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What is Your Dog Thinking?

Thoughtful Husky with one blue and one brown eye looking at the camera

Dogs are amazing companions known for their loyalty. They look after their loved ones and aim to protect them when they sense a threat, comfort them when they are sad or upset, and greet their humans with vigor when they reunite after a long day. As dog parents, we should do our best to love them, care for them, look after their needs, and give them the best environment to grow. The challenge is, how do we best know what they need? Being alert to your dog’s behavioral cues and body language may help you better understand their needs. What is your dog thinking? What are they trying to tell you? 

Table of Contents

Why Is it Important to Know What Your Dog Is Thinking?

Dogs speak in “body language”. When you adopt them, you spend time understanding their behavioral patterns. Knowing what they love, what their favorite games are, what their comfort items may be, what they eat (what they enjoy as well as what agrees with their digestion), and how they feel happy or sad should become your top priority. As they grow older, their home life and environment, as well as their social life, forms their unique personality. . Since  dogs communicate in a different way than  humans, putting extra effort into understanding what they wish to tell us  is crucial.

Familiarizing yourself with their behaviors and cues will  help you become a better pet parent. You’ll be able to tell whether they are happy or sad, excited or nervous, or if they are not well and need you to help them feel their best again. 

Most dogs have similar cues and behaviors, so exploring the most common body language cues is a wonderful way to connect with your dog and best meet their needs. As every dog is unique, learning the unique differences in your dog’s cues is valuable for your relationship. 

1. Why Does Your Dog Have Wide Eyes Fixed on You?

Dogs often have their eyes wide open when looking at their pet parents. Have you ever wondered what they are thinking when looking like that? Simply put, they want attention. Dogs often have their ears perked up and mouths relaxed when looking at you. This indicates they are looking for love, affection, and anything else along the same line. In such scenarios, dogs are happy and may interact with you in the most adorable ways. When your dog is actively seeking attention, give them some love, pet them, and give them a treat as a sign of positive reinforcement.

2. Why Does Your Dog Yawn?

Dog yawns can often be mistaken as a sign of tiredness and a lack of sleep. However, these yawns may have a different meaning. If your dog yawns in public, it may indicate that your furry fellow is uncomfortable and wants to go back to their comfort zone (home). It an also be perceived as a sign of boredom, making them want to change their environment. Sometimes, dog yawns can indicate anxiety. If you dog has situations that cause anxiety, such as car rides, utilize BestLife4Pets Pet Relax Dog Anxiety and Calming Remedy. Like cats, dogs can sense unknown variables around them. They use their senses to identify threatening or welcoming environments.

If uncertain about something or someone around them, they can be anxious and yawn as a result. Identifying the root cause of the yawning and fixing things accordingly can contribute well to your furry friend’s well-being. It’s also important to note that dogs sometimes yawn back when you yawn first (like humans do). If that's the case, you have nothing to be worried about.

3. Why does your Dog Lick Their Face?

Not every cute thing your dog does will have a good purpose. This is the case with your dog licking their face. If you catch them doing it, it may indicate they are nervous, or stressed.  Identifying the cause of face licking can help establish a comfortable environment for your dog.

While doing so, you should rule out the possibility of tasty food around their mouth. It is worth noting that dogs can be stressed or pressured due to various reasons. They are likely to be nervous if they are in a new environment. Also, sensing the presence of another animal around them can trigger stress and anxiety. 

4. What do the Different Tail Wags Mean?

Not all tail wags are alike. The dog’s tail is a fabulous communication tool, and means several different things and shows several different moods. A slow-wagging tail may indicate that your dog is waiting for more instructions. For instance, if you are heading out for a walk or moving around within a particular location, your dog may slowly wag their tail to ask you what you want them to do next. A slight wag may be a greeting sign. When you see your dog after some time, they may do it as a form of saying "hello" to you. Similarly, a tail held up high with a slow tail wag may indicate a friendly attitude. If your dog is wagging their tail up high and quickly, it means they’re happy to see you and comfortable with their surroundings.

5. What Does the Tail Position Tell You?

Learning the differences between different tail positions can help you better understand your dog’s feelings, and possibly avoid situations that could result in your dog being aggressive or injured. When the dog's tail stops wagging, pay close attention to the position to get a read on what your dog may be feeling. A tail that is stiff is the sign of a cautious pup, and can quickly change based on what they discover. A dog with a tail straight up and not moving is likely meeting a new friend, and wants the dog or human to know they are confident, and internally pup is assessing the situation. Keep a close eye to see how your dog reacts and if tail positioning changes. A tail straight up and not wagging indicates possible aggression.  If your dog has a tendency to react with aggression in certain situations, our Peaceful Paws Natural Remedy is a good choice to help them naturally calms fears and reduce their dominating behaviorA tail in the down or tucked position can mean an uncomfortable or scared dog. 

6. Why Does Your Dog Raise a Paw?

Your dog's paw is an effective communication tool for them. When trained well, dogs can raise their paw to let you know of a need. Your dog may raise their paw to tell you they need something. Is their food bowl is empty? Does pup want a treat?. Does your dog see the leash and wish for you to know they think it is the perfect moment for a nice long stroll? Your dog may also need treats from time to time to feel happy and encouraged. Knowing their different needs and having a mental checklist to ruling them out, is a great way to show your dog you care and understand their needs.

7. Why Does Your Dog Show you Their Belly?

What is your dog thinking when they have their belly facing up? Dogs have unique ways of showing their trust. When their belly is up, they’re basically showing that they trust you, and that they do not see you as a threat. If you notice your dog lying on its back and showing you their belly, this is the perfect time to show them a bit of love. Thank them and reassure them that their trust is well placed and valued. In dog language, the best way to reassure them is to give them a good ol’ belly rub while gazing into those puppy eyes. It will positively reinforce the trust factor and give your dog more reasons to be close to you.

What to Do If You Do Not Understand Your Dog's Body Language

Sometimes, it may be especially challenging as a pet parent to understand what your dog is trying to tell you. If you find yourself in such a situation, reach out to an animal behaviorist to learn different behavioral patterns in dogs. They can educate and guide you on how to communicate with your dog better.

The Takeaway

Dogs are all about affection, loyalty, and love. Spending time with them can help you understand their behavior and know how to best look after their needs. As a new dog parent, you should spend more time understanding how your furry friend behaves in different situations. This can help you to understand how to best love on your unique furry family member, and best care for their social, physical, and emotional health. You may find it wise to seek a dog trainer or animal behaviorist's help in the early days to determine what your dog thinks. If you have expert dog owners as friends, feel free to share your concerns with them for fruitful advice.

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