Posted on: October 28, 2016 at 10:48 am
Last updated: September 18, 2017 at 12:22 pm

We may not have figured out how to speak dog yet, but we do have ways of figuring out what they’re saying. Your dog uses its body and face to communicate with you every day, so are you really understanding what they’re actually saying to you? Let’s find out.

Body Language

  1. Wagging lowered tail

If your dog is wagging their tail slowly, they don’t know what’s going on and are waiting for you to tell them what to do. If it’s rapid, they admit you’re in charge. It also means they’re excited to see you!

  1. Raised tail and slight tremors

This means they are issuing a challenge to your authority because they consider themselves in charge.

  1. Tail between the legs


Already a pretty common expression, this shows your dog is scared, afraid of pain or uncomfortable with what’s happening. If the concern isn’t obvious and this happens often, take them to the vet.

  1. Exposed belly

A sign of submission, your dog trusts you and wants to please you. Rubbing their belly shows them that you’re pleased with their behavior.

  1. Head on your knee

They want your attention and they need you. If they nuzzle their nose to your hand it means they want you to pet them. And how could you resist such a cute face like that?

  1. Paw on your knee

Your dog is trying to dominate you. Trainers suggest looking in the dog’s eyes and removing the paw to show that you’re still the one in charge.

  1. One front paw raised

They are trying to say they want something from you (hungry, want to play, etc.). Sometimes dogs do this when they notice something interesting and want to show you, this is typically associated with hunting dogs.

  1. Turned back to you

It’s actually the exact opposite of the human version. This shows that they trust you and are not mad or upset.

  1. Shaking

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You’ve probably been soaked before when trying to wash the dog on a hot summer day, as they often shake to remove water. They also do it as a way to relieve tension, however, like when they’ve just stood up from lying down.

Head Language

  1. Eyes wide open

Done as a way to try and get your attention. It can also be them challenging you and since you’re the alpha to them, they expect you to respond firmly.

  1. Squinting and blinking


A common sign that they’re ready to play. But if you notice it’s frequent, that might mean their eyes are painful and is a good reason to see a vet.

  1. Ears straight up or forward

They are curious and reacting to a new event or thing in their environment.

  1. Ears flattened

This happens when they are scared or unfamiliar with something or someone, usually people they’re afraid of. It can sometimes be just one ear down, typically the left.

  1. Yawning

This could be either good or bad. If they yawn right after you did, then they are attached to you. Otherwise, it can mean they are grumpy and nervous. Puppies do this often when surrounded by big unfamiliar dogs, not usually because they’re tired. Although, doing it right after waking up from a nap can happen too!

  1. Licking their face

Not just a way to get at some missed food on their face, your dog can do this when they feel stressed, pressure or danger.

  1. Exposed teeth

If there is no snarling, it just means they are protecting their territory. Common to see when they’re eating, especially if you bother them.



Even though you and your furry friend can’t speak the same language, that doesn’t mean you can’t communicate with each other. They’re a lot smarter and complex than you realize, and now you can interpret it. And at least they know how to understand who’s a good boy!

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