Tips & Advice

Guide to Common Dog Behaviors and What They Mean

Has your dog ever acted a certain way leaving you wondering what’s on its mind? Well, you are not alone. While dogs don’t actually speak human language, their actions provide the necessary information. Apparently, all you need to do is understand their behavioral patterns. This is where things take a complicated turn. Understanding the actions of your dog is certainly not a day’s job. It requires conscientious effort and diligence; both of which are essential when learning a new skill.

Here is our simple guide to the different dog behaviors your four-legged friend might display and what they mean:


While humans stretch as a sign of tiredness or feeling sleepy, dogs initiate this behavior as a form of greeting. Your dog will usually meet you at the entrance to your home standing on its hind limbs. This is a dog way of saying ‘welcome’. Add this to the warm kisses, and you should surely feel at home. Dogs behave this way with people who they feel safe around.

Yawning and eye certain eye movement

Usually, when you yawn, you could be tired, hungry or both. This is not exactly the same for your dog. It yawns when it is feeling stressed. Certain eye movements confirm this assertion. Many dog owners ignore this behavioral pattern. This is not exactly true. If your dog yawns and blinks its eyes multiple times, something is not right. Speak to your vet about your observation.

Dog bow

When your dog gets into a squat while wagging its tail, it wants to play. Here, its forelimbs are stretched outwards, head upwards, and eyes set on you ensuring it catches your next line of action. Tossing a ball means you are ready for a game of catch. With this, your indoor activities will have to wait.

Another dog bow with some semblance of the above could mean your four-legged friend is ready to attack something. It usually takes this stance but without wagging its tail. Here, its ears will be conspicuously erect and its pupils dilated. These actions could help you decide on what your dog is planning to do.

A stiff physique and an upright tail:

For a dog, nothing says be warned like this stance. When your four-legged friend is clearly in the mood to fight or attack especially perceived intruders, its body appearance changes. It might get into a squat similar to that of the dog bow described earlier but with a few changes. You can see the fury in its eyes. Its body is in a position to attack with its upright tail and agile stance. Often, the fur on its body stands upright as well.

A diminished appearance

You might not know your dog is uncomfortable if you don’t understand its body language. Your dog keeping to itself and in a huddled form might mean it does not feel comfortable with a person, an object or a task. Usually, its ears are closer to its head and hanging lower than normal. A treat would usually ameliorate the situation.

Tail wagging and sniffing

Your dog has possibly found a new friend when it begins to wag its tail consistently around another canine. It usually happens when a visitor brings along his dog. Both can be seen going around in a circle sniffing each other and depending on their mood, they could get into the dog bow.

Sitting and staring

When your dog sits on its hind legs, standing on the fore ones, and its eyes are centered on you, it is probably pleading. Usually, you would observe this stance when you are eating something your dog has come to like. Dogs have an impressive memory and yours might have remembered how tasty that food was when it had a bit.

Awkward head movement

Sometimes your dog keeps its head in a certain way especially after hearing noise from a distance. It is probably curious and wants to find out the source. You can’t possibly blame your four-legged friend since it is acting out what comes naturally to it. With ears much more sensitive than ours, putting such to good use shouldn’t be surprising.

Using his claws on the floor

You have probably seen your dog scratching the floor before dozing off on the same spot. This is a dog thing. It is similar to how you wipe your mirror (even if it is actually squeakily clean) before use it. Your dog expects to derive warmth after that singular action. It is probably weird but these are inherited behaviors which earlier dog breeds used in the wild.

Lying on its back

When your dog lies on its back, get ready to play. You would often observe this stance when you are preoccupied with something else. This is your four-legged friend’s idea of drawing attention to itself and getting the petting it really craves.

Tail chasing

Remember that activity that never grows old, well your dog has something similar – tail chasing. It will only engage in this ‘task’ if it is distraught or left alone. However, its tail might actually be itchy which could lead to the numerous attempts to catch it.


While dogs are known to bark, howling is a more informative form of it. Your dog will howl in different ways depending on what it is feeling. This is more of an action than a reaction since it expects something to happen.


This is often the focal point of a dog’s attack. Sometimes, while engaging in playful activities, your dog could nip at your leg or hand. Its intention is not to harm or cause you any kind of injury, but possibly to get your attention. However, you will need to ensure it finds better ways of getting your attention than using its dental parts.


Dogs often dig to hide something or when in pursuit of something. It is an outdoor activity which shouldn’t be allowed indoors. If this habit becomes irritating, consult an expert on ways to curb it.

Finally, many dog behaviors are inborn. They might not be able to talk verbally to you, but when you understand their body language, you should be able to see the reason for such.

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