Tips to Figure Out What Your Dog is Saying

Golden Lab Talking to Girl

How many times have you looked at your dog and wondered, “what are you trying to say?” Truth be told,  I talk to my basset hound like she is my best girlfriend. Although I am well aware of the fact that “Vegas” (my hound dog) will not talk, I still ask her questions like, “Did you miss me?”, “Who is at the door?”

I wish I was able to read my dog’s mind when she is clearly trying to send out signals. If you are like me, these interesting facts on canine communication will probably answer some questions.

  • Fear

If you are concerned about your dog (or any dog) being in fear, the first thing to look at is the tail. Pups that are frightened will often have their tails in a downward position or completely tucked under their bottom. Another interesting fact that I learned when it comes to fear in dogs is – “whale eye”. If you notice a dog  turning its head far enough that you can only see the whites of their eyes, that is called “whale eye”. See, you learn something new every day!

Another possible sign of fear is barking. Think about human behavior; Some people become more vocal (by yelling or screaming) when in fear. If a dog is afraid of something, listen to their bark. If it sounds a bit “off” from their usual tone, this may indicate fear. Keep in mind, a few years ago, an article in the Smithsonian magazine concluded that dogs may bark for no reason. It’s just something that they do. Dog owners are usually good at sensing when their dog’s bark is a bit “off”. 

Scared Dog

  •  “On Alert”
Dogs are known to be great detectives. I am not necessarily talking about police dogs, but most dogs have a great sense of bad vibes. What do our babies do when they have a bad vibe? *(in my military voice*) “Alert! Stand! Up!”
For example: My hound dog is very docile and non-aggressive. When I take her for walks she sometimes stands still if she notices certain individuals walking in our direction. 95% of the time my hound dog waits for affection from strangers; She is a social butterfly. But if someone who looks shady is walking our way, she barks (and sounds like a Doberman). Finally, if you notice your dog’s hair standing towards the end of their body (near the tail), this is another indication that the dog may be on alert. Just like humans, theyeir body involuntarily acts when they are on edge. We may get the “goose bumps”, while our pup’s hair can become raised.
Another sense of dogs being in the “on alert” watch is their standing position. If your dog is clearly focused on something with its tail in the air, and a stiff posture-this is another sign of your dog being suspicious or “on alert”.
dog on alert
  • “Tail Talk”
Just because you see a dog wagging their tail does not mean they are happy to see you. While on your dog walk, try to keep your distance from a dog that is holding their tail high, stiff, and tight-ESPECIALLY if they are making their way towards you and your pup. A slow moving, high, tight tail is a good indicator that the other dog is feeling the urge to lunge.
Now, as for happy tails; My basset hound wags her tail so hard, J LO would be proud! My hound dog’s entire bootie shakes so hard that I can barely notice her tail. I don’t know what is moving faster- her butt or her tail! A dog whose bottom wiggles with the tail is a happy dog.
wagging tail


Hopefully you learned a thing or two with the information I provided. I will be back on Monday with, “What Is My Dog Saying?: Part Two”. In the next article, I will be discussing more body language and doggie gestures to help you better understand your fur baby.


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