Decoding Dog Talk
Any pet parent can attest to the fact that our dogs understand and listen to us. We may speak different languages, but our dogs use barks, growls, and other unique sounds to communicate with us every day.
Learn to identify your dog’s unique communication styles and lean in to a whole new language of love.
The pitch that your dog uses is very telling. A low-pitched noise can mean that your dog is sensing danger, feeling aggressive, or warning someone to stay away. A higher pitch, on the other hand, can mean that your dog is signaling that it’s okay to approach. As you start to recognize your own dog’s use of various pitches, you’ll get a better feel for meaning and context.
Just like humans, a dog’s gaze can be the window to the soul. Dogs use eye contact to connect with their owners, and both dogs and humans release oxytocin – a hormone linked to trust and bonding – when they gaze into each other’s eyes. Staring contest, anyone?
Like humans, dogs are very expressive creatures and use body language to convey emotions. When your dog’s ears are raised or forward, it’s a sign he may be feeling aggressive. Ears that are flattened or sticking out to the sides can indicate that your dog is feeling frightened, while neutral, relaxed ears correlate to a state of calm.
Tails are also a tell! A dog with a low hanging tail between his legs may be stressed or afraid. A tense, high tail moving back and forth is a sign that your dog is on the offense.
Frequency is another important factor in interpreting your dog’s communication. If your dog is barking or whining nonstop, consider it your cue to put down the phone and check in. Excessive and ongoing vocalization may be a sign of pain or suffering and shouldn’t be ignored. Another clue: dogs seeking attention may jump up and down repeatedly.
We all know that licks (more commonly known as kisses) are frequently a sign of affection. Licking for affection actually releases endorphins in your dog that calm and comfort, so those kisses really do leave everyone feeling better. Your dog may also lick you as a form of comfort during periods of stress or upset.
Your dog has a lot to say. By listening carefully and learning to understand your own dog’s communication habits, you’ll be able to better understand his needs and identify any warning signs of pain or distress. Plus, you’ll be able to make sure he understands you when you tell him you love him more than anything.
TFD Tip: Get down on the ground with your pup, put both hands on the floor, and open your mouth wide. This signals play time and makes our dogs go nuts.
What’s your favorite way to communicate with your dog? Share in the comments!