Dog Training 

Dog talk: how our dog communicates with us and how to talk back.

Of all the amazing characteristics a dog has, the ability to communicate may be the most impressive. Dogs are communicating with us all day long, whether we know it or not, we will talk to them through various verbal and nonverbal cues.

In fact, a recent study concluded that dogs use 19 different signals to talk to us. These signals are called “reference signals”, for example, the way babies communicate with their parents. This is also how great apes communicate with each other. Reference signals are rare in non-primates.

Research leader Hannah Worsley said: “Dogs behave like great apes, but they are cross-species.”

For us, the key to being a dog owner is to understand the gestures the dog is using and reward the dog with the expected response. Dogs want to communicate mainly through body language and only use vocalization when needed. (Although some dogs find that they need to speak more than others)

Here are some nonverbal tips that dogs use to get our attention:

Tail language

Perhaps the most obvious observation, but sometimes it can be misunderstood. Just because the dog is wagging its tail does not mean it is happy. If this is a dog you are not familiar with, consider the possibility that the tail swing does not prompt you to pet the dog. Pay attention to the dog’s ears. If they fall and do not cheer up, it may indicate that it is uncomfortable. In addition, pay attention to the stiffness of other parts of the dog’s body.

Here are some general tail movements to remember:

  • A curved tail usually means a relaxed dog. This can also mean confidence or advantage.
  • A straight and stiff tail means that the dog is closely tracking something.
  • A low tail or a wrinkled tail means fear and submission.


Personally, this is the dog’s favorite way to talk to us. The lively ears show us that the dog is very interested in the next thing and highly concentrated. Drooping ears are a sign of submission, while pinned ears mean that the dog is unhappy and uncomfortable. Generally, the flatter the ears, the more compliant the dog, and the rounder the ears, the more interested the dog.

Eye language

Dogs do many things with their eyes. In the ranking of my favorite dog languages, eye contact comes next. Sad puppy eyes are the most obvious way for dogs to use eyes and are very effective in this case.

When the dog receives particularly pleasing abdominal rubbing or scratching behind the ears, he may close his eyes happily.

When you see the white of the dog’s eyes, they are on high alert and need space.

A dog that does not blink may show signs of aggression, but most likely it is when your dog is staring at you just to get your attention.

Normally, if you make direct eye contact with the dog, he or she may maintain contact slightly, but then obediently looks away. When avoiding eye contact altogether, your dog will become uncomfortable and show signs of yielding again.


Can dogs smile? The answer to this question is usually yes, so the real question becomes, what does that smile mean? You can quickly judge whether a smile is a sign of satisfaction by looking forward to your ears, relaxed eyes and open mouth with a soft tongue.

When a dog shows its teeth, it means unhappiness and may bring fear and aggression at the same time.

Body language in context

When trying to interpret what the dog says to you, always consider the context of the situation. In addition, try not to focus on just one movement, but the entire body language of the dog. If you follow these tips in context, you should find what your dog is trying to communicate, which will make your dog very happy.

Here are some common clues from dogs and how to interpret them:

What does dog yawn mean?

When a dog yawns, it can sometimes be difficult to understand whether the yawn is positive or negative. Dogs yawn when they are stressed, but they also yawn when they expect something interesting. Some dogs will yawn next to other dogs during game time and say “calm down.” The context of the usage can usually tell you what yawning means. Either way, if you see him or her yawn, please do something good to your dog.

What does my dog ​​barking mean?

Although dog barking is not usually the most pleasant sound in the world, barking can also be explained in different ways. If the dog has been using nonverbal cues to communicate patiently with you without any effect, then he may think that barking is the only way to get your attention.

Don’t interpret this bark in the wrong way. Your dog is just talking to you! Your dog may be barking because they need to do business outside, or their favorite toy is stuck under the sofa. In this case, your dog may have a good reason to attract your attention.

Other types of more annoying bark may be to remind the family of the new house. The bark may be motivated by fear or excitement. They can also be trained from dogs, but this requires time and patience.

What does it mean for my dog ​​to look up?

Dogs will tilt their heads because they will listen attentively. Use the dog’s ear as an antenna. When something scares them or they hear a sound they have never heard before, they tilt their heads and readjust their antennas, ears and sounds. This behavior is inherently built into the dog and happens instinctively.

Why is my dog ​​licking me?

Sometimes you taste good. Really, sometimes dogs want to lick salt from our faces. However, there are more scientific reasons for this. Licking is a behavior that dogs have learned since birth. When dogs are newborn puppies, their mothers lick them to stimulate breathing and clean them. From childhood, puppies will lick their mother’s mouth affectionately. Often kissing a big kiss on the mouth is a way for your dog to show love and respect (or they want to clean up the rest of your lunch).

Why is my dog ​​sneezing?

When a dog sneezes, it is more likely to be due to excitement and anticipation, rather than due to artificial sneezing. My dog ​​Ava sometimes gets more and more excited during the game and sometimes sneezes out of control. If this is not your dog’s normal behavior, the sneezing may be caused by the irritation of the dog’s nose and may require a veterinarian’s examination.

Sneezes during game time come from the way dogs interact with each other. The main purpose of the dog’s communication is to keep peace with human companions and with their fur friends. Sneezing is a way for dogs to tell each other, “Don’t think of it as playing time.”

How do I talk to my dog?

Once we understand how our dog talks to us, we can talk to them better. Dogs will accept the same nonverbal prompts they give us. The dog will easily pick up hand movements, eye movements and head tilt. Once the dog understands the action, it starts to say the commands to be executed with the action. Through trial and error, you will learn what the best command your dog will take and continuously improve the communication process.

Dogs are natural peacekeepers

If your dog is in peacekeeping, please make sure that everything is fine by petting them playfully and saying some words of encouragement. Dogs usually don’t use real words, let alone the tone of our speech.

Alex Benjamin of National Geographic said: “Maybe the dog will use the tone of voice to attend a speech before knowing whether the words you use are related to them.” Benjamin co-authored a study at York University. Research shows that dogs like our “baby talk” version more than regular speech.

Dog-directed speech

We all did it, baby talk to our dog. This seems impossible, and there is now a scientific study that shows a good reason for us to do this: our dogs like it better.

Just as an actual baby speaks to a newborn baby, speaking to a dog when a puppy is a puppy will help them understand our language better. This is achieved by exaggerating our speech and making the vowel sounds clearer and higher pitched.

Therefore, you don’t have to talk to the dog very strangely. This study prefers to call it “dog-oriented speech,” which I prefer.

Whether you are using “dog-oriented voice” or are already proficient in speaking with dogs through gestures, the flow of communication between dogs is undoubtedly impressive. Some of these ways of speaking will take time to perfect, and your dog will quickly adopt other ways of speaking. By carefully observing the way your dog speaks to you, you will be more capable of finding a way to reply.

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