Hidden Meanings Behind Common Dog Behaviors That Everyone Should Know

Most dog owners wish they could communicate with their petlike they communicate with their friends and family. While we can see a handful of emotions clearly through dogs’ actions and demeanor, what our pets are really thinking is still largely a mystery to us. There are, however, some dog behaviors that can help us better understand what our furry friends are actually trying to tell us. The following dog behaviors say more than you think!

Ever wonder why your dog likes to show you their toys?

What Your Dog Is Really Saying When They Give You “Puppy Eyes”

Photo Credits: Hakan Mehmet Sahin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Most people assume that when a dog give you the “puppy eyes,” they’re begging or trying to look cute so that you’ll give them attention (or a delicious treat). However, the reality is that they are showing you love and affection.

When they look at you with innocence it means that they love you and it’s basically them giving you a hug or a kiss. So, if you catch your dog looking at you like this, it means you’re doing something right.

Your Dog Thinks Highly of You If They Sleep In Your Bed

Photo Credits: Classen/ullstein bild via Getty Images

If your four-legged friend prefers to sleep with you rather than on the floor or even in their own bed, that means that you’re the number one person in your dog’s life. They want to spend as much time with you as possible, even if that means you’re sleeping.

So, if you’re dog tries to climb up onto the bed with you to sleep, you should consider it the ultimate compliment. More so, it would make them incredibly happy if you let them up.

Getting Tackled Is a Sign of Affection

Photo Credits: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Getting tackled by your dog when you walk through the door isn’t always the most pleasant experience. Sometimes they may unintentionally scratch you, or if they’re big enough, knock you over. However, this isn’t them trying to get your attention or simply trying to be annoying — typically, they’re just expressing how happy they are to see you.

The act of jumping on you is like a human jumping for joy. They want to show how much they’ve missed you and that they’re happy you’re home.

Your Dog Might Not Actually Want to Play Fetch

Photo Credits: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

If a dog is carrying around a ball or toy in its mouth, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it wants to play fetch. In fact, sometimes it can mean the exact opposite. Dogs will often bring toys to people they like so that you can play with it too.

They want to show it to you and let you enjoy it too, so instinctively throwing anything your dog brings to you might hurt their feelings.

When your dog leans on you, they’re not being too lazy to stand on their own.

What It Means If Your Dogs Stares At You Before You Leave

Photo Credits: Auscape/UIG via Getty Images

Leaving your dog behind at home can be hard to do. They know that you’re leaving and it can make them sad. Some dogs just sit and calmly watch as you walk out the door, which can make you feel guilty. However, their calmness proves that while they are sad that you’re leaving, they are assured that you will be back.

If your dog is particularly calm when you leave them it’s because they trust you and will patiently await your return.

Eye Movements

Photo Credits: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

When it comes to dogs’ moods, they are a lot like humans. You can tell so much just by looking at their eyes. If they’re sad or tired, their eyes will hang low and your pup will look down at the ground. If they’re excited, their eyes will be wide open and they’ll be looking around everywhere

If they want something, they may look at you and raise their eyebrows as if asking you a question. For most dogs, looking at their eyes will tell you more than their tail will.

If Your Dog Leans On You, They’re Basically Hugging You

Photo Credits: Chris Carroll/Corbis via Getty Images

Have you ever noticed your dog leaning on you whenever you’re just lounging around? It might not even be all that noticeable, but we bet your pup as put their body weight against you more than a handful of times.

This doesn’t mean that they’re being lazy and can’t stand on their own, they’re actually hugging you. This is one of the ways they can connect physically with you and is something that they can initiate.

See some ways that dogs show protection towards you.

Cuddles After Eating

Photo Credits: Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Does your dog like to come and cuddle after they just ate? Much like sleeping in your bed, this is another sign that you’re one of their favorite people (if not their favorite!). After a meal they might be ready to take a nap and they want to do it in the comforting presence of you.

A pro tip is that if your dog likes to do this, be careful about what you feed them so you don’t have to deal with any funky smells!

Yawning Doesn’t Just Mean Your Pup Is Tired

Photo Credits: Phil Walter/Getty Images

While yawning may seem like a natural sign that an animal is tired, it’s a little bit different for dogs. While we see our dogs yawn all of the time, it’s actually a treat that we get to. It means that they feel safe around you and trust you.

In the wild, a yawn is considered to be a sign of submission, so when you see your dog yawn 15 times a day, it means that they’re completely relaxed.

When Your Dog Puts One Paw Up They’re Trying to Figure Something Out

Photo Credits: Steve Nehf / The Denver Post

Has your dog ever been walking along and suddenly stopped, holding one of its paws up in the air? While this may look unusual, it’s totally natural. This means that they are trying to figure something out. It’s a physical action that the cogs in their brain are turning!

