20 Things Your Dog Does To Try And Tell You Something

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Understanding your dog’s body language is like unlocking a secret code. Just by looking at their ears or how they hold their head, you can find out if they’re happy, scared, or stressed. Knowing how your furry friend feels helps you take better care of them. If you notice they’re feeling anxious, you can step in to ease their worries or remove them from a very scary situation. Here are the things your dog does to try and tell you something!

Lip Licking or Yawning

Shallow Focus Photography of Adult Black and White Border Collie
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Have you ever noticed your dog doing some odd stuff like licking their lips or yawning, even when they’re not hungry? These seemingly innocent moves could signal that your furry friend is feeling a bit uneasy or stressed. If you see them doing this, it might mean something’s bothering them—like a super loud noise, strangers, or other stressful things happening around them, maybe even you.

Growling at Another Dog

An Aggressive Dog with Sharp Teeth
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Have you ever noticed how humans stand tall and proud when they’re feeling confident? Well, dogs do the same thing! According to some experts, if you see a dog walking stiffly, head up, tail up, and their hair standing on end, they’re trying to show they’re in charge. It might not be as intimidating as a little Boston terrier, but picture a majestic golden retriever doing it!

Mouth Hanging Open

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When your dog’s tongue slightly sticks out as they walk, it usually means they’re relaxed and comfortable. But if their tongue hangs far out of their mouth, it could signal that your pup is experiencing stress and might need help. This behavior may also be accompanied by heavy panting, which could indicate further discomfort. So, paying attention to your dog’s tongue position is super important.

Rolling Onto His Back

Adult German Shepherd Lying on Ground
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Did you know that when dogs roll onto their back and show their belly, it can mean different things? Some experts say it’s an invitation for belly rubs—a clear sign they’re in the mood for some love. But sometimes, it’s not that simple. If your dog seems a bit tense or stiff while on their back, they might actually be feeling worried and need some space. So look for the clues your furry friend gives you!

Curling Up with Flat Ears or Tucked Tail

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If your dog starts acting small and low to the ground, they might be feeling uncomfortable and trying to escape from a situation. This is super important to watch out for, especially around kids. Since kids are often at the same eye level as dogs, they might accidentally seem threatening to them. If a dog feels trapped or anxious, they might tense, growl, snap, or bite.


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If your dog crouches low to the ground, trying to make themselves look small, it might mean they’re going through a tough time—feeling scared or stressed about something or someone nearby. It could also hint that they’re in pain and could use some help from you or a visit to the vet.

Wagging The Tail

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When you think of a happy dog, that image of a joyful, furry face and a tail wagging like crazy is pretty spot on. A loose, easy wag usually means your pup is chill and ready to play.
But here’s the twist: not all wags are friendly. If a dog’s tail is high, stiff, and moving super fast—almost like it’s vibrating—that’s a sign of aggression, and we call it ‘flagging.’

Displaying a Guilty Look

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When your dog shows submissive behaviors—like ears back, head down, belly exposed, or tail tucked—it doesn’t mean they feel guilty like humans do. Nope, it’s not about having a moral compass. They’re just trying to avoid any aggression they sense, like you getting mad at them for trash digging or furniture chewing. It’s more about staying out of trouble than feeling guilty!

Smiling at You

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We’ve all witnessed dogs flashing their teeth in what seems like a big grin, showing off their happy or excited mood. But here’s the twist: dogs can also bare their teeth in a way that’s definitely not friendly. If you spot a pup showing aggression by snarling and baring its teeth, it’s a clear signal to give it some space.

Pacing Back and Forth

White Short Coated Dog
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Ever catch your dog pacing and wonder if they’re in desperate need of a bathroom break? Well, hold that thought! If your pup has already taken care of business and is still pacing, it might indicate worry or anxiety. And for our senior dog friends, pacing can also signal neurological issues. If your furry buddy is pacing more than usual, checking in with your vet for expert advice is a good idea.

