The New Science Of Dog Body Language And Behavior: Communicating With Canines

By Anni K April 12, 2022

Dogs are no doubt man’s best friend. When you get home after a long day, there is nothing better than someone or something waiting for you, guaranteed to be excited to see you. This is the case with the adorably loyal creatures known as dogs. No matter what you do, say, or are, these creatures will love you unconditionally and never judge you if you do something wrong. They are always there to cheer you up if you are sad or play when you are happy. They are highly intelligent creatures, making them the perfect companion. This article examines the qualities of these fantastic creatures and explains some facts that you probably did not know about your dog. Although we often misread their intentions, our BFFs try their best to communicate with us, and this article brings us that much closer to our furry friends.

Nosey for print

No two dogs are the same in personality or exact DNA, even if they are the same breed. Their noses won’t be exactly the same either. Did you know dogs check other dogs’ noses to identify them with a good sniff, and a tail wag?

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Dog’s noses might seem very similar to your naked eye, but if you look closely, you will see their noses have a print, much like our fingerprints. Plus, these prints are just as unique; think of it as their unique identifier if their collar goes missing. 

Establishing territories

You would have seen it in a movie or real life: a dog will mark its territory by urinating on small spots everywhere, it’s their way of leaving their signatures on a spot they love or would like to ‘own’.

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Some might believe the rumor that male dogs lift their legs when they urinate so that they won’t leak later on. This is untrue, as studies show that the reason for the lift is that they mark a wider surface area. 

Nature’s bath

You might see your dog run towards a fresh patch of grass or even a dusty patch on the ground. They run towards it, stop, drop and roll! Don’t be stressed out when you see this; it is them having a relaxing scent bath of their own!

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Don’t get annoyed or mad at your dog when they do this; it is their natural way of unwinding after a long day or even an exciting day. Just give them a bath or wipe them down with a towel! 

Wait for the sniff

We’re sure you have seen one dog sniff another dog’s behind, and that’s their way of knowing who they are, so why would they approach humans any differently? You might find it offensive, but there’s more to the sniff than you think.

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It’s not to check whether you have a fresh pair of underwear on or offend you in any other way. This is a dog’s way of finding out who you are and what your smell tells them. Be glad they are sniffing you and not growling at you.

Body language speaks up

Dogs cannot speak to us, so it’s important to note their body language when they move around people or other animals. Their subconscious plays a significant role in this behavior, and as you might already know, your subconscious can’t lie. 

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When your dog is out of action, you can see this in action – when they are sleeping. For instance, when they sleep on their backs and their bellies are exposed, they probably trust you. If they are curled up tightly, and in a small corner of a room, they might be afraid or stressed out. 

Odd behavior

Scientists have been researching dog behaviors for years, and some things are still a mystery to us humans. For now, they are still closely guarded secrets of the dog worlds. Ever wonder why your dog is running in circles or kicking up grass after they potty?

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Cats kicking up dirt over their feces is understood – they cover it; dogs, on the other hand, seem to randomly, without being prompted, kick up dirt and grass after they have gone to potty – but it’s not effective at all. Some speculate it’s showing off their markings rather than hiding their mess. 

Expressions are more than meets the eye

Unfortunately, humans and dogs do not speak the same language. We’ve had to adapt to learn what every bark, whimper, and tail-wag implies by carefully analyzing the surroundings, and dogs do the same with us – they are very dedicated to doing so as well!

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Dogs have evolved to be able to move their eyebrows, and as such, they seem to portray human-like emotions. When their eyes are soft and kind, we understand that they are signaling to us that they are content and happy. 

Give us time

Most of us love it when the people or animals we love fall asleep in cute or funny positions. It usually means that they feel safe enough to let their guard down and take a nap. When does sleeping too much become a reason for concern?

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You know your dog better than anyone else if you spend most days with him. If you notice he has been sleeping a lot, try and see what has changed recently, dogs and puppies tend to sleep more often when stressed about significant changes. If you suspect it may be their health, take them to your trusted vet.

Family member

If you adopt a new puppy or dog, it is essential to try and let this new family member be at ease, and you should try to be as patient as you would with a new baby or child. New environments come with unique challenges for each dog; odors, noises, people, and surroundings will be new.

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You should set up a safe place for them to be able to retreat if they are feeling overwhelmed by all these new influences. You might find they are adapting well if you see them resting with their legs stretched out straight in front of them – this is a sign that they are very comfortable with their current environment.

