15 Surprising Facts About What Dog Behaviors Actually Mean

Finally, the mysteries of the canine world are revealed.

1. Wagging their tails:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: Dogs wag their tails back and forth to show they’re happy.
The truth: Your dog just farted and he’s trying to fan it away from you. What a courteous pup.

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2. Showing their bellies to you:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: Dogs expose their bellies as a sign of submission, and might be asking for a belly rub!
The truth: Your dog has been on the South Beach Diet for six weeks and wants you to acknowledge his weight loss. Say something encouraging!

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3. Baring their front teeth:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: Curling lips baring front teeth is a dog’s way of smiling.
The truth: Your dog is obsessed with Katy Perry (as most dogs are) and he’s hoping you’ll buy him a pair of grillz like the ones in Katy’s “Dark Horse” video. Tell your dog that Katy Perry is a poor role model and buy him an Ani DiFranco CD.

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4. Running in their sleep:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: Dogs dream the same as people, and they have similar muscle movements when they dream. Maybe your dog is chasing a rabbit!
The truth: Dogs are highly skilled at astral projection, but yours has strayed too far from his earthly body. It’s up to you to astrally project into the Ghost Realm, find your canine friend, and bring him home safely. Godspeed, and good luck. You’ll need it.

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5. Staring at you dead in the eye:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: A direct, intense stare is a threat. It would be wise to back away slowly.
The truth: Your dog just got LASIK and is hoping you’ll notice his lovely new 20/20 vision. Bring your face as close as possible to his so your compliments can be heard more easily.

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6. Ears in different positions:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: Dogs position their ears in different directions depending on their mood. Up means alert, down means fearful, and back means aggressive.
The truth: Dogs love fashion and it’s important to let your pup experiment with different earstyles. Get him a gift card to Claire’s at the mall so he can accessorize appropriately.

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7. Tail between their legs:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: A tail between the legs means your dog is afraid, worried, and under stress.
The truth: Your puppy is wearing his tail down because he woke up late and didn’t have time to style his tail into an updo. Don’t comment on it. Dogs are sensitive.

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8. Play biting:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: Play biting is a normal part of dog behavior. Think of it as rough housing.
The truth: Your dog plans to eat you soon, but wants to tenderize you first. Soon he’ll start seasoning you with thyme and saffron. Beware.

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9. Eating dead gross rotten animal meat off the forest floor:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: Dogs are carnivores and it’s instinctual for them to eat meat.
The truth: Dogs are actually strict vegans and only eat meat when experiencing severe anemia. If your dog eats a dead animal it means it’s time to shell out for some iron supplements.

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10. Quizzically tilting their heads to one side:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: Dogs tilt their heads when something piques their interest and they want to hear better.
The truth: Like Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist, your dog is possessed by the demon king Pazuzu, hence the contorting head. Hire a priest to perform an exorcism immediately.

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11. Making “Puppydog Eyes” at you:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: Dogs are smarter than you think and know how to get what they want. “Puppydog eyes” is akin to begging—a ploy to get a treat or go for a walk.
The truth: Your dog has been wearing its monthly contact lenses for too long and it’s starting to cause problems such as dilated pupils and watery eyes. Educate your canine friend on proper lens care.

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12. Howling at the moon:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: Dogs howl to announce their presence to other canines. The moon association is most likely based on ancient myths.
The truth: Your dog is a werewolf! Run!!! Eeeeeeeek!

(Unless he’s one of the hot werewolves from Teen Wolf, in which case congrats.)

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13. Digging holes all over the damn place:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: Dogs dig to bury valuable items, like bones and toys.
The truth: Dogs dig to bury valuable items, like gold and other precious metals. Your dog doesn’t trust banks, and why should he? With the way big banks are handling our money these days, I tell you what…

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14. Growling at the mailman/delivery guy/basically anyone:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: Dogs bark at strangers because they’re territorial and protective.
The truth: Your dog is so SUPER JAZZED for his new subscription to Better Homes and Gardens to arrive that he can barely contain himself!

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15. Barking because they heard another dog bark:

Adam Ellis

“Experts” say: Dogs bark to communicate. They’re just saying hello to each other.
The truth: All dogs are in gangs and when they bark, they’re warning each other to stay off one another’s turf. Don’t get caught in a dog gang turf war!

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