All dogs speak to us with their body, these are some of the essential keys to understand them better

As social animals that they are, dogs have the need to communicate with other dogs and also with people, becoming surprising the way in which they have learned to “talk” with us and understand us. For this reason, we too are slowly learning about their signs and gestures to better communicate with them.

This is how we arrive at studies on canine language such as that of Turid Rugaas, who detailed in his book The language of dogs: calm signalsa series of signals that are present in all dogs and that help us understand when they are comfortable and when they are not.

“Absolutely all dogs communicate with these gestures, which are a total of 30. There are to avoid conflicts, to relax themselves, to show happiness… Although there are other types of communicative gestures, these are the basic ones that we have to know if we want to talk to our furry ones”, explains Sonia Losada, active teacher of the professional course of Canine Education and Training of l’Escola d’oficis de Catalunya and known as Xila’s Training.

For the expert, the main problem when people communicate with dogs is that we do not understand what the furry ones want to tell us. “When they are excited, we mistake it for being happy; when they are relaxed, we come to think that they are sick…“, he comments.

we review ten of the most representative body expressions to begin to better understand our furry; ten gestures ranging from the expression of fear to stress, passing through curiosity and mischief.

Keys to understand your dog
Peter’s Hayfield

The fear. When a dog is afraid, there are two essential signs that will make us see it. The first will be the one that we possibly expect the most, a crouching posture, with the tail between the legs and the back hunched. The second will be a more aggressive attitude, we will continue to see the animal in a low and hunched posture but with its head high and its legs in a jumping position. In addition, it will show us its teeth. In either case, we should try to leave the animal alone, since approaching it and trying to calm it down will cause more stress.


Sketch of offensive threat postures in dogs and cats.

Curiosity. When a dog feels this emotion, it will show itself upright and straight, it will look at us or look at something that causes it curiosity by turning its head to one side and raising its tail upwards.

Alert. In cases where our dog is attentive to something or someone, the posture is also very specific. He will be upright, with his head high and his ears and tail stiff, and he will probably be looking at what has put him in that state of attention.

Calm. In addition to when lying down, we can tell that our dogs are relaxed when they are standing up, with their ears and tails relaxed and not completely stiff.


Aggression scale in dogs.

Happy and mischievous. If our dog wants to play and is happy, it will show very clear signs of it, in fact, this gesture is one of the most popularly known. The animal will rest its two front legs on the ground, keeping its hind legs upright, it will lift and move its tail quickly and look at you from below. Who could resist?

Stress. When a dog is stressed it can show different signs, some of which are very unintuitive from a human point of view. For example, they can yawn or lick their nose, gestures that we could misinterpret and confuse them with that they are tired or that they are hungry. We can also see that they scratch a lot, which should not be confused with the possession of parasites such as fleas or ticks; and they can be shaken, as they release their stress that way.

These are some of the most important expressions you should know to better understand your dog, but they are not the only ones. If you want to know more about canine language, you can read Rugaas’s book or get in touch with a canine educator who will teach you more about how these wonderful animals behave with us and with other species.


A dog and a cat in a friendly attitude.

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