Dogs communicate using a rather unique language. Learning to understanding this “language” will greatly improve the relationship you have with your dog. Not only that, but when it comes to training you will seriously turbo-charge your results by communicating to your dog on his level.
Unfortunately, no-one has yet written a handy reference guide, but by following the guidelines set out below you’ll quickly be up to speed on what your dog is trying to tell you.
Here are some of the most common dog language cues you’ll need to know.
Standing Rigid – When a dog adopts a very rigid stance, he could be telling you to back off and leave him alone. He may also adopt this stance when he is protecting some possession. Give your dog a bone or a biscuit when there are other dogs around and you’ll see what I mean.
Showing the Teeth – Dogs don’t just attack out of the blue, they normally give a warning first. Flashing the teeth may be first warning that a dog is about to attack. Your best bet when this happens is to stand down.
Growling – Showing the teeth will often be accompanied by a low, rumbling growl. If that doesn’t work the dog make well bite.Many people scold or punish the dog for growling or showing its teeth. This is dangerous because if the dog is not allowed to give a warning he may escalate straight to an attack.
Raising the Hackles – When a dog raises the hair on his back, he is trying to look bigger in order to scare off a threat. It is often a sign of heightened fear, and means to dog may attack.
Tail between the legs – Typically, this indicates, timidity, fear or anxiety. There may be a number of causes for the behavior, such as separation anxiety, or being introduced to an unfamiliar person or dog. Often the behavior will be accompanied by submissive urination.
Putting the head down – Depending on the context this could be a attempt by a submissive dog to avoid eye contact. Or it could be a playful gesture.
Raised Paw -A raised paw is a playful gesture, which means, “ let’s be friends”.
Wagging the tail – The tail is one of the dog’s most important communication devices, and the one that is most often misinterpreted. A common belief is that a wagging tail suggests happiness, but this is only true if the tail is being wagged loosely.A tail that is flicked side to side in short rigid movements suggests agitation. And if the tail is tucked between the legs and wagging slightly, the dog is insecure and fearful.
Dogs rely greatly on body language and gestures for communication. A dog may learn to obey voice commands, but in their world body language will always mean more.
Learn to interpret their language and you’ll understand your dog that much better.