What Are Common Dog Behaviors and What They Mean?
An extensive list of common dog behaviors, what they mean and what should you do in such cases. Explore all dog issues, habits, and behaviors.
How do you read a dog’s body language?
Every living being has a certain behavior, and the same changes according to the situation in which they are. The same is with dogs. They, too, have specific behaviors for particular situations. As we all know, they cannot speak, but they can portray the same through the movements they adopt. Well, if you own a canine and want to know his behavior, keep reading. Here we are disclosing all the behaviors of dogs you may notice after adopting them.
How do you read a dog’s behavior, and what do your dog’s actions mean?
Things to keep in mind while reading your dog’s behavior
The first thing you need to do is to read your dog’s behavior. You probably have no clue how to do so, but not anymore. The indicators to read a dog’s behavior are as follows.
Tail wagging is among the most common signs shown by dogs. Well, most people misinterpret it as a sign of excitement. But this is not true in every case. In general, tail wagging indicates emotional arousal, which can be due to any reason. They are probably feeling happy or sad too. However, some episodes of tail wagging appear to be so gentle that it indicates that they are in a relaxed state.
Thus, along with tail wagging, try to learn other signs, too, so that interpreting the same can be easy.
If you know how to read your canine eyes, you are among the luckiest ones. This will let you know whether they are satisfied or not. Sometimes it happens that your dog is so stressed that engaging in things is not possible for them. At that moment, you can simply look at their eyes and analyze whether they are happy or not. The eyes appear to be soft and hard, and accordingly, you can judge them. Sometimes, eye contact will also help you learn about them.
Facial expressions of dogs indicate love while being noticed. Some people have the habit of analyzing the dog and reading its eyes and facial expressions. For them, this is some kind of pleasure they do not want to miss. Common facial expressions that tell you about their mood are
- Yawning to distract them from whatever situation they are or were in.
- Lip licking either they like a meal or are feeling anxious (if you have not given them food).
- Tongue flick Feeling anxious
- Licking human faces, they require your love and attention.
- Smiling it’s quite confusing. They either do it to warn a person or are genuinely happy. It is also a sign of submission.
Raised hackles or “the standing hair along their back” is one of the most common signs of arousal. In scientific language, it is known as piloerection. Some people consider it a negative sign, but actually, it is not. Due to stress or mood swings, and with passing time, they get back into their normal state. One can also relate it to humans’ goosebumps during some intense or fearful episode.
The posture of your canine tells a lot about their mood. One cannot ignore it because it also depends on their body’s weight distribution. Some postures to notice are as follows
- Hunching towards the ground, a sign of anxiety or stress
- Stretched out above the ground, they need something (showing their interest in things).
- Lying down and rubbing the belly also indicates a relaxed state.
- Chest on the ground, jump in the air, eager to engage in play sessions with other dogs.
- Aggression is indicated by a slouched posture.
- Pointing behavior or some uncertain situation is happening in the surroundings.
The ears of a dog also indicate its mood or state of mind. Some common things to know about it are
- If these are forward, they are paying attention to things happening around them.
- If their ears are flat, they are being aggressive or feeling fearful.
- Ears are way back but not closed, indicating sadness.
Dog Behaviors Listed from A TO Z
A – B – C – D – E – F – G – H – I – J – K – L – M – N – O – P – Q – R – S – T – U – V – W – X – Y – Z
Aggression is very common, and, as a canine owner, you have to deal with it. It can be due to separation anxiety or guiding territory. In most cases, it happens that they do not like the individual in their surroundings or experience something unusual. Also, dogs deal with mood swings, so be sure of the same. To deal with aggression, treat your dog with love and try to distract them.
Asking to go out
Dogs love to go outside. If you develop a habit of taking your dog out, they will probably remind you of the same. Sometimes they will start licking you or circling the area too. Also, you will notice they stare at the passage where you consider going outside. It is a clear sign they want to go. Take them outside. But also, train them to be in-house too. Sometimes they get aggressive if you don’t take them out.
