Seven Ways Your Dog Is Trying To Communicate With You

Dogs are remarkable creatures. Their love for their human companions is unconditional. If only dogs could speak to us so we could truly understand what they are trying to say.

Our dogs may not speak to us in human launguage, but they do clearly communicate with us by using their bodies in a variety of ways. We just have to know what to look for when they are talking to us. Here are some common ways our dogs “speak” to us and what this means:

One – Eyes –  Just like humans, dogs can say a lot with their eyes. Dogs gaze at you to show both affection and trust. Studies have shown that looking into the eyes of our dogs and having them look back raises the level of the hormone oxytocin in both human and canine. [LINK TO PREVIOUS ARTICLE HERE] 

If your dog is avoiding eye contact, he may be expressing fear, or showing you he is uncomfortalble. Often dogs will avoid eye contact after doing something which they know they shouldn’t, like stealing an object or tearning up a magazine.

Two – Belly Exposure – When a dog rolls over on her back, exposing her belly, she wants to please you. This is also an indicator of trust, as a dog will not risk exposing her belly if she feels threatened. 

Three – Ear Position – Dogs can say a lot by the way they position their ears. If you see a dog’s ears flattened against his head, pay attention! Ears that are tightly laid back against the dog’s scalp are a clear sign of defensiveness and if the dog continues to feel threatened, he may lash out to protect himself.
Ears that are slightly pulled back may mean he’s feeling anxious, afraid or even submissive.

Four – Tail Signals – All of us associate unabashed tail wagging with a joyful, friendly dog. But if your dog is slowly wagging his tail, he’s likely feeling cautious. And a stiff, upright tail means he’s on high alert. If her tail is tucked in, she’s scared.

Five – Raising a paw – When your dog raises his paw or actually touches you with his paw, he is definitely trying to get your attention. Maybe he wants to go outside or wants water or it’s simply an invitation to play.

Six – Yawning and Sneezing – Of course dogs yawn and sneeze for the same reasons humans do, when they are sleepy and when they have a tickle in their noses. But yawning and sneezing that’s not in response to those stimuli can mean your dog is uncomfortable. But, some dogs will also yawn when they are content. 

Seven – Leaning – When your dog leans against you, she is definitely trying to show her affection. This is a dog’s way of hugging!

Our dogs communicate with us in many ways by using their bodies. While these ways are common to all dogs, each dog is different so it’s important to learn your dog’s unique body language style.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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