Dog Behaviors

12 Common Dog Behaviors And What They Mean Leave a comment

Dogs are not always as straightforward as they seem. This can make it difficult to understand their behaviors and what they mean. In this blog post, we will break down 12 common dog behaviors and discuss what you should do when you see them happening.

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If your dog is pawing at you or something in the room this can mean several different things. For example, he may be asking for attention by pawing; however, it could also indicate that there’s something outside they want to go and play with.

You should try not to engage too much with this behavior as it can quickly become an attention-seeking game.


If your dog is nudging you with their nose, this could be a sign they want something. For example, if they’re nuzzling against your leg and looking at the food bowl, they may be indicating that he’s hungry.

You should pay close attention to this behavior as it could also be a sign that you’re going out somewhere and your dog is trying to tell you he needs the toilet.

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Dogs will often scratch at surfaces or objects if they want something. For example, if your dog scratches at the door, don’t automatically assume he wants to go outside. Instead, take a closer look and see if there’s something else he may actually want.

They could be scratching because they’re bored or need attention from you.

Lying On Their Back

If your dog gets into the lying-on-their-back position, this is often an invitation for you to rub and stroke their stomach. However, this behavior can also mean something else. If your dog is lying on its back and seems quite stiff or tense, it could be a sign they’re feeling threatened by something.

You should pay close attention to what’s going on around them as there may be an animal outside the window that he wants to go after.


Dogs have a highly developed sense of smell, and they use it to gather information about the world around them. If your dog is sniffing something, in particular, this could mean one of two things. It may be he’s trying to identify a scent that doesn’t belong there, or it might indicate that he has found something interesting.

You should try and keep a close eye on your dog when they’re sniffing to see if there’s anything he might be interested in.


If you notice that your dog is cowering away from something, it could mean one of two things. It may indicate that he’s feeling scared and threatened by whatever caught his attention, or, more likely, the threat is behind him.

You should try not to make too much noise or move too quickly, as this can cause stress and anxiety for dogs who are already uncomfortable with their situation.

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Backing Up

Dogs will often back themselves into corners and against walls because they do not like confrontation or being trapped in small spaces, especially if it means having nowhere else to escape.

If you notice your dog is backing up, it could be because he’s feeling threatened or trapped in some way. You should try and give him more space to avoid any further stress on his part.

Ears Pricked Forward

Dogs interested in something will often lift their ears while also pointing them towards the object of interest; they may even move closer for a better look. Ears pricked toward a strange noise or person are called “attention” by many experienced trainers.

This behavior usually indicates curiosity but can sometimes show wariness, depending on how intense the movement is. It’s important not to make too much out of this one single action since dogs use other behaviors (such as looking away in fear) to communicate their emotional state.

Standing With One Paw Lifted

Dogs who are standing still but have a front leg raised might be doing so for many reasons. One common reason dogs stand like this is that something is caught between their pads, such as dirt or another object that may need removal.

If your dog stands on three legs for a few seconds and then switches back again, usually accompanied by some heavy breathing, then he could also be trying to communicate that his foot hurts or feels uncomfortable for some other reason.

You should try and remove anything you find stuck between your pups, if possible, before attempting anything else to avoid any further discomfort.


Freezing is a behavior that can indicate concern or fear in some cases. Still, it could also just mean confusion. If your dog freezes during an interaction with another person or animal, this usually means he’s not sure how to react and might be waiting for additional information from you. Hence, you know the appropriate course of action.

It’s best to try and remain calm as much as possible before giving him instructions on what to do next, so his reaction isn’t influenced by yours. This type of freezing should only last around five seconds total, though, because dogs are very good at picking up cues from us humans; if they notice we’re still acting normal, then there must not really be anything wrong.

Staring With Ears Up

When dogs look at something intently, they will often hold their position until whatever caught their attention moves away completely, even when that means staring at an object for several minutes without blinking.

This is because it can take them much longer than us humans to fully process everything around them, especially since many breeds have been bred to use their eyes very differently from our own of seeing things.

If your puppy’s ears are perked up while he’s staring at something, then chances are that whatever it is captured his attention for a reason, whether that means there might be a danger or not.

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Tail Tucked Under

When dogs feel frightened or anxious about specific things (such as strangers), they will sometimes try to make themselves look smaller than usual by tucking their tails underneath their bodies.

Since tails can also communicate how a dog feels overall, you should never take just one behavior to mean that they are afraid of something. You should also pay attention to whether or not your dog is wagging his tail when he’s in the presence of whatever it is that scares him.

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Dogs can be a loving and affectionate addition to any household, but first-time dog owners might not always know what behaviors indicate their pup is happy or upset.

A common example of this includes when dogs freeze during interactions with others; if they do so for only five seconds, then it shows that they are confused about how to act instead of feeling fearful.

So remember to take your pup’s behavior with a grain of salt and don’t let one single action influence what you do next.

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