Your Dog-to-English Translation Guide
by Gary Le Mon
Dog language got you puzzled? You’re not
Dogs are incredibly social animals with an arsenal of communication skills that can rival even those of humans.
Many of us tend to lump canine
interactions into just one category – barking.
But in reality there are
many different kinds of dog messages with each one attempting to convey an
entirely different emotion or signal.
Up the Vocalization Tree
Here are some of the more common bark
variations along with their meanings:
- High-pitched barks are usually an indicator of anxiety or stress. Oftentimes a
dog will unleash this troublesome noise after being locked in their crate
or kennel for too long. Sufferers of separation anxiety will also exhibit this
squeal-like sound. Translation: "Is this any way to treat your best friend!?"
- Short, repetitious
barks occur when a dog is excited and happy. This
type of yap is often displayed during playful sessions between the dog and
its owner. Translation: "Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy!"
- Low, intermittent
barks can be indicative of aggression and
dissatisfaction. Prior to attacking something (or someone), dogs will typically
emit this hostile snarl. Translation: Go ahead, make my day ... "
- Isolated, monotonous
barks are usually exhibited when the dog wants
to draw attention to something such as a sudden movement or sound. Translation: "
Dog Language Beyond
Dog sounds do not end with barking. They
will also use other methods of vocalization and body signals to convey their
emotions and feelings. Growling, howling, and whining are examples of other
commonly observed canine discourse.
Growling is a sign of aggression
and anger in the animal. Translation: "I'm gonna tear you a new rear end!"
Howling is a bit more complex than your average human would think. Dogs
will howl for different reasons such as long-range communication
with other dogs. Translation: "Yo, Larry! Ssup in yo hood?" Dogs howl when separated from their owner in an attempt to gain
sympathy and get him or her to return. Translation: "I miss you sooooooooo much!"
Whining is best characterized by the
irksome sound dogs make when they want something, like a treat. It is formed
with the mouth closed and by creating vibrations that exit through the nasal
passage, thus emitting a compelling and sometimes annoying, high-pitched
whimper. Translation: "Just one more cookie, pleeeeease!"
Body Dog Language
Understanding body language is also helpful in
becoming a successful dog owner. What is your dog trying to tell you
tail is down? What is it attempting to convey when it stomps its feet on
What does it mean when the dog licks someone? Here are some of the more
common non-vocal signals from dogs and their explanations.
- Licking is the best way for a dog to say hello. When a dog first
encounters another canine or a friendly but unfamiliar human, they will
often smell them first followed by briefly licking them. Translation: "You passed the sniff test, now let's try the taste test."
- Raised eyebrows (and ears) are indicative of curiosity and interest. For example, a
sudden noise or movement may trigger this reaction. Translation: "Ready to pounce as soon as I figure out what I'm pouncing on."
- Lowered eyebrows, on the other hand, are a sure sign of dissatisfaction. Translation: "Oh, poop!"
- Tilting the head can convey curiosity and often occurs in conjunction with hearing his master's voice. Translation: "That's the most profound thing anybody has ever said."
- Feet stomping is typically reserved for extreme excitement. You better keep
a tight leash on your dog when both of you are outdoors and this reaction
happens! Translation: "Let's get ready to rum-bllllle!!!"
- Tail position is important in determining a dog’s mood. A raised tail
indicates interest and increased alertness. Translation: "Lead the way, oh mighty pack leader!" A tail that is hung between
the legs indicates embarrassment and sadness. Translation: "I've never been so humiliated in all my life" A wagging tail
accompanies happiness and excitement. Translation: "Life is wonderful when you're me."
The range of dog language and other communication
skills is vast. Paying attention to what your dog is trying to tell you –
beyond just barking – will soon lead to a successful partnership between you
and your furry friend, forming a bond that can’t be broken.
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