Can you translate what your dog is trying to tell you?

Dogs can’t speak human (obviously), but they can communicate with us and do it every day; you just have to know what to look out for. Here’s how you can translate dog ‘speak’.

April 7, 2022

A happy dog

  • A dog who is happy will have a relaxed body posture, mouth open and relaxed with their ears in a natural position. They will also have a high wagging tail.  
  • A high tail while walking or playing is a sign of enjoyment, the higher the tail points, the more excited they are. If they have their bottom raised and are barking excitedly, your dog may also be inviting you to play.  
  • If their body is tense, it means they are concentrating on something.

A worried or stressed dog

They will be standing but their head position is low, and their tail is tucked in. They are also avoiding eye contact or turning their head away. Other signs include:

  • Yawning
  • Frequent blinking
  • Lip licking
  • Panting
  • Showing the white part of their eye

If you see these signs, your dog is asking for space and it’s time to take a break.

An angry or very unhappy dog

If your dog is angry or unhappy, it’s best to leave them alone.

  • They could be standing but with a stiff posture, ears or up and their hair may be raised. They could also be lying down in a cowering position, with flat ears, and teeth showing with their tail between their legs.  
  • Their tail could also be rigid and high (not wagging).  
  • If your dog is showing their teeth, they are being aggressive or showing dominance. You should be very careful when this happens, or they may bite. They may also be snarling.  

A sick dog

  • If you see your dog walking in circles before lying down, they could be looking for the most comfortable place to rest. They could also be feeling some discomfort which is forcing them to find the best way to lie down without hurting their body.
  • A sudden and unusual change in eating patterns is one of the first signs they may not be feeling well. If they lose their appetite, or are suddenly ravenous, or drinking far more or less than usual, it’s time to see your local vet.  
  • A sudden, sharp yelp is a sign your dog is in pain.

Source: RSPCA