19 Complete Dog Actions And Their Meaning, Say Scientists!

We are constantly learning new things in this day and age and our dogs are no exception either, a great new study has identified 19 actions done by our dogs and what they actually mean…

The scientists call it “referential signaling” and it is believed to be quite a rare and special thing in the animal kingdom.

Also though, and maybe just a little surprising too, great apes in captivity have also been seen to exhibit and be quite adept at it as well…

The research concentrated on the doggies unique relationship with us humans, it centers on the non-verbal part of communication with many frequent interactions, it’s the first non-primates studied like this!

Referential signaling is described as, for example when a human baby points toward something that he or she really wants, that’s what referential signaling is, its key to the development of speech in us humans…

To be actually referred to as a ‘referential gesture’, it must have all these five:

1. It must be a ‘request’ that involves an object or some part of the signaler’s body.
2. The action doesn’t really accomplish anything it’s just purely a gesture.
3. It’s pointed toward the receiver, as in the case of dogs, toward an owner.
4. It can be taught via repetition to the receiver, who then carries out the request eventually.
5. It must be intentional, and the signaler is actually waiting for the desired response after the gesture.

The Study worked by taking 37 dogs and getting their owners to video what they thought was their dogs trying to communicate with them, or at least trying to.

They analyzed the videos and 19 gestures, of 49 seen, qualified as referential, they were then grouped by their ‘apparent satisfactory outcome’, four detected:

‘Scratch me!’
‘Give me food/drink’
‘Open the door’
‘Get my toy/bone’

The 19 gestures and what they communicate to us is below, really amazing stuff, we are learning more all the time about our beautiful doggies:

1. Rollover
Description: Rolling onto one side of the body and exposing the chest, stomach and groin.

What it means: “Scratch me!”

2. Head under
Description: Plunge headfirst underneath an object or human.

What it means: “Get my toy/bone,” “Scratch me,” “Give me food/drink.”

3. Head forward
Description: Move the head forwards and up to direct a human’s appendage to a specific location on the body.

What it means: “Give me food/drink,” “Scratch me,” “Open the door.”

4. Hind leg stand
Description: Lift front paws off the ground and stand on hind legs, front paws are not resting on anything.

What it means: “Give me food/drink,” “Get my toy/bone,” “Open the door.”

5. Head turn
Description: Head is turned from side to side on the horizontal axis usually between a human and an apparent object of interest.

What it means: “Give me food/drink,” “Open the door,” “Get my toy/bone,” “Scratch me.”

6. Shuffle
Description: Shuffle the whole body along the ground in short movements, performed whilst in rollover position.

What it means: “Scratch me!”

7. Back leg up
Description: Lifting of a single back leg whilst lying on one side of the body.

What it means: “Scratch me!”

8. Paw hover
Description: Hold one paw in mid-air whilst in a sitting position.

What it means: “Give me food/drink,” “Scratch me,” “Open the door,” “Get my toy/bone.”

9. Crawl under
Description: Move entire or part of their body underneath an object or a human’s appendage.

What it means: “Get my toy/bone.”

10. Flick toy
Description: Hold a toy in the mouth and throw it forwards, usually in the direction of a human.

What it means: “Give me food/drink.”

11. Jump
Description: Jump up and down off the ground, human or an object, usually while staying in one location.

What it means: “Open the door,” “Give me food/drink,” “Get my toy/bone.”

12. Paw Reach
Description: Placing a single paw or both paws underneath another object to retrieve an object of apparent interest.

What it means: “Get my toy/bone.”

13. Nose
Description: Pressing nose (or face) against an object or human.

What it means: “Scratch me,” “Give me food/drink,” “Open the door,” “Get my toy/bone.”

14. Lick
Description: Licking an object or human once or repetitively.

What it means: “Scratch me,” “Give me food/drink,” “Open the door,” “Get my toy/bone.”

15. Front paws on
Description: Lifting both paws off the ground and resting them on an object or human.

What it means: “Open the door,” “Give me food/drink,” “Scratch me,” “Get my toy/bone.”

16. Paw rest
Description: Lifting a single front paw and resting it on an object or human.

What it means: “Scratch me,” “Open the door.”

17. Head rub
Description: Involves rubbing the head against an object or human on which the signaler is leaning on.

What it means: “Scratch me!”

18. Chomp
Description: Involves opening the mouth and placing it over the arm of a human whilst repeatedly and gently biting down on the arm.

What it means: “Scratch me!”

19. Paw
Description: Lifting of a single front paw to briefly touch an object or human.

What it means: “Get my toy/bone.“ “Give me food/drink,” “Open the door,” “Scratch me.”

Maybe now you will know even more about your dog, try at home to see if things are making even more sense?

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What do you think ?

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