Dog communication and body language is an important part of understanding your dog. Dogs communicate through body language, vocalizations, and scent. 

Dog language is a form of nonverbal communication in which dogs use their bodies to communicate their intentions, emotions, and needs. Dogs communicate through facial expressions, ear positions, tail positions and movements, and more.

Dog vocalizations are another way that dogs communicate. Dogs bark, growl, whine, howl, and make other noises to communicate with other dogs and humans.

Dog scent is also used for communication. Dogs use scent for identification, social communication, and more. When you understand dog communication and body language, you can better understand your dog and build a stronger bond.

How Do Dogs Communicate?


Dog barking is a dog's natural way of communicating. Dogs bark to warn of danger, to greet other dogs and people, to demand attention, and to express many other emotions. Although it is normal behavior, excessive dog barking can become a nuisance. If your dog is excessive in his barking, there are several things you can do to help control the behavior.

One way to help control excessive dog barking is to provide your dog with plenty of exercise. A tired dog is much less likely to bark excessively than one who is full of energy. Be sure to give your dog plenty of opportunities to run and play, both in your yard and out on walks or at the dog park.


Dog growling is a form of communication that dogs use to express their emotions. Growling can be a sign of both positive and negative emotions, so it's important to pay attention to the context in which your dog is growling. If your dog is growling in a happy or friendly context, it may be an expression of excitement or pleasure.

However, if your dog is growling in a threatening or aggressive context, it may be a sign of aggression or fear. If you're not sure what your dog's growl means, it's best to err on the side of caution and consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist.


Whining is a form of communication that dogs use to express their needs or desires. It can be used to signal a variety of things, from asking to be let inside or begging for food, to showing excitement or fear.

Dogs typically start whining when they are puppies as a way to get their mother's attention. However, adult dogs may also whine when they are bored, anxious, or in pain. Some dogs may even whine as a way to get attention from their owners.

If your dog is whining for attention, the best way to stop it is to ignore them. Once they realize that they are not getting the response they want, they should stop. If your dog is whining out of anxiety or fear, you will need to work with a professional trainer to help them overcome their fears. If your dog is whining in pain, it is important to take them to the vet so that they can be properly treated.

A french bulldog in a yellow shirt


Dog howling is a vocalization that dogs use to communicate with other dogs and animals. Howling can be used for a variety of purposes, including to warn of danger, to signal a need or desire, to greet others, and to express excitement or happiness. Dogs typically howl by opening their mouths and letting out a sustained, melodious sound. Puppies often learn how to howl by imitating their mothers or other adult dogs.

Howling is thought to be one of the oldest forms of dog communication, and it may be that dogs who howl are trying to communicate in the same way that their ancestors did. Today, however, most experts believe that dog howling is primarily a social behavior. When dogs howl, they are often trying to get the attention of other dogs or people. They may also be trying to communicate their location, or to find out where other dogs or people are.

What are the 5 Major Methods of Communication That Dogs Use?

Fearful Communication

When a dog is fearful, it may communicate its fearfulness through dog language and vocalizations. Fearful dogs may have their tails down, their ears back, and they may be crouching or cowering. They may also whine, whimper, or bark. Fearful dogs may avoid eye contact and try to escape or hide from the source of their fear. Fearful dogs may also freeze in place. If a fearful dog is forced to confront the source of its fear, it may become aggressive.

Arousal Communication

Dogs communicate their arousal level through a variety of means, including dog language, vocalization, and scent. When a dog is highly aroused, they may display behaviors such as painting, pacing, and restlessness. A dog's vocalizations can also be an indicator of their arousal level - high-pitched whines or barks may indicate excitement, while low growls may signify stress or aggression.

Anxious Communication

It is a common misconception that dogs are always happy. In reality, dogs can experience a wide range of emotions, including anxiety. An anxious dog may communicate its feelings through dog language and facial expressions.

An anxious dog may have its tail between its legs, its ears flattened against its head, and its body may be tense. An anxious dog may also avoid eye contact and may try to hide behind its owner.

A border collie running with a ball

Aggressive Communication

Dogs communicate aggression in a variety of ways, including barking, growling, snapping and biting. Aggressive behavior is usually motivated by fear, territoriality or protectiveness. It's important to understand how dogs communicate aggression so that you can respond appropriately and keep everyone safe.

Relaxed Communication

Relaxed communication is the key to a successful relationship with your dog. Dogs are highly social creatures, and their ability to communicate effectively is crucial to their survival in the wild. In the domestic setting, relaxed communication can help you build a bond with your dog that is based on trust and mutual understanding.