discomfort

Showing Discomfort

Tilting Their Heads

It is common for people to speak in a higher pitch if they are talking to dogs, and sometimes, dogs tilt their heads as a response. You are not wrong if you guessed a dog does this in order to try to understand what someone is saying. Dogs can read body language and vocal cues really well and respond to what they take in, including instructions and reprimands. They can also recognize specific words, so they might be waiting for those that are associated with treats and walks! One theory suggests they tilt their heads to adjust their outer ears and have better listening comprehension.

Tilting Their Heads

Tilting Their Heads

Sniffing Around

Humans may have five million olfactory receptors, but dogs have a staggering 220 million. Needless to say, dog noses are far superior to ours and can smell at least one thousand times better than ours can. When dogs sniff around, it is either because they are tracking prey or sensing danger. They will be silent and still as they do this. They can also tell who is who by smelling the people or individual dogs – even identical twins!

Sniffing Around

Sniffing Around

Flipping Up Tongues

You have likely seen your dog sticking their tongue out and flipping it up, perhaps after you have discovered their pee on the floor. Dogs do this when they think they have done something wrong and they feel guilty and apologetic. Perhaps this is how they try to put on an innocent face. How can you stay mad at a face that is super adorable?

Flipping Up Tongues

Flipping Up Tongues

Just Like Yoga

Many people stretch after they wake up. Dogs, on the other hand, stretch for their muscles. It can also symbolize affection and love. If you find your dog stretching when you get home, it doesn’t mean they have just woken up. They are stretching because they feel happy to see you, which is simply the cutest thing!

Just Like Yoga

Just Like Yoga

Exposing Their Belly

A dog showing you its belly respects you. They feel submissive and probably want to play with you. Rubbing their belly is your best response! They like this, so they will show you their belly a lot. However, they also show this behavior when some other animal attacks them.

Exposing Their Belly

Exposing Their Belly

Tucking Their Tail

Have you noticed your dog tucking their tail in between their legs? Dogs do this if they feel scared, nervous, guilty, ashamed, or uncertain, which means it is a sign of distress. Try to comfort your dog and make sure they feel safe if you see them tucking their tail. Try petting them, talking softly to them, or doing the doggie treat approach.

Tucking Their Tail

Tucking Their Tail

Raising Their Paws

If your dog raises a paw, they are telling you that they need something or they want to play. This behavior is common in pups and young dogs. When a puppy wants to eat, they often put out their paw for their mother. A pup doing this to you is telling you they want some affection, so go ahead and shower them with your love!

Raising Their Paws

Raising Their Paws

Using Their Tails

We all know that when a dog is excited and happy, they wag their tail. If they are wagging their tails high, they are being playful and alert! However, they hang their tail down to show submissiveness, so show them affection, love, and security.

Using Their Tails

Using Their Tails

Dragging Their Bum

Your dog dragging their bum might be a funny sight, but you should actually be concerned. This is called scooting and a dog often does this to release an impacted anal sac anal sac. There are certain dog breeds that suffer from this condition at higher rates. The condition can be really uncomfortable, so bring your pooch to the vet immediately.

Dragging Their Bum

Dragging Their Bum

On Your Feet

Have you ever wondered why your dog likes to lie on your feet while you are watching TV or having dinner? You might find this a bit annoying, but your dog means well and this is how they show loyalty and love! They want to be close to you, and this behavior came from their ancestors. Back then, they ran as a pack.

On Your Feet

On Your Feet

Leaning On You

You should be flattered if you notice your dog leaning on you since this is their way of giving a hug. This is how they connect with you, so do not think they are just being lazy. The next time you notice your dog doing this, do not nudge them off. We highly recommend allowing them to show their affection for you.

Leaning On You

Leaning On You

Tackling You

Your dog tackling you is not the most comfortable thing the world. You might have even gotten injured before. However, it is not their intention to hurt you. This is their way of showing you they are really glad to see you! After waiting for you to be back, they just cannot contain their excitement upon seeing you.

Tackling You

Tackling You

Flicking Ears

When your dog flicks their ears, it means they are listening. This behavior is actually common among animals, and they do it when they are trying to figure out an unfamiliar sound. Give your dog the chance to try and figure things out. Personally, we adore the fact that dogs are so inquisitive and observant!

Flicking Ears

Flicking Ears

Licking Themselves Clean

In case you did not know, dogs can actually lick themselves clean. They will lick themselves if they want to get clean but they might also do it if they are hurt. Bring your dog to the vet if they are always licking their legs and paws, especially near the joints. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

Licking Themselves Clean

Licking Themselves Clean

Snarling And Showing Teeth

There are different ways dogs show their moods and they are not positive every single time. A dog shows aggression by wrinkling their muzzle. If you notice your dog is snarling and showing their teeth, it is time to remove them from the situation. This behavior means they are going to attack at any time.

