How To Understand Dog Language

Puppy Buddy

Dogs are naturally social creatures that communicate to each other and humans in various ways. While we try to guess what each of our puppy’s barks may mean, there is no universal “dog language”—at least not in a human sense. All canines “talk” to each other through signals, such as body language, positioning with other dogs, and sounds.

Your puppy’s tail wagging, for instance, is one sign that they communicate to you. It may indicate happiness, excitement, or even fear. These small signals also help resolve conflicts and show submission, as your puppy’s ancestors did in the past. 

Read on to find out some tips on how to interpret your puppy’s signals. Once you understand how dogs “talk” and interpret your body language, you can begin “talking” with your furbaby!


How Dogs Communicate

“Dog language” consists of different body positions, vocalizations, and scents that tell others how they’re feeling or what they want. Dogs, like their ancestors, still retain a “pack-like” mentality, and their signals further strengthen their social positions in their families. That’s why it’s highly important to socialize your furbaby early and continually throughout their lives. 

Obviously, as humans, we may have trouble learning what exactly our furry friends want. With enough common sense, you’ll be able to see what’s going on with them.


Common Dog Signals

Most dogs have similar ways of communicating that they’re hungry, bored, fearful, or feeling playful. Keep these signals in mind whenever you’re around your puppy. Your furry friend may look content, but they may be trying to tell you something else. 


  • Cowering: If your puppy is cowering, it’s a telltale sign that they’re frightened by something or a sound. They may show express this signal before a grooming or bath session. Make sure to find out what is causing your puppy to cower. Forcing your frightened puppy to do something will lead to a negative response. 


  • Yawning: Yawning may be a sign of exhaustion in humans, but for dogs, it may mean the opposite. When puppies yawn, it’s often a way to relieve stress, especially if there’s tension in the house. Next time you see your puppy yawn, make sure you figure out what’s making your pup anxious. 


  • Movement: Lots of movement usually lets you know your puppy is very excited or stressed about something. They may pace while panting heavily and licking their lips. Your puppy may also jump or place their paws on your lap. You may see these signals as you prepare to head out or are about to take your pup for a walk.


  • Nudging: Most puppies love being pet by their owners. If you stop, and your furbaby begins nudging your hand with their paw or snout, it means they want more! Of course, if your puppy starts to move away from you, do the right thing and respect their feelings. 


  • Tail wagging: Tail wagging is often viewed as a sign of happiness in dogs. However, your puppy’s tail can communicate various feelings. Pay close attention to how their tail is positioned. If your pup’s tail extends or stands upright, it means they’re either relaxed or happy. A tail that bends downward between their legs means your furry friend is scared. 


  • Mouth positions: A relaxed puppy will have an open mouth with their tongue out. You may also see them panting slightly. A fearful or anxious dog may have a closed mouth, with the corners pulled upwards. They may also drool without reason, which indicates increased stress. 


Respecting and understanding your puppy’s body language is a surefire way to build your bond with them. When you have an idea of what your puppy is trying to tell you, you can fulfill their needs without any problems. You will also be able to predict their behavior and train them accordingly. 

Do you have trouble walking your puppy? Check out our 5 Reasons Why Your Puppy Doesn’t Want To Walk to find out why!

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At Puppy Buddy, we are passionate and committed dog lovers (and puppy enthusiasts!). Our #1 priority is that our puppies come from a loving and caring environment. We hold our breeders to the highest standards, making sure to connect and work with those that are the top 1% USDA Licensed and Inspected.

As equally devoted dog lovers, our breeders make every effort to provide all puppies and their parents with utmost love, respect, and attention. Along with standard vet care, all puppies and parents receive plenty of exercise, nourishment, companionship, affection, and socialization. We have a zero tolerance policy for puppy mills. We want all of our puppies to be healthy and happy so that they can find the perfect homes and families.