Understanding Dog Talk

Having lived for so long with dogs, we need to understand what our dogs wish to convey. Science and research have gone a long way if we talk about understanding dog behavior. Dogs have been subject to study for ages.

Sharing the same space with a species not the same as us while maintaining perfect harmony and happiness can be quite an astounding feeling.

Efforts need to be put in if you wish to understand what your dog is trying to communicate. However, it is very much possible to understand your dog once you have spent enough time with it. So, not a lot of worry lies in store for you here.

Understanding canine communication is made further easy by various researched that help us understand the typical behavioral pattern in dogs.

You know your dog cannot rely on words to communicate its needs or feelings to you. Most times, however, we find ourselves capable of figuring out exactly what our dog needs.

We need to credit the closeness of the dog-human bond for the same. Common signals and a close study of your dog’s body language are probably the keys to understanding dog talk.

If understanding dog talk is proving to be troublesome for you, or even if you simply want to understand whether you are picking the right cues from your dog’s action or not, here are the basics of dog talk that will help you understand your dog.

How do dogs communicate?


Your dog will try its best to imbibe training. Dogs feel the need to understand their human friends. Thus, if you impart the right training to your dog, you will likely understand it and act accordingly.

If we arrive at the question at hand, the answer is simple. Dogs use common communication signals that we can pick. Some of these are: wagging its tail, raising its ear, throwing its paw at you repeatedly, trying to hide under the bed, walking away from food after sniffing it, etc.

All these actions have an underlying meaning. Having spent enough time with a dog, we understand what each of these means.

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There are a variety of actions that we can study among dogs, and most of them are quite common, i.e., other dogs share the same trait. However, your dog can show certain special traits, too, depending on genetic makeup or acquired training.

What do these basic dog signals mean?

The best way to understand dog talk is to look at a few basic dog signals. These signals are extremely common, and most dogs tend to exhibit them.

Understanding them will give you an enhanced insight into dog talk, and you will eventually understand your dog better. Here are the most basic signals accompanied by their possible meanings.


Visual communication

Visual communication includes body posture, gaze, and facial expressions that you can read. It also includes your dog acting a certain way, for example, peculiarly sniffing an object.

Visual communication helps you understand what your dog is feeling or trying to say.

Looking at the practical co-evolution dogs and humans went through while being around each other helps them understand each other better than any other species in consideration. 

If you see your dog within an alert position, with one leg up in the air, almost ready to pounce, you need to look around your immediate surroundings for something your dog perceives as a minor threat or enemy.

An almost gnawing dog approaching another one fearlessly charging towards it indicates hostile intentions. Similarly, a dog bending on its frontal limbs with gentle expressions is trying to seek your affection after being angry with it.

There is so much we can gather from visual cues. It is time we bring it to use to understand how our dog tries to communicate its needs. 

A dog throwing its front paws at you, yapping with affection, is its way of getting your attention and asking for some love or fulfillment of some need.


We need to understand that dogs do not bark needlessly even if we think they do. Something at play is possibly missing our comparatively ill-developed sense of smell and hearing.

If your dog is constantly barking and rushing to the door, you might want to go to the door and check for some presence.

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There are a lot of basic things we can understand in this manner. Your dog constantly hovering around a water source or tugging at its water bowl is its way of asking for a refill.

In the same way, constant barking at the perfect evening hour that it is used to is very likely to be its demand for its usual walk. Sometimes, your dog might try hiding away from you.

A situation such as this might also hold a guilty or innocent face; you should then try looking around for the damage he has caused or certain misbehavior he has indulged in.

Simply looking into the body language, eye condition, and facial expressions can give away much information for understanding dog talk.

Licking, sniffing, tongue flipping, an almost “smiling” expression, running too fast, walking too slow/freezing while yawning and fiddling all mean something. On your part, you simply need to be receptive and welcoming. 


Vocal Communication

Although we discussed barking in the previous section, it is relevant to vocal communication and not visual communication. However, it was discussed to help dog owners understand how dog communication works.

When we talk about vocal communication, let us get to our basics. We have all seen dogs howl and bark to communicate with fellow mates.

All dogs are receptive to each other’s bark. It is also often the pack assembling tactic. Understanding vocal communication is the key to understanding your dog a little better.

Growling, yelping, whining, howling, or even constant barking have significant meanings. Without knowing what these mean in respective situations, you cannot expect to understand dog talk completely.  Understanding dog talk becomes more comfortable with the interpretation of vocal communication.

Intermittent barking with barks cut into groups of two to three means that your dog has identified a certain stimulus but is not sure about it yet or hasn’t been able to label it as a threat yet. However, rapid barking could mean a simple alarm situation.

One or two barks that seem that sharp and contained could be a greeting or acknowledgment bark.  What is known as a stutter bark is a dog’s way of suggesting playtime? A single bark that is rather short could mean that your dog is surprised or startled. 

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If we talk about growling, observing dogs in their pack involved in what looks like a fight helps. We often see the alpha dog trying to assert its dominance by a low-pitched constant growl while showing its teeth.


This is the canine manner of asserting dominance. Simple soft growling by your dog is its way of asking you to stay away from when no other stimulus is at play.

A varying growl with an ever-changing pitch means your dog senses immediate dangers, and it will either try to fight against them or prepare itself to run away or relocate. 

Similarly, howls hold a lot of emotional messages that our canine buddies wish to convey. A constant yip howl indicates that your dog feels lonely or calling out for someone specific who probably just walked out of the gate, and it fears that they might not come back.

Howling is also a dog’s way of indicating that it is in its territory. It is its way of self acclaim. Bark howling or what we might call mournful howling to come into the picture when a dog has been left alone, and it is baffled and demanding attention. 

Whining and whimpering are sounds that you might hear when your dog is hurt, while an endless series of yelping could mean intense pain or fear.

Dogs pant after severe running or exercise. This is their way of regulating body temperature and restoring equilibrium. Similarly, while sleeping in your lap, mild sighs are your dog’s way of affirming comfort and contentment.

It is brilliant to see the diversity of vocal cues that dogs use to communicate how they feel. Further amazing is how the realization that it works out just as well. 

Acquainting yourself with these sounds and their meaning will aid your understanding of dog talk. You will then be able to take better care of your dog while building a more fulfilling relationship with it that will prove rewarding for it and you.

To sum it all up, it is necessary to say that to effectively understand dog talk, it is essential to be willing and receptive before anything else. 

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