Snarling And Showing Teeth

Snarling And Showing Teeth

Investigation Time

Have you ever tried going out for a walk with your dog and they suddenly halt and raise a paw? Most of the time, this does not mean that they hurt themselves. Something actually caught their eye and they are figuring out what it was. This means that your dog’s brain is working! If your dog is playing detective, they have the tendency to sniff a lot as well.

Investigation Time

Investigation Time

Straightened Tail

A raised tail can mean a dog is confident or excited. You can often see this when dogs meet each other or another animal. A raised but shaky tail, on the other hand, can mean they feel challenged. Dogs that are happy and contented often have their tails level with their body. A tail that is tucked between the legs or hangs low can mean insecurity.

Straightened Tail

Straightened Tail

The Side Tongue

Don’t you think a dog with their tongue hanging out is really cute? This shows they feel calm and happy! You might notice this when you play fetch with your dog or you take them out for a walk, but you should watch out if they do this excessively since they might be suffering from the condition called “hanging tongue syndrome.” Dogs that have flat noses, such as boxers or bulldogs, commonly suffer from it.

The Side Tongue

The Side Tongue

Digging Holes

There is no evil intention behind your dog digging the yard up. For your pooch, it is instinctual since it is in their DNA, and this is particularly true for terrier breeds. Most of the time, dogs dig in the yard because they leave valuables like bones and toys there. Other possible reasons are they want to bury their dead or they are looking for prey.

Digging Holes

Digging Holes

Why They Bite

Who likes getting bitten by their dog? That’s right – no one. However, before you write your pooch off as a bad dog, know that this behavior can mean affection and playfulness and is not considered aggressive. Dogs may bite one another while playing together, and the behavior can carry over to the way that they act towards you. However, make sure you look out for signs of aggression or fear.

Why They Bite

Why They Bite

Sleeping Beside You

Perhaps you have noticed your furry friend prefers to lie down beside you, skipping their own bed. This behavior is from their ancestors when they hunted in packs. They slept together to be warm and to have security. Your dog does this because they like getting close to you and they trust you enough. Take it as a compliment.

Sleeping Beside You

Sleeping Beside You

Paw Pats

It is not nice when a person slaps you, but when a dog slaps you with a paw, there is no anger there. The pooch is just trying to get your attention. A dog slaps another dog to show they trust that pooch. For humans, it is like patting another person on the back.

Paw Pats

Paw Pats

Eating And Cuddling

Your dog might like cuddling you after eating. They do this to show you how much they love you. For many dogs, having a nap after enjoying a good meal is a good idea, and doing it right beside their favorite human being makes the idea even better! If your dog does this, the best thing you could do is to cuddle with them.

Eating And Cuddling

Eating And Cuddling

Panting

If you dog is panting, it does not mean they are in danger. This is how dogs cool off from overheating. They do not sweat like humans, so they pant in order to decrease their body temperature. They likely need water when they pant, but they also do it to let go of pain or stress.

Panting

Panting

Eye Movement

Dogs are like humans in some ways. Their eyes also tend to show emotions. If dogs feel sad or tired, they may look at the ground. On the other hand, if they feel excited, they look around with their eyes wide open. Raising an eyebrow can mean they are confused. Take these things into consideration to better understand your doggo!

Eye Movement

Eye Movement

Bowing

There are quite a few reasons why a dog might bow – by bow we mean they lower their head while their body is erect. Oftentimes, they just want to play. Swinging their hips and wagging their tails excitedly are also common behavior. It is called “play bow” by dog trainers.

Bowing

Bowing

Walking In Circles

Have you ever wondered why dogs walk in circles before lying down? This behavior is likely from their wolf ancestors. Prior to lying down, wolves walk in circles to flatten leaves or debris to make the surface comfortable. This behavior may be from their ancestors but it still funny to see dogs do it.

Walking In Circles

Walking In Circles

Howling

People often try to make their dogs stop howling, but dogs actually have a reason for doing it. This is how they yell, which humans do when we release angry feelings. Trust us, your dog is not trying to establish dominance over you. Let them howl, even once in a while, as it is their way of expressing their feelings.

Howling

Howling

Hugging With Eyes

Those puppy dog eyes your pooch is giving you are a good sign! They might have caught your attention but your furry friend is simply showing their affection for you. It is like hugging for them. That look of innocence is your dog telling you they adore you and would like you a hug or a kiss. When your pooch is looking into your eyes, they love you!