Usually when they’re doing this, they’ll also be sniffing like crazy in every direction. This is them playing detective and trying figure out something that caught their attention.

Yawning May Also Mean Your Dog Is Uncomfortable

Photo Credits: LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages

While yawning around people a dog knows can mean that they feel very comfortable, constant yawning in public (or where a dog is not as comfortable) can mean something entirely different. When they are yawning in public, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re sleepy and that it’s time to go home, it’s a sign that your dog may be uncomfortable or anxious.

So keep an eye open, and if your dog is doing this in an unfamiliar place, it’s probably because they’re uncomfortable.

The Reason Your Pet Wants to Lie On Your Feet Is Adorable

Photo Credits: DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images

If you have a dog, it’s not uncommon to feel them lay right on top of your feet whether you’re sitting on the couch or at the dinner table. Some people might find this annoying at times while others may think it’s adorable.

However, the real meaning when a dog lays on your feet is to feel as close to you as possible and also as a sign of protection. In addition, the second they feel you get up, they’ll happily get up to allow you to move.

Dogs holding one paw up is like Sherlock Holmes lighting his pipe.

Flicking Their Tongues Is a Way of Apologizing

Photo Credits: MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images

Supposedly, after a dog knows that they’ve done something wrong and wants to apologize, they will approach you and flick their tongue out of their mouth as a sign of apology. This is basically them acknowledging that they knew they did something bad and they’re sorry.

Typically, when a dog does this, they will also try to look as innocent as possible because they know that us humans are suckers for their adorable faces, even if they just peed on the floor.

Why Your Dog Chews On the Furniture

Photo Credits: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

If your dog is constantly chewing on furniture, whether they’re a puppy or not, means that they aren’t getting enough exercise and don’t know how else to get their energy out. Taking them for a walk might not solve all of your problems but it’s a step in the right direction.

It’s usually pretty clear when your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, and this is one of the biggest signs. So, if you’re tired of your dog destroying your furniture, helping them be more active should become a priority.

Cocking Their Head To The Side

Photo Credits: John Parra/Getty Images for Columbia Pictures and Studio 8

Many people talk in a higher pitch when speaking to their dogs. When you’re talking to your dog in your “doggie voice,” sometimes they will cock their head to the side like they’re trying to listen to what you’re saying.

While this may be true, it doesn’t mean they’re responding differently because of your change in voice. What they’re really trying to do is pick out certain words like “treat,” “walk,” or “outside.”

What It Means When Your Dog Is Howling Away

Photo Credits: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

While some people may find a dog’s howling to be particularly annoying, they aren’t just doing it to irritate you. Much like how it feels good to humans to yell or cry, howling feels the same way for dogs. It’s a release of sorts and helps them get rid of any internal feelings they may have inside.

While most people assume that dogs howl like wolves in order to assert their dominance, they’re really doing it because it feels good to do!

Why Your Dog Walks In Circles Before Lying Down

Photo Credits: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

Now this is particularly interesting. Have you ever noticed that dogs sometimes walk in circles before lying down? This is a habit that they might have inherited from their wolf ancestors. Wolves do this before lying down in order to flatten any leaves or debris that may make their resting sot uncomfortable.

Although it’s unlikely that there’s much debris around your dog’s bed or on the kitchen floor, it’s an interesting habit that’s also humorous to watch them do.

Panting Helps Your Pup Cool Down

Photo Credits: Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty Images

if your dog is panting relentlessly, that means that they are overheating. Panting is a way that dogs help themselves cool down since they don’t sweat like us humans. So if a dog is aggressively panting, they’re trying to regulate their temperature and probably needs some water to help as well.

If the dog isn’t hot, they might be trying to relieve pain or stress. While most dogs pant regularly, it’s important to keep on them depending on the situation.

Barking Can Mean Different Things

Photo Credits: Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A dog’s bark can mean numerous things depending on the situation, how they bark, and what they’re barking at. if a dog is barking particularly loudly and rapidly, they may be showing aggression or could be sensing danger and are trying to alert you.

If a dog is doing short and soft barks it can mean that they wants to play and are excited. However, if you hear a dog yelp loudly, it most likely means that they’re in pain.

Beware of a dog that wrinkles its muzzle.

Wrinkling Of The Muzzle

Photo Credits: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

Unfortunately, not all dog behaviors mean that they’re happy and want to be friendly. When a dog wrinkles their muzzle, that is most likely a sign of aggression. If they go a step further to show their teeth and even snarl, you should take that as a warning to stop whatever you’re doing that is getting them worked up or remove yourself from the situation.

