How to Read a Dog’s Body Language: A Step-by-Step Guide

What is your dog trying to communicate with you? Dogs have a language that allows them to express their emotional condition and intentions to others in the same way as humans. Although dogs make use of noises and signals, much of the information they convey is through their body language, particularly their facial expressions and body postures.

When your dog is speaking, you should look at his face and entire body to get a lot of useful information, such as when your dog is scared or anxious about what’s going on. You do have to consider the dog’s face and whole body.

When interacting with any new dog, keep the following signs in mind.

The Ear Language of a Dog

Dogs’ ears are available in a variety of forms and sizes, with some dogs being better able to communicate with them than others. Dogs who are calm and happy tend to lay their ears in a natural position. A dog’s erect/tense ears will rise higher on their head and point in the direction of their interest when they are alert, or if they’re feeling aggressive or dominant. A dog whose ears are pulled flat against its head is most likely fearful, worried, or submissive.

The Mouth Language of a Dog

A dog’s mouth reflects the sentiments that human mouths communicate. A calm dog will have a soft, relaxed mouth, which may appear to be a grin. Tense jaws or tight lips indicate tension in a dog. A curled lip and exposed teeth might indicate aggression, but some breeds (such as Chesapeake Bay Retrievers) exhibit this as a grin. Often, tongue flicking or licking indicates uncertainty or anxiety, and yawning lowers a dog’s blood pressure and soothes them.

The Tail Language of a Dog

The tail’s position and movement are indicators of a dog’s emotions. Excited canines proudly lift their tails high and wag them back and forth swiftly. A cautious or nervous dog will wag his tail, but it will be held straight out and wagged more slowly and steadily. A happy dog holds it’s tail high and erect when alert, while a terrified dog will hide the tail between its legs. A calm dog keeps his or her tail in a natural position. Similar to dog ears, no two dog tails are identical.

The Eye Language of a Dog

A dog’s eyes may tell you a lot about how the animal is feeling, much like people’s eyes. A satisfied dog will have an easy look on his face or ‘soft eyes,’ whereas direct staring indicates a potential threat or desire to assert dominance. When a dog looks away, they are demonstrating submission because it may be scared of engaging with you. Pupils that are large and dilated indicate aggressive or fear-based behavior if a dog stares at you from the corner of its eyes.

The signals and their meanings can differ between breeds, but the following are general guidelines for canine body language. Accept the most fearful or aggressive signal a dog is displaying you when in doubt. Assume that the dog is telling the truth if its tail is wagging but it’s grimacing and appears tense. Your goal is to look at the whole dog and the situation and context in which it lives, as well as make an effort to interpret what the dog is attempting to communicate. With practice and education, you’ll soon be able to converse with a man’s best friend in another language! If you need help don’t hesitate to contact us

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