27 Idioms for Dogs: Canine Expressions


If you’ve ever wondered why people say things like “barking up the wrong tree” or “let sleeping dogs lie,” you’re in for a treat.

In this guide, we’ll unleash the meanings behind these expressions and show you how to use each one in a sentence. Get ready to paws for thought and dive into the fascinating world of dog-inspired idioms!

idioms for dogs

What is an Idiom for Dogs?

An idiom is like a secret code for language. It’s a group of words whose meaning isn’t clear from the individual words themselves.

These phrases often have a cultural or historical connection, making them a bit tricky to figure out if you’re not in the know. Now, let’s dig our paws into some idioms specifically crafted for our furry friends.


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Created by Dr. Julia Rossi

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1 / 20

What is a simile?

2 / 20

Identify the simile in the following sentence: “She swims like a fish.”

3 / 20

What is a metaphor?

4 / 20

Which of the following is a metaphor?

5 / 20

What is an idiom?

6 / 20

What does the idiom “break the ice” mean?

7 / 20

What is an adjective?

8 / 20

Choose the adjective in the following sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

9 / 20

What is an abbreviation?

10 / 20

What does the abbreviation “e.g.” stand for?

11 / 20

What is a verb?

12 / 20

Identify the verb in the following sentence: “The cat sleeps on the sofa.”

13 / 20

“Out of the frying pan into the fire” is an example of:

14 / 20

Which of the following is an adjective?

15 / 20

The abbreviation “NASA” stands for:

16 / 20

Choose the metaphor in the following sentence: “Time is a thief.”

17 / 20

What does the idiom “hit the books” mean?

18 / 20

Which of the following sentences contains a simile?

19 / 20

“LOL” is an abbreviation for:

20 / 20

Identify the verb in this sentence: “They whispered secrets into the night.”

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IdiomMeaningIn a Sentence
Barking up the Wrong TreePursuing a mistaken or misguided course of action.I thought I could fix the computer issue by blaming the cat, but I was barking up the wrong tree.
Every Dog Has Its DayEveryone will have success or good fortune at some point.Even though I didn’t win the game today, I know every dog has its day.
Let Sleeping Dogs LieAvoid stirring up trouble or reopening a settled issue.I decided not to ask about the broken vase; I thought it was best to let sleeping dogs lie.
Dog DaysThe hottest period of the summer, often marked by lethargy.During the dog days of summer, all I want to do is lounge by the pool.
Dog-Eat-Dog WorldA fiercely competitive and ruthless environment.The business world can be a dog-eat-dog world, so you have to be tough to survive.
It’s a Dog’s LifeA difficult and unpleasant life.Living without Wi-Fi feels like it’s a dog’s life.
The Tail Wagging the DogA situation where a small part controls the whole.It feels like the tail is wagging the dog when my little sister decides what we watch on TV.
Sick as a DogExtremely sick or unwell.After eating too much candy, I felt sick as a dog.
Dog in the MangerSomeone who spitefully prevents others from using something unnecessary.My older brother is like a dog in the manger, always hoarding the TV remote.
Top DogThe most important or dominant person.At school, the teacher is the top dog.
Dog and Pony ShowA presentation or display designed to attract attention.The talent show felt more like a dog and pony show than a serious competition.
You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New TricksIt’s difficult to teach new skills to someone who is set in their ways.Grandpa insists on using his flip phone; you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Dog TiredExtremely exhausted.After a long day at the amusement park, I was dog tired.
Dog’s BreakfastA mess or a failure.My attempt to bake cookies turned into a real dog’s breakfast.
Dog’s DinnerSomething that is poorly done or a mess.The science experiment was a complete dog’s dinner; chemicals were everywhere.
Dog’s Best FriendA human’s closest companion, usually referring to dogs.My dog is not just a pet; he’s my dog’s best friend.
Hair of the DogA small amount of what caused the problem can cure it.After the party, a Bloody Mary is my go-to hair of the dog remedy.
Dog’s AgeA very long time.It’s been a dog’s age since I last saw my childhood friend.
Dog Days of SummerThe hottest, most sultry days of summer.I prefer staying indoors during the dog days of summer to avoid the scorching heat.
Dog in a MangerSomeone who prevents others from enjoying something they have no use for.Sharing toys with my little brother is hard; he’s always a dog in a manger.
DoghouseIn trouble or disfavored.I forgot our anniversary; now I’m in the doghouse.
Dog’s BollocksSomething excellent or first-rate.That new video game is the dog’s bollocks; you should try it!
Doggy BagA bag provided by a restaurant to take uneaten food home.I couldn’t finish my pasta, so I asked for a doggy bag.
Dog-and-Pony ActA presentation or display, often used to deceive.The sales pitch felt more like a dog-and-pony act than an honest explanation.
Dog-EaredA book or page with its corners folded over to mark a place.My favorite book is dog-eared from reading it so many times.