Actions like these mean that the dog is ready to attack at any time.

You should feel honored when a dog exposes their belly to you.

Flicking Their Ears

Photo Credits: Education Images/UIG via Getty images

If a dog their flicking their ears, it means that they are listening. This is true for almost all animals. When they hear an unfamiliar sound, they will flick their ears, in hopes of figuring out what the sound is that they’re hearing.

So, if you ever catch your dog flicking their ears, maybe give them a second to listen before you distract them from their mystery. It’s also super cute to watch.

Sniffing The Air

Photo Credits: Auscape/UIG via Getty Images

When a dog is sniffing the air, it’s most likely because they sense danger or because they are trying to track the danger or prey. When a dog is sniffing the air, they usually remain completely still and never bark or growl. They do this to so they won’t be seen by their prey.

Dogs will also usually sniff other dogs or people in order to test the waters.

Exposing Their Belly Means They Respect You

Photo Credits: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

if a dog exposes their belly to you, it can mean that they respect you and are being submissive to you, or that they want to play around. If you like it when your dog does this, you can encourage the behavior by rubbing their belly.

If you do this, they’ll learn that they are most likely going to get a nice pet every time. Sadly, a dog might also roll onto its back if it’s being attacked by another animal.

When a dog bows, it might have a different meaning than you think.

The Sweet Reason Why Does Raise Their Paws at You

Photo Credits: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

When your four-legged friend raises their paws, it usually means that they want something or that they desperately want to play. This behavior is most common for puppies and younger dogs. A puppy will raise its paws to touch his mother when it wants to feed.

So, if your young dog does that to you, it means that it loves you and that it wants you to pay attention to them and play.

Dogs Dig Up the Yard Out of Instinct

Photo Credits: Arterra/UIG via Getty Images

If you notice your dog has been digging, you shouldn’t worry about this behavior — although you might want to be concerned about your lawn! Dogs dig to either hide or uncover their valuables, whether it is a toy, bone, or anything that they want for safe keeping.

More feral dogs dig holes in order to find prey in underground tunnel systems, or to lay their dead young in a safe place to rest. Without proper training, it’s likely that your dog will continue to dig out of instinct.

Bowing Means Your Pup Wants to Play

Photo Credits: Andrew Chin/Getty Images

A dog bows by keeping the back of their body erect, while lowering their head and putting it towards the ground. When a dog does, this, the majority of the time it means that they are in the mood to play. They can emphasize this desire by swinging their hips or wagging their tail wildly.

There’s not a more clear behavior that your dog wants to have some fun than this. In the dog training community, this behavior is known as the “play bow.”

Stretching

Photo Credits: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

For dogs, stretching doesn’t always mean that they just woke up for a nap, or are trying to get limber before playtime. Stretching is a sign of affection and love towards somebody. When you walk through the door and your dog is stretching when they see you, it’s not because they were sleeping.

They are excited to see you and these kinds of stretches usually look similar to the play bow. So, if you see your dog stretching, go give them some love in return.

What It Means When Your Dog Is Pacing Back and Forth

Photo Credits: Carsten Koall/picture alliance via Getty Images

Dogs pace for a variety of reasons. Whether they are bored, nervous, or excited, they tend to pace, just like humans do. If your dog is walking in circles around you, that usually means that they are in the mood to play and want to know if you are interested too.

However, when two anxious or excited dogs meet, it is typical that they will run after each other. That doesn’t mean that one of them is running away in fear, that’s just how they play.

Straightened Tail

Photo Credits: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When a dog’s tail is sticking straight up it can mean that they are confident, aroused, or excited. Some dogs display this behavior when they meet other dogs or animals. If their tail is upright and slightly shaking, it means that they are expecting a challenge.

When a dog is content, happy, or relaxed, the tail tends to be more level with the body. however, if their tail is low or between their legs it could mean they are insecure.

A Dog’s Tail Can Say Almost As Much As Their Eyes

Photo Credits: Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Although most people already know, when a dog is wagging their tail, it typically means that they are exited and extremely happy. However, if they are holding their tail down while still wagging it, that means that they are showing submissiveness. This can also mean that they are confused, sad, or even unwell.

When the tail is up and wagging, it means they are ready to play and are very alert. A dog’s tail can say almost as much as their eyes.

That Side-Tongue Could Be Telling You Something

RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images

It’s completely adorable when our pups have their tongues hanging out of the side of their mouths. But does that funny-looking tongue have an underlying meaning? Yes, it does! When a dog has its tongue hanging off to one side, it usually means that it’s very relaxed and happy. That’s why you probably see this behavior after fun and relaxing activities like a walk or game of fetch.

