When Your Dog Talks – Do You Listen? by Sally Gutteridge

Dogs are a fabulous, fantastic and funny addition to any home. They make us smile, laugh and play even when we don’t feel like it. If you are anything like me you chatter to your dog, or dogs, happily with no need for the sound of reply. Sometimes you will even reply on their behalf but when they speak do you listen, I mean really listen?

Dog language is quite different to the language of us humans, in some cases it’s actually contradictory. Take a look at these common dog communication signals and what they really mean from your dog;


Yawning, in the human sense, tends to happen when we are tired or even bored. Yet when your dog yawns he is actually using something called a calming signal. A calming signal means that the dog is feeling a bit worried about something and needs to either calm himself or let the others around him know that he means no harm.
When a dog feels quite stressed then he will yawn even more obviously and some even give a quiet whine or howl as they do it. You can use the same communication signal with your own dog or if you are approaching a worried dog that you don’t know. This will show that you want no conflict and mean them no harm.

Glancing Away

The dog that glances away is again showing you that he is no threat at this point. This is another calming signal and consists of just a quick glance away and back towards you. Eye contact in the dog world can be seen as confrontational so the quick eye flick away and back is the dog’s way of showing that he wants no confrontation. You can try this with your own dog in the same way as yawning and you will be speaking to him in his own language.

Lip Licking

The tongue that flicks out over the lips and back is another way that the dog shows he is feeling uncomfortable, or that he is not interested in conflict. Watch your dog on walks and when he meets new people or other dogs. He may lick his lips and eye flick at the same time in greeting. If he does this then he’s simply stating that he wants no trouble with the stranger and is quite happy to say hello and be on his way.

It really is fascinating when you learn to recognize all of the little signs that our dogs use to communicate with us. Particularly so when we test the same signs back because their eyes widen and the canine brow furrows in bemused bewilderment as they wonder when, on earth you learned their language.

Dogs love it when we talk in their language, why not try it right now?


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