How Dogs Communicate With Humans

by Naomi Millburn
Dogs are often quite eloquent creatures.

Dogs are often quite eloquent creatures.

Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Although canines don't string words together in sentences in the same manner that humans do, that in no way means that they don't possess their own style of clear communication. The cute fluff balls are clever! Dogs utilize a variety of different means to convey their intended messages to you.

Attention

If you spot your little one gazing at you with a loose and relaxed expression on his furry face, then he may be feeling rather amiable at the moment. He perhaps may even be looking at you in the hopes that you'll give him a little bit of positive attention, whether you play fetch with him, rub his belly or anything else. If playtime is what he wants, be attentive to other useful hints, including a wagging tail, ears pointed upward and visible tongue.
Barking is another communication technique that some dogs use to receive attention, much to the dismay of many owners. If your doggie is barking and you can't figure out why, he may be doing it to get you to look his way for petting, playing, treats, mealtime or even going outside for a walk. The little guy wants something, and he surely knows how to get it.

Pain and Distress

When your dog is in pain, whether due to a wound or health condition, he may communicate it to you by vocalization -- think howling, whining and whimpering. Doggies utilize these types of vocalization also to convey other types of distress, including nervousness, stress and fear.

Territorial Communication

Dogs have quite a territorial streak, although it's only natural and normal. Your dog may communicate to someone invading his turf by engaging in a lot of loud and persistent barking. If you have a house guest who gets a little too close to your pet's bed, for example, prepare for a lot of ruckus. Aside from barking, he also may stake his claim by urine spraying, a classic territorial action in many animals -- yikes. These behaviors both serve to communicate essentially, "This area is mine, all mine. Back off or experience my wrath, human!"

Fear

In the realm of fear, dogs do a lot of communication through body language. Your dog may be showing you that he's afraid simply by keeping his mouth shut, for example. He also may continually pull his tongue out while in a heightened state of fear. Canines also subtly communicate fear with a crouched over posture, cowering, excessive and sudden shedding and flattened ears.

Aggression

Unfortunately, dogs aren't cuddly and sweet creatures 100 percent of the time. In fact, some dogs occasionally even get aggressive with people, so watch out and be very careful. Some warning signs of pure aggression are widened eyes, sharp and extended staring, bared teeth, standing upright, high tail, snarling, growling and curled lips. Leave a dog alone if he is in this mode, as he may physically attack. Never provoke an aggressive dog under any circumstances.

Affection

If your dog wants to communicate to you that he loves and appreciates you, he may lick and "kiss" your face -- aww. He also may roll over onto his back to show you that he would really love a tummy rubbing session. He may simply put his head over your lap. Whether your dog follows you around faithfully throughout your home or literally can't take his eyes off of you, he's communicating a very important message to you: he loves you!

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

About the Author

Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

Trending Dog Behavior Articles

Have a question? Get an answer from a Vet now!