What is Your Dog Trying to Tell You

If you are the proud owner of a beautiful dog then you are likely wondering what they are thinking. This is your best friend and it is not always easy to tell when they are trying to communicate with you in specific ways. Below are a few different behaviors and what they could mean.

Brown Lab Puppy

Understand Tail Wagging And Position

Your dog’s tail is used for communication. How do you know? Your dog will never wag his tail towards an object that he perceives to be inanimate. He will only way his tail to talk to you and other animals he sees.

Dog Tail Positions:

  • Relaxed
  • Straight and Stiff
  • Curved Upward
  • Between the Legs
  • Slow wag
  • Fast wag

What Do They Mean:

Relaxed– Your dog is simply content with his surroundings. He may feel curious, but his body is not stiff, over-excited, or scared. This is most likely his natural pose.

Straightened and Stiff– Your dog is signaling to another animal that he is not comfortable with their presence. This is a good signal to you that your dog is going to start barking, attack, or challenge this particular animal or human. This behavior is noticed most often with strangers like cats, other dogs, mailmen, and salesmen.

Curved Upward– A dog that holds his tail high is a confident dog. This is his method of showing you and everyone else that he is in control of his surroundings and content to do so.

Between His Legs– Your dog is afraid or submissive. Dogs that receive a lot of abuse and neglect will display this type of behavior. Dogs that are newly introduced to a home with older, dominant dogs may also hold their tail between their legs to signal that they know they are the lowest dog on the totem pole.

Wagging Slowly– Your dog is simply relaxed and happy with who he is and who is with. Most happy dogs will be content to wag their tail in a relaxed fashion on walks through the park or whenever they walk through your home.

Wagging Quickly– Your dog is extremely excited. They couldn’t possibly be happier at this time. This could be when you have arrived from a long separation or when you are playing with them. They could even be this happy when they are outside in the backyard or eating dinner.

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cute english bulldog puppy in the grass

What Does That Body Posture Mean?

Body posture in a dog is commonly connected to its tail posture and its sleeping postures. A dog that is relaxed and can run or walk with a soft gait is showing their comfort in their environment. A dog that has stiffened up is showing you that they are unhappy, uncomfortable, or defensive. These dogs may lash out or act aggressively.

What You Need To Know About Eye Contact Or Lack Of

Eye contact with dogs can be a complex behavior. Making direct eye contact does not come natural to dogs in the same way that it does to humans. Most often dogs, when not trained to look directly at you, may look away when you look at them as a sign of submission. If they do naturally look straight into your eyes it is most likely because they are trying to decipher your intent. Are you trying to hurt them? Will you yell at them? Are you teasing them or playing with them? If you walk into a room and notice that your dog is looking at you, it could be a sign that they are acknowledging your presence.

Whining, Barking, And Other Vocalizations

Whining, barking, and vocalizations are always methods of telling you exactly what they want in a way that they think you will better understand. You talk so they figure that vocalizing will get your attention. Your dog may bark, whine, or vocalize to let you know that there are strangers in the area, that they have to use the restroom, or that you could be in danger in some way that you may not yet know of. Dog’s have been known to bark in the middle of the night to let their owners know of fires, signal the presence of intruders, and let adults know when children are hurt. While these vocalizations can be trying, it is always important to try to decode them before scolding your dog.

What Can Energy Levels Tell You?

Your dog’s energy levels can tell you everything from “I am so excited to see you” to “please leave me alone because I just do not feel good”. Dogs can show you anything from anxiety to pure excitement with high levels of energy. They can also show disinterest, pain, or disappointment by showing a low level of energy. It is always important to keep note of what your dog’s normal energy level is and why it may change if it has changed.

Why Does My Dog Sleep Like That?

Generally dogs that are comfortable in their environments will sleep in whatever way that they find comfortable. This may be anything from the “normal” dog pose of laying down and sleeping on the floor with their feet facing outward to sleeping on their back with their feet sticking straight into the air. They may sleep curled into a ball if space is tight or if they are cold. If you are sitting near them and they sleep with their heads on you then this is a sign that they are completely comfortable with you and find security with your touch. Dogs that are uncomfortable or afraid may sleep in tight balls with their backs against walls or corners for added protection.

French bulldog puppy sleeping with teddy bear

Odd Behaviors May Be A Sign Of Illness Or Injury

Your dog will not cry in the same way a toddler may when they are sick or injured. They will simply act differently than they normally would. This odd behavior may manifest itself in the following ways:

  • disinterest in things and people that normally excite them.
  • lethargy, particularly if the dog is an active dog.
  • aggression. If they are in pain then they will not want to be touched and may nip at anyone that goes to touch them.
  • favoring alone time, sleeping behind furniture, and hiding under porches and beds.

Further Reading:

Going to the Dog Park
Pet Care Advice for Parents
How to Train a Puppy
Popular Dog Breeds
Separation Anxiety
Who Gets Pet Insurance?
How to Care For a Puppy
Dog Vaccinations & Meds
Puppy Health Problems

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