Dogs are the world’s most popular pet. They’re friendly, loyal, cuddly, and affectionate. They bring so much joy into our lives, waiting to greet us with wagging tails and wet kisses when we get home, always eager to head outside and explore the world with their owners.
But have you ever noticed your dog doing something strange and wondered what they were trying to tell you? Ever wished your dog could talk and explain how they’re feeling? Well, leading canine experts have broken down some of the most common dog behaviors to help dog owners gain a better understanding of their furry friends.
From fast tail wagging to intense eye contact, your canine companion could be saying a lot with their movements and habits. Here are 75 of those habits, translated from doggy speak into language we can all understand.
1) The Yawn
Yawning is actually something we have in common with dogs, so if you see your dog yawn, it’s probably for the same sort of reason you would yawn too. Your pup might be feeling a little sleepy, or they might be bored. They might also yawn in response to seeing someone else or another dog yawning near them.
2) Lifting Just One Paw
Ever noticed your dog lifting just one of their paws and holding it in the air? This is usually because they’re focused on something that interests them, getting ready to reach out and touch it or play with it. Dogs raising a paw are usually in quite a playful or inquisitive mood, so this is a good moment to interact with them.
3) Ears Facing Forwards
You can tell a lot about how a dog is thinking and feeling by the position of their ears. When the ears start to point forwards, this usually indicates that the dog is focusing on something immediately in front of it. It might be feeling curious or even afraid, but its attention is most definitely on whatever or whoever is in front of it.
4) Digging Up The Yard
This is one of the habits many dog owners don’t like to deal with! The precise reasons for digging can vary from dog to dog, and some breeds are much more prone to digging than others. In general, however, if your dog starts digging up your yard, it’s a sign that they’re feeling bored and lacking stimulation. You should probably play with them more or take them out on a walk.
5) Tail Wagging Quickly And Widely
Many people just see a dog’s tail wagging and assume that they’re happy, but this isn’t always the only explanation. Doggy tails can wag in a variety of ways, and it can be very helpful to learn the differences if you want to better understand your pet pup. If the tail is moving quite widely and quickly, this often means that the dog is feeling hyperactive and energetic, in need of walking, running, or playing to burn off all that energy.
6) Rapidly Wagging Tail With Narrow Movement
If the dog’s tail is wagging quickly but only making a narrow movement, rather than a wide one, the explanation is very different! This usually means that your dog is feeling a little nervous or even scared and would like to be comforted. Give your pup some cuddles and talk to them if they start behaving like this.
7) Curling Up Or Hunching Over
This one should be fairly obvious. If a dog is curling up very small or hunching over, it’s because they’re afraid. Dogs that do this are often those that have been abused or harmed in the past. They develop a habit of making themselves small to try and stay safe. These dogs need a lot of love and special care.
8) Sitting On Your Feet
Some dogs like to sit on their owner’s feet. It’s a cute little habit, but it might have a worrying meaning. It can sometimes indicate that your dog is anxious and wants more reassurance from its owner. It can also simply be a way of the dog marking its territory.
9) Getting In Bed
If your dog is trying to get on or in your bed and snuggle up close to you, don’t worry. This can be a little annoying if you don’t want hairs or smells on the sheets, but it’s not a bad sign. It just shows that the dog wants to feel like part of your pack and be close to you as often as possible.
One of the least desirable dog habits of all, humping is an issue that many people have to deal with if they choose a male dog. Believe it or not, there’s usually nothing sexual about this at all. It’s merely a show of dominance, and you can catch dogs humping people and objects around the home. It’s the sort of habit you should probably train out of them though, as it can be quite awkward and embarrassing to deal with.
11) Those Puppy Dog Eyes
We’ve all felt the effect of those big, puppy dog eyes. When a dog looks up at you like this, you just want to give in and do whatever they want, giving them treats and playing with them all day long. Many dogs actually figure out that this look earns them more treats, so they can start to abuse their power a little and use it too often. In general, it’s a sign that your dog loves and trusts you.
12) Waiting For You
Sometimes, you may notice that your dog clearly wants to do something or go somewhere, but instead, it will sit or lie down and look at you, as if it’s asking for your approval. This shows that your dog respects your position as leader of the pack and wants to make sure that you’re okay with whatever it wants to do before going ahead. A dog that behaves like this is usually very well trained.
