Doggy Sign Language
What Your Friend May Be Saying
Although dogs do not possess the ability to say words, we know they understand them. Spend one minute with a well trained herding dog or a well trained police dog and you'll appreciate the dog's grasp of our language.
But do we as humans understand their language? Dogs "talk" to one another largely by their body language. As adopted members of their pack, they attempt to talk to us, too.
A List of Signs
Shaking off--"wet" or "water." A dog may shake off even when it isn't wet. Sometimes it is describing the fact that it's raining outside, or it may be asking for a drink.
Ears laid back--"Back off! I'm mad!"
Teeth showing--see above
Pawing--This one is more variable. It usually means, "I want something." Sometimes it's difficult to decipher what the dog is asking for. One of my chihuahuas will paw or stand on her hind legs and paw the air with both feet together. I will ask, "What do you want?" She responds, "Sniff, sneeze!" I say, "Do you want your dinner?" Sniff, sneeze. "Do you want to go out?" She races to the door. I guessed it!
Sneezing/snoofing--a sort of fake sneezing sound forced through the nose. Dogs sometimes mean, "Hey, let's go!" although sometimes they do this back and forth in a volley as though they are keeping tabs on each others' whereabouts. If I imitate the sound, they do it back to me in answer. Still studying that one.
Rolling on back--"I submit." Many dogs do this when they ask for a belly rub. A dog with a dominant personality will never do it.
Bop on the head: "Pay attention to me!" If a dog is interested in investigating smells and a younger one who wants to play is trying to get his or her attention, he achieves it by bopping his playmate on the head. If the dog who got bopped is willing to play, the games begin. If he or she isn't, a "back off" snarl may be heard.
Ears back but not laid flat: Sad or upset.
Ears to the side: Relaxed.
Ears straight up with the tips close together: Perplexed.
Ears forward: Paying attention.
Tail up: Good mood.
Tail tucked: angry/scared.
Tail wagging: Everybody knows that one!