🧠 Training

How To Read Dog's Body Language?

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March 3, 2022

Key Takeaways

Have you been looking for answers on how to read a dog's body language? The art of communicating with your canine requires an understanding of dog body language. It includes posture, facial expressions, and other body movements - from the head, toes to the tail.

Understanding your dog's body language plays a vital role in responsible ownership. It helps you decipher feelings and thoughts. So, let us get a deeper understanding of the most common body language that dogs make.

Dog's Body Language #1 - Tail Wagging

Tail wagging seems like an unmistakable expression of happiness. But, some people misinterpret this signal most of the time. It's because not all tail wagging of dogs always means happiness.

It could be an exciting moment, but it could also mean frustration or worse. So, how would you interpret your pup's emotions through tail wagging? Focus on the speed and direction of the wag and the position of the tail.

Faster tail-wagging usually means more aroused the dog. Think of a guard dog on alert; it shows high levels of emotions. Meanwhile, the slow and side-to-side tail sweeps when the dog greets you mean a relaxed feeling.

The direction of the tail wag also gives you a clue. Dogs wag their tails more to the right when they are happy about something, such as bonding with their owner. When dogs are in a negative situation, their tails wag further to the left. There's also the helicopter tail wag, which involves the dog's tail spinning in a circle. Without a doubt, a happy wag. It's most common to see it when a dog greets a loved one.

Finally, the tail position gives another hint about the dog's emotional state. A higher tail level means more assertive. Meanwhile, pointed down tails or tucked between legs may mean fear or stress.

Dogs with tails up, like a flag, may have a confident feeling or aggressiveness. Relaxed pups have their tails in a neutral position, but the level depends on the breed. For example, Chow Chows have their tails curly over their backs when feeling relaxed. You will more quickly recognize any shift in your dog's emotions if you get to know his neutral tail position.

Dog's Body Language #2 - Raised Hackles

If a dog has raised hackles, it is a sign of aggressiveness, but not always negatively. It might seem because of stress, excitement, or high interest in something. Raised hackles on dogs are like goosebumps in people.

Dog's Body Language #3 - Posture

Weight distribution can tell a lot of things about the dog's body language. It means a lot about their mood and intention. For example, a dog hunching towards the ground can be a sign of stress and fear. The pup is possibly trying to hide or get away from something, so it tries to appear smaller.

A dog rolling its back on the ground could mean it wants some belly rub. But sometimes, it could also mean stress and anxiety. When its weight shifts forward, it means the dog is trying to get closer to something out of curiosity or interest. But beware that it may also indicate offensive intentions.

When the pup is trying to be playful, it usually plays bow. The dog places its chest on the ground, and the rump is up in the air. The paw raise is part of the dog's pointing action, which signals nearby prey. A raised paw also means that a dog is unaware of a situation or is feeling insecure.

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Dog's Body Language #4 - Facial Expressions

It may not be obvious, but dogs also have facial expressions. Even a Pug who seems to be always sad also has emotions. The facial features of dogs are like ours, but they do not use them the same way.

For example, people yawn because they feel bored. But dogs usually yawn to calm in intense situations and to calm others breeds in the house. You've probably seen it on dogs who have been barking because of strangers. Then, they suddenly yawn in the middle of their woofing.

So when you yawn in front of a dog, you're not sending them a message that you're sleepy. Instead, it provides comfort. Just don't get shocked if the dog yawns back. Yawning is contagious to dogs, too.

Dog's Body Language #5 - Eyes

Your dog's eyes can tell you a lot about its internal state. Soft eyes or "puppy eyes" usually show relaxed lids and sometimes look like the dog is squinting. It means the dog is calm or happy.

The hard eye is what you want to avoid. It indicates negative emotions or threats. You'll notice a hard stare where the dog stares at you for a more extended period. If it's your first time meeting a pup or an aggressive adult canine, avoid looking directly into its eyes.

Deciphering Dog's Body Language

You must understand your dog's body language if you want to raise a well-behaved pup. Look at every signal the dog uses, from the tail height to the eye shape, when you read their communication. Your dog is sending you a message most of the time. Your job is to decipher your dog's body language and prevent problems before they occur. If you want to learn more about dog brain training, click this link.


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