However, if your dog’s tongue hangs out of its mouth all the time it could be a sign of trouble. This usually happens with breeds with “smushed” noses like boxers or bulldogs. If you notice anything unusual about your dog’s tongue then take her to see the vet ASAP.

Paw Slap

Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

If you’re slapped by another human you probably take offense… it’s a pretty clear sign that the person is deeply upset by something you’ve done. But a slap from a dog isn’t an indication that the pooch is angry with you. In fact, a slap can be a sign of affection or just an attempt to get your attention.

A dog slapping another dog is showing that it trusts the other pooch. It’s almost the way we’d pat each other on the back – a friendly or congratulatory move.

Rearing Up On Hind Legs

Ernst Haas/Ernst Haas/Getty Images

What does it mean when your dog rears up on his hind legs like a horse? It can actually mean a couple of things, depending on the circumstances. If it’s just you and your pooch hanging out, rearing up can be a sign of affection – sometimes they really do want to reach out and give you a hug!

If the behavior happens around other dogs it’s usually an indication that he’s feeling playful. When dogs interact while standing on their hind legs it looks almost like they’re wrestling. Unless they’re growling or otherwise acting aggressively, there’s nothing wrong with playing this way.

Yowling Or Otherwise Speaking

Matej Divizna/Getty Images

No, your dog isn’t trying to yodel when she makes that amusing “yeow” sound. But she might be making an attempt to communicate with you. Many pet owners swear that their dogs are able to speak.

One contributor to Whole Dog Journal shared this about their pup’s speaking habits. “Our German Shepherd rescue, the sweetest dog we have ever owned (unless you happen to be a cat), is 9. She ‘ talks ‘ about everything! Grumbles, over being denied a cat lunch, has 5 minute conversations over going out for a walk, exchanges pleasantries (you would swear) over how happy she is to see someone.”

Is Your Pet Licking Itself More Than Usual?

Andia/UIG via Getty Images

We all know that dogs keep themselves clean with their tongues. Chances are that if your pup gets into something messy, he’ll eventually try and clean up a bit by licking himself. But licking can also indicate that your pooch is in pain.

Excessive licking of the legs or paws, especially around the joints, is common in pets with arthritis or other uncomfortable conditions. If you see your dog licking itself more than usual (and there’s no visible wound or injury), it’s definitely worth a check-up at the vet to make sure it’s not feeling pain.

Biting Doesn’t Always Mean What You Think It Does

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Most people don’t particularly enjoy it when they’re bitten by a dog. But some bites or nips, especially if they’re done by a dog you know well, can actually be a sign of affection or an indication that the pup wants to play.

If you just watch dogs playing with each other, you’ll probably see a lot of biting involved. Most of the time it’s just done in fun and there’s nothing aggressive behind the behavior.

Dragging Its Rear End

Twitter/@chaloopah

We’ve all seen a dog dragging its rear end across the ground. At first, it’s a pretty funny sight. But this behavior, also called “scooting,” is a sign that your dog needs medical attention.

Scooting is usually a dog’s attempt to release an impacted anal sac. This condition is more common in certain breeds than others, but is universally uncomfortable to the dog when it occurs. It requires draining the affected organ, which your vet can take care of.

Playing Wiggle Worm

BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

Oh, how happy a dog looks when it’s wiggling around on its back! When a dog really gets into a good wiggle, it will kick all its legs up in the air while squirming around on its back. This action is just as joyous to a dog as you might guess it is – most of the time.

If your dog seems to be engaging in excessive wiggling behavior or if it’s focusing the movement all on one particular body part, it could be trying to reach an itch or other irritation. And in some cases it might be trying to get your attention. Why don’t you get down on the floor with her and play for a few minutes?

Tucking The Tail Between His Legs

Pinterest/@Pawsitive Doggy

If you see a dog with its tail tucked down between its legs, then you’re looking at a pooch in distress. Tail-tucking is a behavior that occurs when a dog is feeling uncertain, nervous, scared, guilty, or ashamed. It’s generally not a good sign.

When your dog is doing this, do your best to reassure him and make sure he feels safe. Pet him and use a soothing voice to comfort him. Some treats can also help sweeten the deal and make him feel confident again.

Pointing

Twitter/@mariaescalerava

“Pointing” is when a dog becomes completely still and points its snout toward something specific. This behavior is sometimes accompanied by a lifting of one of the front paws off the ground. Dogs that are bred for hunting point frequently, but almost every breed does it at times.

As veterinarian Dr. Ellen Vindell told Vet Street, “dogs are just dogs, and there are certain behaviors that probably any dog that’s a dog can do…. You’ll see a sporting dog who circles like a herding dog, and you’ll get some herding dogs who point.”