Acts like something is biting him
There are so many reasons why a dog behaves like something is biting him. Commonly, they do so due to dermatitis. But if they are not dealing with it, they probably are in need of something or want your attention too. Do pay close attention to them so that you can easily recognize them and treat them accordingly.
Barking is a dog’s way of communicating. But don’t misinterpret it as a sign of aggression. Sometimes they do so to gain your attention too. For example, when they sense something unusual around them, they make you aware of it by barking. Pay close attention to them and then do things accordingly.
Some dogs will not take a bath, but maintaining their health is important. Well, if this is the case with your dog, train them from the very first day you take them home. Some dogs get sleepy after a bath & some love to bathe, and they can’t resist the same. In that case, you need to occupy a time slot for them and engage with them.
Begging at the table
Begging at the table is a normal behavior exhibited by dogs, but it appears to be annoying if it happens frequently. In rare cases, it happens that they are doing so because they need something. Well, training is the only way to correct it. Do not encourage them while they are doing so because it acts as an incentive for them to behave so.
Biting – Puppy
Puppy bites are common in puppies. Well, they do so to observe things, promoting the strengthening of teeth. In this case, you can only train them not to do so. Also, you can bring some chewable for them.
Biting – Adult Dogs
Biting in adult dogs is not common. They are doing so out of frustration or fear too. Sometimes they are so aggressive that they can’t even control them. In this case, treating them with love is the only option left. Try to calm them down and distract them from the particular situation. If this is happening in a particular area, it’s better to take them outside.
Car chasing is a natural behavior of dogs. With time, they develop it, and if they are not paid attention to it, they start doing it frequently. For the owner, it becomes quite stressful because they need to clean it. Well, as a canine owner, you need to train them not to do so. But even after training, if they are doing so, they need veterinary help.
Chewing – Compulsive
If your dog is chewing unnecessarily, then they are doing it out of boredom. It is referred to as compulsive chewing. In this case, you need to spend some time with them and get some distractions available. If they do not get a distraction, it will turn into destructive chewing.
Chewing – Destructive
Destructive chewing is the behavior when they are basically destroying things. Sometimes you will notice that they have destroyed your valuables. Well, this is a serious problem, and you need to check out why it is happening. Sometimes it happens due to anxiety or stress. To correct this behavior, train your dog and consult with a veterinarian if there is a health issue.
Come when Called
Come when called is the behavior when your dog responds to every command given by you. You’ve probably given your dog a name and are calling them by that name in addition to come. They are responding to it by coming to you. But if it is not happening, you need to train them. Also, sometimes they do not respond to any other command except “Come”. In this case, as well, training is very important.
Compulsive behavior is a type of behavior when your dog does the same thing for a very long time. Sometimes it happens that the situation is not related to the same context, but they are behaving accordingly. For example, if your dog is being aggressive every time, even if the situation does not belong in the same context, they are a victim of compulsive behavior. In this case, you need to train them for good. Train them to calm down and also bring some distractions for them so that they can get engaged with them.
Counterconditioning is the behavior that occurs when your pet’s emotional response changes spontaneously. For example, he was doing great until a stranger entered the place. In this case, they would probably start barking or staring at them. In general, this is really very normal. But if it isn’t happening frequently, it’s probably because there is something related to their help, or maybe they are dealing with stress.
Crate training refers to the activity in which you train your dog to accept a crate. This acts as a safe place for them, and they can spend most of their time in it. This is a time-consuming process, so you need to be patient. Let your dog get familiar with it, and then leave it.
Carrying a food bowl around
If your dog is carrying a food bowl around, they are trying to make the food more alive. This basically acts as stimulation for them, and they feel fulfilled after eating. In some cases, it happens that they do not like the location and want to eat it at their favorite location. In this case, you can simply help them get to their favorite location in the area.
Digging is one of the most common behaviors you will notice with your canine. Well, this is not related to any particular problem. Instead, they like to do so. To distract them, you can adapt any of the measures, like engaging in some play stuff or distracting them with a toy. It is entirely up to you how you wish to deal with the situation. You can also train them not to do so.
