The Star-Herald

How dogs communicate with us

Have you ever been around your dog and wondered what she is thinking or feeling? 

Surely you have caught your canine doing something bizarre that has made you question his or her mental status.  Even the position that your dog sleeps in means something. 

Here are some of the most common dog behaviors explained in human terms.

  1.  Loose floppy tongue — If her tongue is hanging out, she is feeling chill.  This is a sign nothing is wrong in her world, and everything is OK.
  2. Butt Scoot — This is one of the funny ones, until they are doing it on the carpet.  If you see your dog dragging his behind on the ground, he may just have a dirty butt he is trying to clean.  This could also be an indication of worms or an anal gland problem, so keep an eye on him. 
  3. Staring — You will notice even low maintenance dogs have a need for your attention.  Here again intense staring is not her way of being creepy, she just wants your affection.
  4. Low front, mouth wide open and wagging tail — If this happens when you two are playing, it means he is truly having fun and enjoying himself.  He is bowing to you as a thank you.
  5. Open mouth with relaxed tail but high ears — If you catch your dog like this, it means she is neutral, relaxed, and secure in her surroundings.  If you are wondering when the best time to approach a strange dog is, it is when they are doing these things.
  6. Straight pointed tail and forward ears — In this situation, your best friend is curious about something within his environment.  Maybe he hears a new noise or smells something interesting, either way he is ready to play detective.
  7. Baring teeth, ears back and snarling — This one is obvious; however, it never hurts to remind people what an angry, aggressive dog looks like.  If you encounter this; your dog is feeling threatened and giving warning to the enemy.  Do not approach a dog in this state.  Even if he is angry at something else, you run the risk of being bitten.
  8. Rising bark — It’s playtime.  If your dog starts with a low bark and it gets higher toward the end, he cannot contain his excitement and he wants to play a game with you.
  9. Low growl — If a dog is doing a low growl, she’s anxious and fearful.  Any scared animal is unpredictable.  Do not surprise her when her nerves are getting the best of her.
  10. Crazy legs/Dead bug — If your dog is sleeping with all his limbs sticking up in the air, he is submissive and vulnerable. Not all dogs sleep like this, but if yours does, he is a laid-back, independent pup that feels secure in his surroundings.
  11. Hanging out a car window — This one is very common; she is taking in her surroundings and enjoying all the new scents.
  12. Side Sleepers — Dogs don’t usually sleep on their sides for long, but it is a typical napping position for them.  Dogs that do this often have strong familial bonds and a lot of trust in their “pack.” She is probably a carefree, happy dog.

These are just a few of the ways dogs communicate with us. Some more information can be found at

We have some wonderful animals for adoption at the Central Aroostook Humane Society.   Rescue is my favorite breed.  

Please be responsible: spay and neuter your pets.

Gail Wieder is a member of the board for the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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