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How to Understand What Your Dog is Telling You

scared dog

Humans communicate with each other in multiple ways. We use language, hand gestures, facial expressions and even our eyes to express our feelings. You can detect the happiness, grief or sadness on a stranger’s face as well merely by their expressions or body language.

The bond we dog-parents share with our furry companions is indeed unique. It takes time to build communication and understanding since we don’t speak their language but it isn’t impossible to be able to understand your pup.

As first-time pet-parents, you may be clueless right now about what your dog is trying to explain. You may wonder if there is any possible way for your pooch to tell you how he feels, well keep reading as there are secrets disclosed ahead.

How do Dogs Convey their Emotions?

Dogs vocalize; use their tales, ears, body language and eyes to convey what they feel. Often two or more signals combined can interpret your pooch’s emotions correctly. Since every dog is unique, your pup may exhibit different signs in various situations. It will take time, patience and understanding to be able to decode your dog’s expressions and body stature accurately. Here I have explained the standard signs dog display while trying to express the following emotions.

I Love You, My Human!

Many dog-parents wonder how their pup expresses affection well; there are clues we may miss. Your pooch may bring his old toy and drop it in your lap as a gift. The belly rubs after mealtimes, the excitement on his face when you come back home and sticking by your side every moment are all signs that he loves you. Making eye contact and staring is a sign of aggression but a polite gaze is the expression of love. If your pooch maintains eye contact and wags his tail, he is trying to tell you he loves you.

sorry dog

 I Am Sorry!

So you enter your home after a tiring day at work and call your dog, but he doesn’t come. You find him hiding under the sofa trying hard not to make eye contact, and you figure out he has done something wrong. Guilt is a behavior that many dog-parents believe their dog expresses after he does something that counts as bad behavior. However, scientists have yet not been able to prove that dogs experience complex emotions like guilt substantially. The behavior dogs display is usually in response to the scolding and body language of their dog-parents. If your pup shows the same signs even before you scold him, he may be trying to lessen the severity of your response.

Help, I Am Scared!

There are situations when your dog is intimidated, and since dogs share strong bonds with their parents, they expect us to help them in such cases. Dogs express fear in different ways if your pup’s ears are laid back flat, and his tail is tucked between the legs, it is probably a sign that he is scared. His eyes may be wide open such that the whites of his eyes are showing and he may also lick his lips or yawn. Dogs even hunch their backs to signal fear and discomfort.

excited dog

Woohoo, I Am Excited!

We have all seen our canines express joy and excitement. Whenever you are about to take your pup for a walk or give him his favorite dog treats, you’ll notice the happiness in his eyes. When your dog is happy, he will jump or run around wiggling his tail rapidly. If your dog rolls over the floor showing his belly that is also a sign that he is excited. His facial expressions may seem like he is smiling, with his mouth slightly open and relaxed.

angry dog

I Am Angry Right Now!

Dogs do experience anger and annoyance in different situations, they may become possessive or an underlying illness may cause them to act a certain way. When a pooch is angry his ears will be alert, his stare will be narrow and focused, and the hair on the nape of his neck may also rise. His tail may be tucked, and lips pulled back, all these are signs that he is either fearful or angry at someone. In cases of extreme aggression, his body stance will hint that he may bite.


Jenny Perkins is an Animal Behavior Specialist and a passionate writer. She loves to write about the nutrition, health, and care of dogs. She aims at providing tips to dog owners that can help them become better pet parents. She writes for the blog Here Pup.