Figuring Out Fido: How Dogs Communicate

Your dogs are constantly trying to make conversation. Do you understand what it’s trying to say?


What any dog lover will tell you is that it’s fairly easy to understand what’s going through a dog’s brain. But what many don’t know is that this could be because Fido is making his expressions easy to read on purpose. A scientific study has shown that dogs use more facial expressions when interacting with humans, sometimes even to the point of manipulation. You know that super cute look your dog gives you when it wants something? Turns out he’s doing that deliberately.


Research suggests that this and other facial expressions are a means of communication instead of a purely emotional reaction. This could have developed as a result of domestication, when dogs found it important to convey to humans exactly what they wanted, as the same study notes that dogs use fewer facial expressions when with other canines. Nor is it purely a survival skill either, as the presence of food had nothing to do with how many facial expressions a dog uses. The research did not say whether these expressions are intentional or a result of Fido trying to ‘say’ something. This knowledge, combined with reading a dog’s tail and ears (traditionally the best way to tell what a dog is feeling), will help make communicating with your pooch even easier.


“Do I hear a packet of chips being opened?” | Inquisitive

Cats aren’t the only animals that are curious, Spot has an inquisitive streak in him too! Whether he’s wondering what your mid-day snack is or why your new leather shoes smell so delicious, this is how you tell if he’s trying to figure something out.

Dogs Inquisitive

“Wanna have fun? We can have fun! Let’s have fun!” | Playful

It’s easy to see when Princess is in a playful mood. She’s acting like a dog in the movies, jumping around and wanting you to play tag or catch. Do her (and yourself) a favour by spending the afternoon in the dog park, dog treats in tow.

Dogs Playful

“I’m like, under a lot of pressure right now.” | Stressed

Rex looks ill at ease. Perhaps it’s because your nephew innocently backed him into a corner while trying to play with him. Best get both of them out of that situation fast, before Rex freaks out and someone accidentally gets hurt.

Dogs Stressed

“You wanna go? Huh? Come at me bro!” | Aggressive

Fluffy is usually sweet, but she’s been acting weird towards your new gardener. She does not like him, and even acts like she’s threatening to bite. Perhaps you should have a look at your CCTV to see if he’s been acting suspiciously, or at the very least, not mistreating Fluffy when you’re not around.

Dogs Aggressive

“Please go away, you’re scaring me.” | Worried

Buddy isn’t looking too pleased right now. You can tell that he’s worried. Could there be a bigger dog in the area, or a sound he can’t find the source of? Best try to calm him before his worry turns to fear.

Dogs Worried

“I’m smiling! Like you, see?” | The ‘Submissive Grin’

Tinkerbell’s teeth are bared, but she’s sitting beside you looking relaxed. Could it be that she’s… smiling? Scientists think that dogs picked up the ‘submissive grin’ from humans–it’s basically a canine trying to smile! Pat Tink on the head and be honoured (instead of freaked out) that she loves you enough to show you her pearly whites.

Dogs Submissive

“I am beholden to you, oh obviously superior one.” | Total Submission

Bruno ran up to a chihuahua at the dog park. They got into a spat, and now Bruno’s on his back, showing off his belly to the other dog. He’s unhurt, though you suspect that his pride may be a little wounded at having been shown who’s boss by a dog smaller than him.

Dogs Total Submission

“Hello! You seem okay.” | Relaxed

Everyone loves Chloe. She’s always friendly, always wanting to snuggle up against you for cuddles, and likes to trot up to guests to say hello. Chloe is always relaxed because she’s comfortable in her environment and is secure in the knowledge that you’ve got her back, no matter what.

Dogs Relaxed

Communication styles between dogs and humans continue to grow and adapt, making it easier to tell what Fido’s thinking. Let’s hope that one day, the same thing happens to communication between humans and cats. We can only dream!

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