Understanding Dog Body Language and Behaviour

Understanding Dog Body Language and Behavior is an elaborate and sophisticated system of non-verbal communication that, fortunately, we can learn to recognize and interpret. Once you learn how to “read” a dog’s postures and signals, you’ll better understand his feelings and motivations and be better able to predict what he’s likely to do. These skills will enable you to understand and interact with dogs with greater enjoyment, safety, trust and build a better relationship with your dog.

Dogs and humans have spent thousands of years living side by side, and we can instinctively recognise most of each others moods from body language, facial expressions vocalisation and behavior. Dogs also happen to be very expressive animals. They communicate when they’re feeling happy, sad, nervous, fearful and angry, and they use their faces and bodies to convey much of this information.


The playful stance, where a dog has his rump raised high, is the sign that it’s time to go out and play! Playful body language traits:

  • Stance rump raised, front of the body lowered, front knees bent, head forward, dog jumping around
  • Tail raised high and waving anxiously
  • Ears perked up and alert
  • Eyes wide open, darting around in anticipation, pupils dilated
  • Mouth open, tongue out

Dogs also acquire this stance as a time out or as an apology or peace offering if they think they may have behaved too aggressively or threateningly.

Confident and Relaxed

Relaxed dogs do not feel threatened by other dogs or their environment. They are friendly and approachable. Relaxed dog body language traits:

  • Stance erect
  • Tail wagging slowly
  • Ears pricked up but with a relaxed look
  • Eyes small pupils
  • Mouth closed or slight parting of lips

Fearful or Anxious

Fearful dogs have unmistakable humped over body language and a fearful gaze. Remove the dog from the fearful environment or let him calm down on his own. Fearful body language traits:

  • Stance lowered
  • Tail tucked under
  • Ears down
  • Eyes a wide-eyed look with the whites showing
  • Mouth panting


Aggressive dogs give signals that they are about to attack and defend themselves. It’s best to leave these dogs alone. Aggressive dog body language traits:

  • Stance rigid
  • Tail straight up or out behind, very rigid
  • Ears pricked up
  • Eyes intense, focused stare
  • Mouth lips are pulled back and some teeth show
  • Hackles this is a line of hair that starts at the base of the neck and runs down the shoulders. It is raised if a dog is feeling aggressive and lowered if he is relaxed.


  • Stance dog is pulled into himself
  • Tail tucked completely under
  • Ears lying down
  • Eyes wide-eyed and trouble focusing
  • Mouth lips pulled back slightly or heavy panting


Relaxed dogs do not feel threatened by other dogs or their environment. They are friendly and approachable. Relaxed dog body language traits:

  • Stance lying down or standing without any alertness
  • Tail up and wagging or lying naturally
  • Ears at their normal state, depending on the breed (A Terriers would be up but relaxed, a Hounds would be down)
  • Eyes normal pupil dilation, focused but not staring
  • Mouth open and lightly panting or closed

Dominant dogs

Dominant dogs know they are the king of the pack and make sure everyone else knows too. Dominant dog body language traits:

  • Stance dog standing erect and tall, hackles raised;
  • Tail tail up straight and bristled;
  • Ears erect and facing forward;
  • Eyes staring straight ahead or on target;
  • Mouth closed or lips curled and teeth visible in the prelude to a snarl;
  • dog pretending to mount (or hump) lower-ranking dogs.

Submissive dogs

Submissive dogs are not necessarily wimps, just dogs who agree to recognize who the leader is and avoid confrontation. Submissive dog body language traits:

  • Stance dog crouching, knees bent, front paw raised, rump lowered, head down;
  • tail between the legs;
  • Ears folded back;
  • Eyes looking away, brief and indirect eye contact with dominant dog or person.
  • Mouth open slightly, tongue dipping out slightly—he may lick the face of the dominant dog;

In instances of total submission, a dog will lay on his back exposing his stomach, legs folded, eyes closed.

Understanding Dog Vocal Clues


This is an attempt to locate someone, perhaps you or the dog down the street. When you leave for work, its very possible your dog howls in an effort to get you back. When one dog starts howling in the neighborhood, usually many others join in its sort of like a conference call.


This means back off. Youll see a dog growl when another dog gets interested in his food. Your dog may growl at a stranger he doesnt like or he may growl at you when you try to take his toy away. Its actually a very effective way of communicating and actually signals that you can probably negotiate that toy away. When a dog is in an aggressive stance and silent, there is the most danger.

Grunt or Mutter

This is usually to indicate that your dog wants something. Its an interesting sound because its almost manipulative your dog knows if he barks, hell get into trouble but the more subtle grunt might get him wants he wants. It is also heard when dogs greet other dogs or humans.

Whimper or Sob

Dogs whimper when theyre anxious or hurt. Sometimes they figure out that they get attention when they whimper and use this to their advantage.