Random zoomies

You might find when your dog is in a playful mood, it will all of a sudden jump up and run around like crazy with no intent or reason other than to have fun. You shouldn’t be alarmed, though. This is very normal and not exclusive to dogs either. 

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You might have heard the term ‘zoomies,’ which is likely what this erratic behavior is. It is very typical and indicates that your dog is healthy and lively. Compare it to a random rush of happy energy you might experience!

Sweaty paws

Most dogs love to get active and expend some energy with their fellow doggy friends. This will inevitably cause them to get dirty and sweaty, and while this is very normal, you can help them cool down quicker and get comfortable. 

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They don’t sweat from every pore on their body as we humans do. They mainly sweat from their cute fluffy paws. This means you can help them cool down quickly by simply having a kiddie pool filled with shallow water for them to stand in!

Forever a part of you

When you bring a pet home, they become family, and the dogs think so too. Their surroundings, the contents of the house, and the people become part of them. Given that they rarely surpass the maturity of a 2-year-old child, they remain clingy most of their lives. 

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You might want to consider how a 2-year-old child might feel when you leave them alone for a whole day while you are at work. Leave them a garment that smells like you, plenty of toys, and food, so they aren’t too anxious about your return. 

Sentimental items

Whether you start your travel to the park or walk with a companion, or perhaps without one, you might notice your furry friend likes to take his personal companion along. And if you don’t bring one along, they will grab a stick or stone they want. 

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This behavior is similar to that of a toddler. They bring along items they know and love – as if it has sentimental value. If they find something they like, they hold on to it to show it off to their friends or love it for a while. 

Playful Partners

Your doggy companion might find various ways to communicate their playful state of mind to you and its furry friends by bouncing from one side to another or spinning in circles. We personally love every ‘dance’ they do to express their content!

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Corgis have a famously adorable way of letting you know they are feeling playful and affectionate towards you, and it’s called ‘splooting.’ This is where they lay flat on their tummies with their hind legs stretched out. We know, adorable!

Partner in crime

Dogs are the animal of choice for a reason when it comes to service animals. We can extensively train them based on their behavior and temperament to assist us humans be great partners in crime or in life-threatening situations. 

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They are not only great as service dogs in the forces, but they are also exceptional as personal heroes to people who are prone to seizures or anxiety attacks. They do all of this with their excellent sense of smell! 

Interesting features

The more time you spend with these canine companions, the more you will notice how they have more than just simple ears and eyes. Sure, they are much more powerful, but have you recently looked closer at them?

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Both dogs and cats have tiny pocket-like structures in their ears known as ‘Henry’s Pockets.’ They also have a third eyelid which allows them to blink from side to side from time to time. These are all minor adaptations evolution has caused and helps them in their everyday lives. 

Lean on me

Most dogs enjoy leaning and sitting close to you or other family members. You might even notice them doing it to total strangers in your home. While it may be concerning at first, this is actually a really good sign.

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If your dog leans on you, you may think that they may be scared. This is sometimes the case, but more commonly, dogs do it when they show affection – a leaning dog is a loving dog! Feel honored that they chose you to lean on out of everyone in the room. 

First impressions count

When dogs aren’t exposed to strangers often, you will find that they act quite a bit differently around them. Some dogs might be hesitant. Others might be super excited to meet a new friend – it’s important that you have a look at how they act around each new guest or stranger to avoid a troubling situation.

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The good news is you will very clearly see the way they react. If your dog has a wagging tail or sneezes, this is a sign they are being playful. If they growl or have their tails between their legs, it’s a sign of distress and discomfort. 

Pitiful eyes

Puppy eyes are something most of us fall victim to, giving them more treats or not being mad when they chewed up your favorite pair of shoes. But do puppy eyes signify only sadness and guilt or make you feel guilty?

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Your dog might give you puppy eyes when you leave, which might trick you into thinking that they are trying to make you feel guilty. This is the opposite – they are communicating trust to you, as in, trusting you to come back or that you will give them that extra treat!

Burrowing in bedding

Are you missing your cute dog waiting for you at the door and instead are coming home to piles of laundry scattered around the house with your pup buried in one of the heaps? Before you get upset or worried, there’s a wholesome reason behind it all.

