Did you know that wolves and wild dogs don’t often communicate by bark in the wild? Barking seems to be a form of communication dogs use just for us – their noisy human friends. Your dog has so many things to tell you, important things like “I love you” and “I’m hurt!”
If you don’t speak dog, you could be missing out on a lot of need-to-know information
Buckle up for a crash course in canine communication cues to make chatting with your best friend a little simpler!
Eyes Open Wide, On You
Your dog is looking for your attention. With his ears perked up and mouth relaxed, it’s likely he’s in a good mood and just wants something from you – maybe a treats or a scratch behind the ears! Keep an eye on him to see what he does next or if his body language changes.
This seems like a no-brainer, but a dog yawn doesn’t always mean what a human yawn will. Look out for this one when you’re out in public, it could mean your dog is grumpy or uncomfortable and ready to go home. This can also be a sign of anxiety. However, if you yawn first and your dog copy-cats, it could just mean he feels close to you, yawns are contagious, after all!
Licking His Own Face
It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gesture, but if your dog is licking his face, he could feel pressured, nervous, or stressed. Of course, rule out the possibility of their being peanut butter or something equally tasty on his snout!
Tail Lowered, Wagging
Check the speed of your dog’s tail. Think of a slow wag as your dog being on “standby.” He’s not trying to communicate anything past watching you for cues and what to do next. Where are we going? What are we doing next? You’re the boss!
Tail Up, Trembling
We usually associate trembling with fear, but that isn’t always the case with your dog’s tail. Your dog may not be sure who is alpha, here. This could mean that your dog wants to take the lead – it’s not an aggressive challenge, but you may want to assert your authority. Even if your dog wouldn’t hurt a fly, staying in control is important for your dog’s safety and the safety of others.
One Paw Up
Your dog isn’t trying to strike a gentleman’s agreement, and he isn’t asking you to shake. This could mean that he needs to ask you for something. When was the last time he was fed? Are there treats out on the counter? Does he need water? He might not be able to tell you exactly what it is, but check that he has the necessities.
Paws in air, belly up? Your dog trusts you and wants you to know it! What better way to let him know you understand and deserve his trust than with a good belly rub? He’s earned it!
Showing Teeth, No Snarl
There’s no snarl, but there are teeth – and your dog knows that sharp teeth are intimidating, with or without the snarl. He’s protecting something – maybe a toy or a food bowl. Use caution, he’s warning you. If this is behavior you’d like to discourage, seeing a trainer might be a good idea.
A tucked tail could mean your dog is scared. Is there an unfamiliar person or dog in the area? Try to remove the source of fear or move your dog away from it. If this is something your dog does frequently, it could mean pain. If it’s a concern, definitely see your vet and let them know about the tail tuck. Other signs that your dog needs a vet could be scooting, tail chasing, and face rubbing.