Dog-Speak: Why Does My Dog…?

5 Dog behaviors and what they mean

A common mistake pet owners make with their dog is to misread what the dog is saying into something completely different. We do it all the time. The dog’s body language says one thing, and we interpret it, basing our assumption on what we ourselves are feeling.

In reality dogs see and read the world much differently than humans. By better understanding our dog, we could avert many dog bites and other behavioral issues.

We like to attribute all sorts of emotions to our dogs, but, dogs are much simpler than humans. They’re motivated by the basics: food, activity and companionship. Of course, a dog’s behavior around his owners does have meaning.

#1.    Why does my dog sit on or straddle my feet?

You may think your dog belongs to you, but you belong to your dog, as well. That means he is going to claim you and protect you. When he’s sitting on your foot, it’s an ownership thing. If his bottom is on you, he’s marking your foot.  He’s saying, ‘This is mine; now it smells like me. Don’t go near it.’

He does this for three main reasons: to feel secure about his place in your life, to warn other dogs that you are spoken for and to protect you. To ensure your protection, dogs will also bark at guests, growl at other dogs when outside and pull on the leash while out for a walk.

Think of your dog as your scout. He sees himself as a member of your pack, and he wants to make sure everything is cool before you get there.

#2.    What does it mean when my dog yawns?

When a dog yawns it does not mean they are tired like it does when people yawn. It indicates a dog is either thinking, is unsure or is trying to figure something out. It is a calming signal and stress reducer, especially in a social group.

An important part of pet interpretation is not to associate human reactions and behavior with those of our pet. Yawning is a great illustration of this concept!

#3.    Why does my dog lick me?

When your dog licks you, he may be displaying his respect and deference to you as the dominant one in his pack, he may be communicating submission, or he may simply be showing his affection.

Licking is innate in dogs, and it provides them with a unique way to identify people. When you approach a dog, it is quite customary for it to smell you, especially your feet and legs. Often, that can advance to licking the feet or the hands, palms and face, as it becomes familiar to you.

#4.     What does it mean when my dog whines and whimpers?

Whines, whimpers and yelps communicate submission, pain or fear. The actual meaning depends on what the rest of the body is “saying.” When your puppy vocalizes with whines, whimpers or yelps while trying to keep her distance from you or some other situation, the sounds indicate fear. Puppy injury often gets announced with repeated yelps.

But whines, whimpers and yelps also are used as entreaties to a dominant individual (usually the owner). In other words, your baby uses these techniques to beg for attention, food, or to go in or out.

#5.     Does my dog laugh at me?

Yes, dogs laugh! Of course, it doesn’t sound exactly how you might expect. While puppies and dogs use the other whines, growls and barks in other contexts, the dog laugh appears to happen only during play.

A dog laugh sounds similar to a human saying, “H-h-h-h”. It’s simply a breathy exhalation, according to researcher P.R. Simonet. Recordings of the panting-laugh sound played at shelters have helped calm dogs’ stress.

There’s also research that points to a dog sneeze in certain circumstances being similar to a “canine giggle” of delight.

Sneezing can prompt a reciprocal sneeze in your puppy, too–because after all, laughter is catching and good medicine.

Go ahead, try it! (You know you want to.)

Pet Super Store is always interested in our customers and their questions. Feel free to contact us whenever you have pet questions or needs – or check out our extensive supply of dog gates and other valuable accessories to maximizing your dog’s comfort, and your piece of mind.


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