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Decoding Your Dog's Body Language: What They're Really Trying to Tell You

By Melissa Grasso

The main communication between human and canine is Body Language! I personally believe that this is one of the most important things to be educated about when owning a dog, especially if you are like me and enjoy taking your dog places with you. We don't speak the same language as our canine companions, so it is very important to pay attention to what they are trying to tell us! Here are some things you can look for:


Ears

  • Erect Ears: confident, happy, comfortable

  • Pinned Down Ears: fearful, unconfident, stressed

  • Alert Ears: hear or see something, investigating

  • Ears to the Side: comfortable, relaxed


Eyes

  • Almond Shaped: confident, happy, relaxed

  • Whale Eyes: round, sharp

-Soft: Fearful, anxious, stressed

-Hard/Sharp: aggression, next step if soft is ignored.

  • Squinty: calm, relaxed, happy


Tail

  • Erect: tight wagging, assertive, uncomfortable- inappropriate in greetings

  • Mid-Loose Tail Wag: confident, relaxed, secure in environment

  • Low, Semi-Stiff Tail Wag: unconfident, submissive, anxious, might urinate a little,        not quite tucked

  • Tucked Tail: fearful, anxious, stressed


Hackles (hair on back of dog's neck)

  • Up: investigating, on edge- could pair with erect ears and stiff tail wag

  • None: relaxed, confident


Mouth

  • Squinty Eye Pant: content

  • Wide Eye Pant: uncomfortable

  • Heat Pant: content, happy relaxed jaw

  • Lip Licking: anxious, very uncomfortable

  • Yawn: stress signal, anxious

  • Closed Mouth: overstimulation, slightly stressed


Whole Body

  • Belly Showing: Submissive

  • Lowering: fearful

  • Lunging: under socialized, fearful, aggressive 



When a dog is playing with other dogs, if they are comfortable, they will be loose and their overall body language will be bouncy or wiggly, and you will see what is called a play bow quite often during their play session! Ignoring body language can result in unwanted behaviors. The dog can reach severity if they feel they are being unheard. Always pay attention to what your dog is trying to tell you!



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