Today we have a special guest post from Canine Journal:
Just because dogs can’t talk doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings and emotions. Dogs, similar to humans, can also wear their hearts on their sleeves. The better we learn to recognize how they communicate, we better we know what our furry friend is telling us through dog body language. It can be somewhat obvious to recognize if and when your dog is happy, hurt or angry. But what you may not notice are the subtle signs that show deeper emotions.
There are 4 key emotions that affect a dog’s behavior. It can be difficult sometimes to recognize the difference when your dog is showing a mix of one or more behavior. So get to know the different states and you’ll be able to understand your pup.
A sure sign of an aggressive dog is a tense tail – rigid and high tail positions means steer clear because they are in a state of unrest. Another sign is a closed mouth that is an indication that something (i.e. another canine) is holding their attention. Stiff, raised hair on back of neck is another sure sign of a dog that is tense. Beware because an aggressive dog can lead to aggressive behavior.
Unlike aggressive, a submissive dog has a relaxed tail. They tend to look away (especially around people) which shows trust. Submissive dogs will be more likely to expose their belly which is another sign of submission. A submissive pup will lick their nose to keep it moist for smelling, but be aware they will also do so when it is nervous or anxious.
Timid dogs have a cowering tail tucked between their legs which is a sign of fear or shame. By curling their tail in between their legs they are showing a sign of discomfort and trying to make themselves seem small. You’ll also notice a timid dog has eyes open wide and its ears pinned against their head. Yawning is another way to eliminate tension and show they are uncomfortable about something. (But could also mean they are tired). Situational shivering can happen in extreme circumstances of trauma but beware because trembling could also mean your dog is sick or excited.
An excited go will have its tail up in air – the higher the tail points the more excited a dog is. If his body is tense, it means he is concentrating on something. A high tail while walking or playing is a sign of enjoyment. If the whole body goes into a tail wag, it is a sure sign of excitement as well. Canines love to show their excitement though body cues, but also with their eyes. Wide-eyes could mean he is overly excited.
You can also tell a lot about what a dog is saying through sounds they makes. Growls, yips, barking, moaning and silence all ways of your dog expressing their emotions. Other behaviors like scratching, panting, chewing and jumping are also signals that sometime indicate that your dog is trying to tell you something. It’s important to get to know your dog and what each of those cues means because they all mean something different and are unique to each dog. Eventually, you’ll be able to better recognize them so you can communicate better with your dog and ultimately have a happier, healthier relationship with your dog.