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Experts Decoded Common Dog Habits — Including Why Your Pup Follows You Everywhere

We all love dogs, right? But sometimes the behavior of your pup can be a little confusing. Have you ever considered, for instance, what your beloved pet could be telling you when he follows you around the house? Or when she rolls over to expose her belly? Well, fear not. We’re here to explain these quirks and many others — and what they mean may just surprise you.

1. A quick look

When your dog gives you a glance and then quickly stares at something else, don’t worry. It’s not a bad sign! Basically, it shows that your canine friend respects you. If you’ve got any snacks on you, though? That short look will probably turn into a prolonged gaze. Maybe even some begging...

2. Following you everywhere

Ever wondered why your dog follows you all over the place? Well, Dr. Rachel Barrack could have the answer. In 2018 she told the American Kennel Club, “Young puppies can often imprint on their owners and look to them as they would their mothers.” She added, “If every time you’re with your dog, he gets affection or treats, he’s likely to [follow you around] more often.” Makes sense to us!

3. Flicking their ears

Dogs are renowned for their fantastic hearing, but they don’t always recognize certain sounds. To combat that problem, they flick their ears around to zone in on the noise. It’s just like when we’re trying to pick up a radio signal by adjusting the antenna. Hopefully, they avoid the static!

4. Stretching

Who doesn’t love a good stretch? It really helps to shake the cobwebs away. But is it the same for dogs? Well, not quite! They like to do it when they see their owners after some time apart. Simply put, stretching is a sign of affection. Aww.

5. Raised hackles

When a dog’s hackles — or the hairs on their spine — start to rise, you should probably try to calm the pooch down. This reaction is more often than not a sign of fear, anxiety, or anger. They’ll appear to be quite attentive as well, carefully watching their surroundings. So if your pooch is like this around other canines, you now know what to do.

6. Sitting between your legs

When your pet tries to sit on you, it could be interpreted as an act of domination — almost as if your animal is trying to claim control. But that’s not the case with dogs. In fact, if they position themselves on your lap, it may be a sign that they’re feeling worried or frightened. In other words, they’re after a feeling of security, and your lap provides that!

7. Opening their mouth slightly

You can tell a lot about a dog’s mood by looking at its mouth. If a dog keeps its jaws open a little, for instance, that’s a sign they’re content. You could almost say that it’s their way of smiling. It helps that dogs are a bit more expressive in this way than cats!

8. Narrowed eyes

When a human narrows their eyes, they’re usually focused on whatever’s in front of them. Either that or they’ve forgotten to wear their glasses! Dogs, on the other hand? If they narrow their eyes, they want to establish themselves as an intimidating force. Be careful!

9. Howling

Yes, wolves aren’t the only animals that howl. But dogs can make this distinctive sound for a few different reasons. Apparently, it could be a sign of loneliness or of marking territory. It acts as a way of directing their absent owners back to them, too.

10. Panting

Us humans pant when we’re trying to catch our breath, but it’s a little bit different with dogs. Cesar’s Way revealed, “Because dogs sweat through the pads on their feet, most of their body heat is expelled through their mouths when they pant. It’s their primary means of regulating body temperature. Dogs also pant to cope with pain.”

11. Walking in circles before bed

We all get comfortable before going to sleep, right? So why should dogs be any different? But your pooch doesn’t just circle around to get cozy. It’s actually an act that’s embedded in their genes, as they need to find a spot ready to face danger.

12. Showing their stomach

It’s always nice to show your dog affection, but you may still be caught in two minds when they roll over onto their back. Should you give your pet a belly rub, or focus on another area? Well, your pooch is actually showing their respect for you if they’re revealing their stomach. And, yes, that means you can tickle away!

13. Growling

Growling is a bad sign, right? Yep! Generally speaking, it’s a warning — to not get too close or to not take that bone away. But it’s not always that serious. Growling sometimes happens when a pair of pooches are play-fighting, for instance. Although you should still watch out for any biting that goes on.

14. Pawing your legs

It’s pretty easy for a dog to get your attention, but you may not know what they actually want. If only we were all like Doctor Dolittle! Well, at least one dog behavior is simple enough to understand. A paw to the lap? That means your beloved pet wants some fuss from you.

15. Digging

Cesar Millan has explained why dogs just love to make a mess in the yard. He said on his website, “Digging is an instinctual activity written deep in a dog’s DNA. Dogs in natural packs will dig to hide food or to uncover food such as small rodents. A den dug in the cool earth can also provide shelter from the heat.” Who knew?

16. Tucking their tail between their legs

You might be surprised to hear that dogs do indeed tuck their tail between their legs at times. No, it’s not just something we say! Why does it happen, though? Well, scared pooches react in that manner. That means it’s time for a cuddle, then, or at least a friendly pet to help calm your dog down.

17. Biting

Yes, dogs are prone to biting people, but why do they do it? Listen to Cesar Millan, who says on his website, “A dog will bite a person as a way of communicating their current state of mind. The dog could be reacting in aggression, fear, or nervousness. [But] there are ways to prevent a dog bite from ever happening if you stay in tune to the dog’s body language.” Phew!

18. Tilting their head

Is there anything cuter than a dog that tilts its head? It’s absolutely adorable! Normally, they exhibit this behavior when an object piques their curiosity — just as people do! Your dog may also try to pick up distant noises this way.

19. Yawning

Now, we know what you’re thinking... Dogs yawn for the same reason we do, right? Well, we hate to break it to you, but when a canine is caught in the act, it’s not necessarily an indication of tiredness. Instead, it could be a symptom of anxiety. Yawning may happen near people the dog doesn’t know, for instance — so be mindful of that.

20. A wrinkled muzzle

When a dog’s snout starts to crease up, you’ve got to be very careful. As PetHelpful explained, “If your canine friend is wrinkling his muzzle, he’s angry or aggressive. You should stop the thing causing this behavior and move away to avoid being attacked.” Hopefully, they should then calm down.