6 Bizarre Ways Our Dogs Talk to Us
An experienced dog owner will tell you that they can tell what their dog is thinking just by looking into his eyes. It is true that dogs communicate with their owners, but not always in the ways you might expect. In this article you will learn about the many different methods dogs use to communicate with their owners and what they mean.
Related: The Basics About Dog Body Language
Understanding Dog Body Language
Body language plays a key role in communication between dogs and other dogs as well as between dogs and humans. You can tell a lot about the way your dog is feeling just by looking at him. You can tell whether your dog is frightened, for example, or when he is excited. Your dog’s eyes will be wide and bright when he is happy or excited but his pupils may dilate when he is afraid. When your dog is excited and happy to see you, he might pull back his lips in a smile – if your dog’s lips curl back when he is facing another dog, however, this is more likely an indication of fear or aggression. You can also tell what your dog is thinking by watching his tail – it will wag gently from side to side if he feels happy but might be tucked under his legs if he is frightened.
Related: How To Understand Cat Body Language
How Dogs Communicate with Humans
Your dog communicates with you in a variety of ways, though you may not always realize that he is speaking to you. Below you will find a brief explanation of some of the most common ways that dogs communicate with their owners.
- Face Licking: One of the most common behaviors dogs show affection for their owners by licking their hands and faces. This behavior is most commonly exhibited by puppies, but some dogs carry it into adulthood.
- Head Turning: When you approach your dog, does he look at you or turn his head away? When dogs approach each other, they typically do so in a roundabout way so the other dog will not feel threatened – they approach in an arc (not a straight line) and avoid eye contact. If your dog turns his head away from you it may be because he is overwhelmed or uncertain of your intentions. To help your dog understand that you don’t intend him any harm you can offer back a head turn of your own or yawn and sigh.
- Yawning: Dogs yawn when they are tired just like humans but yawning can have a second meaning as well. In many cases, yawning is an indication that your dog is nervous or uncertain – licking the lips is another sign of nervousness.
- Whale Eye: When a dog shows the whites of his eyes it is sometimes referred to as “whale eye” or half-moon eye. When a dog exhibits this behavior it is often a sign of nervousness – if your dog exhibits this behavior in response to something you are doing, you may need to back off or reassure him.
- Crotch Sniffing: It can be embarrassing when your dog trots up to your house guest and sticks his nose directly in their crotch. This is a natural behavior for a dog and a method he uses to seek out information – your body produces pheromones which your dog uses to identify your sex, age, health and mood.
- Whining: While dogs can whine for different reasons, one of the most common reasons is that they want your attention. If your dog doesn’t normally whine, a sudden increase in whining could be his way of telling you that something is wrong. In other cases, whining may be an excited greeting or a sign of anxiety.
Dogs communicate with each other and with their owners in a variety of ways, many of which humans do not understand. If you take the time to really observe your dog and to evaluate his behavior, you might be able to see what he is trying to tell you.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
More by Kate Barrington