Do you ever look at your dog and wonder what he or she is trying to tell you? Dogs have a language that allows them to communicate to other dogs and animals around them. Although dogs use sounds and signals, much of the information they convey is through their body language, specifically their facial expressions and body postures.

Understanding what your dog is saying can give you a lot of useful information such as when your dog is scared or happy, or when your dog is ready to snap at someone. You have to look at your dog’s entire body language.

  • Tail: The way a dog wags their tail indicates how he or she feels. An enthusiastic wag side to side indicates your dog is happy. If the tail wags more to the right, it is a sign of positive feelings; left-side wagging indicates negative feelings.
  • Face:Just like humans, dogs will wrinkle or straighten their foreheads to show confusion or determination.
  • Eyes:A dog’s eyes brighten when he looks at an animal he or she considers friendly. When they are afraid, their pupils dilate and you can see the whites of their eyes.
  • Lips, teeth and tongue:If your dog is happy or wants to play, they may pull his lips back and show their teeth in what appears to be a smile. This is a gesture that is reserved only for human communication. A dog will not do this with other dogs.
  • Ears:If a dog’s ears are raised, he or she is relaxed or listening. If they are back, they might be signaling submission or worried.

How Dogs Talk to Each Other

Dogs, just like humans, are social animals and there is a language that they share among each other so they can communicate effectively.

  • Play bow:This means let’s play. However, it can also be a sign of apology; it’s a dog’s way of saying, “Oops. I didn’t mean to play so rough. Let’s keep playing!”
  • Paw slap: This is like a human coming up and slapping you on the back. This gesture puts the dog at an awkward angle, so it’s also a sign that the dog trusts the dog it is playing with.
  • Rearing hind legs: When dogs rear up on their hind legs, it’s a sign of affection. It often looks like dancing when dogs do this together when they’re playing.
  • Biting:Again, it’s a sign of play. Dogs are careful to avoid sensitive areas on the other animal.
  • Barking Just like their human owners, dogs like to talk. However, unlike body signals, barking can represent different things to different dogs. The pitch or volume of the bark will increase with the dog’s level of emotion.

The most important thing is that pet and human understand each other. We send our dogs to obedience school to teach them how to understand what we want from them. But we also need to tell us what they need from us, and they do so every day. We simply have to open our eyes, ears and hearts to understand what they are trying to say.