Dog Body Language
Dog body language is really very common to notice. There are some signs that you can notice and know about their behavior. For example, sometimes they wag their tail or show some emotions on their faces. As a canine friend, you need to understand why they are doing so. If you are not aware of how to read a dog’s body language, you can simply ask the veterinary doctor about it or go through some informative articles available.
Dog Park Behavior
When you are taking your dog to the park, you are the one who is responsible for all of his movements. If your dog is behaving unknowingly, they probably need some more attention and training. Sometimes it happens that they start annoying other people and barking at other dogs too. To correct this behavior, training is the only option for you.
A “down” command is an acceptable move that dog trainers take during training. It simply means that they need to lie down. If you tell your dog to “down,” it means they need to go to their place and are not allowed to do anything else. But if they are not responding to your commands, train them in a better way. Also, if it happens once, maybe they are dealing with some health issue.
Drooling indicates that a dog is experiencing pain in the stomach. Sometimes it happens due to gastrointestinal issues or anything else. In this case, you need to approach the veterinary doctor. If this frequently happens with your dog, then regular observation is required.
Eating – Refusal
If your dog is not eating enough, it is probably because they are not in the mood for it or are suffering from some health issues like gastrointestinal issues. In this case, you need to reach out to the doctor immediately. Furthermore, if they have received their most recent vaccination, they will most likely behave accordingly.
If your dog suddenly starts eating grass, it’s probably because they are in bed vomiting. In some cases, dogs start feeling uneasy due to the consumption of something they do not like. In this case, they want it out of their body, and they vomit. Grass acts as a medium for them to do so. But this is not acceptable on a regular basis because an excess of it will lead to gastro issues.
If your dog is eating its own poop, there is nothing for you to worry about. But if they are consuming some other dog’s poop, you need to check them out. Do approach the doctor for the same and train them to not do it again.
Train your dog to fetch. This is one of the best activities that help them stay healthy. But it is a time-consuming process, so you need to train them. However, if they are doing it excessively, like carrying their prey from a hiding spot to another hiding spot, they are trying to hide things from you, which is not good. Thus, train them for both situations.
Focusing on you
If your dog is only focusing on you, they probably need something. Sometimes it happens that you are not giving them enough attention and, due to this, they are separated. Separation anxiety can be a common cause of the same. Try to spend some more time with your dog and make them comfortable. Also, if you have recently gotten a puppy at your place, they observe you to get to know you better.
Grooming is essential for dogs. It not only lets them look good but also saves them from skin problems. You can simply reach out to the specialist nearby about it. Some people have the expertise to do it on their own.
If your dog is guarding their food, they are basically saving it for them. Sometimes, they encounter some other dogs in their surroundings and don’t want to share with them. Also, they are doing it due to aggression. Both cases are possible. It is important to check them out and adapt the measures accordingly.
Growling is not a common behavior in dogs. They are doing so due to territoriality, fear, aggression, possession, and pain. Sometimes you will notice your dog growling at night. It simply indicates they are in need of something and want your attention.
House soiling is a process in which the dog urinates at different places in the house. They are marking their territory. To stop them from doing so, you need to train them. It is quite common in male dogs.
House Training Adult Dog
House training is important for dogs. You need to train them for different things. But make sure to let them know all the differences between good and bad. Some canine owners do not pay attention to house training and lately suffer from a lot of issues.
House training is important for puppies. When you first bring a puppy home, they are unaware of the situation. The way you train them will determine their future behavior with you. As a result, try to train them alongside the best.
Howling is a method your dog adapts to communicate with you and the world. They are doing it to get attention. Also, if you ignore them, they do so to mark their presence in the environment. In some cases, they also do so to draw attention to the health issues they are going through.
Howling to Music
When dogs howl to music, they are basically enjoying it and communicating with others. Dogs love to connect with their family members. So they will simply howl to the music if you are there with them.