Raising His Butt With Head Down

Adult Golden Retriever Close-up Photography
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When your dog’s butt is up and their head is down, it’s like they’re saying, “Let’s play!” This move is called a ‘play bow.’ It’s their way of telling you they’re ready to have some fun, and they might play a bit rough. Another sign they’re craving interaction? They might trot over and bring you a toy. Humans love giving dogs toys, right? Well, dogs catch on and use them to connect with us.

Not Responding When Called

English Cocker Spaniel Puppy Sitting On Ground Beside Grass
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Did you know? Dogs need their space sometimes, just like us! They don’t always have to come when you call them. It’s better to invite them to come near you and see how they react. The same goes for petting! Put them in a spot where they can easily leave, then try petting them. If they look away, lick their lips, try to move, or don’t lean back into you when you stop, they feel uneasy.

‘Whale Gaze’

Brown and White Dog Sitting on the Ground
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When a dog wants to tell you something or get your attention, it may engage in what is known as the “whale eye” gaze. This is when a dog looks at you, but instead of making direct eye contact, it shows the whites of its eyes by turning its head slightly to the side. The whale eye gaze is a subtle but powerful way for dogs to express themselves. It is often used when they are feeling uncertain, anxious, or possibly fearful.

Barking Incessantly

selective focus photography of brown and black yorkshire terrier puppy
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Endless barking from your dog can signal different things, depending on what’s happening. Your furry friend might bark if they sense danger or want to alert their family that something’s wrong. Barking can also be about showing territory, especially when dogs are left to roam freely in yards. They get into this territorial groove. But you know what? Sometimes, a bark is just a bark.

Chewing on Furniture

White Shih Tzu Puppy on Fabric Sofa Chair
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Your dog is at it again—chewing on your furniture! Now, there could be many reasons for this. Some dogs chew when they’re alone because of separation anxiety. Puppies, on the other hand, chew when they’re teething or just exploring the world. This chewing habit might stick to their grown-up years if not appropriately guided. But you know what? Sometimes, it’s just because they’re being dogs! Certain breeds are super into mouthing things—it’s their genes.

Persistent Spinning

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Have you ever seen your dog spinning around in circles when they’re feeling super happy and playful? It’s like their way of saying, “Let’s have some fun!” Plus, lots of dogs spin a bit before they plop down for a nap. But if your pup won’t stop spinning, it’s time to worry. They may be feeling stressed and not sure how to deal, or there’s a health issue messing with their balance.


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Have you ever seen a dog snap their jaws or pretend to bite in the air? It’s like their way of saying, “Back off, buddy!” This is a warning sign—they want some space. According to experts, if a dog is really aiming to bite, they won’t miss their target. So if your dog does an “air snap” around you, it’s like they’re giving you a heads-up before things escalate to a real bite!

Holding The Head High

medium-coated brown dog during daytime
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Here’s another tricky signal that pet owners sometimes get wrong. When a dog holds their head up high, it means they’re strolling around in their usual chill mode, all relaxed and comfortable. But if they seem all stiff and tense while doing it, they could be on high alert. Maybe they’re feeling scared or threatened by something nearby.

Raised Hackles

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Ever notice the hairs standing up on your dog’s back and spine? Those are called hackles. When a dog gets all excited or scared, their hackles rise—meaning, the hair on their back sticks up—thanks to something called piloerection. Here’s a cool tidbit: humans get goosebumps when we’re nervous or scared, and it’s the same reflex at play! So next time you see those hackles up, you’ll know your pup’s feeling something big.

Intense Staring

black and white short coated dog
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When a dog locks eyes on something without looking away, that’s called a hard stare. Usually, their face gets all serious and tight, and you might notice more of the whites of their eyes. It’s like they’re gearing up for a showdown—maybe a fight, a snap, or even a bite. Sometimes, they’re sizing up something they want to chase. If a dog gives you the hard stare, it’s best not to stare back.