How Do Canine Talk? Canine Proprietor Questions Answered

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Dogs have a unique way of communicating. In fact, your best friend may be using signals and body language as a way to let other dogs know how they’re feeling. While not all dogs pick up on signals, it may be beneficial to understand what they’re trying to say to one another. For instance, in the case of dog behavior, you may be asking yourself, “how do dogs communicate?” Fortunately, we sat with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde to learn more about dog communication and tips to help your best friend socialize in the future.

How do dogs communicate with one
another?

Discover the answer to a popular pet topic, how do dogs communicate?

Every dog may react differently to a new environment or animal. Whether you’re a new puppy owner or have a multi-pet household, it can be helpful to understand what your pet is trying to communicate with others in any situation.

For example, “dogs communicate with visual cues such as body posture, head position, ear position, tail, and even hair, as well as through vocalization, like barking or growling,” says Wilde.

Naturally, your dog may bark or wag their tail for a number of reasons. For this reason, it’s important to try to be mindful of why they’re acting that way. It may mean they’re uncomfortable or stressed with another person, place, or animal. To learn more about dog vocalization, read The Spruce Pets guide.

Decoding dog body language: what to
look for

You may have
recently brought home a new furry friend, and your dog may be adjusting to
their new home. So, how do you know what to look for in your new pet? Wilde
points out several signs to look for when your dog is interacting with other
pets.

Considering the following:

  • Unlike humans, eye contact is generally considered a sign of aggression between dogs.
  • When dogs first meet and greet each other, they generally avoid eye contact and sniff each other’s rear ends. This is considered a polite greeting in the dog world, unlike when dogs stare at each other it can be a sign of aggression.
  • Rolling over and showing another dog its belly can be a sign of submission.
  • A play bow may be a sign of initiating play.
  • Tail wagging should be interpreted in light of the dog’s environment and what the rest of the body is doing, as it can sometimes indicate that the dog is happy.
  • Tail wagging may also be a sign of anxiety or nervousness.

Always take into consideration what your pet is doing when they’re exhibiting certain behaviors. For example, they may be excited about a new friend, their space, or maybe stimulated by the new toy in the room.

Consider introducing your pets slowly to help provide a safe and welcoming space for everyone.

Why is it important to understand
how dogs communicate?

Communication is important among your furry friends. Also, it’s important for the well-being of all of your pets. For example, if one dog is trying to give a cue that they need some space and another dog doesn’t pick up on that, the situation may escalate.

In addition, “understanding how dogs communicate can help prevent inter-dog aggression, incidents with humans, and improve the dog-human bond. Further, by understanding what your dog is trying to tell you and other dogs, you may help your dog feel more comfortable and lessen anxiety,” states Wilde.

Tips to help your dog socialize with others

A
well-balanced house is ideal for everyone. While pets have a mind of their own
when it comes to their behavior, it may be helpful to assist with
communication. Wilde points out some tips to consider when your new dog is
socializing with other furry friends.

Dog communication 101

  • Dog’s socialization should begin as early as possible, (socialization period in puppies is generally from 3-14 weeks) so that the adult dog learns how to properly interact with other dogs and humans.
  • It’s important to socialize your dog safely, so ask your veterinarian about vaccinations your dog needs and whether it’s safe for your dog to socialize with other dogs.
  • Some veterinarians and daycares host puppy play sessions.
  • Behavior cues can help an owner know when to redirect a dog’s attention and avoid potential conflict.

Every dog is different and may respond differently to meeting a new dog or new furry family member. Take into consideration that it may take your new pet time to adjust to everyone in the family.

Further, each pet has its own unique way of communication and it takes time for pets to understand and learn each other’s personal cues. To learn more about understanding dog stress, read this guide.

These tips can help your dog socialize and learn more about how do dog's communicate and why they do what they do.

How do dogs communicate? It may depend
on your furry friend

There may be a variety of reasons why your dog is communicating the way they are. But by observing your dog’s behavior, taking your time and slowly introducing other pets, and talking to your veterinarian, your best friend may be a great communicator in no time at all!

How does your dog communicate? Tell
us in the comments below.

To learn more about
dog behavior, read Why Does
My Dog Paw at Me? Dog Owner Questions Answered

About The Author

Kelli.Rascoe

is a digital content writer and editor for Trupanion. She spends her workday writing for the Trupanion blog. She loves writing about pets, being inspired by pets, and luckily gets to hang out with her rescue dogs all day long. In her free time, she enjoys exploring and traveling with her family. Her work has been featured on the DOGTV blog, KitNipBox blog, Get Your Pet blog, Fansided, among many others.

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