Hugging With Eyes

Hugging With Eyes

Yowling

You might have thought this how your dog yodels, but they actually yowl to communicate. An animal journal writer explains, “Our German Shepherd rescue, the sweetest dog we have ever owned (unless you happen to be a cat), is 9. She ‘talks‘ about everything! Grumbles, over being denied a cat lunch, has 5-minute conversations over going out for a walk, exchanges pleasantries (you would swear) over how happy she is to see someone.”

Yowling

Yowling

Eating Feces

Dogs eat poop. That is a fact even though it is totally gross. The behavior is not uncommon and the act is called Coprophagia. If a dog does this, it could mean they are malnourished so take your dog to the vet if you notice them doing it too much. Once nutrient deficiency is ruled out, a trainer can probably help your furry friend give up this nasty habit.

Eating Feces

Eating Feces

Chasing Tails

It is common to see a dog going in circles chasing their tail. If your dog does this, do not worry since they are just being playful. However, if you notice they do it excessively, it could mean health or behavioral issues so it is time to get some professional help. A dog might chew on their tail if they have allergies, anal gland issues, or even OCD. Yes, dogs can have it too!

Chasing Tails

Chasing Tails

Licking

For dogs, licking is not uncommon as they do it to show affection. Your dog licks you to tell you they love you. In addition, dogs like tasting the minerals and nutrients that are found in our skin. In case you did not know, intense licking can actually be corrected by training your dog properly.

Licking

Licking

Humping

It is common for dogs to hump and it is not really a dominance or sexual issue. They may hump objects, people, and animals if they are being playful. This behavior is not harmful, but we understand some people may feel uncomfortable with it. This habit can be pretty inconvenient.

Humping

Humping

Sniffing Butts

You might have thought, “Can you imagine humans greeting one another like that?” It was already mentioned that dogs have a far more superior sense of smell than we do. Butt-sniffing is how they get to know one another. Dogs can tell the temperament, gender, and diet of other dogs this way!

Sniffing Butts

Sniffing Butts

Dog Squinting

Have you seen your dog doing a slight squint? It might have even manipulated you before. When a dog blinks or squints often, it means they want to get your attention and spend quality time with you. If your dog does it excessively, perhaps you are not spending enough time with them.

Dogs Squinting

Dogs Squinting

Open Mouth, Relaxed Tail, High Ears

Many people wonder when it is best to go near a dog. You should approach the pooch when you see their tail is relaxed, their mouth is open, and their ears are pointed. In this state, the dog feels neutral, safe, and relaxed. You can cuddle up your furry friend when they are behaving like this! It’s the best thing in the world.

Open Mouth, Relaxed Tail, High Ears

Open Mouth, Relaxed Tail, High Ears

Straight Tail, Ears Forward

When you see a dog with ears pointed forward and their tail is straight, it means the pooch is listening closely to whatever is happening at the moment. Something has caught their attention. They are curious about it and are ready to start investigating it!

Straight Tail, Ears Forward

Straight Tail, Ears Forward

Dead Dog

The ‘dead bug’ pose is quite funny. This is when a dog looks like a dead bug due to their legs being in the air. When your pooch does this pose, it means they feel safe as it is a vulnerable pose. Your dog probably looks content and relaxed.

Dead Dog

Dead Dog

Side Sleeping

It is not uncommon for dogs to lie on their sides while taking a nap, but they do not really do this for a long time. Standing up from this position takes them longer. This is not good if they suddenly need to defend themselves. A dog that sleeps on their side has no troubles whatsoever and obviously trust their owners!

Side Sleeping

Side Sleeping

Superman

Isn’t the superman pose the cutest pose ever? Dogs like to lie on their stomach and spread their limbs out after they tire themselves out. This happens when they are really exhausted. This pose is commonly done by puppies as it lets them stand up really quickly.

Superman

Superman

Passed Out

A dog might do this if they are tired. They place their paws across their chest. If you see your furry friend take this pose, it could mean they are overheating and making attempts to cool off, so it is best to let the pooch get some rest.

Passed Out

Passed Out

Belly Curls

This pose may be cute, but it means that there is no good night’s rest for the dog. This is called the “belly curl”. The pooch sleeps on their stomach and their paws are either underneath them or at the sides. Their muscles are tensed so they won’t reach REM. Shy and gentle dogs commonly sleep like this.

Belly Curls

Belly Curls

Curling Up

When a dog curls up like a fox, it means that they feel cold. They wrap their tail around them and they keep their paws underneath their body to try and retain body heat. Put a blanket on your dog if they sleep this way.

Curling Up

Curling Up

Back To Back

Many people forget that dogs are actually ‘pack’ animals since doggos have been so domesticated. However, you might get reminded about this when you see dogs together and they exhibit certain behaviors. For example, they sleep back to back. Aside from being totally cute, it means they absolutely trust one another.

