Understanding What A Dog’s Body Language Means
Dogs may not communicate with you with words, but if you understand it, their body language can tell you a lot about what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling. While humans can speak in many different languages, a dog’s body language is universal, and can be understood wherever there are dogs.
As a dog owner, it’s important and responsible for you to understand your dog’s body language, which in turn will also help you understand other dogs you may come into contact with.
What your dog’s body is telling you…
Since dogs speak with their whole body, not just a wagging tail, you need to know the important places to look to help you understand his/her emotions.
- Wagging Tail – Most people equate a dog wagging her tail as meaning she’s happy…and, although, sometimes that is the case, a wagging tail can mean other things too. You need to watch the speed, watch the position of the tail, and watch the direction of the wag.
- A fast wag means your pup is excited. A slower, sweeping wag is a greeting. If the wag seems to be twitchy, your dog could be feeling negative and guarded.
- If your dog is holding her tail high while wagging, she may be feeling aggressive. If the tail is held low or tucked between her legs, she is most likely feeling stress or fear. The position of a happy wag is more neutral and relaxed.
- Eyes – Your dog shares a lot about how she’s feeling in her eyes, which can look hard or soft. If your pup’s eyes look hard, cold, or very intent, this often indicates she may feel threatened. Whereas if there is a softness about the eyes, she is feeling comfortable, calm or happy.
- Teeth – Teeth, like tails, can tell a couple of different types of feelings, it doesn’t always mean a dog is angry or aggressive.
- If your dog’s teeth are bared, but she’s licking her lips, her posture is relaxed, and she has more relaxed ears…that’s her way of smiling.
- But if your dog is baring her teeth while growling or snarling, her ears are erect, her tail is erect and moving very fast and her body is rigid…she is feeling aggressive.
- Ears Forward – If a dog is holding her ears forward, it can mean a few different things. It could mean she’s interested in something, is feeling happy, suspicious, or may just want to play. So, in order to know what’s going on with your pup, you will also need to watch other parts of her body language to get the whole story.
- Ears Back Flat – Similar to ears forward, when your dog’s ears are flat back, it can mean different things…she could be extremely excited, or extremely unhappy. Again, to understand what she is saying, look for clues in the rest of her body language.
- Raised Hackles – The hackles on a dog refer to the hair along the back. This hair, or fur, is able to stand or fluff up not only down the back, but also across her shoulders. This is often an involuntary reaction, much like when human get goosebumps, and can simply mean the dog is feeling some type of emotion, whether it is because she is stressed or feeling upset or something has caught her interest. Again, the rest of her body language will help you understand what she’s feeling.
- Posture – You can tell a lot about how a dog is feeling by the way she holds her body – her posture:
- Your pup is feeling playful if she takes the position of the play bow, with her rump in the air and her chest on the ground.
- Your dog is feeling fearful or stressed if she is hunched down or cowering. This is an attempt to make herself appear smaller.
- She would like her belly rubbed if she lays down and rolls over on her back. But it can also indicate stress or anxiety.
- If your dog is standing erect, with her body weight leaning forward, it is typically a sign of being intent and possible aggressiveness. It’s just the opposite of making herself feel smaller, it is attempting to make herself look larger.
Most of the body language signs should be used in conjunction with other signs that your dog is exhibiting at the time in order to fully understand what your dog is communicating.
At BowWow Fun Towne, we are experts in dog day care, we care about your dogs and take their health and well-being seriously. Our facility features a full size swimming pool for fun and exercise.