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Understanding Your Dog By Reading His Body Language

Author : Jared Wright

If you've ever watched two dogs meeting for the first time, you know that they communicate with a distinct brand of body language. A dog will know if another dog is feeling scared, or anxious, or if he's looking for a fight. Learning to read this body language and understand your dog is a great skill for any dog owner.

Dog owners often have a lot of misconceptions regarding canine body language. It is an important skill to be able to read your dog's body language with some accuracy, so let's take a quick look at various postures and body language.

The Aggressive Dog

An aggressive dog may easily be mistaken for a happy or friendly dog by a person unaware of the significance of various body postures. A dog that is acting aggressive, usually out of fear, will:

- Possibly first cower away. Aggression is usually brought on by fear, when a dog is in a scary situation and can't run away. The tail may be tucked between the legs, the ears will be pressed back along the head, the back might be arched and you might notice that the dog is a little closer to the ground than usual. On certain times, a dog will shift its weight to the hind legs in order to make a faster getaway if the need arises.

- Growl and show its teeth. This behavior is not necessarily a sign that a dog is about to bite. Generally it can be seen more as a big show or a "I will if I have to" sign. Dogs and other canines are not aggressive by nature and will almost always look for a way to run rather than to fight.

- On few occasions, a dog might decide to attack another dog when he feels threatened. This dog will puff himself up to look larger, raise the hackles on his back (the fur along the spine, usually concentrated over the shoulders), bare his teeth, and hold his head high. You may notice that the dog tenses his whole body.

The Submissive Dog

Some dogs possess a particularly submissive nature. They have little desire to be the alpha dog and are submissive most of the times. Signs include:

- Flattening the ears back along the head.
- A low tail wag, usually slight.
- Lowering the head and looking up.
- Licking the lips.
- Whimpering or whining.
- Rolling over to expose the belly.
- Licking the other dog's mouth.
- Some dogs may urinate.

The idea is that your dog shows that he is not a threat by making himself very vulnerable. A dog in this situation is looking for ways to keep the other animal from acting aggressively.

The Happy Dog

A happy dog is simply a relaxed dog. Your dog's entire body seems to be loose and he may be panting regularly. The tail might be wagging from side to wide as well.

The Aware or Alert Dog

A dog that has seen something of interest or of potential danger will suddenly appear much focused.

- Ears start to point upwards in the direction of the sound.
- Eyes are fixed or scanning.
- A dog may try to make itself taller to hear or see better.
- The mouth is usually closed unless the dog is barking.
- Hackles may be raised

A dog in this position may be about to bark or run off. If your dog is off leash, do your best to distract him so he doesn't bolt off in the direction of whatever he has noticed.

The Playful Dog

The playful dog will be easy to recognize. Playful dogs like to move a lot, and will generally try to engage you or another dog in play.

- Fast movements, like little jumps, dodging motions, or running around you.
- Play bows, where your dog lowers his front half while keeping the rear end in the air.
- A happy look on your dog's face, alike to smiling.

It is vital to understand that dogs sometimes play in manner whereby it appears to be quite aggressive. The play bow will tell you that the dog is going to play, not fight. Dogs typically mouth each other and try to dominate the other dog by pushing or pulling on the skin to get the other dog on its back.

As a dog owner, it is good for you to be able to read your dog's body language. This can help to prevent accidents or undesirable incidents with other dogs. Most importantly, you will also be able to pick up and learn when your dog is happy and ready to play and have fun!

Author's Resource Box

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Tags:   canine body language, dog body language, canine dog training

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Submitted : 2010-10-21    Word Count : 1    Times Viewed: 332