Whether it’s words or actions, we all communicate. We have different vocal tones which convey how we’re feeling about something. We also communicate through body language, whether we intend to or not. And so do dogs! Dogs have multiple signals that they want something from you. How do you know if your dog is trying to tell you something? Here are 5 ways your dog may try to communicate with you.
Your Dog’s Tail is between Its Legs
This is the most famous dog body language and is usually a sign of fear. Hear a massive boom from thunder? Many people’s furry friends will come running to their owners shaking and with a hidden tail. But it’s essential to pay attention to what your dog is trying to tell you, especially if you don’t fully understand him. Maybe the vacuum just came out, and the new puppy isn’t quite the biggest fan. That’s okay! You can just put them into a different room or let them go to a safe place on their own. But if you don’t know why your dog is afraid, it’s important to figure out why.
Your dog could simply be afraid of a new addition to the house. However, a tail hidden between its legs can also signal pain. See if your dog is limping or whimpers if you touch them on their back, stomach, or legs. Limping needs to be caught early. But If your dog goes back to normal on its own, it’s possible your friend just spooked himself!
Your Dog’s Chest is Down and Back is in the Air
It’s officially playtime! If your dog is doing this, your dog wants to play and is ready to go right now! You can take them for a walk, but usually, your dog is very excited. So, something more rigorous is probably appropriate. Give them the space to run around or play fetch or tug-of-war. Your dog will be super excited about the opportunity for rigorous activity! And some dogs will be even more excited than others. Large athletic dogs like the famous German Shepherd can probably run around longer than you can! A little chihuahua will probably only run outside for a few minutes before it tuckers out.
But no matter your dog’s size, take your dog outside for some exercise. If you don’t, at least prepare for your normally docile fuzzy friend to run all over the furniture!
Your Dog is Licking its Teeth or Lips
This one is a bit trickier. Your dog could be signaling different things depending on the situation. It could mean your dog is about to get very upset and has started demonstrating aggressive behavior. A friend or new person walking in your house or by you on the sidewalk can trigger this response. However, most dogs aren’t set off by these alone. If your dog shows signs of aggression to strangers, it may be time to give some special training or get an expert to coach your dog. And don’t be afraid to get some dog training! It doesn’t mean you were a bad owner or your dog is bad. But dog aggression is a lot easier when addressed early.
Other things that cause your dog to respond this way are usually more benign. Many dogs don’t like to have their paws pet, and licking their teeth shows they’re irritated. But this could also be a sign of stress. Dogs licking their teeth or lips can often happen in kennels, during professional grooming, and during veterinary check-ups. But this isn’t the only sign of doggy stress. Another sign of stress is panting with their tongue out. Usually, a dog’s tongue being out is how they are releasing heat since they can’t sweat.
Your Dog is Holding Its Head and Ears Down
A dog keeping its ears down is often seen as a sign of guilt, but that’s not necessarily true. Don’t assume they know they did something wrong if they have folded ears. If your dog has folded ears after ripping up the couch, then it’s possible your dog simply wants you to not be mad at them anymore. Dogs are pretty smart, but sometimes they don’t understand. Avoiding eye contact and folding ears signify your dog is feeling timid or potentially afraid. If your dog is showing these reserved signs and you aren’t sure why, make sure there isn’t something in the house they’re afraid of or another animal nearby.
This can also happen to your dog during grooming and bath time. Dogs can be afraid of the grooming experience and become stressed out. It’s not unusual for a dog to start panting, folding their ears, and trying to hide or get away from the water. The best thing to do is ensure your grooming routine is consistent so your dog isn’t afraid next time. Also, use appropriate dog shampoos so your dog’s skin isn’t being burned or irritated during bath time, or you might find your wet dog sprinting into other rooms.
Your Dog Keeps Tapping You with Its Paws
Sometimes dogs show their smarts. They’ll tell you what they want by directly getting your attention. This one is quite broad. However, if you start to move, they’ll tend to show you what they want by moving over to the place in question. Indoor and trained dogs will often guide their owner to the door to try and use the bathroom. Or maybe your dog is just protesting the amount of food you gave him today. They’ll promptly let you know how they feel if they’re hungry! They can do this especially frequently if you are eating at the table.
Your dog also may just want your attention! If you are in a position where they can’t snuggle with you, they can politely request you to pet them with a light pat or protest with many fierce paw pushes. It just means your dog loves you!
You’re on the Road to Being a Dog Whisperer
Dogs can tell us a lot with their body and behavior. Dogs have generally universal body language signals and facial expressions. But at the end of the day, communication with your dog comes down to the relationship you have with your furry friend.
As you spend more time with it, you’ll start to understand specific doggy signals and it will become better at communicating with you too! And don’t forget to use positive reinforcement. Nothing helps your dog better than using doggie treats or rewards to communicate what you want. But no matter the situation, you’re more prepared and on your way to understanding your fuzzy buddy on another level.