Understanding Your Dog

Have your recently adopted a new dog? Congratulations! Few animals are able to bond with us as strongly as our canine friends can. Their loyalty, intuition, and unconditional love truly enrich the lives of their humans. Part of forming a strong bond with your dog is learning to read ‘doggy language’. Here are some tips from your vet clinic Hamilton County on how to understand your dog, and some ways our canine friends communicate.


The eyes are the window to the soul, they say, and this is no different with dogs. The eyes of dog that is nervous, scared, or aggressive may seem larger than normal. Dogs generally don’t look at one another directly, as this is considered threatening in doggy language. Our canine buddies often look at humans in communication, however, so if Fido looks you in the eye it may be perfectly fine. If you see a strange dog staring at you or your dog, however, back away and don’t stare back. A dog that is glancing at you out of the corner of his eyes may also be on the verge of aggression. If you can see the whites of a dog’s eyes, it’s generally not a good sign. This is sometimes called ‘Whale Eye’.

Tail Position

It’s common knowledge that dogs wag their tails when they are happy, but dogs wag their tails for other reasons as well. If a dog’s tail is wagging, but is held low, this can be considered the canine equivalent of a nervous smile. A dog who is relaxed will have his tail in its normal position. Just what a dog’s normal tail position is may vary a bit. Some dogs hold their tails curled up normally, but let them droop when they are sick or anxious. Other dogs, like Greyhounds, normally keep their tails slightly tucked. Dogs that are frightened or nervous may also tuck their tails under their bodies.


Different types of vocalizations have different meanings. Barking can mean many things. A few loud barks may be a greeting, while several barks in succession can be an alert that someone or something has entered Fido’s domain. High-pitched barks are generally playful, while a lower bark may be a warning. Dogs tend to howl or whine when they are sad, lonely, or in pain.

The better you are able to read your dog, the better you will be able to understand what your canine is thinking or feeling.

Please click here for more pet care articles from your veterinarian Hamilton County, and contact us with any questions about caring for your dog.

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