The reason why dogs are referred to as man’s best friend probably stems from the fact that they are faithful companions and they are also very expressive, thereby making it easier for stronger bonds to be formed between them and their owners.Dogs have an effective system of communication that involves the use of their bodies and faces to convey their feelings and perhaps emotions. As a dog owner, when you understand your dog’s body language it becomes much easier and safer for you to relate with and probably train your dog in the way you want. A dog’s body language is a complex and unique collection of communication that serve as indicators of when they are feeling nervous, fearful, happy, sad or angry.
Generally, the signs a dog displays at a particular time signify one or more of anxiety, aggression, imminent bite, or happiness. We will attempt a general overview of some of the postures you should expect to see often.
When your dog notices something that interests him in his vicinity, his ears perk up, his tail can be held in its natural position or it may be held upright in a rigid manner, and the ears are erect. A playful dog appears ready for action and usually has his eyes on the object that caught his fancy. The tail may wag, the mouth may be open and they may give playful short barks.
Generally, the dog appears relaxed if he is happy and for an observant pair of eyes, the corners of his mouth may appear slightly turned up, and the muscles of the face and body are relaxed, as though the dog is truly content.
A dog can be defensively aggressive, offensively aggressive or fearfully aggressive. Generally, when they are aggressive, the ears are erect, forward and spread apart to form a wide V-shape, the tail is erect and stiff and may be seen to quiver slightly, the hairs on the back (hackles) are raised, the forehead and nose is wrinkled and the eyes are focused in one direction. Depending on the degree of aggressiveness, the dog may bare its teeth and make growling sounds. Some dogs make deep barks that serve as warning to other dogs and people as well.
A telltale sign when your dog is afraid is that they attempt to make themselves look small. The body is hunched and lowered close to the floor, the tail is kept low or tucked between the legs and the ears are flattened backwards. The pupils will appear dilated while the dog may look directly at the reason for the fear or he may look in another direction. Usually, the body is positioned such that it will be easy to make an escape or to attack if pushed further (fearfully aggressive).
The body is lowered, the ears are flattened backwards and the tail is kept low and may be stationary, the pupils are usually dilated and the dog may pant rapidly as a means of getting some relief. Also, the dog may sweat through the pads on its feet.
In order to have a full grasp of the things your dog may be trying to communicate, you need to understand the basic body languages as well as the various contexts they may be applied to. The mouth, the eyes, the ears, the tail and even the body hairs are things to watch when trying to interpret your dog’s message. For a visual of how to interpret the some of the most important messages your dog is sending to you, view the diagrams at Modern Dog Magazine. By paying close attention to your dog’s body language, you will soon realize he has a lot more to say than “woof-woof”.
When you hire TAILored Pet Services, our dog walkers keep a close eye on Spot’s behavior and react accordingly. Depending on Spot’s needs, we have a monthly package to suit him so visit our monthly rates page for more information.