Understanding Your Dog`s Body Language

Dogs, like people, communicate through body language and vocalizations. And just like us, this occurs both consciously and unconsciously. You don’t have to be a vet or dog trainer to get the gist of what your pup’s trying to say. You simply need to pay attention. While your pet is ultimately unique, there are commonalities across all breeds in the ways canines express themselves. Here are some of the most universal things dogs say and how they say them.

“I like you”

Dogs express their love and affection in a number of ways. Steady eye contact (not to be confused with the hard stare associated with aggression) means he/she likes and trusts you. Bringing you a preferred object like a stick, ball or toy—often misunderstood as a desire to play—is another way of saying “you’re great.” A vigorously wagging tail that involves your pup’s whole rear end means he/she is happy to see you. Leaning against you is the doggy way of giving hugs and raising a paw to touch you means your pup wants your attention.

“I’m sorry”

While dogs may not feel remorse in the exact same way that humans do, they do know when they’ve done something wrong. Before or during a scolding you may notice your canine has a wagging, low hanging tail or a tongue flicking quickly in and out of his mouth. Both are doggy ways of saying “I feel bad about that thing I did. Sorry.”

“Let’s play!”

When your dog faces you with her front paws low to the ground and her rear end raised high in the air, it means he/she wants to play. This stance is called a “play bow” and is a universal gesture among canines. Want to impress your pup? Say, “I want to play, too” by placing your hands on the ground and raising your derriere to the sky.

“I’m scared”

Perhaps the most well-understood sign that your dog’s scared is a tucked-in tail. However, there are other indications such as avoiding eye contact and pulled-back ears. Slow tail wagging might indicate that your pup’s feeling cautious. Sudden freezing during an action, such as chewing, means your dog’s feeling tentative and wants to be left alone.

When to be concerned
Is your canine companion acting in a manner that’s out of character? If your pup’s lethargic, wheezing, excessively scratching or suddenly aggressive, then he or she may be sick and need to visit us at Brimley-Lawrence Animal Care or Bellamy-Lawrence Animal Hospital. If you have questions or concerns about your dog’s body language or anything else, please come see us at one of our walk-in animal hospitals for a checkup with a qualified vet.

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