Dogs have a unique way of communicating. In fact, your best friend can use signals and body language to let other dogs know how they’re feeling. While not all dogs are aware of signals, understanding what they are trying to say to each other can be helpful. For example, in the case of dog behavior, you may be asking, “How do dogs communicate?” Fortunately, we were sitting with the Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde to learn more about dog communication and tips to help your best friend socialize in the future.
How do dogs communicate with each other?
Every dog can react differently to a new environment or a new animal. Whether you’re a new puppy owner or have a multiple pet household, understanding what your pet is trying to communicate with others in each situation can be helpful.
For example, “dogs communicate using visual cues such as posture, head position, ear position, tail and even hair, as well as vocalizations such as barking or growling,” says Wilde.
Of course, your dog can bark or wag its tail for a variety of reasons. For this reason, it is important to try to be clear about why they are doing this. It can mean that they are uncomfortable or stressed out with another person, place, or animal. To learn more about dog vocalization, check out The Spruce Pets guide.
Deciphering the dog’s body language: what to look for
You may have recently brought home a new furry friend and your dog may be adapting to their new home. How do you know what to look for in your new pet? Wilde points out several signs to look out for when your dog is interacting with other pets.
Consider the following:
- Unlike humans, eye contact is generally viewed as a sign of aggression between dogs.
- Generally, when dogs first meet and greet each other, they avoid eye contact and sniff each other’s far ends. This is viewed as a polite greeting in the canine world, unlike dogs staring at each other, it can be a sign of aggression.
- Turning around and showing your stomach to another dog can be a sign of submission.
- A game sheet can be a sign to initiate the game.
- Tail wagging should be interpreted in light of the dog’s surroundings and the activities of the rest of the body, as this can sometimes indicate that the dog is happy.
- Tail wagging can also be a sign of fear or nervousness.
Always be aware of what your pet is doing when it shows certain behaviors. For example, they can be happy about a new friend, their place, or be stimulated by the new toy in the room.
Slowly introduce your pets to create a safe and welcoming space for everyone.
Why is it important to understand how dogs communicate?
Communication is important among your furry friends. It’s also important to the well-being of all of your pets. For example, if one dog tries to give an indication that it needs some space and another dog does not notice it, the situation can escalate.
In addition, understanding how dogs communicate can help prevent dog aggression and incidents with humans, and improve dog-human bonding. If you understand what your dog is trying to say to you and other dogs, you can also help your dog feel more comfortable and reduce anxiety, ”explains Wilde.
Tips to help your dog connect with others
A balanced home is ideal for everyone. While pets have their own mind about their behavior, helping with communication can be helpful. Wilde points out a few tips to keep in mind when your new dog is socializing with other furry friends.
Dog Communication 101
- The dog’s socialization should begin as early as possible (the socialization time for puppies is usually 3 to 14 weeks) so that the adult dog learns how to properly interact with other dogs and people.
- It is important that you socialize your dog safely. Ask your veterinarian about the vaccinations your dog will need and whether it is safe for your dog to socialize with other dogs.
- Some vets and day care centers host puppy games.
- Behavioral traits can help an owner know when to divert a dog’s attention and avoid potential conflict.
Every dog is different and may react differently to meeting a new dog or new furry family member. Keep in mind that your new pet may take time to adjust to all of the family members.
In addition, each pet has their own way of communicating and it takes time for pets to understand and learn each other’s personal pointers. Read this guide to learn more about understanding dog stress.
How do dogs communicate? It may depend on your furry friend
There can be a number of reasons why your dog is communicating for who he is. But if you observe your dog’s behavior, take your time and slowly introduce other pets and talk to your veterinarian, your best friend can be a great communicator in no time!
How does your dog communicate? Let us know in the comments below.
To learn more about dog behavior, see Why is my dog pawing me? Questions about dog owners answered
About the author
is a digital content writer and publisher for Trupanion. She spends her work day writing for the Trupanion blog. She loves writing about pets, getting inspiration from pets, and luckily hanging out with her rescue dogs all day. In her free time, she enjoys exploring and traveling with her family. Her work has been published on the DOGTV blog, the KitNipBox blog, the Get Your Pet blog and Fansided, among others.