7 Ways Your Dog Is Communicating With You

Recognizing dog communication is an important part of being a dog owner. Just because our furry friends don't use words (yet!) doesn't mean they're not trying to tell us something. Whether they're bored, in pain, or just want some snuggles, dogs have their way of getting their point across. Learn the ins and outs of what a dog communicating with humans looks like so you can use their body language to form a lasting bond.

1) Chewing

Although destructive, dog chewing is normal, especially for younger pups. Dogs that are teething are usually trying to relieve pain or explore their world, and older dogs like to chew to work their mouth and keep it strong. Chewing can also be a dog communication signal that your furry friend is bored or anxious and trying to find relief.

Keep in mind that chew toys aren't necessarily appropriate for dogs and could damage their teeth or worsen their anxiety or dental pain. Instead, try soft chew toys made of tough rubber or nylon and veterinary-approved dental chews.

If your dog is still chewing, they may need a reason to break the habit. You can deter your dog from chewing on inappropriate items with our all-natural STOP The Chew Bitter Spray Deterrent. Check our blog on why dogs chew (and what to do about it) to learn more.

A dog chewing on a shoe with STOP The Chew spray in the foreground

2) Tail Posture

Your dog's tail offers valuable clues to what they're thinking and feeling — don’t overlook it as a dog communication signal! So, what does a dog communicating with humans using their tail look like?

A wagging tail usually means a pup is happy or full of energy and ready to play. Straight, erect tails often mean they’re alert and listening for something. If a stranger is coming to the door, your dog will likely raise its tail and then start barking. Nervous dogs often tuck their tails between their legs and hide. Keep an eye on your dog's tail to help master their communication and anticipate their needs.

3) Staring

It’s no secret that humans use their eyes to express themselves and get each other's attention, but eyes are part of dog communication too. Relaxed, normal eyes mean all is well, but large eyes could show they're feeling scared or aggressive. Human friends should carefully study the rest of their dog's body language to decipher what their eyes mean and lend a hand to settle their nerves as needed.

4) Head Tilt

dog communication - head tilt

Dogs tilt their heads in movies to tell their human friends something like, "You've got to be crazy." In reality, they're often trying to improve their visual perspective and broaden their range of vision to see our faces better. So, while you may be trying to figure out your dog's head tilt and body language, they're often tilting their head to better assess their human's facial expressions — dog communication goes both ways!

Dogs may also tilt their heads to engage with us or notice we become delighted when they do it, so they adopt it as a habit to please their humans. Sometimes a dog communicating with humans is just their little way of showing they love you!

5) Ear Position

Dogs' ears will tell you a lot about how they're feeling and what kind of mood they're in. A relaxed, submissive dog will likely put their ears down and back or signal they're ready for some affection. Of course, if you notice that their dog communication involves growling and looking aggressive, they're in protection mode and may launch at something or someone around them. A dog with its ears up could simply be listening or on high alert, depending on the rest of your dog's body language.

6) Barking

One of the primary modes of communication among dogs is barking to get their point across, even when you’re trying to train them to stay quiet. Fast barking usually means they're alert and anxious and may grow loud to warn strangers to stay away. A barking dog that's also jumping around or racing is trying to play or is over-excited. It's essential to pay attention to dog communication, especially if they're yelping and their barks have grown high-pitched. They could be injured and need attention.

7) Tongue

Dog licking is most often associated with a desire for food, although short licks may mean they're curious or uncertain. Watch if they're also tilting their head or their ears are up and alert. Sometimes a dog communicating with humans simply means they’re in the mood for a snack. If they're licking their mouth and standing up, they're asking for a treat, please! Offer a Premium Chicken Jerky Dog Treat that's all-natural and contains one ingredient: USDA Grade A Chicken with no fillers, colors, or added flavors.

A bag of Emmy’s Best Pet Products Premium Chicken Jerky Dog Treats

Offer Feedback and Use Positive Reinforcement

When your furry friend is showing signs of dog communication, it's essential to give them feedback, encouragement, reassurance, or redirection, depending on their body language. Start by incorporating more healthy treats and meal toppers to keep your pet healthy and encourage their good behavior. Browse our entire collection of healthy items here for a happy and healthy pup.