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Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language

Have you ever tried to decipher your dog’s body language? Like when their head is hanging out the window or when they are giving you an intense staredown. Whether you know it or not, your dog communicates with you all day.

Similar to humans, dogs use facial and body language to communicate. Unfortunately, these movements and actions can sometimes be hard to communicate as dogs obviously are not humans and can’t talk.

Though fortunately for you, we’re here to provide you with several different ways your dog might be trying to communicate with you.

This guide is essential to understanding your dog’s body language, which can benefit you and your furry friend.

Understanding Dog Body Language

We’ve put together a list of dog body language queues to help you better communicate with your furry friend.

  1. Hanging Out a Car Window
  2. Intense Staring
  3. Low Growl
  4. Howling
  5. Licking
  6. Butt Scoot
  7. Rising Bark
  8. Butt Sniffing
  9. Squinting and Blinking
  10. Eating Grass
  11. Head Tilt
  12. Eating Poop
  13. Fast wagging tail (Short and Long Range)
  14. Barred teeth, Ears back, and Snarl
  15. Chasing their tail

Hanging Out a Car Window

It is very common to see your dog sticking their head out your car window with its tongue out.

dog head out car window

This is honestly such an adorable sight as your dog looks as if they are truly enjoying themselves, and the thing is, they are!

When your dog sticks their head out your window, they are taking the time to take in their surroundings while engaging in an abundance of new scents.

When their head is hanging out the window, this stimulates the vast amount of sensors they have located inside their head.

Intense Staring

This sign might give you a little bit of the creeps, but that is the exact opposite of how your dog is trying to make you feel.

dog staring

When your dog stares at you, they are genuinely just curious to see what you are doing. Or they are trying to find out if you need anything from them.

Dogs are extremely loyal animals. Therefore, it is really important for them to always be there for you no matter what. Staring could also be a sign that they are really craving your affection.

Low Growl

A low growl has two common interpretations. If you are playing with your dog or rubbing their stomach, they might display a low growl as a sign of pleasure and happiness.

Otherwise, a low growl could mean that your dog feels threatened and they are scared or uneasy in their environment.

They might begin showing signs of aggression or hyperactivity. It would be best to try to calm down your dog before it gets out of control.


When a dog howls, it is often mistaken that they are extremely sad or lonely. Dogs actually only display this sign when their ears are being stimulated by specific high-pitched sounds.

dog howling

Hence, howling is their way of acknowledging the sound and letting people know they are ready to respond or take action if needed.


A dog licking you might seem a little gross, but licking is a very common and beneficial practice for dogs.

dog licking

When a dog licks you, it means that they are relieving stress and apprehensiveness through you. It could also mean that they feel the need to show you affection, especially if it’s evident you aren’t feeling your best.

A dog licking himself or his paws is a different story. It may be a sign of a serious health condition. Always consult with your veterinarian anytime you notice strange behavior from your dog.

Butt Scoot

When your dog scoots across the ground, it can be a very funny sight, but be cautious because it can also mean something serious.

Most of the time, when a dog scoots across the ground, this can be a sign of them cleaning themselves.

Other times it can mean that something is irritating your dog’s bottom. Sometimes it may just be a harmless itch, or other times a serious inflammation.

If your dog continues to exhibit this sign frequently, it may be in their best interest to bring them to a veterinarian and have them checked out for any anal infections.

Rising Bark

When your dog’s bark starts low and gets higher until it’s very high-pitched, this is a sign known as the “Rising Bark.” If your dog exhibits this sign, they are trying their hardest to stay calm.

Angry barking dog

This means they are in a playful mood and very excited. It would not be surprising if they start running around and wagging their tail any minute.

Butt Sniffing

This sign surely might be the weirdest of them all. Now we all know we’ve seen our dog sniff the butt of a stranger at least once.

dog sniffing another dog's butt

This practice might leave you utterly confused and maybe even grossed out, but this is a dog’s way of greeting and introducing themselves to others.

They also sniff others to determine if they have met you before. To a dog, each person has a distinct scent.

So if they have never met you, then they are going to spend a great deal of time trying to get accustomed to your unique scent.

Squinting and Blinking

When your dog squints at you, you may think they are trying to see better. Though usually, when a dog is squinting, this is a sign that they want your attention and affection. Try to spend more quality time with them.

dog squinting

Unfortunately, squinting can also be a sign that your dog is ill. Thus, if they are exhibiting this habit regularly, it would be best to get them checked out.

When your dog is frequently blinking, this could mean that they are stressed out or scared in a situation.

Eating Grass

You might be a bit weirded out when you see your dog eating grass, but sometimes dogs do this out of boredom or without realizing it. It could also mean that your dog is feeling anxious and just needs something else to focus on.

dog eating grass

Yet, this could also signify that your dog is lacking important nutrients in its diet. Therefore, they are trying to find nutrients within the grass.

The best way to solve this would be to change your dog’s diet to something a bit more nutrient-focused.

Head Tilt

A head tilt is truly the most adorable thing a dog could do, but they actually do it for a very important reason.

dog with a head tilt

If a dog is looking at you while tilting their head, they are trying their best to get a better and more accurate view of your face.

Tilting their head widens their visual range. Thus, it allows them to see you better. However, if a dog is tilting their head toward a noise, this most likely means they are adjusting its ear to focus on the noise so they can identify it.

Eating Poop

Surprisingly, dog eating poop does not have major health consequences. However, this does not mean you should allow your dog to do this at all, especially if it is not theirs.

Dogs often try to eat poop in their surrounding area because they want to ensure that their area is clean. It is even common to see the female parent eat her puppies’ poop to make sure they stay clean.

Regardless, your dog should not be indulging in feces. Therefore, if you see them trying to eat poop, guide them in a different direction.

Fast Wagging Tail (Short and Long Range)

It is commonly known that when a dog wags their tail super fast, then that usually means they are excited and happy, which can be true in some situations.

dog wagging tail

If your dog is wagging his tail rapidly in a long range then this indicates that they are feeling exuberant.

Although, if your dog is wagging its tail swiftly in a short range, this probably means that your dog is feeling very anxious.

It could also mean that they need to be comforted, especially when they may be in unfamiliar circumstances.

Barred teeth, Ears back, and Snarl

This is definitely the most obvious indication that your dog is extremely upset. While displaying this sign, your dog might show different signs of aggression and start to attack the “enemy” at any moment.

snarling dog

Something might have happened to make your dog feel threatened or uneasy. So try your best to remove him/her from the situation immediately.

Chasing their Tail

Watching your dog chase his tail can be amusing to view, but they honestly display this sign out of boredom or if they are in a really small living space.

However, if a puppy does this, it is most likely because they don’t realize their tail is actually already a part of their body.

Though this can also be a sign that your dog is itchy and might have fleas. If your dog demonstrates this very frequently, it would be best to get them checked for fleas or even ticks.

Deciphering Dog Body Language

The main point of this article is to teach you the different ways your dog communicates with you, no matter how weird or unusual it might seem.

This should also teach you to pay extra attention to your dog’s movements and actions, as some things can be an indicator of stress or discomfort or even an underlying illness.

Of course, there are a plethora of additional ways out there. So if there is something we have left out or there is an experience you would like to share, do not be afraid to leave a comment below.

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Lisemaine is a dog lover. She currently owns two Frenchies and enjoys working with and training them. She'll share her best tips with you to keep your Frenchie happy, healthy, and active.

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