7 Common Dog Behaviors And What They Mean: From Winking To Barking!

Some dog behaviors are easy to understand, while others need some explaining.

This morning, the kids let our dog into my bedroom while I was still asleep.

He’s a 55-pound puppy and, for the first time, he leaped and actually made it onto the bed. I was then savaged with unwanted kisses until my wife managed to drag him off me.

Interpreting this behavior is fairly straightforward.

Bingo was excited to see me and wanted to say good morning. However, the meaning of some other dog behavior is less obvious, and that’s what we’ll be looking into next.

Dog Behaviors

dog behaviours and what they mean
Bingo waiting for a glass of raw milk

What does it mean when your dog…?

It’s a common phrase that both new and experienced dog owners ask.

Dogs are funny creatures and they are all unique. Until you get to know your dog really well, it’s good to read up on different reasons your dog is doing this or that.

From winking to barking, here is what some common dog behaviors mean.

1. When Dogs Look Like They’re Winking At You

There are many different reasons why your dog may be winking.

Some have cause for concern, while others do not.

Here are some of the common reasons you might see your dog winking at you:

Your dog is having an eye spasm. This can be common and can replicate a wink. Not too much to worry about, but it is kind of a random thing rather than a meaning attached to the wink.

Or, another reason is your dog has some sort of damage or problem with its eye. If your dog’s eye gets infected or gets damaged by any outside factors, they can wink that particular eye because it is causing them discomfort.

Your dog may also be winking at you to show you that it is submitting to you. Eye contact between two dogs determines who the dominant animal is. So when your dog breaks eye contact with a wink, it is showing you who they think is the boss.

2. When Dogs Tilt Their Head When Looking At You

This is probably one of the sweetest little actions your dog does.

Nothing is cuter than when your dog does that little head tilt with those big wide pup eyes!

It might feel like they are trying to understand what you are saying, but there are reasons why your dog is tilting its head at you.

The main reason dogs tend to tilt their head when they look at you is because they are trying to analyze more closely what sounds they hear. The tilted head position and how your dog moves its ears when it does this behavior help them hear more clearly.

Your dog will also tilt its head to understand your emotions and respond to them appropriately. Dogs use factors like tone and sound volume to do this. These are the same things they use to address a threat and respond to it as well.

3. When A Dog Is Covering Its Eyes With Their Paws

Despite what it may look like, your dog is not trying to play peek-a-boo with you when they cover their eyes with their paws.

Sometimes it is really cute, but sometimes it can leave you wondering if your dog is pawing at something stuck in their eyes.

Here are some of the reasons your dog may be covering their eyes with its paws:

  • One of the reasons your dog may be covering its face or eyes with its paw also has to do with dominance and submission. By covering its face, it is trying to show you that it is submissive to you.
  • Another reason your dog may be doing this behavior is that they are afraid. This can happen during inclement weather or when they are feeling insecure around a stranger. Dogs also can sense the emotions you are feeling, so they may exhibit this behavior when you are feeling upset as well.
  • Your dog may also be itching its face, so if they continue to do this behavior excessively and you suspect something is wrong, contact your vet.

4. When Dogs Bark at Nothing

It may feel like sometimes your dog is barking at nothing, but is there something they know about that we don’t?

Here are some common reasons your dog may appear to be barking at nothing:

  • While barking may seem annoying sometimes, we have to remember that dogs use barking as one form of communication. Dogs can bark because they feel threatened by something or are trying to protect you, but they do not always bark at something.
  • Your dog may also bark when they are excited. Perhaps when you come home or during playtime, they may get a little enthusiastic and let out a bark.
  • Your dog may also bark if they are left alone too long and have separation anxiety.
  • Your dog may also bark to alert you that they need help with something. This could be anything like a potty break or their next tasty meal.

My dog barks at me to tell me it’s dinner time or time to go for a walk. He will never let me forget these things, and in fact, the warnings seem to come earlier and earlier in the day.

Highly excitable and hyper dogs can also bark a lot. This might be because they need more exercise – this is often the case with young energetic dogs.

Or, your dog may be barking just because they want attention!

5. When Dogs Cuddle You

Okay, nobody can be in a bad mood when they are cuddling up next to their doggie companion.

Possibly one of the best feelings in the world, does your dog cuddle you for the same reason you cuddle them?

Here are some of the reasons your dog may choose to cuddle you:

  • One of the most obvious reasons a dog will cuddle is to stay warm. Puppies snuggle with their mothers instinctually for this reason. It is only natural they would do the same with their human parents.
  • Another reason dogs cuddle is for the same reason humans cuddle other humans. A chemical called oxytocin. This feel-good hormone has many health benefits, so cuddle away. The more feel-goods for both you and your dog!

6. When Dogs Boop You With Their Nose

Ah, the ever-popular nose boop.

We know why we boop our dog’s noses (it is just so cute), but why do they boop us with their noses?

Here are some reasons why your dog may be booping or nudging you with its nose:

  • When your dog boops you with their nose, they are likely trying to communicate something to you. Your dog may need something like its basic needs, or it may just want some extra pets and love from you.
  • Dogs can read human emotions very well, so it is also possible that your dog is booping you with their nose in response to your emotional reactions (even if it has nothing to do with them.
  • Your dog may also be performing a life check on you, as silly as that may sound. If they boop you when your eyes are closed, or in the middle of the night, they may simply just be checking to make sure you are okay. So while it may feel annoying to be booped awake, know it is because your dog cares about you and checks on your well-being.

7. When Dogs Jump On The Furniture

Dogs on the furniture is often an unwanted dog behavior – at least, in our house it is.

It usually just means your dog is trying to see out a window or trying to get comfortable. Our dog tries to sleep on the couch, though he’s not allowed.

This was during a period when we didn’t have a good dog bed in the lounge for him to sleep on. We expected him to just sleep on the floor but it really was a bit hard for him.

Changing this behavior was simply a case of getting him a new bed and then reinforcing the good behavior.

Keeping your dog off the couch can take a bit of training, but it’s more than possible and you can teach it within a couple of days.

Whenever he did jump up on the couch, we would clearly tell him no and then put him on his bed with the lead for 10 minutes.

Also, make sure the dog bed isn’t in an uncomfortable position due to heating. For example, a dog bed always set next to a raging wood stove may end up with a heat rash.

Understanding Dog Behavior

Dog behaviors do not always have to mean something.  Sometimes they are simply doing something because it is instinct.

While most of the behaviors discussed in this article are considered extremely cute, be aware of repeated behaviors that may signal something is wrong.

As we discussed, these are the ways your dog has to communicate with you. So always pay close attention to any abnormal or excessive behaviors that your dog exhibits.

Learning your dog’s common behaviors will help you gain insight into if there is something wrong.

Pet parents who know their dog’s common behaviors and when they do them are more likely to notice when something is off.

When adopting a dog, you won’t always know his or her history. This could also be the source of some unusual dog behavior.

If something seems off, contact your veterinarian. It is better to be safe than sorry, even if that means making a trip to the vet only to find out that your dog just really likes covering its face with its paws.

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