Do you ever mimic your dog’s voice when no one is around? Or do you spend hours watching dogs talking on youtube and wonder how to make your dog say “I love you”? then it’s time to learn to speak doggo.
Ever wish you could spy on your dog, observe his natural activities while receiving feedback from an animal behaviorist? well now you can, thanks to the petcube pet camera.
Reading: Dogs ear signals
Dog language isn’t just about barking and ruffling. Although dogs use a variety of different sounds and noises to communicate, dogs’ body language plays a bigger role in how our furballs talk to us.
If you want to finally get to the bottom of what that wagging tail really means and stop wondering “why is my dog staring at me?” here are the answers to all your questions:
- body language definition
- dog tail & ears: communicating emotions
- reading dog body language (graphic)
- translating barks into words
- the science of canine speech
- monitor your dog’s body language remotely
how do I understand my dog? body language definition
Most people can intuitively understand the basics of dog body language and recognize when their dog is happy, scared or angry. after all, dogs are very expressive, both verbally and non-verbally.
However, human and canine body languages are very different. Postures, facial expressions, and movements that we interpret as one thing may mean something else to your dog. By definition, dog body language consists of several different aspects, including:
- facial expressions
- position of the ears
- position and movement of the tail
These aspects of dog body language should always be interpreted together, as it’s the only way to accurately decipher your dog’s feelings!
dog tail & ears: communicating emotions
As I mentioned, a dog signals his emotions and intentions by communicating with his entire body, whether it’s his general behavior or a specific body part used. however, your dog’s tail and ears are the two most commonly used canine body parts for understanding body language meanings.
Here’s how to read your dog’s body language through the tail and ears.
As is often the case with animals, each dog’s tail tells its own story. Some dogs have big fluffy tails, some flaunt a curly tail that rests on their backs, and some have tiny ponytails that don’t say much. Breeds like the Greyhound, Irish Wolfhound or Borzoi naturally hold their tails between their legs, which means they won’t express their anxiety by tucking their tails away like most breeds. It is important to always keep in mind the context and the character and breed of a particular dog when trying to interpret telltale signs from him!
wagging the dog’s tail
one of the most recognized facts is that wagging the tail means that a dog is happy. but, in reality, tail wagging is not a sure sign of a dog’s happiness. this only means that the dog is interested in the interaction and, only in combination with other body language signals, can it be interpreted as a happy or anxious signal.
The speed at which the dog wags its tail can also be a sign of its emotions. For example, a quick, excited movement is often a good sign of friendliness, while a slow movement can be an indicator that a dog is wary and nervous.
stiff tail wagging
If your dog is tense and his tail is wagging stiffly from side to side, it could be a sign of aggressive body language or anxiety. this is sometimes called “flag tail,” not to be confused with “flag tail,” which is a symptom of heat in bitches.
tail between legs
When a dog’s tail is tucked between its hind legs, it means that it is anxious or scared. Depending on the context and their general posture and body language, this can turn into defensive aggression, so it’s important to approach them calmly and cautiously.
Awkward and slightly nervous dogs keep their tails between their legs when in unfamiliar surroundings or meeting new people or pets. this is usually a sign of their uncertainty and vulnerability.
a submissive dog will hold its tail between its legs more often, especially when in contact with other dogs or when wanting to communicate “surrender,” such as when at the vet for a checkup or just after chewing on your new shoes .
signs in the ears of dogs
As with dog tails, the shape and type of your dog’s ears will play a big role in how he uses them to communicate. I mean, you can’t expect a basset hound to hold its ears up like pointy-eared dog breeds, can you? But, regardless of its shape, size, and type, he can learn a lot about a dog’s feelings or goals by learning to read the dog’s ear body language.
dog ears backwards
If a dog’s ears are gently pulled back, accompanied by a happy tail wag, it means he’s feeling friendly and is willing to hug you. But, if his ears are flat and pinned back or to the side, your dog is definitely indicating fearful dog body language. depending on the general body language followed by the flattened ears, it could be a gesture of submission or a precursor to an attack. If the dog is growling, barking, or appears to be getting ready to pounce, you should approach with caution.
ears pointing up
Whenever a dog is curious or alert about something, they will perk up their ears, followed by an adorable cocked head. If you look closely, you will notice that dogs tilt their ears slightly in the direction of the object or person that aroused their curiosity. when it comes to my dogs, they usually point their ears at the dumb person who is babbling at them. (can you guess who that dumb person is? yes, you’re right).
read the dog’s body language
Dog body language cues cannot be properly understood if they are not interpreted in the proper context and without taking other canine cues into account. for example, a smile can be a happy dog face, a sign of submission or a show of aggression – it all depends on the rest of the body language! One of the best ways to read dogs’ body language is to watch them interact with other dogs. dog daycares are often adept at this, installing remote cameras, such as petcube.