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They burrow in garments that remind them of their favorite human simply because they miss them. This happens when you leave your dog alone for a bit, and they can’t stand the fact that you’re not there – so they grab a scent-soaked garment and snooze away, hopefully dreaming about sunny days with their favorite person. 

Tick tock 

When your dog has been living with you for some time, they are intelligent enough to learn your patterns. They might wake up minutes before you to bid you a good morning, or they might whine when they realize you are late to give them their food. 

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Dogs can’t read a clock, and seasons change, so how do they rely on knowing when it’s time to wake up or be fed? It’s most likely their internal biological clock, just like ours. Their bodies are reliable in telling them when it’s time for an event to happen.

Bed mates

Dogs can fall asleep in many spots in the house, from a sunny porch to freshly cut grass, but they might also choose an area you enjoy – your bed. Don’t get worried that they are feeling unsafe and need your attention the whole time, thats not the case at all.

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If your dog chooses to sleep next to you, that’s a sign of profound trust. They let their guard down when they sleep, so it is significant when they do it next to you. Don’t shoo your dog away when they come to cuddle next to you if you want to preserve their trust. 

The Ears

Other than puppy eyes being the cutest part of a small furry puppy, their ears are a close second to being the absolutely cutest physical part of a pup. Unlike human babies, puppies are born with disproportionately large and often floppy ears.

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Puppies and fully grown dogs have 18 muscles in each ear, which allows for not only superb hearing, but for some adorable positions. They can also change the direction in which they are pointed relatively quickly. They can go from flat to fully upright in a split second. 


There are very few human-animal bonds like the dog-human bond. You will notice that your dogs can choose one or two people that are special to them. Yes, you can be your dog’s favorite human! A fact that we love!

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Dogs can show favoritism, and that bond between their favorite human and themselves will be a strong bond. So when your pup feels sad when you have to leave, play them some classical music; it’s said to calm them down. 

Mischievous babies

Dogs get themselves in some trouble for being mischievous without a doubt, but there is no reason behind this other than them just being, well, children. A simple example might be dragging their toys across the house and leaving them everywhere. 

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It seems like it is done without rhyme or reason, and it is just that. Sometimes they get bored and like human children, do naughty things. After all, they are your fur children, and they are prone to make some mistakes. 

Please watch over me

We get it, it’s not the greatest thing when someone stares you down while you are doing your business on the loo, but for dogs, this is a sign that they trust you to keep them safe when they are at their most vulnerable. 

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It’s not a guilty look your dog gives you when going to the loo, but rather a glimpse of trust and vulnerability. They’re saying, “I trust you to keep me safe while I will be vulnerable for a minute or two.” While it may not be the most pleasant thing, your dog trusts you. Wear this badge with honor.

I’m your favorite, right?

Since you might be your dog’s favorite human, or perhaps just their favorite dog-walker, you might notice that your dog will become envious when you turn your attention to another pup. You might hear a bark or whimper and sometimes a louder cry for attention.

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They are very friendly animals overall, but jealousy is natural. This doesn’t mean you should shy away from taking your dog to the park or having friends with dogs over, just make sure they know, they are number one and avoid disciplining them in front of their doggy friends if you can.

Heart on their sleeve

If humans were as honest and straightforward as dogs, the world would be much simpler. Dogs cannot hide emotions or feelings towards us, and it’s worth noting these genuine feelings for us. Sometimes they might be upset with a lack of attention and become sad, and that might be your wake-up call to spend more time with them.

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Dogs are mostly happy and excited to see you when you come home, and they love being rewarded for performing a trick or good behavior. They will express their happiness clearly when they are feeling good and maybe even come for a cuddle to show this to you. 

The same, but different

Dogs and humans are clearly different since we come from other species, but there are some similarities too. We’re not talking about the very basic similarities such as needing food, having two eyes, or two ears. We are referencing the behavioral similarities.

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One attribute you might have noticed but never overthought about is yawning. Dogs yawn when they feel stressed and need to calm down, but they also yawn when they are sleepy, just like us humans do. Humans can transfer yawns to one another by sight; is it the same for dogs?

Not a sweaty nose

A dog’s ears and nose are probably the most significant senses they have. Their noses are so good at smelling that they can sniff out chemicals buried deep underclothes, ground, and other smells. They can even smell medical emergencies.

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You may already know that the sign of a healthy dog is a wet nose. Some people believe that they might have a runny nose or sweating through their nose, but it’s actually their body helping them smell even better. 

