Your Dog Is Talking - Are You Listening?

Just like humans, dogs have their own language, thoughts and feelings and just like we do, they express them in many different ways.

Dogs use body language instead of verbal communication. They express their emotions and intentions through their movements and how they hold their body, tails, ears and even where they are looking.

Here are our quick tips on understanding your dog’s behaviours and how to translate their language

Relaxed

Your dog’s tail is down and relaxed, the ears are up but not pointing forwards. The mouth can be open with the tongue exposed and the head held up. Normally your dog will also be in a relaxed stance with their weight balanced evenly on all feet. Another clue is if the dog is looking directly at you, showing that there is no fear of threat.

Alert

Your dog may have seen or heard something that is interesting and needs to check things out. Generally, the tail will move slightly from side to side and the ears are forward and may even twitch, the eyes will be wide open and the mouth will be closed. Your dog could also be leaning slightly forward and leaning into the toes.

Dominant/Aggressive

A dominant dog is not a problem in itself and understanding the difference between dominant or submissive behaviour will help you to manage aggressive behaviour if your dog is feeling challenged or threatened. It will also give you a clue of when you shouldn’t approach another dog.

The tail of the dog will be stiff and upright, it might also quiver or vibrate. The hair on the tail and the hackles may also be raised or bristled. The ears will be forward as the dog is alert and looking for danger. The lips may be curled with the teeth or gums showing and the dog may be standing stiffly, with weight on the front feet.

Fearful/Aggressive

The tail will be tucked in between the hind legs and the body will be lowered with the hackles raised and the ears pulled back. The dog may be snarling with lips curled back and teeth clenched and will be staring at whatever is making them fearful

A dog that is frightened, but not submissive could possibly attack if the object of fear is not removed.

Distressed

When a dog is fearful of something, it will generally be looking directly at it. If the dog is in a distressed state with many stressors, they may not be looking directly at any one thing but looking around fearfully.

The tail will be down and the body lowered, the ears will be back and there may be rapid panting.

Prolonged periods of distress may indicate a more serious issue should be investigated.

Fearful

If your dog is fearful and offers signs of submission, generally your dog is trying to avoid challenges or conflict. In the doggy world, its about the pecking order and what or who is of a higher status.

The tail will be down and the body lowered towards the ground in a crouching position. The ears will be back and the eye contact will be very brief, if at all.

If your dog is always showing this behaviour, it may be a clue that they aren’t comfortable in their environment.

Total Submission

Total surrender means that your dog is showing his most vulnerable parts and is accepting of his lower status completely.

Your dog will roll over onto it’s back, completely exposing the tummy and throat and the head will be turned to avoid any direct eye contact. If your dog is feeling extreme fear, you may notice the tail tucked completely up between the high legs and there may also be a sprinkle of urine

Playfulness

A vigorously wagging tail, most times shows playfulness and friendliness. Your dog may also bend his front legs, with his back legs straight. The pupils will be dilated and ears will be up. Your dog wants to play!

It’s important to look at the entire body to fully understand what your dog is telling you. Not all dogs can communicate in the same way, for example breeds with long floppy ears, cannot raise them in the same way or dogs with very short tails cannot communicate much with their little stumpy tail!