Humping or mounting is a common behavior of dogs through which they indicate dominance, overexcitement, medical issues, and sexual arousal. To correct this, you need to train them. Also, pay attention to their needs and wants so that this habit can be stopped.
Hitting with its Paw
For dogs, hitting with their paw is a sign of submission. They are doing so to give you respect and show love to you. There is nothing wrong with it.
Hyperventilating is a behavior exhibited by dogs when they feel anxious or stressed. In this case, the heart rate increases. Therefore, you need to calm them down as soon as possible, and if there is a need to approach the veterinary doctor immediately.
Compulsive itching is possible when your dog is dealing with some skin allergies. Due to some environmental triggers or foods, allergies get triggered, and skin irritation gets developed. In this case, you need to approach the veterinary doctor and use the medicated soap suggested by the doctor.
Jumping is a common behavior in dogs, and they do it to greet people. Well, there is nothing for you to worry about. But if it is frequently happening and creating problems for others, you need to correct it by training.
Leash reactivity or aggression is the behavior that dogs display when feeling restrained or frustrated. In some uncomfortable situations as well, they behave so. To correct it, leash training is essential. If your dog doesn’t go through the training session, it may cause trouble for other people around you.
There are so many reasons behind compulsive licking. They are probably doing so due to boredom, allergies, hormonal imbalance, dry skin, parasites, and pain. Well, you need to check them out for all such parameters. Also, if you notice anything unusual, approach the veterinary doctor. If they are licking the humans around them, they are just showing love.
If your dog is constantly looking up, they are probably trying to investigate you or in need of something. In this case, you need to pay attention to their wants and needs. Also, sometimes they want to warn the owner about something unusual in the surroundings. But if they are constantly looking up at the sky, they are doing it out of boredom only.
Motion sickness is a sign of nausea and discomfort. In this case, approaching the veterinary doctor will help you and also try to distract them. If they are in the same state for too long, they will get mentally stressed.
Nibbling is considered a sign of affection, but in reality, it is not. To a certain extent, it is normal, but if it gets excessive, you need to pay attention. Sometimes you will notice your dog nibbling at pillows, which means they are in need of something or doing so due to separation anxiety.
Obedience training refers to the important training sessions for every domestic dog. Some basic commands are like, come, down, go, sit, stay, and heel. This lets your dog be in an active state and also follow your commands. But for it, proper training is required.
Panting is not a common behavior among dogs, and they do so due to anxiety, pain, and disease. However, do notice the signs of stress or pain and tackle them accordingly. Due to excessive panting, there is an increment in cortisol production in their bodies.
If your dog is playing around, it simply means they are happy and enjoying the surroundings. But make sure they are not causing harm to others. If they are doing so, they are probably dealing with anxiety or stress. You need to train your dog for safe play.
Playing Tug of War
When your dog is playing tug of war, they get excited and start to growl as well. This is a common behavior portrayed by them. However, make certain that they do not become overly excited or aggressive, as this may result in the destruction of items in the surrounding area as well as the harming of others.
If your dog is pooping everywhere in the house, they are probably dealing with inflammatory bowel disease, or maybe there is the presence of intestinal parasites. This happens naturally due to food allergies, infections, and food poisoning. Approach the veterinary doctor immediately to fix it.
Preventing boredom in dogs is easy if you pay enough attention to them. Dogs need attention, so be prepared for it. Try to engage in some regular exercise sessions and bring out some toys for them. This acts as a distraction to them, and they will not feel bored at all.
Professional training is required for dogs because this helps them be prepared for certain and uncertain situations. For example, you never know when an emergency will knock on the door, and there will be a need for your dog to handle it. In this case, only professional training will help.
Pulling on the Leash
Pulling on a leash is not a common behavior exhibited by dogs and is not safe for dogs. It leads to injuries and some other conditions like hypothyroidism, choking, strangulation, and so on. Therefore, leash training is important for them.
Dogs engage in regurgitating food when the pieces are too big and have eaten up the food too quickly. Sometimes it leads to a medical condition due to obstruction or inflammation of the esophageal lining.
