ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Doggy Sign Language

Updated on January 1, 2011

What Your Friend May Be Saying

Dogs Talk?

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

Bowing--"Let's play!"

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!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I'm currently reading the book THE GENIUS OF DOGS, by David Hare and Vanessa Woods, which explains why dogs are intelligent and get along so well with humans. It's fascinating, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know why your furry friend responds to you in the ways she or he does.


    • Silver Poet profile imageAUTHOR

      Silver Poet 

      6 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      Yes, dogs are indeed wonderful! :)

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      6 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Enjoyable hub and oh, so true.

      My dog is a miniature Schnauzer, a breed that uses various "voices" when she talks. She's so funny when she grumbles, a sound that's like a grouchy person muttering. She does that when I make her stop barking at someone outside in the neighborhood. She also makes a snorting sound when she's not too happy about something.

      Like schoolmarm's dogs, mine learned to spell words such as "treat", "dinner" and "go." (She loves to ride in the car, and I ask her if she wants to "go" when I want to take her with me.)

      She sleeps with me (on her own pillow on her side of the bed with the cover pulled up to her neck). When she wakes every morning, she kicks off the covers, rolls on her back and holds her front paws up to her chin. That's her request for her "good morning" tummy tickle, and she always gets it. She reminds me of how much fun toddlers are when they first wake up.

      Aren't dogs wonderful?

    • Anaya M. Baker profile image

      Anaya M. Baker 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      My beagle does the "snoofing" thing too! Sometimes he does it to wake me up after a nap on the couch. Other times, I'm just not so sure...He's a bit strange though.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      This is fabulous! I just had to smile as I connected my dog to what you have written. Love it! Up!

    • SamboRambo profile image

      Samuel E. Richardson 

      7 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

      How about this one: A dog barks from behind its fence, while wagging its tail. I think it's saying, "I'm here, and I wanna play!"

    • schoolmarm profile image


      7 years ago from Florida

      My dogs learned how we spell "treat" and "out" so we now say those 2 words in pig-Latin. We'll see how long it takes them to figure this out! Great hub!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      You're absolutely right on dogs understanding words. There was a TV special about Dog Genius which stated they know about 165 words. That seems limited to me. Mine act like they know every word I speak! We even have to spell words to avoid instant reactions on their part, like "T-R-E-A-T" and "O-U-T" or they go crazy. Enjoyable read here.

    • Juiceyme profile image


      7 years ago

      Like your hub. I thought I was the only one that could talk to dogs and they talk back! My neighbors think I'm the crazy lady in the neighbor hood that talks to animals. LOL.....

    • Pollyannalana profile image


      7 years ago from US

      That sounds true enough and believe it or not I know my cat understands words. She is 16 years old though so maybe that makes her as smart as a dog. I say give me a kiss and she comes and sticks her face up to mine and i just smooch at her, she knows it. If I say wanna go outside? She either runs to the door or runs and hides. I won't bore you with more but she understands many words. Great hub,



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)