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Dog Body Language: What that “Woof” Really Means


Have you ever seen your dog make an odd expression and wondered, “Now what, exactly does that mean?” We treat our pets like they’re a part of the family. We even talk to them like they know exactly what we’re saying, and sometimes they respond in a manner that suggests they do know exactly what we’re saying. The thing about pets though, is they cannot talk back to us. They can’t say, “No, mom. I’m not eating that new food. I really hate it.” Or even, “It’s really nice outside. Can you let me out?” Instead, we have to learn their language. Whether you know it or not, you’re pretty fluent in the language your pet speaks, and you know exactly what he is saying when he barks at his leash hanging on the wall, or when he smells that new food and backs away. But, just in case you’re new to the language of Dog, here are a few pointers. 

This expression could mean a few things. First, look in your hand. Are you holding something your pet really adores? Maybe a treat or a toy?

If so, this means, “I’m looking at that thing in your hand and I really love it. I’m going to keep watching it in case you set it down or want to give it to me. I’ll be ready.”

This expression could also mean, “Yes, mom. I’m paying attention. What do you want me to do?” Your pet is alert when he looks at you this way. He’s ready to react to whatever you’re about to do.


We all know this look. You just happened to walk into your bedroom to discover your new shoes in multiple pieces. Before you can even start yelling, this is what you see in the corner – this poor, guilt ridden animal looking at you with those sad eyes. Depending on how much you loved those shoes, you will most likely forgive the little angel and give her a kiss.


This dog… well this dog is angry- disgusted, if you will. This look implies, “I can’t believe you just yelled at me for peeing on that rug. It was ugly anyway.” Or, this could be a look you receive if you happen to be holding another, quite adorable puppy. If that’s the case, then he would most likely be saying, “How dare you hold that thing in front of me. We’re over.”

If you have watched TV recently, then you’ve mostly likely experienced this face. I know I try to avoid these sad commercials at all costs because I CANNOT deal with these pitiful little faces. This is the look of a sad, scared dog. It really doesn’t take much for a dog to adopt this look. If it’s raining outside, or if the vacuum cleaner is running, or even if a loud car drives by, most dogs will drop their ears and scurry under a table, or somewhere safe. The scared expression is by far the most heart wrenching expression an animal can make.

Has your dog ever tilted his head to one direction like this before? If so, you’ve most likely made a sound that he doesn’t understand. When he does this he’s saying, “What was that? I’ve never experienced that before.” If your dog does this, he will most likely follow this expression with excitement and interest in discovering this new sound.

I’ve heard people say that dogs don’t or can’t smile. To these nay-sayers my response is, “I feel bad for you for never owning a dog.” Because, I feel like only people who have not owned a dog are the only individuals who can feel this way. For the rest of us with a soul and a dog, we know that they can smile and we can tell when they are happy. This expression is filled with happiness and anyone who thinks differently is wrong. When our dog is happy, we are happy and vice versa.

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