Metaphors can paint unique pictures of dogs, like comparing them to loyal companions who never leave your side. To explore more metaphors for dogs, you can visit this link: Metaphors for Dogs. Similarly, similes offer comparisons that help us understand dogs better, such as saying they are as friendly as a wagging tail. Discover additional similes for dogs here: Similes for Dogs.

Idioms for Dogs

1. Barking up the Wrong Tree

Meaning: To pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action.

In a Sentence: I thought I could fix the computer issue by blaming the cat, but I was barking up the wrong tree.

2. Every Dog Has Its Day

Meaning: Everyone will have success or good fortune at some point in their life.

In a Sentence: Even though I didn’t win the game today, I know every dog has its day.

3. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Meaning: Avoid stirring up trouble or reopening a settled issue.

In a Sentence: I decided not to ask about the broken vase; I thought it was best to let sleeping dogs lie.

4. Dog Days

Meaning: The hottest period of the summer, often marked by lethargy.

In a Sentence: During the dog days of summer, all I want to do is lounge by the pool.

5. Dog-Eat-Dog World

Meaning: A fiercely competitive and ruthless environment.

In a Sentence: The business world can be a dog-eat-dog world, so you have to be tough to survive.

6. It’s a Dog’s Life

Meaning: A difficult and unpleasant life.

In a Sentence: Living without Wi-Fi feels like it’s a dog’s life.

7. The Tail Wagging the Dog

Meaning: A situation where a small part controls the whole.

In a Sentence: It feels like the tail is wagging the dog when my little sister decides what we watch on TV.

8. Sick as a Dog

Meaning: Extremely sick or unwell.

In a Sentence: After eating too much candy, I felt sick as a dog.

9. Dog in the Manger

Meaning: Someone who spitefully prevents others from using something they do not need.

In a Sentence: My older brother is like a dog in the manger, always hoarding the TV remote.

10. Top Dog

Meaning: The most important or dominant person.

In a Sentence: At school, the teacher is the top dog.

11. Dog and Pony Show

Meaning: A presentation or display designed to attract attention.

In a Sentence: The talent show felt more like a dog and pony show than a serious competition.

12. You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Meaning: It’s difficult to teach new skills to someone who is set in their ways.

In a Sentence: Grandpa insists on using his flip phone; you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

13. Dog Tired

Meaning: Extremely exhausted.

In a Sentence: After a long day at the amusement park, I was dog tired.

14. Dog’s Breakfast

Meaning: A mess or a failure.

In a Sentence: My attempt to bake cookies turned into a real dog’s breakfast.

15. Dog’s Dinner

Meaning: Something that is poorly done or a mess.

In a Sentence: The science experiment was a complete dog’s dinner; chemicals were everywhere.

16. Dog’s Best Friend

Meaning: A human’s closest companion, usually referring to dogs.

In a Sentence: My dog is not just a pet; he’s my dog’s best friend.

17. Hair of the Dog

Meaning: A small amount of what caused the problem can cure it.

In a Sentence: After the party, a Bloody Mary is my go-to hair of the dog remedy.

18. Dog’s Age

Meaning: A very long time.

