Dog Talk 101: Types of Talk

Learn 7 kinds of puppy talk

Close-Up Portrait Of Dog
Alena Kravchenko / EyeEm / Getty Images

Can you speak dog? Every puppy owner should know the basics, and the older your dog gets, the more important it becomes to learn how to translate puppy talk.

We love puppies for their cute, loving nature but too often puppy talk gets misunderstood. Puppies communicate using yelps, whines, growls, and silent body language with the flick of an ear, tail position, body angle and even smells.

Once you know how to translate puppy communication, you can "talk" to your puppy in a way he...MORE understands. That can prevent--or fix--most of the problem behaviors that "dog" many pet owners. Translate the ways your puppy talks to you, with tips on the best way you can talk back.

  • 01 of 07
    Nap time for the two friends
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    Like people, puppies are social creatures. In order to establish relationships and get along with each other, dogs needed a way to communicate. That helps keep the peace between members of the same family group--including you and even the family cat or other dogs. Learn all the reasons why puppies need to "talk" to us and how they manage to get their messages across.

  • 02 of 07
    Caucasian boy training dog in grass
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    Puppies aren't born magically understanding your language. And because dog talk relies so much on body language, puppies naturally pay attention to what you say--silently--even more than what you say with your lips. Just the nod of your head or a raised eyebrow speaks volumes to the little guy. Learn how you can best get your message across using body language that mimics dog-talk or vocal tones that puppies understand.

  • 03 of 07
    Cute puppy siberian husky on grass
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    What do all those woofs, whines, howls, and whimpers really mean? Is he playing, or do those puppy screams mean a mortal injury? And why won't he stop barking when you tell him to shush? Some of the things you do may actually increase the bark-fest. Learn what all the puppy noise means, and how to stop the aggravation.

  • 04 of 07
    Jack Russell jumping
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    Your puppy talks all the time, from the tip of his whiskers to that flailing tail. Even his ear position and fur elevation speaks to you, and warns you to keep your distance, tells you his scared, or invites you to come closer. Humans are capable of knowing so much about their dog and living a fulfilling life together, even though dogs can't say a word! Body language is everything when communicating with your puppy.

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  • 05 of 07
    I wanna play ... this 8 weeks young Beagle said!
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    Does he have a long curled tail, a bobbed tail, or no tail at all? And does that wagging always mean your puppy is happy? Not always--so learn to translate your puppy's tail talk. There is a reason that there are many myths about the meaning of a dog's wagging tail - dogs have very expressive tails!

  • 06 of 07
    Shiba Inu in the middle of Flowers
    Yoshihisa Fujita/MottoPet / Getty Images

    While owners can't detect all the wonderful puppy talk smells, you will see your dog sniffing and snorting to find out all kinds of information about his world. Your baby dog may even like certain smells so much, he rolls in them. Puppies also leave their own scent, including Pee Mail when they leg-lift and mark with urine.

  • 07 of 07
    Golden retriever puppy pleading innocence
    Paola Cravino Photography / Getty Images

    Owners often misunderstand and believe a puppy acts "guilty" when actually he uses behaviors to calm people--and other dogs--to keep the peace. He doesn't like your angry words or learns to expect loud voices when you come home. And puppies know exactly how to use puppy-dog sad eyes, wagging tails, and "guilty" looks to appease us. Learn about puppy calming signals and how owners can also use this language to reassure shy puppies and build confidence.