Dog Communication- How to Talk to Your Dog in their Language

How to Talk with your Dog in their language

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, 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.

dog talking with his teeth

Showing their teeth is one clear way dogs communicate

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, 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.

Can you resist giving in under your dog's constant stare?

Can you resist giving in when your dog is really intent on getting his way?


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.

Our dogs are a reflection of our emotions

Our dogs are a reflection of our emotions

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.

Source: YouTube/Kikopup
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
4 Yawning

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

John King - October 19, 2014

When I yawn at my dog all he does is fart.

Norma Daugherty - December 12, 2014

I love all that you teach! I have a beautiful greyhound mix that is 2,
because of your vids he is one of the most reliable dogs I have ever had.
Thank you for that with all of my heart

lentruthbtold riv - January 22, 2015

I absolutely agree, I’ve also noticed if you use barking sounds like a deep
“woof ” I started that recently, and my dog would look up really fast wag
his tail really fast snd would be very excited, then I pick my arm up and
he would bolt to me licking his lips, yawning, and would cuddle right up
against me, lmao lol.

Eddy Barahona - January 28, 2015

Lol i did the slow blinks with my dog we where doing that for like 4 mins
then my mom walked in and was like …what r u doing? I was like shhhh im
trying to talk to the dog…o_O XD

Paula's Dog Services - February 2, 2015

very cute ending Emily

Cheryl Simser - February 7, 2015


Charlotte MOB - February 7, 2015

hi ! great video ! but when you are petting them and they use a calming
signal, does that mean that it’s ok or that it’s annoying ?

Eric Ramos - March 17, 2015

good stuff :).
wish i had come across this sooner after i had adopted my current dog (pit
mix), a dog that was obviously abused in her previous life. took well over
a year for me to bond with her due to her fear issues.
as for my first dog (papered pit), there was no issue with the bonding, as
i raised her from an 8 week old pup, and she was ultra confident, and
everything was cool beans from the get-go.
this info is amazing in how oblivious that i now realize that i have been.
thanks, kikopup!

Mehrshad Vahab - March 18, 2015

Great video and a cool hypothesis! there must be some validity to this

MC iLyPod - March 19, 2015

when i try to yawn my dog trys to lick my face -.-

bryanpureandsimple - March 19, 2015

Great video!! Very informative and I like your philosophy of non-agressive
training. How can you know that they are using the signal to let you know
what you are doing is causing them stress? What’s the difference between
the signals of a cool and calm dog and a dog that is trying to calm his own
nerves when anxious? Thanks!!!

Mark Unks - April 4, 2015

I really enjoyed the video and the information. It makes me wonder if
there have been studies on humans to find out why if one person yawns, it
seems contagious??

Pamma Jamma - April 17, 2015

When I yawn my dog just tries to lick in my mouth! =/

Ashley Jaden - April 29, 2015

I loved the part where you explained what the dogs’ behavior meant as they
interacted with another. I wish there were more videos like this!

Oreo Rocks 123 - May 8, 2015

my dog just dose not have a care when i yawn

Dog Lover - May 27, 2015

my dog dos not get it she is like play what play

ApanYokko - May 28, 2015

Hi, Emily. I just started with R+ training in Malmö and you’re videos are
just great!
One question about the calming signals: If my dog displays some of the
signals: yawning, sighing etc. (which he does a lot). Is that him telling
me he’s relaxed or he’s relaxed AND do not wish to be disturbed?
One thing I have read about yawns from a scientific point of view is that
yawning when in a pack is a way of syncronizing the muscles. Say in a herd
of deers, if one individual yawns the others might as well to prepare the
group for a possible flight. In conclusion it was stated that yawning is a
form om “empathy”.

Xavier Stoker - June 4, 2015

Love the bloopers

El Canal de Shackra - June 6, 2015

7:58 translation: OMG SHE CAN SPEAK DOG!11!!1!!!!

Sherri Wright - June 10, 2015

Thank you so so much you helped me with my dog coz he is super active

LineoLemon - June 16, 2015

This is really interesting.I did not know, these things where signals, with

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