It’s no secret that dogs have a completely different way of communicating than humans do. Many of us have wondered what our dog is trying to tell us. Learning how to communicate with your dog is not only fun, but also it can help you train and bond with your dog on a whole new level.
Many pet owners have secretly wished they could talk with their dog in human language. Most of us realize this isn’t a good idea when we think about our embarrassing incidents we’ve had in front of our dogs. Instead of communicating in a human way, why not learn how dogs communicate instead?
Dog Body Language
Not surprisingly, we miss many canine body language cues our dogs can give us. Here are a few body language signals you should always be watching in your dog:
Eyes: The intensity of a dog’s gaze and even the size can vary to communicate what he or she is feeling. Eyes that appear larger than normal can indicate fear or aggression, while squinting eyes can indicate that the dog is in pain. A dog’s gaze can tell you a lot as well. According to ASPCA.com, dogs rarely look directly into each other’s eyes because it is considered threatening. A dog that won’t look you directly in the eyes could also be nervous.
Ears: A happy dog’s ears are raised, while a dog that is scared or aggressive has his or her ears laid back.
Teeth: We learn pretty quickly that a dog that is showing their teeth with lips back is a sign of aggression and fear.
On the other hand, a dog that is happy can also show teeth in a relaxed manner and usually show teeth when they are panting to cool off.
Tail: Contrary to popular belief, a wagging tail does not always indicate that the dog is happy. An aggressive dog can wag his tail too.
I once made the mistake of approaching a dog whose tail was wagging and jumped back when he suddenly barked and took a more aggressive posture. I failed to read the rest of his body language and was lucky enough to get a warning bark.
Dog Verbal Language
Just like people, some dogs speak verbally more than others. What you may not know is that dogs have many distinguishing barks that they use to communicate with those around them and you can tell the difference in the tone of the bark. There are also less subtle noises dogs make, such as growling, whining, or howling.
Types of Barks
Dogs have a wide variety of barks, ranging from playful barks to aggressive barks. If you listen carefully, you can hear the different kinds of barks that a dog makes. These barks signal to other dogs what the dog is feeling. For instance, dogster.com says that a high-pitched bark may indicate happiness or excitement, while a low-pitched bark could mean the dog senses a threat.
Other times, dogs may just bark to get attention in the same way a child incessantly says “Mom…mom…mom…” over and over until Mom pays attention. I stopped doing this to my own mother when I realized it wasn’t working, and you should take the same approach with your own dog unless he has a very good reason for doing it. Dogs are smart and they WILL exploit you if they realize it works.
Other verbal cues from dogs include:
- Whimpering: Dogs that whimper are signaling that they are anxious or hurt.
- Whining: Whining can be a sign of frustration in a dog. A dog who isn’t used to a crate may whine while they are in it because they are frustrated that they can’t be free.
- Growling: growling is dog-speak for “back away” and is a sign of fear or aggression in the dog.
How to Communicate With Your Dog
Dogs register tone much better than humans and it works both ways. If you want to communicate effectively with your pet, you should use the proper tone inflections in your words. If you say, “good boy!” in an angry voice, your dog will disregard the words of praise because your tone is much more powerful.
Understanding Verbal Cues
Dogs may not understand human sarcasm or register some expressions we make, but they are very good at registering sounds, and this is where dogs can have the strongest bond with humans.
Have you ever cried and suddenly felt the soft weight of your dog’s head on your lap? Many dogs can recognize that their human is in distress and try to comfort them.
It always amazes me to see my own dog wag his tail when I laugh and realizing that me being happy makes him being happy.
Learning how to communicate with your dog will allow you to recognize these subtle cues so that you can become even closer with your dog.
VIDEO: Using Calming Signals to Communicate with Your Dog
Dogs offer each other a multitude of signals during normal interactions. They do the same thing with people & think they are being so obvious with their signals to us. Little do they realize most people have no idea what they are saying! How many times has your dog stared at you & you are left thinking – if only my dog could talk!
Well, they are! We just don’t understand.
This video focuses on facial calming signals of the face & are used to help your dog relax. These calming signals can also be used to let a new dog know you aren’t a threat. Some common signals are yawning or lip licking. Next time you are with a large group of dogs at a dog part, have a look around and see if you notice any signals they give to each other. Once you begin to recognize the signals, you will start seeing them all the time.
In no way do I condone pestering a dog in order to make them offer calming signals for you to see. I kissed Kiko on the head in this video to show you something that dogs HATE that is often done to them, not that I want to condone it! ☺
Dogs bite. You should never put your face in a dogs face. Calming signals can be offered when you are standing or sitting, I was very close to Splash at one point in this video because it was hard to fit us in the video screen, and Splash is very comfortable with me being that close to her face. Never lean into a dogs face in order to communicate with them! Its Threatening!
This video is about the secret language of dogs. Some of you might already know about Calming Signals, but the main population that find out about dog training through Television programs might not.
In this video I will show you how you can use your dogs own language to communicate with them. I will also show you how to interpret your dogs language.
Turid Rugaas is an internationally renowned dog trainer who has studied and researched calming signals for over a decade! You can visit her site on calming signals to learn more AND PICK UP ONE OF HER BOOKS AND DVDS on the subject.
I also have to say that Turid Rugaas has the best leash walking book out there. My dog pulls-What do I do?
I am eternally grateful to Turid for giving me the ability to be able to talk with my dogs in their own language.
Here are the main calming signals that I like to use with dogs-
1 Soft Eye Blinks
2 Looking Away
3 Lip Licks
1- You can use calming signals to calm a dog down and tell them “no worries”
2- You can monitor your dog’s calming signals and if they are doing more than normal you can tell your dog is getting more stressed (calming signals are normal and happen all the time)
3- If you pet your dog and they offer CS that is normal, but Imagine this Scenario- a child pets a dog and it offers lots of CS. Then the dog walks away from the child, and the parent brings the child to the dog again, and the dog offers even more CS and walks away to lie down, then the parent brings the child to pet the dog a third time, and finally the dog is so stressed that it growls, or bites. The parent could have read that the dog did not want to be petted by the child more than that first time if they knew about CS.
Dog body language calming signals talking to dogs doctor Doolittle talking to animals facial calming signals how to use your expressions to calm a dog down dog obedience tricks how to train a dog how to interpret what your dog is saying