13) Eating Poop
Probably the worst habit of all that any dog can develop, eating poop is a major no no that should be trained out of your canine companion at the earliest opportunity. You don’t need to worry too much, as the poop won’t actually make your dog get sick or anything like that, but it’s definitely a disgusting habit. Dogs do this sometimes simply to clean up areas where they’re going to be eating actual food later on and some mama dogs will eat puppy poop to clean their babies.
14) Chowing Down On Grass
Grass is a lot less gross than poop, but it’s actually less digestible for your dog! It can sometimes make them sick, so you’ll need to be careful if you spot your pup nibbling at the lawn and then heading into the house. Dogs do this for various reasons. It can be because they have intestinal worms or because their diet is lacking in certain nutrients.
15) Offering A Helping Paw
Have you ever been sick or sad and noticed that your dog becomes more affectionate than normal? This is because your dog really does feel sympathy for you. They can read body language well and can easily tell when their owners aren’t quite themselves. They’ll cuddle up close to you and try to cheer you up in various ways, and this is how we know our dogs love us.
16) Back And Forth
If your dog is bouncing back and forth, almost like a rocking horse, it’s a good sign. It shows that they’re feeling very excited and happy. Whatever you’re doing to trigger this behavior, keep on doing it! It’s a great way to spend some of your dog’s energy and help them feel more satisfied and stimulated.
17) Tongue Sticking Out And Staring
If your dog’s tongue is sticking out and it’s looking at your intently, don’t worry. Your pup hasn’t just decided that you look like a big, tasty steak. In fact, this is a good sign. It shows that the pup is feeling relaxed, calm, and content. Dogs often look like this after a play session or after having some cuddles.
18) Squinting Or Blinking
If your pup narrowing their eyes or do they seem to be blinking a lot? It can sometimes be a sign of an eye problem, but most of the time, it just means that your pup wants more attention. It might be trying to tell you that you’ve been a little distant and not really shown it any love lately. If this is the case, grab a toy and spend some quality time with your furry friend!
19) Never Leaving You Alone
One of the top reasons people love dogs so much is because they’re so friendly and affectionate, but there are cases when dogs can be a little too affectionate. We’re talking about those moments when your pup seems like he or she has been glued to your side and just never leaves you alone, even when you go to the bathroom! This behavior is quite adorable, even if it’s a little awkward. It’s a sign that your dog feels super close and connected to you. Never forget that dogs are pack animals and don’t really like to be alone.
20) Hyperactive After Baths
If you notice that your dog seems to get a big burst of energy after having a bath, there is a reason behind it, and it’s not a great one. It usually means that your dog doesn’t like being bathed at all. When they start running around frantically after the bath, they’re feeling relieved to be out of there. They may also be trying to dry off more quickly by moving a lot.
21) Chasing Its Tail
This is a classic dog trait that we all find amusing, but it’s actually not a good sign if you see your dog chasing after their tail on a regular basis. It might mean that they’re feeling bored and having to play with their own tail just to give themselves something to do. It can also be a sign of fleas or other health issues, so if you spot your dog chasing its tail too often, it’s time to visit the vet.
22) Sniffing Other Dogs’ Butts
Luckily, humans don’t communicate this way, but in the dog world, butt sniffing is a form of greeting. It’s effectively a way for dogs to say hi to each other, as well as learning more about the other dog, finding out if that dog is a boy or a girl. It’s not really bad behavior, but it can make for some awkward moments when you’re walking your dog and bump into other dog owners on the street.
23) Tilting The Head
Aw! How cute! When we see a dog tilting its head, we start to melt just a little bit. It’s one of the most adorable habits any dog can have, but you might be intrigued to learn the logic behind it. When dogs do this, they’re actually just trying to listen out for something and hear it a little better. Tilting the head allows their ears to receive more sound and help them figure out where a certain noise could be coming from.
24) Leaning Against You
Like many other habits on this list, a dog leaning against you is always cute, but you need to pay attention if this happens! Dogs usually do this to try and get your attention because they feel lonely, bored, and ignored. If your dog starts to lean on you, it’s time to give them lots of attention or even head out for a walk.