Back To Back

Back To Back

Bringing Gifts

We bet your furry friend has gifted you leaves, shoes, or even some dead animals. No need to fret since this is actually a sign of respect! This is their way of trying to make you happy. Try not to focus on the part where you have to dispose of some dead animal as it is never pleasant. You will surely appreciate their gesture and will agree that it is just adorable and sweet!

Bringing Gifts

Bringing Gifts

Boosting Energy

Some dogs like getting baths, though they are not common. Everyone knows that the average dog hates baths. Your pooch might be one of those that immediately run around the house after getting one. Clearly, they are not a big fan of baths and they hate being wet. They run around to immediately dry off to get back their scent.

Boosting Energy

Boosting Energy

By Your Side

If you have had a dog at any point in your life, then you know what ‘invasion of privacy’ feels like. However, do not be offended if your furry friend decides to follow you to the toilet and just stands there while you are doing your business. They simply want to be near you all the time! Don’t forget that they are pack animals that like to stick together.

By Your Side

By Your Side

Showing Empathy

You might have suspected your furry friend understands you, and you were not wrong. Dogs are empathetic creatures. They can tell if ‘strange’ feelings like anger or sadness are in the air. If you are sad or upset, they will try and comfort you by looking at you, licking you, or resting a paw or their head on you. Don’t you think they are just the sweetest?

Showing Empathy

Showing Empathy

Eating Grass

For dogs, it is not completely uncommon to eat grass, but this usually means that they need a specific nutrient. They may also eat grass since it is fibrous and will help digest their food well. However, eating grass can also mean they are dehydrated or have intestinal worms. If you notice your dog eating grass a lot, take them immediately to a vet. Better safe than sorry.

Eating Grass

Eating Grass

Humping Inanimate Objects

Have you ever wondered why your dog thinks humping some stuffed animal or a leg of a chair is normal? It is possible that the doggo is doing this to get your attention. Your pooch probably knows it will catch your attention and make you focus on them. They will continue to do it as long as they think they will get a reaction from you.

Humping Inanimate Objects

Humping Inanimate Objects

Digging After Going To The Bathroom

Perhaps you thought your furry friend digs some grass up after they do their business in the yard to “cover” their droppings, but this is actually how they mark their territory. If another dog smells traces of your dog’s paws in the dirt, they will know that your pet has been there. Your dog now owns the patch of grass.

Digging After Going To The Bathroom

Digging After Going To The Bathroom

Winking

Your pup is not winking at you because they are trying to tell a funny joke or some kind of secret. They probably have something in their eye and it is bothering them or they feel their eye is irritated.

Winking

Winking

Barking At Nothing

Sometimes, our dogs stand by the window, look out and start barking, but we see there is nothing there to bark at. You might have been puzzled by this. It is possible they are trying to protect your house. They think your home is theirs too, so they want intruders to know they are there, protecting the home.

Barking At Nothing

Barking At Nothing

Licking You

Most people love getting licked on their faces or hands by their dogs, but do you know why dogs do this aside from the fact that they love to lick everything? There are people who believe dogs show affection by licking, while others believe dogs lick as a sensory tool, similar to how humans touch something to feel it.

Licking You

Licking You

Staring At You

You might find it weird that your pooch is really fixated on you. However, to a dog, there is nothing odd about this. Your dog is probably staring at you to get a treat. They likely know that nobody is immune to sweet puppy dog eyes.

Staring At You

Staring At You

Shaking Toys

Your dog shaking their toys violently in their mouth might seem funny and adorable to you, but to your pooch, this is how they would kill prey in the wild. It is understandable that you have a hard time imagining your sweet dog can do such a thing. However, this is second nature for them.

Shaking Toys

Shaking Toys

Only Eating In Private

A dog refusing to eat when there is another human or dog in the room is a doggo that is unwilling to share their food. We humans do not think about this as dog food is not something we eat, but dogs do not know that!

Only Eating In Private

Only Eating In Private

Voluntarily Sleeping In His Crate

If your dog likes taking naps in his crate, that is probably because they feel like it is their bedroom. Do not take it personally if they choose the crate over your own bed or the couch. Your pooch feels more comfortable and at ease in the crate, since they stay there if you are not home. For them, it is their own space.

Voluntarily Sleeping In His Crate

Voluntarily Sleeping In His Crate

Kick When You Scratch Their Belly

A lot of pet owners find it super funny and adorable when their dogs kick while getting their belly scratched. The dogs feel tickled when their humans do this to them. Their scratch nerves tell them something is itchy and they have to get it off, so they kick their legs. If you notice your dog is kicking their legs when you scratch a spot, just move a bit.

Kick When You Scratch Their Belly

Kick When You Scratch Their Belly

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