According To Science, Your Dog Communicates With You Daily

Whether you’re getting paid to Instagram photos of dogs all summer or you’re just chillin’ with your favorite pup, you often wonder if dogs can communicate with humans. You talking to your pup all day–do they ever try to communicate with you back? Science says yes.

The way that dogs communicate with you is actually more developed than you may think. According to new research from the University of Salford, Manchester UK dogs do have an ability to communicate with you that’s complex.

As a dog owner, you may train your dog to “sit” or “lay down” and your dog will be trained to follow these commands. They may follow these through a sound of your voice or a gesture you make.


The study suggests that it may be the other way around at times and your dog sends you signals for commands. The biology researchers identified 19 different signals that dogs communicate with humans and expect us to carry them out. But what exactly are these signals?

The key is in your dog’s body language–these are called “referential gestures.” For humans, these would be gestures like waving or giving your friend a thumbs-up. They found that when a dog wants a scratch from their owner, they use up to 14 different gestures to signal this. This is so amazing especially given that we don’t even think of dogs as having the ability to communicate.

The researchers recruited the owners of 37 pet dogs. The owners were requested to film their dogs in their regular routine. The researchers ended up with over 1,000 clips. To analyze them, they split up those 1,000 clips into four standard requests that come from dogs: to give food or drink, to open the door, to get their toys or to pet them. Typical dog stuff.

Through their analyzing the researchers identified 19 different signals that dogs used to communicate with their owners. Some of which were: roll over, back leg up, paw reach, front paw on, crawl under and hind leg stand. But the most common one of all was the “head turn” or “gaze alternation”–you know that adorable little head tilt that dogs do.


This head tilt gesture was recorded around 400 times in this study and was the main way in which dogs ask for food, water, toys or to be pet. Another common gesture was a hovering paw to signal hunger or thirst. Rolling over was always used by dogs to ask for a nice scratch.


Dr. Worsley, head researcher, explained in the study’s press release that dogs are very aware that their gestures must mean something specific to the recipient. Dogs will change their gestured in order to make it clearer for the recipient what they want or need.

So next time your adorable pup tilts their head at you, pay attention and don’t just snap a pic of them for your snap story.

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