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Just for Kids: How Your Dog Communicates

By: Virginia Wells

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Do you ever wish your dog could talk to you? Wouldn't you like to know what he's thinking sometimes? Well, your dog "talks" to you all the time. If you pay attention, you may be able to "hear" him. Although he may not speak, your dog communicates in different ways. He does it mostly through barking, wagging his tail, and the position of his body.

These are some of the things your dog can let you know:

  • Want to play with me?

    Your dog looks really cute when he wants to play. He lowers the front half of his body to the floor and lifts his rear end in the air and wags his tail. His ears may be flattened, too.

  • I'm so glad you are home.

    One thing for sure is that he's grinning. His bark is high pitched and his tail is wagging. He looks really happy to see you.

  • Something is wrong.

    Your dog wants to warn you, so he growls or even barks. Sometimes his bark is low pitched and sounds very loud and scary. He also raises the hair on his neck and flattens his ears.

  • I'm so sad.

    Your dog can look really sad. He lies down and puts his sad face between his paws. Sometimes he looks at you with big sad eyes. If he's really sad, he may whine. Then you need to give him some attention fast.

  • I love you.

    It's easy to tell when your dog is saying he loves you. He wags his tail and gives you lots of big wet doggie kisses.

    Wagging Tails

    A dog tells you he's friendly by wagging his tail. But a wagging tail does not always mean he's friendly. A friendly dog holds his tail high and wags it from side to side. An angry dog holds his tail high, too, but he might just wag the tip of the tail very quickly. A scared dog holds his tail down low and wags it stiffly.

    Don't make friends with a dog unless you know him, even if he is wagging his tail.

    Your Dog's Bark

    You've probably noticed that your dog has different barks. One bark might mean, "Someone is at the door." Another bark might mean, "I'm happy to see you." Still another bark might mean, "Let's play." If you listen closely, you may hear many different types of barks. If you learn these you will know what your dog is saying.

    When Your Dog is Sick

    Dogs are very brave and don't always let you know when they are feeling sick. But you can sometimes tell. Watch for these signs:

  • He limps. Maybe your dog hurt the pads of his feet. Or maybe his body hurts. Or maybe it's something else.
  • He shakes his head. There might be something wrong with his ears.
  • He licks or paws at his body.
  • He doesn't want to eat.
  • He doesn't want to play.

    If you notice anything different about your dog, tell your parents. He may need to see the veterinarian.

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