Some degrees to the southwest

Your pup might be relieved and happy to see you come home after a long day, but we’re pretty sure that having to poop after a long walk is also at the top of their lists. Have you ever seen them take a long time to find the perfect spot – there’s some cool science behind that!

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Some researchers found that dogs may subconsciously align their bladder and bowels with the earth’s natural magnetic field. Because of this, dogs tend to relieve themselves along the North/South axis. It’s not always about marking their spot; it’s also about aligning their spots. 

Small but mighty dreamers

You already know dogs and puppies do countless adorable things during the day, but another thing you might see is them moaning and moving their legs while they are asleep – they’re having some sweet dreams, just like you do!

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Dogs dream according to their age; you won’t see your adult dog dream as often as small pups or older senior dogs. This has to do with their age, and we find it quite fascinating. Maybe adult dogs entertain themselves more during the day and do not need to dream at night.

Super sniffers

You might be walking down a busy street and smell fantastic coffee when you’re a few meters away from a coffee shop or smell some sweet pastries close to a bakery. Dogs can smell incredibly far and many different things at once; we can imagine how fun markets must be for them.

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Reports show that dogs can smell up to 20 kilometers away. Their sense of smell is so intricate & impressive that they can even smell the difference between healthy and malignant cells in your body. Some trained dogs can smell human seizures minutes before they happen. 

Loyal companions

There are many breeds of loyal dogs, in fact, most of them are; it’s just a matter of personal preference to how energetic and disciplined your newest family member is. It might be difficult to have a large breed of dog that needs daily long walks when you have children of your own. 

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It’s most people’s preference that they have a family-friendly dog. Some might choose a breed that has been a tradition in the family; others might deliberately choose a calmer breed – but above all, loyalty is a trait everyone wishes to find in their dogs. 

Don’t touch my human

Dogs love their favorite humans, and they dislike people who are mean to their favorites. You will see excellent levels of protection from dogs that are guarding their favorite humans. Whether trained or natural, this is an incredible feeling without a doubt!

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Dogs are natural protectors, and they won’t settle if their home and its members are threatened by anything or anyone. They will bark or bite. Even smaller breeds will protect you as fiercely as a larger breed might.

Curiosity got the dog too

With a great sense of hearing and smell comes a great sense of curiosity. Dogs are curious creatures, and that comes with some adorable poses, sniffing, or whining to get to the source of whatever is fascinating to them at the time. 

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Their curiosity stretches beyond cute head tilts at funny noises coming from a squeaky toy. They might divert their attention to you or your guests if they find you intriguing or something out of the norm. They are studying you!


Of course, if you have kids, you would want a kid-friendly breed. This means you would need a dog that will be patient with all sorts of silly and goofy games the kids come up with without getting overwhelmed. 

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But you have to train both your dogs and kids to behave, children should avoid excessive tail and ear pulling, and your dogs should be able to handle a little bit of this. Older dogs tend to be more frail and sensitive to small children’s antics. 

Family…for better, for worse

When they get introduced into your (and their) new home, they will inevitably become a part of the family and become more comfortable with everyone in the house. This also means they will be able to support you through the good and the bad. 

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They are incredible at picking up your energies and moods. If you are feeling lonely, even the most energetic pup will come to lie with you to feel better. If you are sick, they might treat you to a cuddle on your lap and try everything to make you feel better! Our favorite is when they bring you their favorite toy as an offering. 

Lie detectors

Dogs might not be able to speak our language and hear a person actively lie, but they are incredible at picking up energies from untrustworthy people. They understand body language similarly to us, and since dogs’ intentions are pure, trust them. 

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Dogs can read us like a book; they can pick us up when we feel sad, when we have done something wrong or if our intentions are impure. Even the most loyal dogs cannot hide the fact that their owners are doing something wrong or their owner’s friends are not sending out the correct energies. Trust them and think about it when you see this behavior from dogs.

Energetic or lethargic

Family life might be overwhelming, and your dog has to be able to keep up with this lifestyle. Different breeds of dogs naturally have different energy levels – choosing the correct breed will yield you better chances of finding your ultimate new family pal! 

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Having a lazy dog in a busy family is a definite no for some, and others try and rely on the dog’s calmer energy to calm the family down – it’s best to find a dog that matches your energy instead of trying to find the opposite.