Learning Canine Language

26 June 2015
 Categories: , Blog

Newsflash! Your dog doesn't speak English. When you try to communicate in your native tongue, all they get is a warbled mess of sounds that may or may not be good, depending upon your tone of voice. So, how are you supposed to live alongside this creature you can't converse with? How can you possibly know what they need if they can't tell you? First, learn the language of dog, and then create your own "secret" language. Your bond with your best bud will grow, and you will both live happy lives in harmony. Here's a few tidbits to help you venture into the linguistics of the canine variety.

Tail Wags

You were probably taught that whenever a dog wags its tail it's happy. Unfortunately, that thinking leads to a lot of dog bites. You see, when a dog wags its tail it means they are aroused, but that's not always a good thing. A smooth, side to side wag means your dog is in a mellow mood and happy, but a stiff, high tail wag can mean your dog is uncomfortable in its current situation.


Dogs growl. It's a part of their language, and it is a necessary tool to help them deescalate a situation in which they feel nervous or uncomfortable. Although it can be scary to hear your dog growl, you should never punish them for it. If they think it's bad to growl, the next option could be to bite. You don't want that!

Also, growling is often a natural part of dog play. Your dog may let out some grumbles as you play tug, or as they're wrestling with their best dog pal. The trick to ensuring a fight doesn't break out is to watch the rest of your dog's body language. Is it loose, or is your dog rigid with the telltale mohawk running up its back? If the latter fits in this situation, it's time for your dog to take a break from play and calm down.

Communicate with a Clicker

So, you're learning how your dog communicates with you, but how are you supposed to talk to your dog? A clicker is a tool that allows you to mark certain behavior that you want to be repeated, and then reward them for their good work. Find a trainer and ask them to teach you the basics, and start talking to your dog today! If you need a veterinarian for your dog, visit Clayton Veterinary Associates.