Doggy talk: how to understand your dog

With 46% of UK households finding room in their family for a pet pooch, our love of dogs is undeniable. They’re always there to welcome you when you come home with a wagging tail or barking when they want to go out – but what else is your dog trying to tell you?


Baring teeth

This doesn’t always mean that you’re about to be bitten. It can also indicate that the dog knows it has done something wrong and is a sign of submission. If this is the case it’s usually accompanied by tail wagging and a lowered posture. Some dogs also pull back their top lips in what looks like a snarl when they’re happy, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution if you don’t know the dog in question.


Dogs can yawn when they want to be left alone, not just because they’re tired. It’s trying to tell you that it’s had enough. It can also indicate anticipation – whether good or bad – so just before a walk and when you’re waiting to go into the vets. Listen to your dog and leave them alone if that’s what they want!

Bed circling

This is perfectly normal and is hard wired into your dog’s DNA. In the wild they would have circled to flatten grass to create a comfortable patch to sleep – they’re just doing the same on your comfy four seater.

Dancing dogs

Dogs don’t just use their bark and jumping up to communicate with their owners. Some also stamp their feet on their front paws, keeping their back legs still, which gives the appearance of dancing from side to side. This is usually an indication that they want something or just want their owner’s attention.

To find out more about the world of canines tune into The Wonder of Dogs, a new three-part series starting on BBC 2 on Monday 8 June at 7pm.

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