For the most part, dogs have a way of communicating with us that we can understand. Of course, they also do some pretty weird things that warrant a quick Google search. Once you know your dog, his wants and needs will come to you instinctively when you assess his actions. In the meantime, we have your back and have analyzed the most common dog behaviors and what they can mean. 

Deciphering Dog Language: What Does It Mean When My Dog…

Paws at Me

A lot of what your dog does is a way of communicating affection or an effort to gain attention. Your dog putting his paw on you is a prime example. If he does this subtly and gently when you’re petting him, then it’s your dog’s way of petting you back and sharing a loving exchange.

Putting his paw on you when you’re working or concentrating on something that isn’t him is most likely his way of getting your attention. This can happen if your dog wants to play, go out for a bathroom break, or a quick walk – remember to pick the right harness for your beloved canine!

Licks Me

There isn’t just one meaning behind any dog behavior. Let’s take yawning; for example, dogs can yawn when they’re tired, bored, or stressed. When a dog licks you, it’s typically likened to a human kiss. It’s done to show affection, and they sometimes do it as a greeting.

A lick can also be used to gain attention, and there is also the chance that your dog’s doing it just to appease you. If you are clamoring for his attention, but he’s just not feeling it, he may give you a lick or two before turning away just to placate you. 

Also, pay attention to where your dog is licking. If it’s your fingers, it could be because you have some food residue on your hands. Your dog may even lick your feet, your face, and parts of your body – each lick has a different meaning or sometimes dogs just like the salty taste of our skin.

Stares At Me

Like a human stare, a dog stare can mean a myriad of things. Look into your dog’s eyes, and you’ll see what we mean. Your pooch could be looking at you with the famous “puppy dog eyes” because he wants something – don’t give in!

He could also stare with a more judgemental look if you don’t give him what he wants. Then there is also the type of stare he gives if he wants attention, and that usually has a determined look in the eyes that is unwavering. 

Dogs can also stare at their humans to express affection. This type of stare is important to strengthen the bond between you. 

Leans On Me

Why does your dog lean on you? You guessed it! It’s because he is showing you love! If your dog or any of your pets want to be close to you, it is because they love and trust you. Small dogs can curl up in your lap or be picked up and cuddled, but big dogs can’t really do that. Instead, they may choose to lean on you or lay across you.

Lets Out a Sigh

Another thing we share with dogs is the sigh. A dog’s sigh can have the same meaning as ours. Dogs can sigh with contentment, disappointment, and exasperation – much like us, right? It’s quite amazing just how much we share with dogs in terms of expression, which is why it’s not as difficult to understand them as some may think. 

A sigh itself is nothing to worry about, but if it’s paired with moans and groans, then it may signal something more serious. Dogs usually moan and groan when they are in pain or discomfort. If this is the case, monitor what your dog is doing when he does it. 

For example, if your dog mostly groans when he is changing positions, it could be something associated with arthritis or hip dysplasia and will warrant a vet check. 

Barks at Me

Just like everything else, a dog barking at you can mean everything on the spectrum from, “why aren’t you paying attention to me” to “I missed you so much! Where did you go?” and “I am upset right now, do not come near me.”

Your dog could be excited, scared, angry, or happy; there are so many reasons behind a dog bark. The key is to analyze the bark and the rest of his body language. For example, a dog barking in the downward dog position with a wagging tail is one that just can’t wait to play with you, go crazy and let his pent-up energy out. 

On the other hand, a dog that is scared will bark with pinned ears, a tucked tail, and maybe even pace around the room and whine. A bark can mean many things, but the key to deciphering it is to take the rest of the body language into account.

Bottom Line

Dogs are sentient creatures that communicate how they feel, either vocally or through their body language. Every dog is different, and it takes time to get to know each one to really understand what he or she is trying to convey. The bond between dogs and humans is strong. After all, they are our best friends, so try to really listen to your dog the next time he is attempting to tell you something. 


About the Author: Brad is someone who cannot remember life without dogs around, he simply can’t live without them! He created Dog Nerdz to provide owners with crucial tips and essential info in order to be the best dog owner they can be. He has learned so much over the years about how to look after his precious pup Boogie!