Pet Care, Resources, and “The Vet Says

Dog Behaviours and what they mean

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Have you ever been around your dog and wondering what they are thinking or feeling? Because dogs are non-verbal, their body languages do the talking for them. Knowing how to read your dog’s behaviours is the key to understanding your dog.

Let’s list 10 types of dog’s behaviours and interpret them for you to have better understanding of your four-legged friends.

What Is Your Dog Trying To Tell You?

1. Digging

Dogs dig in the ground for many reasons: to escape, to track animals, to make a cool spot to lie, or to hide something important to them. However, some dogs dig inside as well. Have you ever noticed dogs scratching at the blankets or couch in order to find the place to lie down? It is completely normal, they are looking for the most comfortable place to rest.

Sometimes, Dogs may also dig when it is hot out (to find a cooler spot underground to lie down in). If this is the case, then your dog is probably too hot to be outdoors. For more details of heat intolerance in dogs, click here

If your dog’s digging starts to bother you, or damage your furniture, consider consulting with vet or working with a professional trainer to reduce this stubborn habit.

2. Circling

Does your dogs spin in circles chasing their tail? In some cases, tail-chasing is a natural, playful activity. However, excessive tail chasing can be a sign of a health or behaviour problem.

If dogs are chewing at their tail when they catch it, then they might have a problem with skin or anal glands. If the tail chasing is constant and intense, this may be a sign of an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

3. Humping

Does your dog like to hump other dogs, objects or people? Humping behaviour is quite natural in dogs. Contrary to what you might think, humping is not always sexual. It’s also not related to dominance as some people used to think.

Dogs usually hump each other as a part of normal play. They may also playfully hump objects and people. Excitement (non-sexual) and attention-seeking may also be reasons for humping. Humping between altered dogs is not generally a problem unless it bothers one of the dogs. If you sense a problem when two dogs are playing, separate the dogs immediately.

Humping of objects is only a problem if it bothers you. When it comes to humping people, you will probably want to break this habit for your houseguests’ sake. Often, the solution is walking away from the dog and denying attention until humping stops.

4. Tilting head

This is one of the most easily misunderstanding dog’s body languages. Most people have seen dogs tilt their heads to the side as if questioning something or pretending cuteness. It commonly happens when dogs hear a new sound or see something they don’t quite understand. In fact, this behaviour can have a few different meanings.

To see better: As dogs have eyes that are set on the sides of their heads which makes it difficult for them to focus on objects that are directly in front of them. If they angle their heads, dogs get a clearer view of things that are front and center.

To hear better: Unlike humans, dogs have ear flaps (pinnae) that partially or completely cover the ear canal and block sound transmission. To compensate for the interference of ear flaps, dogs perk up their pinnae, and tilt their heads for optimum sound collection.

If a dog’s head remains in the tilted position and the dog seems to have no control over it, this can be a sign of a health problem. See your vet as soon as possible if your dog has a suspicious head tilt.

5. Barking & howling

If dogs bark loudly and rapidly, they may be acting out of aggression or they have sensed danger. A short and soft bark means that your dog is friendly or wants to play. If they produce a sudden, sharp yelp, you should know that your canine friend is in pain.

If your companion animal produces a low or medium growl with or without a bark, they are protective, territorial, or threatened and can become aggressive and end up attacking people or other animals. Also dogs may produce a soft growl if they’re alert, anxious, contented, or in a playful mood.

In addition, howling means your dog produces a long howl if they are feeling lonely. Most dogs do this to announce their presence to other canines or even people. If they produce a short howl, you should know that they’re satisfied or excited. Dogs also howls to mimic other sounds.

6. Poop eating

Poop-eating, also called coprophagia, is a common behaviour among dogs and it can be caused by many reasons. Sometimes, your dog may just be curious, they may smell certain scents in the feces and wonder what it tastes like.

Coprophagia can also be just a imitating behavior from other dogs, or reaction to avoid scolding from the owner, or an instinctive solution to a nutritional deficiency. For more details of coprophagia in dogs, click here 

7. Yawning

Although you might think your dog needs some sleep, dogs yawn doesn’t usually mean they’re tired.

Dogs can also show this behaviour if they’re under stress or facing threat to help ease pressure and tension. If your dog appears to yawn at an increased rate around a new person, don’t rush the introduction. They’re either picking up vibes they don’t feel comfortable with, or are fearful for a less-obvious reason. No matter what the case, a forced introduction isn’t a good idea.

8. Panting

If dogs shown panting, you should pay more attention. As dogs expel most of their body heat from their mouths, this is how they regulate their body temperature. Panting is one of the signs of heatstroke. For more details of heat intolerance in dogs, click here

Dogs may show increased panting as a sign when get injured or other health problems, pet owners should pay attention on it and get them to the vet for checkup immediately.

9. Tail Wagging

Tail wagging seems like an obvious body language signal. Most of the time, if a dog’s tail is wagging, the dog is happy. but there’re still have exceptional case. People misinterpret this signal all the time. All a wagging tail means is that the dog is emotionally aroused. It could be excitement, but it could be frustration or worse.

There’s also the helicopter tail wag where the dog’s tail spins in a circle, that’s a happy wag with no doubt. You’ll usually see it when a dog is greeting a beloved person.

10. Smiling

Historically, in wild canids like wolves, the facial expression we call a smile actually communicates submission to member of the same species. To signal that they accept the fact that he is not “top” dog, the submissive wolf retracts the corners of their lips which makes their face appear to be smiling. The dominant wolf interprets the smile as a submissive gesture and assumes their role as alpha wolf.

Our domestic dogs are relatives of early wolves and interpret the “smile” the same way their ancestors did. So our cute “smiling” dog may simply be indicating that he readily accepts their subordinate position in our family. With that in mind, dominant alpha dogs rarely smile. Pet owners who discount this evolutionary explanation insist that their pets actually smile at them. And they are right in a sense. If we respond to the smiling, submissive pup with a kind word, a pat on the head or a treat, they quickly learn to smile a lot! Even alpha dogs will smile when they realize that positive reinforcement of this cute expression is in store.

Why I need to decode Dog Body Language?


As a pet owner, your dog is “talking” to you all the time. If you learn what your dog is expressing, you will develop a deeper bond of trust and respect. Plus, your newfound understanding of your dog’s emotional state will help you predict your dog’s behaviour and prevent problems before they occur. Start decoding your dog today!

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