Understanding Canine Communication and Behavior

Understanding how your canine communicates is critical to fostering a strong bond, however, it takes practice and a deep comprehension of their dynamics and behavior. We’ve compiled a quick guide for owners to understand their furry friend’s communication better.

Body Language

Dogs use body language to communicate and express their emotions like humans do. Astute observation is vital to interpreting your canine’s emotions:

  • Defensive: If your canine feels threatened, one of the biggest signs you’ll notice is the “body freeze” and “whale eyes.” Your canine will most likely maintain this stance until the perceived threat is gone.
  • Relaxed: In contrast to the previous point, when your buddy is relaxed, it will most likely exhibit a loose posture with its tail wagging slightly.
  • Excited: You’ll immediately recognize excitement in your dog as it will jump around and have a wagging tail. Your pet may bark or burst into “zoomies” (run around in circles) when excited.

Facial Expressions

Aside from your dog’s body cues, facial expressions are another crucial aspect of canine communication. Humans can interpret these expressions based on the shape of their dog’s eyes, mouth movement, and ear position.

Eye contact is one of the primary methods of communication for dogs and is a way of showing attention, submission, or aggression. A soft gaze with relaxed muscles around the eyes and mouth can show trust and happiness. On the other hand, a direct, hard stare can signal dominance or aggression.


Canines howl, bark, or growl for various reasons. Most of the time, dogs bark to get your attention or alert you to something. However, different breeds have different tempers and may bark more often than others.

Your furry friend may also howl, which is an instinctive behavior that they inherited from their wolf ancestors. Howling can be a way to communicate with other dogs or you or even alert you to a potential threat.

Growls communicate your dog’s displeasure or aggression. When your canine is growling, it is crucial to give them the space to calm down and avoid provoking them further.

Tail Wagging

Your dog wags its tail when it’s happy or excited, right? Not always. Tail wagging is a complex form of communication that can indicate various emotions.

If your canine’s tail is high up and wagging excitedly, it signals happiness. In most cases, your dog will have its tail at “half-mast” with rhythmical wagging, which signifies calmness and contentment. A low tail with a slow wag can show defensiveness and alertness.

Eye Contact

As mentioned, dogs often communicate with each other or their owners through eye contact. Dogs hold eye contact with other dogs to show dominance or submission. Similarly, when your dog maintains prolonged eye contact with you or anyone else, it can signify wariness.

When your dog breaks eye contact when staring at you, it can signify comfort and trust, and sometimes, they may blink or tilt their heads while looking at you. Dogs do this because they’re curious or unsure if you gave a command.

Grooming Behaviors

This behavior may come as a surprise for some dog owners, but your furry buddies are capable of cleaning themselves, and their cleaning behavior may indicate their emotional state or an underlying medical condition.

If your canine constantly licks their paws or other body parts, it could signify an underlying medical issue like allergies or pain. Dogs often lick their wounds to clean them and stimulate healing. If your dog is excessively grooming themselves, it could also be a sign of anxiety or compulsive behavior.

Playful Behavior

A dog’s playful behaviors can easily be mistaken for aggressive behavior because of their similarities. Dogs communicate playfulness through a series of behaviors that can be easily misinterpreted.

As mentioned earlier, an excited dog would communicate its feelings with a high tail and aggressive wagging — you can see them “smiling” with their mouths opened and tongue out when playing.

Dogs also playfully nip or bite each other as part of their play. However, if your dog’s bites are too hard and aggressive, they could communicate discomfort or aggression instead.

Changes in Appetite or Behavior

A canine’s eating pattern or behavior reflects their health. If your dog’s appetite or behavior changes suddenly, it could indicate an underlying health issue that requires medical attention.

The most observable change in your dog’s appetite is when they suddenly lose interest in their food. Dogs often refuse to eat if they’re experiencing gastrointestinal or cardiovascular issues. On the other hand, a dog may overeat if they have metabolic disorders or thyroid issues.

Enlist Scoop Soldiers Now

Understanding what your dog is trying to communicate takes lots of drills and practice. Communication is a two-way street, and it’s your duty as your canine’s commander to understand what your pet is trying to tell you.

Maintaining a clean and healthy space for your dog is critical to avoiding diseases. It’s our sole mission at Scoop Soldiers to fight the frontlines of pet waste removal for you. Enlist our services now and keep your and your canine’s environment safe and clean!