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Dogs are pretty complex in that they show many different behaviors. Many of these behaviors are easy to understand, but some are simply puzzling.

To establish and maintain a good relationship with your canine companion, you should learn some of the most common behaviors your dog might show and what they mean. Here, your trusted private dog training team from Gnaw On Their Skull shares some typical dog behaviors you should be familiar with:

Head Tilting to One Side

When a dog tilts his head to one side, it means he’s uncertain about something. For instance, your dog might be interested in a new toy in the room but unsure whether it’s a good idea to play with it or not. This behavior may also be shown by a dog waiting for a command or hearing a sound and trying to figure out where it’s coming from.


A dog might shake his head after being alert or aggressive or when relieved from tension. There might also be some head shaking when a dog eagerly waits for something.


Aside from being tired, a dog yawning might be under stress or facing a threat. Dogs also tend to yawn when in the presence of other canines.

Showing Teeth and Biting

A dog showing teeth and being aggressive is trying to establish dominance. If, on top of this behavior, your dog also snarls and wrinkles his muzzle, know that your furry friend is furious, and you should not come close to him while he’s showing this angry behavior.

Barking and Yelping

If your dog is barking loudly and continuously, it may be that he’s sensing danger or being aggressive. However, if the bark is just short and soft, it may be that your dog simply wants attention and is looking for some playtime. However, a sudden and sharp yelp signifies that your dog is in pain.


Dogs pant when they’re trying to cool down. It could be they’re overheating or even having a heatstroke. Panting is how dogs regulate their temperature. Some dogs do this to relieve stress, too. 

Raising Paws

Dogs raise their paws when they want to play or ask for something, whether that’s some treats, a toy, or something else. If your dog lifts his paws and touches you, it’s a sign that he loves you. 


A dog digs either to uncover or to bury his valuables. Don’t worry if you see your dog digging because it’s pretty normal behavior. Also, a dog may dig a hole to “build” a comfortable resting spot for their litter.

Wagging Tail

Dogs wag tails when they feel happy and excited. If your dog does it rapidly while holding the tail down, it’s a sign of submissiveness. Your dog wants to play if it’s a slow wag while in the natural position. If the dog wags his tail slowly while keeping it down, it means he’s confused, sad, or unwell.


These are just several of the common dog behaviors that you should know how to interpret. Understanding your dog’s behavior is key to successfully training him and bonding with him. By taking the time to understand what your dog is trying to tell you, you’d have a more harmonious relationship that’s not filled with yelling or intimidation. Taking dog training classes is a good way for you to understand dogs better.

Gnaw on Their Skull offers dog training classes in Escondido, CA that help dog owners become the best possible s and friends for their beloved canines. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our canine education programs!