Understanding Pets: 5 Dog Gestures You Should Know

Having good communication and understanding is the secret to a good relationship. Through communication, people can express their feelings or intentions to others. However, words sometimes can’t be enough to successfully channel these emotions, such as with your pets, who can’t put their intentions into words but only through gestures.

If you have a dog in your house, you might be wondering why your buddy keeps on doing specific actions. You might have reached a point where you think that your pet has health problems but actually, what your best friend is trying to do is communicate with you. As a dog owner, it is crucial to apprehend these gestures to satisfy your dog’s needs.

Below are examples of five dog gestures that every dog owner should know.

Play Bow

The first example is the play bow. If you observe your dog stretching its front legs out forward and then leaning on its elbows, making its chest close to the ground, it might mean that your dog wants to play with you.

Dogs, especially energetic breeds, can get bored easily. If so, you can then do tons of things with your puppies, like fetch, hide and seek, frisbee, and other unique games that you can come up with. It can also be a form of apology, like if they feel they are too playful with you or with other dogs, they are trying to say sorry to continue to have fun with you.

Here’s a tip: you can implement a reward system every time you play to make it more interesting. For example, when your puppy successfully catches the ball, you can reward them with treats like milky sticks or dog chews. Keeping your dog’s attention while playing is essential to make the games more fun, and puppy treats like these can help you achieve that.

However, play bows look very similar to a greeting stretch. You’ll know the difference by looking at the elbows. In a greeting stretch, a dog’s elbow won’t come into contact with the floor, and its two hind legs are lined up. Dogs also often have a more relaxed disposition when greeting you.

Back Leg Stand

Simple gestures can mean a lot to dogs and vary depending on certain factors. When your furry friend is standing on their back leg, they may want your affection or tell you that they are hungry. You’ll know it’s the latter if they won’t let up after a snuggle.

Don’t worry about your dog’s appetite if they do this even after meals. Some dogs are very food motivated, and might seek out treats after inhaling their bowl clean, hence the usual standing on hind legs. However, if your dog keeps on begging for food but ignores its bowl, you might want to make some changes to their diet or contact your vet. 

Tail Gestures

The most common form of communication that dogs use is with their tails. It contains a lot of meaning and interpretations, which you can easily tell with a simple observation. For example, if their tail is lowered and wagging, it means they’re excited and playful, or they’re showing respect and are open to playing with you. But if it’s slowly wagging, the dog is waiting for you to give them orders as it’s still assessing the current situation.

Another gesture to look out for is when the tail is raised and shaking. It means the dog is trying to challenge your authority. If you encounter this, give them time to cool off and set some boundaries to earn their respect. 

Lastly, if the tail is lowered and hidden below their tummy, they might be afraid or uncomfortable. Make sure to resolve and identify what’s making your dog anxious to prevent distress. Contact your vet if they continue to be fearful after a long period.

Licking a Person

Embracing your dog is one of their essential needs. For example, when they start to approach you and lick you or another person, they want to be petted. Through petting, you show them affection, which enhances your bond, leading them to trust you more. In addition, petting your dog from time to time enhances their mental health and prevents anxiety and depression.

Rolling Over

Dogs roll over to show their belly. While it’s endearing, it can have various meanings. It can indicate that they’re feeling itchy and want you to help them scratch certain areas of their body that are out of their reach. However, this usually happens during an allergic flare-up or skin issues, so you might want to observe your dog during these moments.

But if your dog isn’t suffering from medical concerns, it may mean that they are being submissive to you. They’re showing you respect and trust you as its owner. So, it’s best to respond to them by giving them a good rub and showing appreciation for the trust they’re giving you. 

Lastly, it can indicate that they are comfortable and happy with you, especially while you’re petting them. They also do this to give you better access to their bellies, and who can resist giving a good dog the well-deserved belly rubs?

Final Thoughts

Dogs can’t communicate with us efficiently, so knowing what their gestures mean helps you address their concerns. However, one gesture may mean differently, depending on certain factors. Hence, it’s important to observe your dog so that you can understand what they’re trying to tell you. Remember, communication is everything. Once you understand your dog, you can strengthen your relationship with each other.


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