Are you wondering how to communicate with your dog? Is it even possible to speak “dog”?
The answer is a big YES! Once you understand dog body language, it is easy to speak “dog”. Dog’s speak with their body, tail, ears, eyes, and mouth. Think about dog language as a form of sign language.
As a foster family for dogs, we have been blessed with so many different dog personalities. We’ve had dogs from every end of the spectrum, from dominant to scared dogs.
When we adopted our dog, Ginger, we realized she has resource guarding issues. By watching and learning her body language we have really been able to help her tremendously.
These experiences have helped us understand dog body language even better. Honestly, this all has helped us realize how important talking with our dogs is.
Do you know if your dog is happy, sad, scared, or being aggressive? Most people know when a dog’s tail is tucked between his legs, he’s scared. But do you know a wagging tail doesn’t always mean the dog is happy or friendly? And believe it or not when your dog yawns, it doesn’t mean he’s ready for a nap.
Please take a moment to watch the video below. I talk about the importance of learning your dog’s body language, especially if you have kids!
Learning how to read your dog’s body signals is a great way to truly connect with your dog. It will help you understand what he is feeling and thinking, and your dog will be so thankful that you actually understand what he’s telling you!
Each part of your dog’s body provides a signal to you, and yes sometimes they are hard to read. Dogs come in different shapes, sizes and builds, ears and tails vary greatly. It’s also important to note that some dogs will show only one or two of these signs, and some will exhibit all signs. Observe your dog in many different situations and before you know it, you will understand what your dog is saying!
The below dog body language chart is meant only to be a guideline for learning How to Talk to Dogs. When reading your dogs body language, it is critical to look at the entire picture. Some signals by themselves may be misleading if not looking at his full body and considering the situation. Remember each dog and situation is unique!
You love your dog, he is your family and you'd do anything for him, right? Then you owe it to him to learn his language.
“Calming signals” are signals that dogs give to humans and other dogs to announce stress and to avoid conflict. They include things like turning away, walking in a curve, shaking it off, yawning, and lip licking. This can happen when your dog is put in a new or uncomfortable situation, whether that be entering a new environment, meeting a new dog, or feeling trapped in a situation. Your dog is telling you he needs a break from the current situation, so give it to him.
Most calming signals happen very quickly, and you may not even notice them unless you are looking for it. Here are five calming signals to watch for in your dog:
Body: Relaxed posture
Tail: Relaxed, wide sweeping or circular wag
Eyes: Relaxed, small pupils at the center
Mouth: Relaxed, mouth closed or opened slightly
Body: Play bow, front legs on the ground with butt up
Tail: Up and wagging
Eyes: Pupils dilated
Mouth: Open or closed
Body: Standing tall posture, hackles up
Ears: Perked up, forward and high on the head
Eyes: Wide open
Mouth: Closed and quite
Body: Stiff posture, hackles may be raised, mounting
Tail: High and stiff or wagging
Ears: Perked up, high on the head
Eyes: Wide open
Mouth: Closed or possible growling
Body: Stiff posture, hackles may be raised
Tail: High and stiff wagging
Ears: Held up and back
Eyes: Wide, whites of eyes visible (whale eye)
Mouth: Growling, lips curled, teeth visible
Body: Trembling or cowering
Tail: Tucked or low and slowly wagging
Ears: Tilted back or flattened
Eyes: Avoidance, whites of eyes may be visible
Mouth: Yawning, licking lips
I recommend that you read Why Do Family Dogs Bite … as part of learning our dogs body language, teaching your entire family, including kids of all ages is super important.
Want to learn more? Have an entire conversation with your dog by learning everything about his body language today! It’s going to change your relationship 10x over…
Debi McKee is a dog mom, volunteer foster dog home, and lifetime dog lover. Debi’s mission is to guide you through every step of your dog journey, from adopting the perfect dog for you and your family, to training your dog and keeping your dog happy and healthy. Sign up for our free resource library of must-have resources, containing valuable downloads to help you in your dog journey.
Why do dogs yawn?