Alike homosapien, dogs have their own unique body language. We humans learn this as children, and we grow up learning how to tell when an animal is happy or sad, friendly or hostile, simply by reading their body language.

Dogs have been domesticated and living with us for thousands of years, so they’ve learned our body language too; they can tell when we’re happy or sad, angry or calm, and so on. This means that if you want to understand your dog better, you need to know how to read their body language – even more than you already do!

The importance of body language

Dogs' body language is very similar to ours. It tells us how they're feeling, if they like a situation or if they are nervous. Dogs can also communicate non-verbally with other dogs through signals such as facial expressions and posture.

Learning how your dog communicates via body language can help you get along better with them and avoid potential miscommunications that could lead to problems. Not only will your relationship improve, but you will be able to train your dog much more effectively when you understand what she is trying to tell you!

Some myths about dogs

Dogs are expressive creatures, but humans don’t always understand their body language. To read and learn about your pet's body language, start by debunking some common myths about dog behavior. For example, many people mistakenly believe that yawning means that a dog is tired; in fact, dogs can be as sleepy as you are after you’ve spent all day on your feet.

However, yawning is a sign of stress in a dog and usually indicates that something is bothering him. To learn more about other common dog expressions and what they mean keep reading...

Let's start from the basics

If your dog likes to wag his tail, he probably thinks you're a great human being. Even if he doesn't do much else, like bark or act scared, that wag of his tail could mean Everything is fine! You're my friend! If he turns around and runs away, however, that usually means We have an intruder! I'd better escape before they find me. As with many things in life, it all comes down to context.

Think about how you feel when someone smiles at you vs. how you feel when someone glares at you—it's easy to tell which action reveals a positive (wanted) emotion and which reflects a negative (unwanted) one.

What does it mean when a dog looks at you?

The gaze is one of the strongest forms of non-verbal communication. There are many possible reasons why a dog will look at you and it can be quite difficult to interpret exactly what they are thinking. It’s often impossible for us humans to know precisely what our dogs are thinking but we can learn a lot from observing their body language.

The first thing we have to remember is that dogs do not communicate in words like we do, but rather in pictures or images. In order for us as pet owners and dog lovers alike, to understand these images that are transmitted through your dog’s eyes it helps if you understand how human expressions work first.

What does it mean when my dog tilts his head, what are they trying to do?

If you’ve ever seen a dog tilt his head, chances are good that he was trying to figure something out. By tilting their heads, dogs can see an object in a different perspective than what they’re used to seeing it in—often giving them an extra dimension of understanding.

Now, they don’t always do it because they want a closer look; sometimes, your pup will tilt his head because he just doesn’t understand what you just said. But by figuring out why your dog tilts his head (and how often he does so), you can learn more about how your dog thinks and sees things. And that is really cool!

Head tilting is an interesting phenomenon that many dog owners have noticed their canine companions engage in. But, what are they trying to do? While we’re certainly not experts on dog psychology, we can hypothesize about a few explanations for why dogs tilt their heads. First, tilting may just be a response to certain stimuli.

For example, maybe your dog would tilt her head when she sees another dog or when you wave at her from across the street. Or maybe it is a sign of confusion or uncertainty—this could be why you’ll see some dogs with tilted heads standing still with their eyes closed.

What do dogs do when they flatten their ears?

Flattening your ears is a pretty straightforward gesture. It’s your dog’s way of telling you he feels uncomfortable in a situation, either because there are too many unfamiliar dogs around or because you started barking at him. By speaking to other dogs through visual body language (e.g., raising their hackles), canines are clearly telling each other what they mean and don’t mean.

The good news for humans is that it’s easy enough to decipher. When your dog flattens his ears while standing sideways—with his head turned toward you—he isn’t particularly angry; he just wants you to stop whatever nonsense you're doing and acknowledge him directly as if he were speaking words aloud.

What does it mean when they stand on their hind legs?

When dogs stand on their hind legs, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re begging for food; in fact, many pups do it just for fun. While standing up on their hind legs does make them appear taller than usual, that isn’t what is drawing your dog to do it.

If you notice your dog standing with his front paws against a wall or something vertical—like a chair leg—he may be attempting to get a better view of something (such as another animal) or pick up scents and smells along that wall. This can also mean he’s trying to communicate with you and getting on his hind legs helps him seem more imposing in an attempt at getting attention or asking for petting.

This blog is the VOL-1 of the Dog's body language series. Stay tuned for the upcoming volume. We hope you find it interesting and value-adding. The next time you see your dog doing any of these actions you know what they actually mean!

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Peace Out

Written by Himanshu Tripathi

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