To ensure you accurately interpret your furball’s message, you need to know all the types of canine nonverbal communication and what they mean when combined. use this canine body language chart if you’re not sure which part of the body to pay attention to for cues:
To make sure you’ll recognize each dog’s body language cues, the most common cues are explained below:
- dog yawning: a sign of calm. Unless your dog is getting ready to take a nap, yawning can indicate that he is feeling stressed or feels the need to calm down.
- downward eyes: dogs They’re not big fans of direct eye contact, but after all that time with humans, they’ve learned that a look doesn’t necessarily mean a challenge. dogs that look away are just being educated in dog language!
- whale eye (half-moon eye): when a dog looks away, with the eyes fixated on someone or something and their whites (sclera) are showing, it is a sign of anxiety and agitation. if the dog shows other signs of aggressive body language, it’s best to give him some space to calm down or control and remove the source of his defensive behavior.
- mouth open: this cute looks derpy means your pup is happy and relaxed. however, if you notice that his mouth is open while you eat, he is actually sending an intelligent message without mystery… sharing is affectionate, human.
- dog showing teeth/dog showing teeth teeth: This particular dog’s body language can be interpreted in various ways, depending on the situation. it can be a sign of a submissive dog (typical “guilty dog” face) or, if accompanied by growling, bristling hair, and a defensive posture, a sign of aggressive intent.
- dog licking Lips: If a dog keeps licking his lips and isn’t looking at a plate of bacon, it’s his way of communicating feelings of fear, stress, or nervousness. your dog is definitely uncomfortable or scared, and may show other signs, such as panting, tail tucked between his legs, or crescent eyes.
dog body posture
- relaxed: You’ll know a calm dog by its calm demeanor. His tail will be in its natural position, his posture neutral, and his ears relaxed or slightly pointed up. they will not stare intently or look down, and their mouths will be relaxed at the corners, closed or slightly open.
- excited: an energetic approach to a person or object, which to often includes jumping, running, and a playful posture. the ears will be alert and erect, and the tail will wag ferociously. if he’s particularly excited about something, your dog might also bark or whimper.
- fear: There are many ways a dog indicates fear, and they all depend on your dog’s personality. a dog may attack, hide and adopt submissive dog behaviors or seek comfort from his owner when he feels frightened. most dogs will flinch and lower their entire body, with their tail between their legs.
- playful: Dogs who want to have fun are not that hard to spot. the typical playful posture, when the front part of its body falls to the ground, with its hind legs extended, is the clearest invitation to play, either for you or for another dog.
- anxious: If something makes your dog uncomfortable, he will let you know by tensing and lowering his body slightly, often by flattening his ears back as well. some dogs will accompany tense body posture with yawning or panting.
- Aggressive: When a dog is preparing to attack, all of his body language will clearly state his intentions. aggressive dogs have a focused or narrow gaze, their body is tense with the hair on the back of their neck standing up, and they show their teeth in a growl. eager barks and low growls often accompany the dog’s aggressive behavior.
translate wow to words
While a dog’s body language is the most important part of his communication, he can also rely on vocalizations to get his message across. Variations in barks, whines, and a myriad of other dog-specific sounds also have meaning, even if they’re not combined with body language.
Sure, you don’t need a dog language translator to understand when your furball is trying to tell you he doesn’t want to be home alone or when it’s time for dinner, but what about everything else?
here are the meanings of the most common canine language “phrases”, translated with frills into English:
singular bark: “me!” or “what’s up, human?”
bark chain: “hey look at this pineapple, I can’t believe I found it human, it’s soooo cute, come check it out!” or “wow, I think I just smelled an intruder, I’m sure it’s the nosy neighbor’s cat!”
howl: “why, human, why did you leave me alone forever? It’s been 85 years since you went grocery shopping…”
howl followed by rapid barking: “Attention human! I just detected a threat. It could be the postman or a thief!”
