15 Ways Your Dog Communicates With You

closeup photography of woman holding adult golden retriever
Photo by Adam Griffith on Unsplash

Dogs have their own unique way of chatting with us, and it’s quite different from how we humans talk with each other. They bark, whine, and growl, but most of the time, they prefer using their bodies to communicate. This can sometimes lead to mix-ups between us and our furry friends. So, here are some ways your dog tells you things!

Eye contact speaks volumes

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Lying on the Sand Under White Cloud Blue Sky
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Dogs talk with their faces, especially with their eyes. When your pup looks at you a lot, it means he really trusts and loves you, kind of like saying “I love you” without words. But if he avoids looking at you, it could mean your furry friend is feeling uneasy, scared, or a bit guilty after doing something wrong.

Tail tells mood

brown long coated dog sitting on brown wooden log during daytime
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Tails can express more than just joy. A slow wag means your dog might be a bit cautious, while a stiff, high-held tail signals alertness. If the tail is low, your furry friend is likely feeling content, but if it’s tucked between the legs, he’s probably scared. And if his tail is wagging so hard that his whole body wiggles along, that’s a sure sign he’s excited to see you!

Tongue flicks convey feelings

dog's face
Photo by Milli on Unsplash

When dogs flick their tongues, it’s usually because they’re feeling very anxious or trying to make peace with their owner or avoid a fight. But it doesn’t mean they know they’ve done something wrong and feel sorry about it. Dogs can pick up on our body language, so if we seem upset, they might get worried, too. However, this doesn’t mean they understand guilt or know they did something naughty.

Sneezes and yawns signal stress

Short-coated White Dog on Green Field
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Dogs might sneeze or yawn for no reason sometimes, trying to tell us something. If your dog sneezes or yawns at odd times, it could mean he’s feeling stressed or uneasy, especially around new faces or pets. Surprisingly, humans do this, too, when they’re uncomfortable! But don’t get mixed up: dogs also yawn when they’re happy and relaxed with you. The trick is to notice if they’re yawning out of place in new or strange situations.

Belly reveals comfort

golden retriever with water droplets
Photo by Elisa Kennemer on Unsplash

Besides using their faces and tails, dogs also talk to us with their whole bodies. If your furry friend rolls over and shows you his belly, he’s trying to make you happy (and asking for a belly rub, of course!). Dogs also use this gesture with each other—rolling over to show they don’t want to fight when they feel threatened.

Play bows invite fun

Black and Tan Long Coat Dog
Photo by Binyamin Mellish on Pexels

When your dog faces you and does a bow with his front legs down and his rear up, it’s called a play bow—meaning he’s saying it’s time to play! To make your dog very happy, you can try doing the same back to him. Just do a simple downward dog yoga pose, and your pup will appreciate you speaking his language.

Paw taps seek attention

black white and brown short coated dog sitting on brown wooden floor
Photo by Brandon Cormier on Unsplash

When your furry friend craves attention, he might lift a paw and give you a gentle tap. It’s a common sight when you’re chilling out, and suddenly, your pup nudges you with a paw on your knee. Those adorable puppies are experts at it, too, pawing at the air until they catch your eye. They’re basically saying, “Hey, human, I need some love!”

Freeze signals unease

adult white and black Shih Tzu
Photo by Nikolay Tchaouchev on Unsplash

Have you ever approached your dog while he was chewing on a bone and noticed him suddenly stopping in his tracks when he saw you? When dogs freeze like this, it’s their way of saying they’re feeling unsure and would prefer to be left alone. If your dog freezes while chewing or doing something else, it’s best to respect his feelings and give him some space.

Offering toys shows affection

short-coated brown dog on gray cliff
Photo by Kevin Noble on Unsplash

Sometimes, your dog might bring you a ball, stick, or toy. Many folks think it’s an invitation to play, and usually it is. But if your furry friend brings you his favorite toys and drops one at your feet, he’s probably giving it to you as a gift! It’s his way of showing love and sharing his things with you.

Leaning indicates closeness

Golden retriever puppy
Photo by Mia Anderson on Unsplash

When your dog leans on you, it’s like he’s trying to cuddle. He can’t give hugs like we do, so snuggling up against you is his way of showing love. Ever seen your puppy hop on the couch with you and lean in? That’s him saying, “You’re my favorite human!” It also means he feels comfortable around you.

Ears show alertness

Photo of Person Holding Black And White Dog
Photo by Bekka Mongeau on Pexels

When your dog’s ears are up or forward, she’s ready for action. It shows she’s paying close attention and could switch to being playful or even aggressive—depending on what’s happening. But if you startle her in this state, she might react out of fear, even if she doesn’t mean to. So, be careful not to scare her!

Sniff greetings signify curiosity

pembroke welsh corgi and brown dog running between grasses
Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

Your dog’s nose is way stronger than yours, about 10,000 times. So, when she gives you a sniff around your nether regions, it’s her way of saying, “Hi there, what’s going on?” Just like how dogs greet each other by sniffing, they’re using their noses to learn all about their new buddy. The act is totally normal for dogs and 100% weird for us.

Leash pulls reveal tension

Medium Short-coated White Dog on White Textile
Photo by Simona Kidrič on Pexels

When your dog pulls, barks, or growls at other dogs while on a leash, it might be leash aggression. This happens because your dog might feel stressed or worried about being tied up, so she acts out when she sees other dogs coming close. If your furry friend feels this way—it’s best to give her some time to feel okay with the leash before going for walks.

Wet paw prints hint at anxiety

brown and white corgi puppy
Photo by fatty corgi on Unsplash

If you spot wet paw prints in your home, even when it’s not raining, your dog might be super stressed. Dogs sweat through their paw pads, so if there’s a lot of sweat—it could mean she’s really anxious. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your furry friend’s stress levels and take her to the vet regularly.

Shutdown shows distress

white long coated small dog on red textile
Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

If your dog won’t eat, moves away when you try to touch her or seems really tired, she might be anxious, scared, or sick. When she acts like this, it’s important to pay close attention and look for other signs, too. If you notice these signs early, it can help your furry friend get the right treatment before things get worse.