If only dogs speak the human language, it’d be easier for pet owners to understand what they feel. But no matter how hard you try, your canine pal will never learn to talk. To effectively communicate with your pup, it’s all up to you to learn his body language.
A dog’s body will tell you a lot about what is going on with him. However, not every dog is expressive about how he feels, but you’ll be able to understand him through some visual indicators. Let the following tips from a Dubai pet food delivery service be your guide to understanding your pet better.
Pay more attention
Humans are well-synchronized with each other’s body language on a subconscious level. You will usually know if someone is upset or frustrated even without saying anything. But sadly, humans don’t have a similar instinct when it comes to dog body language.
To understand your dog, you need to pay more attention and be conscientious. Start by paying close attention to a single aspect of your pup’s body language for two or three weeks. As you become familiar with one type of behavior, move on to others.
Watch the tail
The tail is the most animated part of a dog’s body. Learn what your pup is trying to say by taking a good look of his tail.
- Tentatively wagging at a minimum speed – means that the dog is relaxed but alert and is waiting in anticipation for something to happen.
- Tail held vertically and tremors slightly – means that the dog is challenging your authority.
- Tail held very low and wagging rapidly – means that the dog acknowledges that you’re in charge.
- Lowered tail wagging slowly – means that the dog doesn’t understand the command and is asking what you want.
- Tail slightly below vertical and staying still – means that the dog is projecting a high level of alertness.
- Tail is vertical – means that the dog is letting others know that he’s a confident canine.
- Tail is parallel to the ground and rigid – means that the dog accepts the challenge.
- Tail is tucked between the legs – means that the dog is fearful or afraid.
After you’re done observing your dog’s tail, move on to his stance, eyes, ears, and mouth. It will take some time for you to “read” your dog’s actions, but being empathetic makes a huge difference.
Basic Dog Emotions
When you take more notice of your dog’s body language, you begin to have a deeper understanding of his emotions. You’ll see how your pup displays the following reactions:
1. Excitement or Joy
A happy and enthusiastic canine who is enjoying the moment (e.g. eating his favorite Calibra dog food) will demonstrate:
- Relaxed or loose posture
- Flattened or upright ears
- Tail in a natural or held high position
- Gentle or intense mouthing
- Bounding and humping around during play
- Relaxed or open mouth that seems to be slightly smiling
A dog usually shows fear when he’s in a scary environment. Common triggers include extended loud noises, sudden events, and people or animals that invade your pup’s personal space. When a canine is anxious, he tends to:
- Turn the head away and avoid eye contact
- Flatten the ears
- Have a crouched or tensed body
- Tuck the tail
- Display hair standing on end from shoulder blades down to the tail
- Hide or attempt to distance himself from the scary object
Take extra precaution especially when your dog becomes too fearful. Your pup may feel that he needs to defend himself from a threat; aggression and fear will become two sides of one coin. In extreme fear, a dog may show:
- Tensed or crouched body
- Alert ears
- Hard stare at the aggressor
- Fear grimace accompanied by a growl (dog’s lips are pulled back almost looking like a wide smile or bearing of teeth)
If your dog is showing his self-defense stance, consider placing him inside a pet play pen to ensure that he won’t end up biting people.
Hesitation is usually triggered by new experiences like unfamiliar animals and visitors at home. When a dog isn’t sure about how to respond to a certain situation, he will likely be:
- Yawning or lip licking
- Avoiding eye contact
- Rolling over onto his back, exposing the belly
- Holding up one paw while approaching, greeting, or watching
Every dog is different
Just like humans, dogs have distinct ways to show how they feel. Every dog is unique. Even if this guide is a good place to start, remember that your willingness to listen to your dog is still the most crucial element in getting to know him better.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.