Dog Body Language – How to Read Your Dog, A Complete Guideline for New Dog Owners
Knowing a dog’s body language helps you to interact and understand your dog better and also provides a better bonding experience.
Contrary to popular belief, understanding your dog’s moods is not as easy as it seems. It needs a lot of concentration and commitment. Because signals can have entirely different meanings from what you are thinking. The context within which they occur determines the real meaning. Thus it is even harder for newbies who have little or no experience dealing with dogs.
Dogs have a language that allows them to express their intentions and emotional state to you. Apart from sounds and signals like barking, growling, and whining, it is important to be observant with dog body language. Therefore they rely on most information in the form of body expressions and body postures. The illustrations aid dog-to-dog communication and the meaning may not be intuitively obvious to you. Thus learning how to decode this takes days of practice. The information is valuable as you know what to do in those instances. Looking at the dog’s face and body will tell you what you dog wants or how they feel.
How to read dog body language
Body language will help you know the state of your dog. Signs that will help you come up with a solution include:
- Arousal – slow, deliberate tail wagging, tense body and rolling body forward.
- Anxiety – half moon eye, one paw raised and, avoidance and displacement behaviors.
- Aggression – snarling, aggressive barking, raised tail and general pushy or aggressive behavior.
- Happiness – tail thumping, relaxed body position, enthusiastic tail wagging, and a general happy facial expression.
Dog body reactions
The following body reactions will help you understand body language better.
- Tails – a dog’s tail can tell you a lot of things on how your dog feels without even making a sound. In most instances, a rapidly wagging tail depicts canine excitement. It conveys the emotional and mental state of the dog. Tail wagging doesn’t automatically mean that the dog is friendly. If the tail is held above and away from your dog’s body and curled, this depicts dominance, and the dog can be aggressive. Some breeds, however, curl their tails naturally which should not cause any panic. A relaxed and comfortable dog holds its tail lower and away from the body. A frightened dog, on the other hand, tucks its tail between its legs.
- Facial and head signals – raised hackles, lips pulled back, and a snarl showing canine teeth are possible signs of aggression. Cold and confident gazes/stares may accompany the other expressions. The dog will stare more intensely if it senses a challenge that could lead to a bite. Intent stares with raised tails and ears display dominance. Eyes wide open indicate alertness and playfulness. Dogs raise their ears when playing or hunting. This ear position can also mean the dog is curious. Fallen ears may show fear, unhappiness or uncertainty.
- Vocalizations – barking expresses many things ranging from excitement to warnings. A soft bark followed by a tentative paw on your lap, the dog might be asking or suggesting something. Most dogs growl when they feel threatened and whimper when asking for attention when in pain and fear, dogs usually yelp in sudden high pitches. Short barks are greetings.
The importance of reading your dog’s body language
It is Important because knowing a dog’s body language helps you to interact and understand your dog better and also provides a better bonding experience. It is not easy but worth it. You will later find out how fun it is to communicate with your dog like best buddies. Dogs already know how to interpret human hand signals, human body language, and even verbal commands. Interpreting discomfort, for instance, will help you provide reassurance and the needed comfort.
It is common to misinterpret dog body language, but this should not worry you. The whole body language learning process is an elaborate and sophisticated system that can be interpreted easily as time. It involves non-verbal communication mostly. With time you will be an expert.
Dogs are expressive and will communicate when they feel, nervous, happy, angry, sad or fearful. Once you learn how to read a dog, you will be able to connect more easily and understand your dog’s feeling. Because knowing what your dog wants will go a long way in helping you predict what they are likely to do. To fully appreciate reading your dog’s body language and make an accurate observation, you should observe the whole dog and context. Focusing on only one aspect of body language will make it hard for you to understand what your dog is trying to tell you.
More Information – Wikipedia