descriptors / writers resources

How to Describe Dogs

I love dogs so every time there’s a dog in a story, I take notice. I like to see how authors describe their actions, emotions, everything. Here are some of my favorites–as usual, these are from real stories so don’t copy them. Just use them fordogs

inspiration:

Greeting

  • The dog snorted happily and bounded forward
  • Tail-wagging Labrador bravado
  • Feet like saucepans, took a cheerful rush at the American, leapt up and planted his muddy paws
  • When a dog approaches a strange dog or man in a savage or hostile frame of mind he walks upright and stiffly; his head slightly raised; the tail is held erect, and rigid; the hairs bristle, especially along the neck and back; the pricked ears are directed forwards, and the eyes have a fixed stare
  • Came in the room, sat quietly until I stopped what I was doing and said hi, then he turned and left.

Exploring

  • Max heard Susan moving around in the kitchen and hustled out of the bathroom to investigate. You could never be certain someone wouldn’t give you a second breakfast.
  • The dog got worried, crawled up on the bed, raced around chasing a ball, finally chased it out of the room. From her roommates room, she heard her barking, growling at the dog, slapping and playing, tossing the ball and the dog returned. She wondered who thought who was whose pack.
  • happy woofing sounds of a dog discovering hidden treasures
  • Abby greeted me with an exuberant lunge and when I went into the hall, I  squatted and endured her exuberance until it abated
  • I heard Spot return to the closed door and snuffle a little, and sigh and lie down against it. She seemed to have figure out that there were times when we had to be alone.
  • Sylvester forged ahead again, keeping the leash taut.

Angry

  • flopped onto the floor in full doggy snit

Characteristicsdogs

  • Dogs after voiding their excrement often make with all four feet a few scratches backwards, even on a bare stone pavement, Wolves and jackals behave in the same manner, yet, as I am assured by the keepers, neither wolves, jackals, nor foxes, when they have the means of doing so, ever cover up their excrement, any more than do dogs. All these animals, however, bury superfluous food.
  • Dogs and jackals take much pleasure in rolling and rubbing their necks and backs on carrion. The odor seems delightful to them. wolves don’t roll in the odor
  • Nothing but bone and bark

Miscellaneous

  • It’s take your dog to work day
  • the one which first sees the other, lowers its bead, crouches a little, or even lies down; takes the proper attitude for concealing himself
  • trotting gravely with high steps, head much raised, moderately erected ears, and tail carried aloft but not stiffly.
  • Dog crawling up the back of the chair

Paying Attention

  • With pricked ears, he watched for a moment and then yawned
  • Roaming the backyard, engaged in dog intrigue

Defending

  • Dog’s eyes wide, ears flat, a vibrating growl deep in his chest
  • As he prepares to spring with a savage growl, canine teeth are uncovered, and the ears pressed close backwards on the head
  • dogs when intently watching and slowly approaching prey, keep one of their fore-legs doubled up for a long time, ready for the next cautious step. they behave in exactly the same manner whenever their attention is aroused. I have seen a dog at the foot of a high wall, listening attentively to a sound on the opposite side, with one leg doubled up;
  • dogs wandered off to rest their noses in their paws
  • roughed them up the way Labs expect to be treated

Playing

  • Ran to the couch and got a pillow and shook it violently until it was dead, and came back to show us.
  • she lay down with a headache. The dog got worried, crawled up on the bed, raced around chasing a ball, finally chased it out of the room. From her roommates room, she heard her barking, growling at the dog, slapping and playing, tossing the ball and the dog returned. She wondered who thought who was whose pack.
  • Dogs scratch themselves with one of their hind-feet; and when their backs are rubbed, they rapidly scratch the air or the ground in a useless and ludicrous manner. by licking the air as if it were a hand.
  • young dogs in play growling and biting each other’s faces and legs
  • One of them ran around for a while with a pine cone in its mouth
  • Took a silk cushion from the chair and carried it around wagging her tail.
  • Exulting in whatever it is that dogs exult in
  • a real dog’s dog
  • doggy yo-yo
  • Dogess

Sleeping

  • Shifted in his sleep and licked his muzzle with one slow sweep of his tongue
  • I think she’d bark and snuffle and paw at us
  • Casey stood up, turned around three times, and settled back down with a large sigh. Clearly it was enough chitchat for the night.
  • Stoney was draped diagonally across her feet
  • the dog slept with one eye open all night because he didn’t trust her to feed him in the morning
  • An aging cocker spaniel came around the corner and gave me a token bark before she sat with her tongue out, waiting for me to pat her.
  • Sandy loped around my apartment, alert for something to chew
  • April picked up her squeaky toy and shook it and looked at me, and made a decision, and jumped up on the couch with her squeaky toy and lay down with it underneath her.
  • The dog curled into a wet lump and lay shivering on the ground
  • Dog was doing impression of a corpse
  • He stretched, shook himself and circled several times before dropping to the ground
  • paws up, aerial
  • The dog was sprawled across her lap, his sides rising and falling, his nose mashed against the ground in a most uncomfortable-looking manner. Dogs were funny. They could sleep in peculiar positions.
  • She shifted on to her back with her feet up and her head lolling over the edge of the couch

Eating

  • Dan got off the bed and went purposefully to the kitchen where I could hear her lapping water from the dish.
  • He gave a dog biscuit to Dog. She ate the biscuit and resumed her scone watch.
  • The dogs finished eating and settled in on the sofa, overlapping each other in ways that no human would find comfortable.
  • shifting his attention from Mary Lou to me. Food can come from any direction
  • Ben was an efficient and focused eater. By 4:13 her dish was empty and she topped it off with a long lap at her water dish.labrador puppy
  • Explored where the kids had been sitting in case they had left edible refuse
  • Swam one more circle and gave up and came back into shore and began rummaging in the waterweeds again

Begging

  • Pacey coiled in and around our feet, ever hopeful
  • Ned hopped up onto the picnic table and stared at my sandwich from very close range. I broke off a piece and gave it to her. It disappeared at once, and she resumed the stare.
  • wag its tale and watch with hopeful eyes
  • Vick rested her chin on my knee and rolled her eyes up to look at me. I gave her the remainder of my sandwich.
  • dog watched him, ears up, head slightly cocked.

More descriptors:

Words Lie, Body Language Doesn’t

How to Describe a Character’s Neighborhood

How to Describe a Fight


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blog, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is  editor of a K-8 technology curriculum and technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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16 thoughts on “How to Describe Dogs

  1. Jacqui-I love dogs too and even more in stories. Do you remember the dog in A Wrinkle in Time? Love him. They are part of the family, companions-teaches my character more about himself.
    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Ohhhhhh, I so want a dog, but am not home enough to have one – yet. Love the photos of course.
    And all that you have written – some of the many reasons I LOVE DOGS!!! Cats might be more photogenic, but dogs are more companionable.
    And that’s a quality to remember when writing.
    Thanks for the post, Jacqui.

  3. Thanks Jacqui I have a dog in my Nanowrimo story, I will put this to good use. my son calls his dog….. the big beefy brown dog, and yet his dog is black, he says he just likes saying those words….might be a picture book title lol

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