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Dog language. 10 gestures you need to understand


I’m sure you already know many of your dog’s gestures. Sometimes, you already know how to understand what he wants to communicate or do according to his behavior or gesture language. But if you want to know and communicate even better with your furry friend, let us tell you the 10 gestures you need to understand dog language.

Benefits of understanding dog language

No, we’re not going to teach you how to translate your dog’s barking, we’ll leave that for children’s movies. But the truth is that your dog is a real master in gestural language, haven’t you noticed? Well, it is time for you to pay attention to his gestures because if you know how to understand the language of dogs and how to react, your coexistence will be unbeatable.

You can’t even imagine how many misunderstandings you can avoid, besides the stress and frustration that you and your dog can feel when you don’t understand each other. And not only that. If you understand how canine communication develops, you will understand what is happening to two dogs that are communicating. This will give you a lot of peace of mind and security.


Expression of emotions

The more contact you have had with your dog since childhood, the easier it will be for you to “read” many of his gestures and understand dog language. Most of your dog’s gestures and body movements or positions are indicating an emotion. In part, it is up to you and your sensitivity and empathy to understand if your dog’s bark is happy, cared or angry.

It is also true that depending on the breed of dog, communication can be more or less complicated. This is due to their morphology. Those dogs whose hair completely covers their face and body tend to be more complicated to understand. The same happens with dogs whose tails are amputated.

If you want to learn about your dog’s emotional expressiveness, you have nothing else to do but observe him, especially when he is with others. This way you can analyze his gestures, expressions and type of barking according to the emotion of the moment. This is the best way to learn the language of dogs. Remember that your dog language is unique and you will love to discover those details that make him so special, not only in terms of his appearance, but also in terms of the way he communicates.

10 gestures you should understand about dog language

1-The position of the tail

The tail is a fundamental part of your dog’s communication, it is the main protagonist in the language of dogs.
Surely you already know this, right? And also that if he is happy he wags his tail? But it’s not that simple. Did you know that slow tail wagging can indicate caution?

Well, you see, it’s not just a question of tail wagging, but also the type of wagging. You can fall into the error of believing that the dog is happy and it turns out that it is the opposite because the animal is not confident in that certain situation. If you confuse the two states you could be in for a scare. If the tail is still and raised it may indicate that the dog is in a state of alarm or attention.

And, as you may already know, if the tail is low and close to its body, this indicates that it is afraid. However, in order not to generalize, you have to understand that there are dogs that always carry their tails naturally low. Therefore, when you interpret the movement of your dog’s tail you have to do it based on the posture of your dog in a relaxed state.

2-The yawns

It is clear. If your dog is sleepy or has just woken up, he yawns. But, have you noticed that he also yawns when he is uncomfortable or in a stressful situation for him? You can notice if he yawns when you take him to the vet or to the hairdresser, if he is one of the dogs that don’t enjoy these situations. Now you know that if he yawns it is because he is not comfortable and so you can pamper him and take care of him so that he does not have a bad time or at least you can reduce that tension.

3-The bow

This is another of the most known gestures. The bow or play signal is indicating that from this moment on all the growls, blows, paws… are for play. Be careful with this signal because if the dog doesn’t do it, he is going to play, not to play.

4-Truffle licking

This is a very fast movement of the tongue in front, as if sucking the truffle. It is one of the calm signals of dogs, especially miniature dogs. In dog language, this gesture means that the animal does not want conflict and prefers to avoid or soften a tense situation. He will do this in front of an unfamiliar dog, but also if you are scolding him and he does not know what he has done wrong.

5- Freezing

What happens when your dog suddenly freezes? Well, he is totally attentive to something or someone. Maybe he is not clear about what is going to happen and he stays frozen waiting togo away or to jump. This situation of immobility is not always something defensive, since he can also do it when he is playing or greeting other dogs.

6-Bring things

Does your dog bring you a stick or a toy or whatever? Well, in this case you can interpret two things. The first is that he wants to play with you and is inviting you to play and throw objects at him. The second option is that he wants to give you a present and is showing his affection for you.

7-Doing the paw

Is your dog a “big bully” and constantly paws at you? Usually he does this because he wants to get your attention and to get you to pay a little more attention to him.

8-Lying on his back

It’s a pleasure to see your dog lie on his back and roll over, isn’t it? Yes, indeed, when your dog does this it is because he is happy and feels safe by your side. You take good care of him and he shows it with behaviors like these.

9-Lying down next to you

Your dog can’t hug you, but in dog language, lying down next to you or on top of you is the closest thing to giving you a huge hug. Understand it as a token of affection, as an “I love you, buddy”.

10- Looks

Eyes are also a fundamental tool in the language of dogs. However, it is not the same the look he may give to another dog than the way he looks at you. If your dog looks directly into your eyes, it is because he wants to show you his interest and trust. This also happens between people, even when we are babies. When we look directly into each other’s eyes, oxytocin, the love hormone, is released.

In short, in dog language, if your furry friend is looking you in the eye it is the closest thing to telling you that he loves you. Conversely, if your dog avoids eye contact it’s another one of the calm dog signals. It means he’s uncomfortable, scared or prefers to avoid confrontation.


At last…

What do you think about what we have told you, did you already know these 10 canine language gestures that your dog may be using? You may have heard of Turid Rugaas, an international canine educator who is a reference in the
field. If you want to know more about her work, we have her latest book available for our clients, you can write us privately.  It is true that there are many more gestures in the language of dogs, but we have focused on these.

If you want you can tell us more about the language of dogs in the comments box below, and if you have questions, ask us whatever you need, we are here to help you. If on the other hand you like to participate in social networks, remember that we are on Facebook and Instagram, and we have recently opened a Youtube channel where we share with all our community, videos about interesting topics like this.

Remember that your opinion is important to us. Don’t forget to rate this article up to 5 stars. Surely understanding these 10 body gestures will make it easier for you to understand the language of dogs. Here from Las Almenas we want to give you an important advice, dedicate time to observe your dog. This is the best way to understand him and to make your coexistence as happy as possible!

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