High-pitched barks: “Are we going out? Will there be squirrels? Can I take my toy? Will I meet other dogs?”
whining: If your dog isn’t hurt or in pain, whining often translates to “gimme, gimme, gimmeee just a little bite of your sandwich!”
complaining: “okay, I’ll starve while you finish the last slice of pizza without sharing it with me.”
read more: how to stop a dog from barking
the science of canine speaking
even when you learn to understand your dog, there will be one question that will remain in your mind: how do people communicate with dogs?
I mean, we all give our souls to our four-legged family members, but how much of that can you understand? after all, they often don’t seem to understand the difference between an expensive rug and a lawn.
Scientists have an answer for us. According to a peer-reviewed study, dogs can understand what we say, as long as we pitch the intonation correctly.
Dogs can remember and react to familiar words, but the way you say them is what gives it all away. so when you say “who’s a good boy” in that embarrassing high-pitched tone, your little furball really knows he’s the good boy you’re talking about. (what a relief, right?)
communication and canine training
The fact that dogs are able to remember high-frequency words, as well as the intention of their intonation, shows that positive reinforcement training is quite effective.
A sensible tone of voice, combined with brief commands such as stop, sit or come, can clearly communicate meaning to your dog. at the same time, praise and a cute baby voice will trigger a response in the reward centers of a dog’s brain.
read more: how to discipline a dog without punishment
control your dog’s body language remotely with petcube
When your dog is anxious to be left alone, the sound of your calm, reassuring voice can soothe him. Dogs with separation anxiety may have characteristic body language that can indicate an anxiety attack, be a precursor to the dog’s destructive behavior, or simply indicate your dog’s fear and nervousness. monitoring your body language remotely can help you better understand the severity of your disorder and prevent it from getting worse.
a pet camera with treats that offers a two-way audio feature, like petcube bites, can be used to treat separation anxiety and encourage positive behavior. Use its features to communicate with your dog while you’re at work and help your dog feel safe and relaxed in your absence. Make sure to focus on intonation and familiar words if you want your dog to understand you, even when you’re not around.
With online vet service, you’ll also be able to chat or speak with licensed vets 24/7, anywhere, anytime. You can not only ask serious questions related to your dog’s critical health situations, but also inquire about his behavior and actions.
Learning dog body language is a must for all dog parents. let’s be honest, it’s fair to strive to understand our dogs, considering how much time we spend talking to them with our stories.
it is true that each dog has its own personality and little quirks, but the universality of canine behavior makes it possible to easily recognize their emotions; that’s when you know what body language signs to look for.
Although you may not learn everything there is to know about how dogs communicate overnight, at least the next time your dog gapes at you or makes a strange bark , you won’t get confused!
frequently asked questions
Do dogs understand human body language?
Yes, dogs are excellent at detecting and interpreting our body language. Studies have shown that canines are better at deciphering our non-verbal cues than chimpanzees and even young children. It shouldn’t surprise you that your dog knows when you’re sad and comes to offer you a comforting hug!
Why does my dog look sad?
Sometimes those sad puppy eyes are just a trait of a specific breed, as is the case with basset hounds, boxers or pugs. in other cases, dogs find that making a specific face gets them what they need, whether it’s attention, extra food, or time outside. Unless your dog appears to be in pain, his sad look is most likely just that: a look.
what does it mean when my dog stares at me while pooping?
Most dog owners have been, at least once in their life, in that awkward situation… you know, when your dog looks you in the eye, just as they’re doing the deed, aka poo look. but don’t worry, it doesn’t mean your dog is a freak. it’s actually quite instinctive.
There are a few theories from animal behaviorists, but this is the one that seems most plausible: Dogs maintain eye contact during defecation because they want reassurance or approval. So instead of being embarrassed, encourage your dog to poop where he’s supposed to.
Do dogs communicate with each other?
We’ve covered different types of communication between dogs and humans, but what about dog-to-dog language? What should you notice in the dog’s body language when you meet another dog? Much like how they communicate with humans, dogs use their body language to signal to other dogs their emotions and intentions.
Some recent studies have shown that even barking has meaning to other canines, but for now, the meaning behind the barking remains a secret to us.
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