Whine or Moan

This indicates frustration. They are in a sense complaining about something.


There are many different types of barks. A high pitched bark indicates excitement and happiness. A low pitched bark indicates aggression and is possibly a threat. Dogs bark to get attention, to respond to other dogs, to indicate that theyre happy, and to alert their human to a problem. Unfortunately, your dog may detect a problem that you cant see or hear, such as a siren miles away or the neighbors cat hiding in the tree outside the window.


Understanding Common Dog Behaviors


Because dogs sweat through the pads on their feet, most of their body heat is expelled through their mouth when they pant. Its their primary means of regulating body temperature. Dogs also pant to cope with pain.

Dog Barking

In nature, dogs bark to raise an alarm at the first signs of possible danger or to herald a new arrival. Barking is an important means of canine communication. See, How to stop your Dog from Excessive Barking if its becoming a behavior issue.

Dog Chewing

Just as a growing child, your dog will want to chew on toys and other objects to relieve the pain of a new set of teeth coming in. If your dog is full grown, you may also come home to find your couch cushions or favorite pair of shoes ripped to shreds, but it is not because they enjoy the taste. Your dog could be exhibiting signs of separation anxiety or anxiety in general. To avoid this happening See, How to Stop Dogs from Destructive Chewing


Digging is an instinctual activity, written deep in a dogs DNA. It is especially strong in terrier breeds. Dogs in natural packs will dig to hide food or to uncover food such as small rodents. A den dug in the cool earth can also provide shelter from the heat.

Jumping up

Though it may seem like play behavior, or an enthusiastic greeting, jumping up is a sign that your dog is attempting to assert her dominance over you. By encouraging jumping up with affection, you are reinforcing the behavior.

Dog Biting

A dog will bite a person as a way of communicating their current state of mind. The dog could be reacting in aggression, fear or nervousness. There are, however, ways to prevent a dog bite from ever happening if you stay in tune to the dog’s body language. See Why Bites Happen and How to Prevent Them.

Separation anxiety

Dogs live and travel in packs, so its natural for them to feel anxious when they are separated from their pack-mates. Try taking your dog on a nice, long walk before leaving her alone in the house. Leaving her in resting mode can calm her anxiety.

Once you understand these behaviors, youll be better equipped to recognize when your dogs needs are not being met! When your dogs needs go unfulfilled, unwanted behaviors begin to emerge.

By Understanding Dog Body Language and Behavior, we can better communicate with them and avoid common misunderstandings. And you can be assured that your dog isnt going crazy when hes muttering to himself all the time.

Why Stray Dogs Chase Cars and Bikes

Dogs and cars have hate affair. A lot of drivers have had this experience they are driving down a road, minding their own business, when all of a sudden they see a barking dog trying to chase down their vehicle, without any provocation.

So why do dogs chase cars? The question, however, may not just be why do they chase cars rather, it may be what exactly would they do if they were to catch one!

Firstly reason for chasing bike or car by street dog why do street dogs chase

So Why Do Dogs Chase Cars, bikes etc.?

Every dog has that hunter instinct, the degree of development of said instinct being dependent upon the specific dog breed and of course, how the dog was brought up in the first place.

Interestingly, dogs without a home (sometimes known as stray dogs) are more likely to chase cars than dogs with a home. The reason for this is training or lack thereof. If a dog has never take a ride in a car, they are more likely to see the moving vehicle as pray or as a type of game.

There may be more reasons to a dog chasing a car than just instinct. We have frequently noted that a Dog whose parents were car chasers or who have lost their puppies or siblings to car accidents are more prone to car chasing and often more persistent with the chase. Unfortunately, dogs do not realize just how dangerous chasing a car can be. They view a moving car in the same way that they see a child riding a bike, or a cat they like to chase and play with, and so on.

This then suggests that the reason dogs like to chase cars is because of their desire to play, or because they are irritated by the noise the vehicle produces, or because of their instinctive desire to catch their pray. Whatever their motivation it is dangerous for both the dog and the driver, and anyone near enough to get caught up in an accident.

The best way to ensure that YOUR dog does not chase cars is through training. For well trained dogs, a simple No should suffice, or better yet, an even better trained dog will not even consider it and will ignore the moving vehicle (while keeping carefully out of its way).

However, even the best trained dogs should be kept on a leash when going out for a walk especially in urban areas with busy streets, noise, and vehicular traffic. So the best way to prevent your dog from chasing a car is by keeping your dog on a leash. That, plus ample training, should keep your dog safe from very avoidable car accidents. And if you are in the drivers seat the best solution to avoid any mishap is to slow down your vehicle or stop completely if required. They wouldnt know what to do with you if they caught up to you.

Do not panic, do not brake or reverse suddenly and more importantly, do not start hitting the dog or running over it. Be Human and keep your cool. Ignore the dog and drive safe.!!!