Humans can communicate what is going on with them, and so can dogs. The difference is, while humans primarily use verbal communication, dogs mainly communicate non-verbally through the use of body language.
Your pet may not be capable of speaking, but they are capable of understanding what you say. Studies showed that a dog can learn around 165 words and more with intensive training. It is not just the words they’re picking up on, but also the tone of your voice.
Since dogs are not capable of speech, their primary form of communication is through their bodies. Taking the time to observe your dog’s movements and actions can be hugely beneficial to you and your fur baby’s happiness. Understanding their body language allows you to recognize stress or discomfort, and respond to potential problems before they get worse!
Here are a few ways your fur baby might be trying to communicate with you:
- Tail Posture
- In addition to the joyful wagging tail, a dog’s tail can communicate a range of other emotions. A slow wagging means they’re feeling cautious, and a stiff tail held high means he/she is on alert.
- A low tail means your fur baby is feeling content, but a tucked tail means he/she is feeling scared.
- Eye Contact
- Constant eye contact from your fur baby is his/her way of showing his/her trust and affection towards you.
- A dog’s eyes brighten when he looks at a creature he/she considers friendly. When they are afraid, their pupils dilate and shows the whites of his eyes.
- Sneezing and Yawning
- A misplaced sneeze or yawn means that your fur baby is uncomfortable or stressed, often around a new environment, pets or people.
- This can be tricky because dogs also yawn when they are feeling content around you. The key is to look for misplaced yawning in unfamiliar circumstances!
- Lips, Teeth, and Tongue
- If your fur baby is happy or wants to play, he/she may pull his lips back and show his/her teeth in what appears to be a smile.
- Tongue flicks are often driven by anxiety and a desire to appease the owner or avoid conflict. It does not necessarily mean your dog knows he/she’s been naughty.
- Play Bow
- The play bow is when a dog stretches their front legs out on the ground, leaning down on their elbow but their rear end remains up in the air. This is their way of saying, “Let’s play!”
- Belly Exposure
- If your fur baby rolls over and bares his/her belly to you, it could mean that your fur baby wants your attention, or a nice belly rub. This happens when they are relaxed and feels secure in his/her surroundings.
- It can also be their way of showing respect to a higher-ranking dog or a person.
- Bringing Things to You
- When dog parents receive a ball, stick, or other toy from their fur baby, they often read this as an invitation to play, which it very well might be. However, it can also mean that he/she is giving to you as a gift! This is their way of showing affection for you by sharing his/her favorite things with you.
While these body languages are common among all breeds, it is important to remember that every dog is different. The best thing you can do to maximize you and your fur baby's happiness is by observing his/her habits, movements, and mannerisms so that you can begin to understand the ways your dog specifically communicates with you. Better communication will make your relationship with your fur baby even stronger!