In a Sentence: It’s been a dog’s age since I last saw my childhood friend.

19. Dog Days of Summer

Meaning: The hottest, most sultry days of summer.

In a Sentence: I prefer staying indoors during the dog days of summer to avoid the scorching heat.

20. Dog in a Manger

Meaning: Someone who prevents others from enjoying something they have no use for.

In a Sentence: Sharing toys with my little brother is hard; he’s always a dog in a manger.

21. Doghouse

Meaning: In trouble or disfavored.

In a Sentence: I forgot our anniversary; now I’m in the doghouse.

22. Dog’s Bollocks

Meaning: Something excellent or first-rate.

In a Sentence: That new video game is the dog’s bollocks; you should try it!

23. Doggy Bag

Meaning: A bag provided by a restaurant to take uneaten food home.

In a Sentence: I couldn’t finish my pasta, so I asked for a doggy bag.

24. Dog-and-Pony Act

Meaning: A presentation or display, often used to deceive.

In a Sentence: The sales pitch felt more like a dog-and-pony act than an honest explanation.

25. Dog-Eared

Meaning: A book or page with its corners folded over to mark a place.

In a Sentence: My favorite book is dog-eared from reading it so many times.

10 Quizzes About The Idiom in The Article

Quiz 1:

Question 1: What does the idiom “Barking up the wrong tree” mean?

a) Chasing a cat
b) Pursuing a mistaken course of action
c) Climbing a tree to rescue a kitten

Question 2: Use “Barking up the wrong tree” in a sentence.


Quiz 2:

Question 1: What does the idiom “Every dog has its day” imply?

a) Every dog needs a day off
b) Everyone will have success or good fortune at some point
c) Every day is a good day for dogs

Question 2: Provide a sentence using “Every dog has its day.”


Quiz 3:

Question 1: When someone says “Let sleeping dogs lie,” what are they advising?

a) To wake up your dog
b) To avoid stirring up trouble or reopening a settled issue
c) To take a nap with your dog

Question 2: Construct a sentence with “Let sleeping dogs lie.”


Quiz 4:

Question 1: What do the “Dog Days” refer to?

a) Days when people walk their dogs
b) The hottest period of the summer, marked by lethargy
c) Days dedicated to pampering dogs

Question 2: Create a sentence incorporating “Dog Days.”


Quiz 5:

Question 1: In a “Dog-eat-dog world,” what kind of environment is being described?

a) A world ruled by dogs
b) A fiercely competitive and ruthless environment
c) A world where dogs eat a lot

Question 2: Use “Dog-eat-dog world” in a sentence.


Quiz 6:

Question 1: When someone says, “It’s a dog’s life,” what are they suggesting?

a) Dogs lead difficult lives
b) Life is like a game for dogs
c) Dogs have a luxurious life

Question 2: Provide a sentence with “It’s a dog’s life.”


Quiz 7:

Question 1: What does the expression “The tail wagging the dog” mean?

a) A dog with a happy tail
b) A situation where a small part controls the whole
c) A dog leading a parade

Question 2: Construct a sentence using “The tail wagging the dog.”


Quiz 8:

Question 1: When someone says, “Sick as a dog,” what are they expressing?

a) Dogs are always sick
b) Extreme excitement
c) Feeling extremely sick or unwell

Question 2: Use “Sick as a dog” in a sentence.


Quiz 9:

Question 1: What does the idiom “Dog in the manger” imply?

a) Dogs guarding the manger
b) Someone preventing others from using something they don’t need
c) Dogs enjoying their meals in a manger

Question 2: Provide a sentence with “Dog in the manger.”


Quiz 10:

Question 1: If someone is the “Top Dog,” what does that mean?

a) The tallest person in the room
b) The most important or dominant person
c) A person with many pet dogs

Question 2: Use “Top Dog” in a sentence.

Conclusion

Congratulations, you’ve successfully sniffed out the meanings of these dog-inspired idioms! Just like teaching a new trick to an old dog, you’ve mastered the art of understanding and using these expressions.

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