Reverse sneezing is a condition that takes place when a dog’s soft palate becomes irritated. It is also known as backward size. It is the muscular area at the back of the roof of the mouth that is included in swallowing, vocalization, and breathing.
Your dog is rubbing his body to get the new scent. Sometimes they are doing so to show happiness and excitement. However, be sure to check them out for skin allergies as well.
Scooting is not a common behavior portrayed by dogs, and they are adapting to it, not to mention the analgesic issue they are dealing with. For a variety of reasons, the anal sacs gets clogged or injured.
Separation anxiety is very common in dogs. If you are not giving them enough attention, they will start engaging in some unnecessary activities. For example, sometimes you notice that they are not having their meals properly and are also not responding to your commands. In this case, you need to pay attention to them and spend some more time with them.
If your dog is sitting silently, basically, they are following your command. But if they are constantly sitting, they are probably elevating pressure on their joints or back. Do check them out for that.
Snoring is common in dogs and humans alike. This occurs when air movement is restricted in the national passageways for the throat. Sometimes they are not even able to sleep peacefully. In this case, you need to give them proper medication and contact the veterinary doctor.
Puppies love to socialize. Recently, I got a puppy. So they will start observing the surroundings. You will not believe that they are spending time with strangers and feeling happy as well. Well, this is very common. But make sure to train them when to step outside and when not to. If they step outside in your absence, they may have to deal with some unavoidable situation.
Staying behavior is common, and basically, they are showing respect by following your command. When your dog is staying around, you probably need your attention and have told them to do so.
If your dog is not fond of having the taste you have served to them, he will probably shake his head. Dogs know their taste and do not compromise with it.
Dogs also love to talk with their owners. So if you notice your dog talking with you, then pay attention to them. Also, if they stop talking to you, they are probably dealing with some health issues.
Submissive urination is an instinctual and physical response in young dogs. It majorly happens when your canine is excited, feeling fearful, anxious, or shy. Apart from this, they do so to acknowledge you and to identify you as their owner.
Urine marking is a natural behavior that dogs adapt to by marking their territory. It is normal when they are doing so outside, but it will irritate you when they are doing it inside. Also, in order to have sexual encounters with other dogs, they do so. This is more observable in the case of male dogs.
Walking in Circles
Walking in circles is a normal behavior of dogs, and they do so when they need to pee, lie down, or defecate. If your canine is engaging in this activity, don’t ignore it and pay attention to what they need. Sometimes, if it is related to any health problem, there is a possibility that you will require veterinary help.
Weaning – Puppies
Weaning is a transitional behavior in puppies. It indicates that they need solid food instead of their mother’s milk. As soon as puppies develop teeth, they become part of weaning. In general, when a puppy gets to 3 to 4 weeks old, a canine owner can do the same by themselves. Be sure to feed them accordingly.
Puppies display a common behavior characterized by whining. This is a sign that they want to express their wants and needs. In young ones, this is a sign that they need attention. They start communicating with their mother in the same way. As a canine owner, you need to observe them and treat them accordingly.
How can you tell if your dog has behavior problems?
If you feel like your dog has a behavioral problem, you cannot tell just by looking at it once. But if they are engaging in some unnecessary or avoidable activities spontaneously, they are probably dealing with it. Understand that the condition is not always to blame for changes in their behavior. Some dogs do learn things from other dogs, too, and try to mimic them. As we have discussed above, the A to Z list of behaviors, you can simply relate to it. If they are adopting them frequently, do pay attention.
Approaching the veterinary doctor is the best solution. They will analyze the situation on their own and come up with the best treatment for them.
Dogs also have certain behaviors, and they do change with time. But as a canine owner, you need to know the reason behind it so that the best measures can be adapted. Sometimes people do not pay attention to it, and this leads to some other problems. To keep you and your dog safe, check them out regularly and pay close attention to the activities they are engaging in. Be sure of the changed behavior so that you can also treat them accordingly.