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Understanding our Dog’s Behaviour

Understanding our Dog’s Behaviour

Ever wondered what your dog is trying to tell you? Despite our longing for our four-legged friends to communicate with us verbally, the way in which they tell us things is with their body language and behaviours. From head tilts to wagging their tails, our dogs communicate with us in thousands of ways and understanding what they are saying when they do so can help us build the bond and make our friendship greater than ever before. 

In addition to the Natural Cornish Pet Shop, we are also home to Doggy Day Care Cornwall. Having hundreds of dogs passing through our gates and grounds, we believe we are experts in understanding canine behaviour and knowing what they are attempting to communicate. So whether you have a new playful pup or a golden oldie at home, here’s what your dog is trying to tell you when they aren’t saying anything at all. 

Pawing at Us

Unable to communicate through spoken word, dogs often use their paws to communicate with us. Typically used as an attention seeking method when needing to go to the bathroom or for a walk, when your dog paws at you it can also have a much deeper and sweeter meaning than you think. 

Naturally, even without thinking, many of us will wind down from a long day and stroke our dogs whilst they are sitting beside us. That stroking action releases serotonin responses in both us and our pets strengthening the bond between us both. Ever noticed your dog place their paw on you during or after this time of affection? Well, there is a reason your dog chooses to do this. As they are unable to replicate that same stroking motion as us, when your dog places a paw on you in times of closeness they are actually stroking us in their own special way. 

Dogs paw resting on human hand

Lying on their Backs

You may have seen your furry friend roll onto their backs during snuggles and sleepy time. Adorable to watch, this movement can really show just how comfortable your four-legged friend is in your company. As instinctive hunters and predators, evolved from wolves, our canines very rarely lie on their backs as the position would lead them to be vulnerable and exposed in the wild. 

For domesticated dogs, lying on their backs, can symbolise their trust and loyalty in you as an owner as they feel relaxed enough to expose their vulnerability to you. Despite looking uncomfortable at some times, as all four paws are suspended in the air, sleeping belly up can also keep your dog cool in the warm as well as showing how much they trust and adore you. 

Puppy laying on its back

Licking their Paws

Ever witnessed your canine companion excessively licking their paws after a walk or run in the great outdoors? Well, spotting this early could help save their skin from irritating itches and help prevent infections from bites or soreness they could have picked up when out and about. 

After walking in areas such as woodlands or large grassy areas, you may notice your pets may lick their paws. This isn’t an immediate worry unless you notice an excessive amount of licking. Excessive would be classes as constant licking over a period of hours and may need some attention. As woodland areas are home to brambles, thistles and stinging plants, it is easy for your pet’s paws to be caught from a nasty stab or sting. These can cause irritation to your dog’s skin which leads to the excessive licking. 

We always recommend washing your dog’s paws thoroughly after long walks in grassy or muddy areas as bacteria can stay on the skin and absorb into cuts and grazes leading to infection. Washing and rinsing in anti-bacterial wash (that is safe for your pets) can help keep bacteria at bay and keep their paws in tip top condition. 

Small dog licking its paws

Tail Wagging

We all notice this behaviour in our four-legged friends. But did you know that different types of wag can be a tell-tale sign of different behaviour. A slow-paced long sweeping wag will show a sign of relaxation in your dog and indicate that your dog is calm and relaxed in your presence. 

A faster more erratic wag is often a sign of high arousal and happiness in our furry friends and will occur during times of play or reward. However, this can also sometimes occur when dogs are highly stressed or in vulnerable situations where they feel attacked or under distress.

Dogs with a stiff and raised tail are feeling anxious and can be prone to aggressive behaviour depending on the circumstance, whereas if their tails are low and tucked in their legs they are anxious, worried and potentially scared. Understanding their tail direction will help you understand your pet’s feelings and behaviour. 

Large dog with bushy tail


No matter what your dog needs to tell you, their actions and movements are the best way to help you communicate with your furry friend.

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