25) Getting In Bed When You’re Not Around
If you ever get home and see your pet pup sleeping in your bed, this is actually a sweet sign. It shows that your dog misses you when you’re away and wants to feel closer to you. They often head to the bed where they can smell you best and feel like you’re beside them. Plus, beds are pretty cozy and dogs love to find the most comfortable sleeping spots around the home.
26) Very Excited To See You
This is one that many dog owners will recognize. You get home, open the door, and are greeted by a fast wagging tail and a leaping, licking dog who is crazily happy to see you. They almost act like you’ve been apart for years! Well, for the dog, just a few hours apart can feel a lot longer than it does for you. Don’t forget that when your dog is home alone, they don’t have much to do or anyone to keep them company. This is why they’re so thrilled to finally see you.
27) Lots Of Licks
Dogs like to lick. Some people call this kissing and find it super cute, while others are grossed out about the idea of a dog licking their face or hands. Well, regardless of your views on the matter, a lick is always a good sign. It shows that the dog feels relaxed around you and likes you.
28) Cuddles After Eating
Sometimes, dogs will finish up their dinner and then rush over to you, eager to have some cuddles or curl up beside you. This is always a good sign and shows that the dog feels very happy and comfortable with you. Some owners even see it as a way of the dog saying “thank you” for the food.
29) Giving Gifts
Cats are known for giving their owners ‘gifts’ like dead mice and birds, but dogs can sometimes provide gifts too. They might bring dead animals or even just some random item from around the home. Either way, it’s a nice gesture and a way for the dog to try and make you happy.
30) Paws In The Air
If your dog is lying down or sitting with both paws raised, this can be seen as a sign that they’re begging for some treats or cuddles. It can also be a sign that they’re trying to focus on something.
31) Sleeping Back To Back
It’s absolutely adorable when we see a couple of dogs sleeping in this position, with their backs to one another. Sometimes, dogs will do this with their owners as well. If your dog does this with you, it’s a sign that you have a very loyal friend! Dogs only do this when they really trust the other dog or person.
32) The Fox Position
If a dog puts its paws beneath it and curls its tail around, almost covering the face, this is usually a sign that they’re feeling cold. Dogs use this position to try and keep warm, and we can see this out in the wild, where wolves and foxes sleep like this when the weather gets cold.
33) The Tummy Curl
This is quite a rare position to see, and it’s not a good one either. If your dog is sleeping on their belly with their paws beneath them or splayed out at their sides, it means they’re not getting great sleep. This kind of position makes it difficult for the dog to fully relax and enjoy the benefits of sleep, so it could be a sign that they don’t feel totally safe and secure.
34) Sleeping On The Back
If your dog looks like it just lost consciousness and fell asleep on its back, this is a common sign that they’re feeling too hot. They lie in this odd position to try and cool off a little. Be sure to provide your dog with plenty of fresh drinking water to help them cool off and monitor the heating levels in your home.
35) The Superman Pose
If your dog is sprawled out with its paws outstretched like Superman mid-flight, they’re probably just very tired. A lot of younger dogs sleep this way after playing all day long, and it’s a sign that they’ve spent a lot of energy and need to relax and recuperate.
36) Sleeping On The Side
Just like people, dogs can have their own preferred sleeping positions. If you see a dog sleeping on its side, this is often a sign that they feel safe in the home and trust their owner completely. Dogs usually sleep this way when they take a little nap in the middle of the day.
37) The ‘Dead Bug’
Some dogs sleep in the ‘crazy legs’ or ‘dead bug’ pose. This is when they’re on their back, with limbs sticking up into the air, just like a dead bug. Once again, this is a nice sign as it shows that the dog is totally relaxed and at ease in the home.
38) Growling Quietly
A low or quiet growl is a warning sign. This means that your dog is feeling nervous or afraid and wants to be left alone. They may feel threatened and could lash out if you provoke them. Figure out what’s causing the growl and then stop doing it immediately to defuse the situation before it gets any worse.
Dogs often howl when they hear loud noises, even from far away. They might hear a train or a siren, or even another dog howling, and decide to howl back. This form of behavior is a little mysterious and experts aren’t sure what causes it, but it might be that the dog is annoyed or feeling uncomfortable due to the noise affecting their sensitive ears.