Thursday, February 10, 2022

How to Speak Dog Book Review

Jack Russell Terrier

 Last April we adopted a wonderful 2-year-old Jack Russell Terrier named Dixie.  We are really enjoying Dixie and when our grandkids came to visit, they fell in love with her.  She is very sweet, but sometimes I wonder what she is trying to tell me.  For Christmas this year my daughter gave me a book called How to Speak Dog.  This little book is full of ways to give you ideas of what your dog is trying to relate to you by their actions and body language.  

In the book you meet, Dr. Gary, a veterinarian and dog expert.  Dr. Gary gives you all kinds of training tips and vet and care advice.  The book is also full of fun facts, quizzes, hands-on-activities, resources to get more information and dog photos.

I love the way the dog on the front cover looks just like our dog, Dixie.  The book is listed for children ages 8-12 and in fact has won the Children's Book Award from the Animal Behavior Society.  I feel that the book is actually great for dog lovers of all ages.  I know I have learned a lot from the book.

On the rest of this post, I will have my dog Dixie show you through her pictures some of the different areas of the book.  This is only a sampling of the wonderful material in the book.

Body Talk

Jack Russell Terrier on her back
Dixie- Belly Up

Dixie loves to roll over and lay belly up when I talk to her.  She loves to get her belly rubbed.  In the book, Dr. Gary says the real meaning of this dog position is submission and trust.  She is saying that you are in charge and she's okay with that.  In this section Dr.  Gary gives a tip that massage feels as good to animals as it does to humans and if they are nervous a good way to calm them down is a back rub.

The chapter on "Body Talk" also contains several other topics such as paw on your knee, full body shake, wiggles away from you and one paw raised.  Each section tells what that usually means and gives you some tips.  Each topic is two page long.

Read my Face

Jack Russell Terrier
Expressive Ears

The section on " Read my Face" has topics like the begging stare, ears erect, and teeth barred, pricked ears, licking your face and yawning. 

In the photo above you see Dixie's expressive ears.  Whenever she is interested in something her ears go up.  In the photo above she had been laying on the bed when something outside the window caught her attention.  Dr. Gary said that dogs will prick up their ears to hear better.  One of the tips on the page says, " Dogs can hear noises that are up to four times farther away than those humans can hear".  No wonder Dixie jumps to attention or barks when we don't hear anything.

Telling Tails

There is another chapter in the book just on tails.  It contains things like a showy tail, stiff high tail, crooked tail, scared wag, straight tail, tucked tail, and happy wag.  Dixie's tail is constantly going.  If we say her name, her tail wags even if she had been sleeping.  I can really see the "Happy Wag" on her.  Dr. Gary says " A wagging tail is a truth-ometer.  Dogs can't control when or how wagging happens.  The tail is like an electric line connected directly to the brain that transmits how a dog is feeling."

Jack Russell Terrier
Wagging tail at squirrels.

This is just a sampling of the delightful material in this book.  If you love dogs, I know you will enjoy the book.   In closing I'll leave you with a few more photos of Dixie.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Dixie is such a great model for this book. Speaking Dog should be a book that everyone gets when they adopt a new dog. So much great information for newbie parents of the four legged kind. Thanks for a great idea Mary Beth!

  2. LOVE your How to Speak Dog book review. Dixie did a great job modeling the poses for your descriptions of various book sections. She obviously knows a good photographer when she sees one; one who will expertly show off her best features to the viewing public... LOL. :) She probably also knows that the hand that holds the camera also holds the dog treats! :)

    What a delightful book review with Dixie demonstrating each section you describe. I want to read this book and I don't even own a dog. But my son does, so now I'll know what Pepe is saying!

  3. This sounds a great book that helps us to understand dog body language and behaviour. A good book to have for anyone who has a dog as it is important for children and adults to understand how dogs are feeling. This book would be a lovely and thoughtful gift for anyone thinking of adopting a dog. I love the way Dixie demonstrated the body language you described in the book. She is certainly gorgeous and very photogenic!

  4. Dixie is so adorable and she definitely has expressive eyes. I guess all dog owners know that our pups "talk" to us, but too often we have no clue what they are trying to communicate with their ignorant humans. What a great book! I didn't realize that dogs can't control when or how their tails wag. That really is a truth meter then! I know I would enjoy reading this book and gleaning the wisdom of its pages.

  5. What a terrific book recommendation. Dixie looks identical to my son's dog (who lives with us), so darn cute! Understanding all the little sounds and expressions would be quite useful with two dogs in this house right now. The yawning/talking noise has me curious - our dog did this twice in a row yesterday to one of my sons (it was hilarious) - Dixie is beautiful

  6. Mary Beth, I’ve been in love with your darling Dixie ever since you introduced us to her last spring. How much fun it must have been to open your daughter’s thoughtful gift and see that the book’s “cover girl” (or “cover boy”) looks just like your Dixie!

    I have been blessed to live with several dogs over the years (although, sadly, not at present) and wish I had been able to read Dr. Gary’s pearls of canine behavior insights years ago. Our dogs really are wonderfully expressive, and our relationships with animals as well as humans can be greatly enhanced with deeper levels of connection when we learn to listen to, watch, hear and understand others’ “verbal” and body language and pick up on subtler cues.

    Dr. Gary’s book sounds like a fantastic and valuable gift for all dog lovers, not just those blessed to have one or more dogs as family members. I absolutely love and appreciate very much your helpful, informative, fun and beautiful illustrated book review of How to Speak Dog, especially the delightful illustrations featuring your adorable Dixie.

  7. What a wonderful idea to have this book and learn all about your dog. as always your photos are outstanding and Dixie is the perfect model.

  8. I love how your life is unfolding with Dixie. It makes me smile to see you blending different loves and passions (like photography and animal understanding). Having Dixie as your partner here made this a truly special review. How we are enriched when we delve deeper into the wondrous world of animal communication. Dogs live vibrant lives and we are the true beneficiaries when we pause to absorb what they are telling us.


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