How Dogs Try to Talk with Humans

How Dogs Try to Talk with Humans

Posted Feb 3, 2021 in Fun Dog Stuff

Humans generally communicate verbally, while dogs tend to communicate with body language. In general, there are five major communication signals that canines use: fearful, arousal, anxious, aggressive, relaxed, and body language. It is important to note that a dog can easily display more than one type in response to a situation. When trying to understand our dog’s communication, we need to analyze all of their communication methods, along with the situation and environment.


These signals may appear all at once or progress through a series.

Common behavior:

  • Lip licking
  • Yawning
  • Slightly closed mouth
  • Cower or lower body
  • Lower or tuck tail
  • Ears back
  • Tremble
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Lean away from the threat
  • Shut down


Factors of arousal or excitement may be due to age, confinement, lack of physical or mental outlets, and pure personality. Behavior may sometimes be similar to anxious or aggressive signals.

Common behavior:

  • Barking
  • Jumping
  • Mounting
  • Lunging
  • Mouthing, soft or hard
  • Biting a leash or clothing
  • Hair that stands upwards
  • Ears forward
  • Upward and erect body stance
  • Tail wagging stiffly
  • Eyes open and focused


An anxious dog may display similar signals as a fearful dog.

Common behavior:

  • Excessive panting, pacing, and lack of focus
  • Lip licking
  • Yawning
  • Slightly lowered body stance
  • Ears slightly back
  • Slowly wag tail
  • Look away or move away
  • Shed or drool heavily
  • Bark, circle, or bound off of walls
  • Lunge at dogs passing by


This form of communication is often used as a warning signal and may not escalate if the behavior is heeded.

Common behavior:

  • Stiffened or frozen body
  • Wide eyes with a good amount of white showing
  • Tense mouth
  • Showing teeth
  • Wrinkled nose
  • Growling or barking
  • Snapping at the air


Our favorite form of communication, a relaxed dog doesn’t seem to care about much at all.

Common behavior:

  • Mouth relaxed and slightly open with ends turned upwards
  • Head and ears neutral
  • Body loose with soft eyes
  • Tail wagging or swishing to and fro
  • Laying down, sometimes “frog-leg” style

Reading body language is very important when it comes to understanding our dogs. Although they can use various pitches to communicate, their body offers much more opportunity for insights into how they are feeling. Learning the signals takes time, observation, and practice.

Contact Us

Questions? Feel free to contact us by filling out the form, giving us a call, or sending an email.


Canine Country
617 N Bethlehem Pike
Lower Gwynedd Township, PA 19002
Map & Directions


Mon - Fri: 7am - 6pm
Sat: 8:30am - 1pm
Sun: Closed

Phone & Email

Fax: (215) 641-9676

Send a Message